My good friend, the Deputy at the History Centre kindly gave me the Centre's latest publication yesterday, Jurnal Darussalam. The journal is published once or twice a year filled with articles written by historians or other writers writing about history related to Brunei. There are only two publications which I refer to whenever I write about the history of Brunei, this one and the Brunei Museum Journals. Anyway on the way home yesterday, I was reading the journal and found that all the seven articles interesting. I am returning the goodwill to my friend by doing a bit of publicity for this journal and today will focus on three of the articles and leave the rest for some other time.
The first two aricles concerned the historical relationship between Brunei and China, one written by Pehin Jamil, the Head of the History Centre and the other written by a Chinese scholar historian, Professor Wu Zongyu.
Pehin's article entitled 'Raja Brunei dari China?' ('Did the Brunei King come from China?') was rather short but concentrate on a few European sources (Low, Groenevelt, Logan and Brown) on the possibility of the early Brunei Sultanate was of Chinese origin. Logan and Brown both noted the possibility that Ong Sum Peng, the son in law of Sultan Muhammad, became Sultan Ahmad (the second Sultan) and this was backed up by the 'Salasilah Raja-Raja Brunei' version Datu Iman Aminuddin (written in the 1800s). But Pehin contended that it was the Chinese record of the Ming Dynasty that maintained that when Sultan Muhammad died, he was replaced by Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan and a tombstone with the name of his daughter was actually found in Brunei stating that fact. He further argued that the throne would normally be passed from father to son and if there is no heir, then it would go to the brother. So in this case since Sultan Abdul Majid died in China, it was the brother of Sultan Muhammad, Awang Pateh Berbai who took over the throne.
Interesting possibility but not altogether impossible. After all it happened some 600 years ago and nobody really knew what happened then. Some can argue that Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan is actually not in the Salasilah Raja-Raja Brunei but his tomb was found in China and to put him in the current record would mean rejigging the numbers of the Sultans which makes thirty altogether instead of the present twenty nine. So, there is a possibility that he did not make it back to Brunei in time to take the throne and that someone else took over. The other argument that the throne normally passes to the brother conveninently forgetting the fact that the third Brunei Sultan, Sultan Sharif Ali, was also not the son of Sultan Ahmad but he was the son in law of Sultan Ahmad and he was not a Bruneian either, he originated from Arabia. I rest my case.
Professor Wu Zongyu wrote a very interesting article entitled the 'Brunei-China Friendship' on the history of the relationship from the sources of the documents from the Chinese very long history. The first mention of Brunei was in 517 CE when the then King of Brunei sent their first diplomatic mission to China. This king is not even known in Brunei's history and was 1,000 years earlier before Sultan Muhamamad, the first Brunei Sultan. In one reply from the Emperor of China, the Emperor stated that he named one of the mountain in Brunei 'Gunong Negeri Aman Sepanjang Masa' translated as 'Mountain of the country of Ever Peaceful' which the Professor related to the 'Darussalam' name of Brunei. Has Darussalam been in Brunei's name for that long ago or is it a coincident? In Brunei, there was also found a tombstone with the name Pu Gong which can be dated to between 900 to 1200 CE, some 250 to 500 years earlier before Sultan Muhammad. Pu Gong is actually a Muslim name as Pu means Abu in Chinese then. The Chinese Muslims were actually here much earlier than before Sultan Muhammad converted to Islam. So was it the Arabs who brought Islam to Brunei or did it come through China?
Professor Wu made two other interesting points, one about the origin of the tapioca in China. He stated that the origin of the common tapioca in China is from Brunei and was brought by a Chinese named Jin Xuezeng from Fujian Province and the tapioca was named 'ubi Brunei' or 'ubi Jin', The other point was that in 750 CE, one record stated that a Chinese named Wang Yao built a ship 60 meter long for somone named Li Luan with timber from Brunei. The ship was capable of carrying 2,000 tonnes. It's amazing when you think about it. Brunei was exporting timber about 900 years ago to China to build Chinese vessels and no doubt indirectly helping China expand its territories around the region.
The final article I wanted to focus on is written by Dr Hadi entitled, 'Brunei within the Era of Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation 1963-1969'. Due to space constraint, I would not go into details but shall just reproduce the introduction to the article '...The effects of the Brunei Revolt should be discussed in two areas. Internally it sounded the death knell of the popular representative government in Brunei while within the wider regional context, the revolt served as the catalyst for Indonesia's policy of Confrontation with Malaysia. It is the aim of this paper to discuss the latter effect of the revolt. Briefly it will highlight the revival of the National Army of North Kalimantan (TNKU), the military left-wing of the Partai Rakyat Brunei (PRB) after the Revolt of December of 1962...' Sounds very interesting, right? The article touched on a subject which used to be uncomfortable for us in Brunei. To be able to discuss this just shows how much we have moved on since then.
If you want to know more, head right over to the shop at the History Centre at Jalan Sultan and fork out $** .... I just realised I don't know how much the journal cost ... anyway I think it's less than $10. For that amount of money, you can take a journey back in time to 1,000 years ago in Brunei History. That's real good value for money.