Monday, December 19, 2016

Learning through the lessons of history (MIB Series)

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and the delegation arriving at Bandar Brunei (Kampong Ayer) from Tantaya, Limbang Territory, after the end of World War II.

Ibrahim Mohd Jaafar and family in a photo with the family of the British Resident, Sir John Peel. – PHOTOS: MIB SUPREME COUNCIL

Learning through the lessons of history
on: December 19, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong,
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

THE Japanese Occupation of 1941-1945 was a major blow to Brunei’s sovereignty as a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). Under the occupation acts of injustice towards the local populace caused deep resentment that eventually grew into hatred, particularly among Bruneian nationalists.

The occupation also led to the reclaiming of Brunei’s sovereignty led by the Youth Front (BARIP). The movement was supported by Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and his brother Pengiran Bendahara Pemaisura (later Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam).

Before the Japanese Occupation, Brunei was heavily controlled by the British, in which the power of the Sultan was limited only to matters on local customs and religion. Colonialism left Brunei politically weak, as evident from a document found in the National Archives at Kew Gardens in London, which stated that Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin had no power as a Sultan, and that the same constraints were imposed on his privileges, position and monthly royal allowance.

This poor treatment from the British prompted the Sultan to initiate talks on Brunei’s political stance and the monarchial system. This was the first political discourse between a Brunei Sultan and a British Resident, but the discussions came to a premature end when Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin died while en route to London on June 3, 1950.

During the residential era, Brunei was politically instable, with her administration in both internal and external affairs under British administration. In an interview with former British Resident Sir John Peel, in August 1995, he said:

“Brunei was a protected state and the treaty provided that he (the Sultan) should accept a British Resident and his advice on all subjects other than the Mohammedan religion and Malay customs. So the Sultan had to accept my advice on all other subjects and that was just how it was before the war. So I had very wide powers indeed. I was really responsible for the general affairs of the state. In the State Council which was presided over by the Sultan, I was sitting next to him to advise him, because actually I did the paper work of the meeting. Absolutely, I ran the government.”

During and after World War II, Brunei was still a British protectorate. The flames of nationalism were rising across the region, particularly in Malaya and Indonesia. Their fight for political freedom inspired Brunei’s own nationalist movement in the form of BARIP, which led the struggle for Brunei’s independence and sovereignty.

In a previous article, it was mentioned how H M Salleh and his faithful BARIP followers threatened business owners in the capital of Bandar Brunei, over their refusal to lower the Brunei flag to half-mast following the death of His Majesty Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin’s mother in 1947. Fortunately, the business owners agreed with their demands and averted potential riots in the capital.

Another act of patriotism occurred when Ibrahim bin Mohd Jaafar (Pehin Datu Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Ibrahim bin Mohd Jaafar) risked his own life in preserving several government documents during the Japanese Occupation, in 1941. Without those documents, it would have been difficult to rebuild Brunei after the war.

Like his late brother, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien believed that diplomacy was the best solution in engaging with the British, and that aggression was not an option. The road towards the Brunei Constitution is ample proof of the excellent diplomacy between Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and the British. In ‘Syair Perlembagaan’, a literary work by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, he described how Brunei regained her independence through diplomacy and soft negotiations.

Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien continued his brother’s final wish for independence, and reclaimed Brunei’s political rights and sovereignty based on the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy (these components are upheld in the Brunei Constitution). The declaration of Brunei’s independence in 1984 marked Brunei’s political success in both its internal and external affairs.

Every year, Brunei observes National Day to mark Brunei’s independence. Bruneians, both young and old, gather in a show of patriotism in Bandar Seri Begawan before the monarch, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, to show gratitude towards Allah the Almighty for Brunei’s independence. But how many of us can recall the road to our country’s independence? The story of our national heroes and their fight for independence should be more widely known – a story that we can share with the younger generation. It’s the story of the Brunei patriots who fought to preserve our sovereignty, religion and nation.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted the importance of history as a guide to nation-building and national expansion in the following speech:

“History is the voice of truth, and a most eloquent one. We should not silence this voice, but let it continue to speak more fluently and clearly. History should not be silenced. A country that seeks to hide its history is afraid of its past. We need to have courage – the courage to ask questions and look inside ourselves.

“That is how we can learn from history. A nation that learns from its own past is a great one indeed. It is through history that we can trace our own beginnings and carve out our own name. That’s how wonderful history is.

“The history of Brunei Darussalam carries a most unique aspect: The Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). It was handed down to us not by human artifice but as a gift from Allah the Almighty. As a divine gift, its true worth is immeasurable. It also demands great responsibility, and that responsibility is known by another name – trust.

“So who carries this responsibility? The answer is: all of us, as citizens of this country. We will carry this trust, we will guard it, we will apply its principles, and we will continue to nurture it as our cultural pride.

“We should never allow it to be diminished by outside forces, whether it be an ideology or system which is incompatible with MIB.

“MIB is the life and soul of Brunei. It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but through wisdom and understanding. Everyone needs to understand that MIB is not a ‘narrow lane’ but a broad highway that leads to the comfort and happiness for all.”

These articles have been written to serve as a reminder and guide towards Brunei’s goals of Vision 2035. His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has already stated that he will carry on the legacy of his late father Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, in order to preserve the peace and stability of Brunei Darussalam based on MIB.

Alhamdulillah, with the blessing of Allah the Almighty, the combined strong leadership of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and His Majesty restored our country to her former state of sovereignty and independence on January 1, 1984.

To prevent history from repeating itself, we should embrace what has been entrusted onto us as Bruneians, to preserve the country’s identity and her national philosophy. Our country should not have to undergo another adversity for us to truly appreciate her sovereignty and identity. We should learn by reflecting on the lessons of history, and the fight by our national heroes to protect Brunei’s cultural heritage.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Revival of Brunei Nationalism (MIB Series)

A photo of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin attending the afternoon banquet in conjunction with the arrival of Macolm MacDonald in Brunei in 1947

The arrival of British High Commissioner for Asia, Malcolm MacDonald is greeted by Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien

A photo of the writer (left) with Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Masri (centre) and Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Haji Umar.

The revival of Bruneian nationalism
on: December 05, 2016

written by:
Dr. Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong
Special Senior Duties Officer
Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council

IT IS said that the greatest strength is forged in the fires of great adversity. The end of the Japanese Occupation during World War II in the 1940s ignited the spirit of nationalism among certain intellectuals who were schooled abroad, and their leadership ultimately paved the way for Brunei’s independence in 1984.

After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Britain hastily set up the British Military Administration (BMA) to oversee the governments under their influence, including Brunei.

British officials in charge of administrative matters in Brunei resented the fact that many locals had cooperated with the Japanese in order to preserve peace – a sentiment that probably stemmed from their military ties and their wartime experiences. Nevertheless, several local officers were denied posts in the government after being denounced as Japanese sympathisers. Many youths were treated as foreigners in their own country and imprisoned without trial.

The formation of Barisan Pemuda (BARIP) in April 1946 sparked a growing sentiment of nationalism among the local youth, particularly those in Bandar Brunei, to fight back for their rights in the land which they called home. Increasingly vocal about their mistreatment, they risked losing not only their assets and social standing, but also their own lives, in the pursuit of restoring the country to a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

One name stood out among others in the British Resident’s records: H M Salleh, (also known as Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Masri) who was supported by prominent local leaders such as P Y or Yura Halim (Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran (Dr) Haji Mohd Yusuf bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim) and Mohd Jamil bin Umar (Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Haji Umar).

H M Salleh led the BARIP movement and wrote about his experiences during the war in his book, ‘Tunangan Pemimpin Bangsa’, which he wrote while being incarcerated for 100 days in Kuala Belait by the government. Written in the Jawi script, the book described Brunei’s predicament by the Japanese regime and discriminated against under the BMA, with anecdotal evidence and records of events that the British Resident failed to record, such as the Ganyang China Incident, which was an altercation between the Malays and Chinese which led to the imprisonment of several key figures in BARIP.

During the arrival of Malcolm MacDonald, the British High Commissioner for Asia to Brunei in 1947, BARIP members raised a decorative arch which bore the following phrases: ‘Exclusive rights for the Sultan’, and ‘The Restorer of Peace and Justice, and his subjects’.

This was frowned upon by the British, who demanded that BARIP change the wording. BARIP responded by saying that its members would only erase the words with their own blood, an act of defiance which would later influence the tide of opposition against the British. To avoid further conflicts, the arch remained for the duration of MacDonald’s visit.

Another undocumented event in 1947 illustrates the staunch patriotism of the BARIP leaders. Influenced by foreign powers, all buildings in the vicinity of Bandar Brunei refused to carry the flag at half-mast upon the announcement of the death of Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Siti Fatimah.

With the consent of Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Jamalul Alam), H M Salleh and the other BARIP members threatened to burn all the buildings in Bandar Brunei, unless the owners showed proper respect for the death of His Majesty’s mother, and they eventually yielded.

In his interviews, H M Salleh frequently talked about the hardships faced by the Bruneians who were discriminated against in their homeland and denied their own heritage and sovereignty. This particularly applied to those who had studied in Malaya and had personally met with Malay nationalist leaders, such as Harun Aminnurrashid who had been seconded to Brunei from the Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College in Tanjung Malim, Perak.

Harun Aminnurrashid played an important role in developing and influencing young Bruneians, including those who studied at the Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College.

As recalled by H M Salleh:

“Sebelum dihantar ke Tanjung Malim saya belum begitu tahu dengan mendalam tentang semangat kebangsaan dan kesedaran tentang berbangsa. Waktu sampai di Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College dan belajar dari Harun maka saya mendapat semangat itu. Cikgu Harun amat bijak, dia memerhati keadaan saya dan mencuba mendekati saya. Saya pada masa itu merupakan seorang murid yang agak maju di antara anak-anak Brunei dan dapat diumpamakan seperti kain putih. Cikgu Harun yang mencelup kain itu dengan warna merah, dia injek ke dalam jiwa saya semangat kebangsaan begitu juga kepada murid-murid yang lain. Bagi saya dia ialah seorang nasionalis tulen-pure nationalist, pejuang kebangsaaan yang besar, dia pelopor semangat kebangsaan Melayu. Menjadi tumpuan kami pelajar-pelajar menumpahkan kepercayaan kepadanya.” (“Harun Aminnurashid: Pembangkit Semangat Kebangsaan”, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka KL 1982, hlm 145-146)

BARIP’s words and slogans were often ridiculed and ignored, in favour of a perceived future full of peace and prosperity. Had our leaders followed the wishes of the majority back then, we would probably have ended up as an insignificant state with very little semblance to our former illustrious history. Some even questioned BARIP’s motives and mocked their efforts in publications such as ‘Ulu’, a book written in the West by Danish.

The efforts of BARIP and other nationalist parties to hold on to the values of MIB and protect the country’s integrity ultimately led to the preservation of our national history for the current generation — a gift that that we should learn to value, for the sake of future generations.

“…jangan lupa dasar luar kah atau dasar dalam kah, paksinya ialah MIB. Beta tegaskan di sini MIB bukanlah ia untuk tahan-tahan dalam negara sahaja tetapi juga untuk di bawa ke luar. Bertolak dari MIB inilah, kita akan menghulurkan tangan kepada semua orang untuk bersahabat dan berbaik-baik dengan siapa jua. Kita mesti tunjukkan kepada dunia akan keluhuran MIB bukan menapukkan.” – (From a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bokiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien. Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; in January 2016)

The arduous journey towards the preservation of our national philosophy was far from easy. We faced and overcame the ordeals of foreign interference, but at a great cost. We need to reflect on the challenges faced by important figures in our history, who fought for the preservation of our national history and cultural heritage We should not take their patriotism for granted, and always remember how blessed we truly are by Allah the Almighty.

Significant historical figures who fought along Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1924-1950) and Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien (1950-1967) from pre-independence days until World War II are: Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohd Yassin; Pengiran Muda Abdul Kahar; H M Salleh; P M Yusof; Pengiran Abu Bakar; Pengiran Haji Muhammad Salleh bin Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad; Pengiran Haji Metassan bin Pengiran Haji Omar; Pengiran Muhammad bin Pengiran Abdul Rahman Piut; Haji Hasbollah bin Muhammad Daud; Marsal bin Maun; Basir bin Taha; Muhammad Jamil bin Umar; Pengiran Mohd. Ali bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Daud; Abdul Hamid bin Othman; Othman bin Sungguh; Abdullah bin Ali Hashim; Pengiran Damit bin Pengiran Sungguh; and Othman bin Bidin and others.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Brunei Darussalam Tackles Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases

Brunei Darussalam tackles rise of non-communicable diseases
27 Nov 2016

The rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is placing an increasing burden on Brunei Darussalam’s health care system and economy, though the government is stepping up efforts to improve the nation’s health.

NCDs have been the main cause of death in Brunei Darussalam for more than 30 years, with a shift away from traditional lifestyles and dietary patterns seen as the underlying cause, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

If unchecked, the increasing incidence of NCDs could put a strain on the country’s health care system, as well as affect social and economic growth.

“Without a change in our behaviour, the number of obese adults in the country is forecast to soar. This will prove devastating for the country and pose a real barrier towards our national development,” the MoH said in a statement in June.

Rising to the challenge

In response, the government has launched the Brunei Darussalam National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (BruMAP-NCD) 2013-18­ – a broad programme to boost the prevention and treatment of NCDs ­– as part of the MoH’s Vision 2035, known as “Together Towards a Healthy Nation”.

The programmes aim to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 18% by 2018, a goal that is in line with the global target of a 25% reduction by 2025.

Under the BruMAP-NCD’s five objectives ­– to reduce tobacco use, promote a balanced and healthy diet, increase physical activity, identify people at risk of NCDs and manage effectively, and improve the quality of care and outcome of NCDs management – health officials have laid out a number of more specific national targets.

For example, the government aims to curb tobacco consumption by 30% by 2018 and to make public places smoke-free by the end of this year.

In terms of diet, state agencies are targeting a 10% reduction in salt usage, encouraging more Bruneians to engage in regular exercise and mandating improved diets for children by regulating the products offered at school canteens, as well as implementing health programmes in the country’s workplaces.

Overall, these lifestyle changes aim to achieve a 1% reduction in the rate of increase of obesity and diabetes by 2018.

Meanwhile, measures to bolster treatment will include initiatives to identify people at risk of developing NCDs, provide support for the effective management of illnesses and ensure the availability of affordable technologies and generic medicines in both private and public health care facilities.

Risk of obesity

The need for such measures is crucial especially as the country is seeing an increase in obesity in its youth, which is leading to higher levels of NCDs in the adult population.

Obesity is reaching alarming levels among the country’s young people, with half of the nation’s children over the age of five either overweight or obese, according to a statement made by Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, minister of health, in mid-October.

“From 2008 to 2014, obesity among school children in Brunei Darussalam increased from 12% to 18%,” he said. “This means that obesity rises by 1% every year. If this issue is unresolved, every single child in Brunei could potentially be obese in the near future.”

As a result of this growing trend, health conditions normally seen in adults are occurring in children, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.

The increasing rate of excessive weight in childhood is also likely to contribute to obesity later in life, with the MoH showing that currently 62% of Bruneians are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, 30% of the total population suffer from high blood pressure, 12.4% from diabetes and 70% from above-average levels of cholesterol.

Measurable success

Although Brunei Darussalam still has a way to go to curtail NCDs, progress is already being made, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO’s “NCDs Progress Monitor” released last year indicated that Brunei Darussalam had made the most strides out of all ASEAN countries in preventing and combatting NCDs. The country achieved 10 out of 18 indicators on the WHO’s index, such as smoke-free policies and health warnings to reduce tobacco usage, advertising bans and pricing policies to limit alcohol intake, drug therapy and counselling for high-risk individuals, and public awareness on diet and physical activity.

Brunei Darussalam scored higher than other countries in the region, such as Cambodia (3), Myanmar (2) and Laos (1), as well as slightly better than Singapore (9) and Malaysia (8).

Courtesy of the Oxford Business Group

Friday, November 25, 2016

Overcoming challenges of Westernisation, Globalisation (MIB Series)

The Castille War in Brunei

Model of Brunei's Mosque in 15th Century

Map Showing Pigafetta's Trip Around the World

Overcoming challenges of Westernisation, Globalisation
on: November 07, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi Bin Md Melayong, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

IN AN increasingly globalised world, it is next to impossible to overlook the challenges posed by external forces, especially in a borderless stream of modernisation.

These challenges to our national consciousness began after the arrival of Western powers to the East in the 16th Century. Our forefathers managed to preserve their cultural and national iden-tity, while a host of unwelcome elements brought by the Western colonisers spread throughout the region.

In Brunei Darussalam, the main defences that were used to safeguard our culture and national identity have been the values enshrined in our national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

The matter was stated in a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, delivered during the National Day celebrations on February 23 ,2014:

“Di samping untuk mencapai Wawasan 2035 dalam bidang fizikal, kita juga ingin meraih rahmat dan keberkatan dalam semua aspek kehidupan. Kita turut menginginkan sebuah negara yang benar-benar memenuhi ciri-ciri ‘Baldatun Tayyibatun Warabbun Ghafur’, yang sejahtera lagi bahagia dibawah pemeliharaan Allah.

“Kerana itu, cara kita mengisi kemerdekaan ini sangatlah istimewa. Kita tidak lupa bersyukur dan berzikir kepada Allah dengan cara sembahyang berjama’ah dan sama-sama mengaminkan do’a. Inilah amalan Negara Melayu Islam Beraja, negara kita.

“Atas landasan unik inilah, kita terus berusaha memantapkan jati diri kita selaku orang Brunei. Perkara ini sangatlah kritikal bagi kelangsungan hidup kita dan proses ‘nation-building’.

“Malahan, pada hemat Beta, MIB adalah merupakan satu-satunya pendinding atau ‘Firewall’ yang kukuh lagi berkesan untuk menangani pelbagai isu dan cabaran globalisasi.”

Globalisation can contribute towards positive changes in human civilisation, especially with the advent of new forms media that enable distribution of unregulated information with an even faster delivery. Unfortunately, globalisation is also a double-edged sword with devastating effects to our culture unless it is properly regulated. At this stage of human civilisation, we need to be more prudent in embracing of globalisation, and able to recognise its destructive aspects. However, we can ensure that MIB values will serve as a guide in assisting us to face up to challenges in this age of globalisation.

We need to look into the lessons of history, to understand how Brunei was able to defend her national dignity and sovereignty. Access to unlimited information and unfiltered networks has enabled us to follow in our forefathers’ footsteps in ensuring the continuity of Brunei’s survival. Present-day challenges are outwardly different, but the risks often involve losing the MIB values that have been our country’s foundation, and the essence of our societal solidarity and harmony.

Out forefathers’ struggle to defend the nation’s sovereignty is a lesson how destructive forces brought about by foreign invasions impacted Brunei’s religion, culture, economy and political administration.

The result was a steady decline of Brunei’s rule over lands beyond present-day borders, followed by a period of political instability within the country.

The decline also caused a stagnation of the ruling political systems in the Malay world. In view of the sacrifices made by our forefathers to preserve their national identity, we cannot afford to have history repeating itself. The deterioration of the Brunei Empire occurred as a result of Western intervention that was also threatening the traditional trade system and weakening Brunei’s political sway over the entire Borneo Island. The arrival of the Spaniards in 1521 presented further challenges to the great Brunei Empire in terms of trade, religion and the socio-political system. The Sultanate was then threatened and attacked, to curb the spread of Islamic influence across Borneo.

Despite those encounters, the people of Brunei were willing to lay down their lives and possessions to defend the independence and dignity of their country, religion and ruler. The Castilian War of 1578 marked the beginning of a struggle in which the Spaniards attempted to bring Brunei under Christian rule. It is a historical event that deserves more exposure among members of the current generation, in their pursuit of modern life in a globalised world.

The arrival of the Spaniards was initially welcomed by the Brunei people in 1521. However, half a century later, what appeared to be friendly intentions was actually a planned conquest in disguise. The Spaniards wanted to spread Christianity across Brunei, and they demanded a cease to Islamic teachings (Dakwah) in the Philippines and the surrounding region.

This enraged Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar (the Old Ruler), as evident from the contents of a letter sent from the Spanish Governor in Manila, General Dr Francisco de Sande, that read:

“Perkara yang seharusnya Duli Tuanku lakukan ialah menerima paderi-paderi Kristian ke negeri Duli Tuanku serta memberi jaminan keselamatan sepenuhnya kepada mereka menyebarkan ajaran Kristian dan begitu juga sesiapa sahaja di antara rakyat Duli Tuanku hendaklah diberi kebebasan dan kebenaran menghadiri syarahan-syarahan ajaran Kristian, dan sesiapa juga berharsat memeluk ugama Kristian bolehlah berbuat demikian tanpa sebarang gangguan ke atasnya.

“Seterusnya, patik menghendaki supaya Duli Tuanku jangan menghantar mubaligh-mubaligh ajaran Muhammad (Islam) ke mana mana bahagian kepulauan ini atau kepada orang Tingues (orang bukit) yang masih Jahiliah itu, bahkan lebih-lebih lagi tidak juga menghantar ke kawasan-kawasan pulau Duli Tuanku sendiri.”

In the interests of the nation and defending the moral dignity of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar and the reigning Sultan Saiful Rijal refused to accede to the demands. It was thus on April 14 1578, that the conquistador, De Sande, declared war on Brunei.

Thanks to Allah the Almighty, the Spanish invasion of Brunei only lasted three months, with the Spaniards and their followers retreating to Manila after setting fire to the grand mosque on June 23, 1578, as recorded in ‘Myth and Legends in Brunei History’, by R Nicholl:

“Pada senja hari Isnin (1578) Doktor (Francisco de Sande) telah membakar bangunan besar (masjid) itu. Ia terbakar sepanjang malam, dan pagi esoknya tidak ada apa-apa yang tinggal; tiga hari kemudian dia pun belayar…”

Historical accounts illustrate the firm resolve of the people of Brunei when it came to defending the dignity and sovereignty of their nation. It is the lessons derived from these accounts that we should bear in mind in an ever-changing world of globalisation, where we are constantly exposed to external influences. The main bastion of our religion, people and our country are the values of MIB, combined with the identity and self-respect of the people of Brunei.

We believe and are confident that our experiences under the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy are a source of harmony and happiness both in this world and in the hereafter.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Brunei's Golden Period of Expansion - (MIB Series)

Part of Brunei's Canons from the 16th Century

Illustration of Ancient Brunei

Brunei’s golden period of expansion
on: October 24, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Md Melayong, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

SULTAN Muhammad Shah adopted the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) as a governmental and authoritative foundation in the Brunei Empire in the 1360s. With MIB as the bedrock of the country’s philosophical and spiritual values, combined with his skilled leadership and the loyal support of his followers, it became the driving force in Brunei’s glorious expansion from the early 15th Century to the 17th Century.

Brunei continued its regional prominence during the reign of the third Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Sharif Ali (1425-1432). He was an Islamic scholar from Ta’if (Hejaz, South Arabia) and it was believed that he was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), through the lineage of Sayyidina Hassan, the Prophet’s grandson.

Brunei’s geographical location was an added advantage, being in the epicentre of the Southeast Asian trade route, allowing her to build ties with Chinese, Arabian and Indian traders, thus further exposing Brunei to commercial trade and Islamic influence. This allowed Brunei to strengthen her Islamic values, which was then adapted into the people’s traditional way of life.

With the loyal support of ethnic Chinese communities, Sultan Sharif Ali was able to establish an administrative base in Kota Batu. He was also the first Sultan to build a mosque, and his tireless dedication towards the country and the Islamic faith earned him great respect.

Loved and admired by his subjects, he became known later as ‘Sultan Berkat’ (the Blessed Sultan). As Brunei’s regional strength grew, so did the concept of MIB, which became the moral compass guiding the country’s administrative and management policies.

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah, the fifth Sultan of Brunei (1485-1524), Brunei expanded her sphere of influence to the entire Borneo Island. The collapse of the Malaccan Empire in 1511 by the Portuguese, gave Brunei the opportunity to strengthen her trade relations, and consecutively the spread of Islam beyond her borders, namely to Palawan Island, Sulu, Belayan, Mindoro, Bonbon, Belabak, Belambangan, Bangi, Mentanai and Saludang (today known as the Philippines).

The growing influence of the Brunei Empire in these parts posed a challenge for the Portuguese and Spaniards, who at the time, were attempting to spread Christianity and restrict Brunei’s Islamic influence. This touched off 50 years of rivalry between the Spaniards and the Brunei Empire (the Castilian War), but driven by the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy and with the protection of Allah the Almighty, the Brunei Sultans drove off the invading forces and continued to rule the kingdom as a Malay Islamic Sultanate.

Such leadership qualities, as exhibited by Brunei’s rulers, were based on their faith and the values of Islam.

They led the way in providing an exemplary set of standards, which further reinforced Brunei’s position during her golden age. Islamic values became a routine part of the people’s daily lives, and guided the administrative and ceremonial policies of state.

This in turn led to the establishment of the ‘Hukum Kanun Brunei’ (Brunei’s Code of Laws), the policies that dictated ethical processes, together with the structural development of royal and state customs. These days, it has become a philosophical legacy, protecting and providing stability to our monarchial institution.

It constituted broad legal aspects of the country’s legal system, which eventually gave way to the implementation of Syariah Law. The inscription of ‘Hukum Kanun’ became the mainstay of state governance, based on the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy, as stated in the titah of Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Hasan:

“…maka inilah suatu risalah pada menyatakan Hukum al-Kanun di dalam negeri yang besar-besar dan segala adat yang takluknya dan dusunnya supaya manfaat atau negerinya dan segala Raja-Raja dan Manteri-manteri bahawa memeliharakan ia akan segala rakyatnya.”

The above titah describes the application of the ‘Hukum Kanun’ in the governing of state, administration of resources and state customs.

The Hukum Kanun Brunei constituted 47 aspects, including those upholding the rights of the ruler; criminal law and order; and laws on theft, marital rights, adultery, apostasy, commercial trade and usury.

All aspects of the Hukum Kanun Brunei contain Islamic legal and Malay traditions. The implementation of the legal system based on Syariah Law had already been in place, long before the reign of Sultan Muhammad Hasan, as evident from Spanish records on Brunei in 1588-1589, which clearly show that convicted criminals were given the death penalty.

While many tend to view the implementation of Syariah Law as a recent occurrence, historical sources suggest that it has been deeply rooted in Brunei since the 14th Century. Records of Hukum Kanun Brunei inscribed in Jawi can be found in the National Brunei Archives and the Brunei History Centre, as well as in many Western academic Institutions and libraries, which point to the existence of a MIB in Brunei since 1400 AD.

MIB has influence the values in the state administration and the daily life of the people in Brunei for hundreds of years. The strong stand for Islam in carrying the values of MIB has been the main factor behind the success and prominence of the Brunei Empire since the 15th Century. It is interesting to know why even western power are willing to invest their time to explore and appreciate the establishment of MIB and the success and prominence of the Brunei Empire.

There is no denying that the effects of globalisation has helped Brunei to achieve her present status, beginning with the British Residential System, but too much globalisation would mean losing our cultural heritage and identity.

MIB provides a counterbalance to Brunei’s rapid industrialisation, while protecting the country from losing her core values, which has helped to shape Bruneian society and bring prosperity to the people. MIB is a compulsory subject in Brunei’s education system, and a way of life that should be practised both in the workplace and at home.

You don’t have to be Malay or Muslim to understand that theft, falsehoods, rape and murder are moral crimes. As Bruneians, we are fortunate to have MIB which complements the Islamic way of life. It is our duty to uphold those principles, because by doing so, we can unite the country’s people, regardless of their ethnicity, race and religion.

MIB brings harmony, mutual respect and a better understanding between one another, and as Muslims, we should be grateful towards Allah the Almighty. As stated in a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam:

“Dengan izin dan rahmat Allah serta berkat pegangan kita terhadap dasar-dasar MIB selama ini, maka Negara Brunei Darussalam terus meni’mati keamanan, ma’amur dan bahagia, di bawah perlindungan dan √≠nayah Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala.”

In this regard, the people have always strongly supported the policies that are in line with the teaching of Islam under the leadership of His Majesty. In the face of the many challenges besetting the country and its people, His Majesty demonstrated devotion and piety to Allah the Almighty by declaring May 1, 2014 as the official commencement of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013.

This was a historical move to continue the development of Islamic Syariah that began centuries ago, under the reigns of previous Sultans, and has since remained as part of the governing system.

We should learn to trust ourselves to preserve and strengthen the values of MIB towards achieving the goals of Brunei Vision 2035; and to have better a quality of life, that goes with stable economic progress and a well-educated populace.

The success of the Brunei people is not limited to this world, but also extends into the next. Insya Allah.

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