The Royal Brunei Police and My Grandfather

Within the last 7 days there were 20 thefts according to the papers. I thought that was a bit worrying. I spent my Thursday evening and early Friday morning researching about the Brunei Police for my Sunday Brunei Times weekly column. That recent statistics was a far cry compared to Brunei in the early 20th century.

I discovered that in those years, murder, rape and armed robbery were virtually unknown even theft was considered as rare. Luckily for the Brunei Police in the early years as it was manned by a detachment of sikhs from Labuan considered relatively inefficient. According to records at the end of 1914, there were only 14 people who had ever been held. At the end of 1936, there were only 2 people who were actually in jail then.

Brunei prior to 1904 did not have a single policeman. As soon as McArthur was appointed as the first British Resident in 1906, among his first act was to get two policemen from Labuan who was a Pathan and a Sikh. After this there was a detachment of Sikhs. Ironically one of the Sikhs murdered a British Resident, Mr Maundrell in 1916.

It wasn't until 1921 that the Brunei Police had its own citizens in it. Even then the Police was asked to look after other things including fire services, registrar of all sorts including aliens to firearms and dogs to motor verhicles. In 1931, they were also asked to man the telephone exchange.

My grandfather was one of the earlier policeman. He retired in the 1970s as a Sergeant Major. When I was a very small boy, I remembered sometimes staying overnight at his barracks at Panaga Police Station in Seria and hearing his voice commanding the policemen there. I wish he was still alive. I would have asked him many many things now. As it is I have all these books that I have to read to find out about the Brunei police. As a memory to my grandfather, I have posted a photo of him and his policemen mates taken in 1930s or 1940s.

My article and that photograph will appear tomorrow on Brunei Times if ever you are interested in reading further about the history of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

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