Sultans of Brunei Series I - Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin

[For my Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times, I am currently writing about the Sultans of Brunei. This is what I wrote about Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, Brunei's 27th Sultan three weeks ago on BT.]

HIS Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam II was born at the palace in Pekan Brunei on 4th June 1913. His father His Royal Highness Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam II was coronated the Sultan of Brunei in 1918 even though his father Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam died in 1906. During that time, Brunei was ruled by a Council of Regency until Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam was coronated as the Sultan of Brunei in 1918.

His Royal Highness Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam II had encouraged the teaching and learning of Islam in Brunei. He also built a mosque in the capital even though during his reign, Brunei's revenue from oil had not yet materialised.

The mosque was popularly known as Masjid Marbut Pak Tunggal but it was officially known as Masjid Pekan Brunei — the Brunei Town Mosque. The mosque was used by Bruneians staying in the capital before it was destroyed by Allied bombings during the Second World War.

His Royal Highness Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam died young. He died in 1924 at the age of thirty five and his son, Pengiran Muda Ahmad Tajuddin, ascended the throne.

His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was only eleven years old when he ascended the throne and became the 27th Sultan of Brunei. Similarly like his father when he ascended the throne, being a minor, the reign was again temporarily held by a Council of Regency on his behalf until he came of age. The Council then consisted of Pengiran Bendahara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman and Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Mohammad Yassin. The Council reigned Brunei from 11th September, 1924, to 19th September, 1931.

His Royal Highness was the first Sultan to receive formal education at the palace. From a very young age, His Royal Highness studied Islamic Knowledge under a specially appointed religious official. He was also taught English by a European teacher from the age of fourteen.

His Royal Highness was very active. In 1927, he officially opened the Brunei-Tutong Highway. It was during his rule that the conglomerate of British Malayan Petroleum Company and Shell struck oil in Padang Berawa, now known as Seria.

In 1929, he opened the first modern hospital in Brunei Darussalam. It was a thirty-bed hospital. Before that hospital was opened, there was no government doctor or hospital in Brunei. In 1932, he also managed to visit England.

The year before that His Royal Highness had assumed the throne. On 19th September 1931, he was only eighteen years old. The official coronation however took place almost nine years later on 17th March 1940. Even though it would take almost nine years when he was officially coronated, he was still the Sultan of Brunei.

As Sultan he had married Tengku Ampuan Raihani binti Sultan Alaudin Sulaiman Shah, the daughter of Sultan Alaudin Sulaiman Shah, the Sultan of Selangor. The nikah ceremony was held at the Jame Rahmah Mosque in Klang, Selangor. The wedding took place on 6th May 1934. Slightly more than a year later in October 1935, Her Royal Highness gave birth to a princess named Pengiran Anak Puteri Noorehsani.

During the World War II, in 1941, the Japanese landed in Brunei. His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin retained his throne during the war and was bestowed with a pension and Japanese honours. However he had very little to do with the Japanese during the occupation and he together with the royal family left Brunei to stay at a temporary palace at Tantuya in Limbang towards the end of the Second World War. In 1945, the allied army landed and liberated Brunei from the Japanese. The British Military Administration (BMA) took over the running of the government. It was in 1946, before the government took over from British Military Administration.

Like his father before him, His Royal Highness too was concerned with the expansion and improvement of formal education as well as that of religious education.

His Royal Highness was also a keen writer. Among others he wrote a book called the "Panduan Keselamatan" which contained useful advice. These were some of His Majesty's contribution during his reign.

It was also during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin that saw Brunei Darussalam having her own national anthem "Allah Peliharakan Sultan" or "God save the Sultan". In 1947, the national anthem was composed by Awang Besar Sagap and lyrics written by Pengiran Mohammad Yussof Bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim.

That same year, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin bestowed the title "wazir" to his brother, Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien.

On 20th September 1949, His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin celebrated his Silver Jubilee or the 25th anniversary of ascending the throne. At the ceremony His Royal Highness was knighted and bestowed with the KBE by the British High Commissioner to Brunei on behalf of King George VI.

The ceremony was attended by the Commissioner General of Southeast Asia and representatives from neighbouring countries.

A few months after the celebration, His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was on his way to Britain for an official visit. Unfortunately he was taken ill and later died in Singapore of a haemorrhage. It was 4th June 1950 and His Royal Highness died at the young age of thirty six.

After his untimely death from natural causes, he was succeeded by his brother who became His Royal Highness Sultan 'Omar Ali Saifuddin III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei. His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin did not have a male heir.

His Royal Highness reign represented the start of a new era in Brunei. The discovery of oil changed the whole course of Brunei's history and enabled faster development in all sectors of the country. The expansion and improvement of formal education and his encouragement of religious education were some of his additional contributions to Brunei Darussalam.


Pg Runa said…
I believe that place in Limbang was known as Kg. Tentaya. I remember my Nini used to hide the Sultan entourage in a cave somewhere in that village which was headed by a man known as 'Pehin Datu Amar'. S Ahmad Tj also have 2 more daughters: Pg Anak Hjh Saerah and Pg Anak Hjh Siti Halimah. They also knowns as the Belababs.
Rozan Yunos said…
Thanks Pg Runa for the additional info. I have always been curious why they are called Belababs?
Pg Runa said…
Actually there is 1 more daughter known as Pg Anak Hjh Zubaidah. I suppose that's why there are known as Belabab Basar, Tangah and Damit. They were given birth S. Ahmad Tj Consort knowns as Ka Dayang Amas.
:) said…
Apa erti "Belabab"? and why are they called belabab? i enjoyed reading your entry. v informative.
Anonymous said…
Gundik. Belabab Basar, Tengah sama Damit. Saerah, halimah and zubaidah.
Anonymous said…
Just to give some information, actually PAP Noorehsani is the belabab damit.Sultan Ahmad tajuddien was married to Dayang amas before she was married to Tengku raihani. History got it all wrong. - grandson of belabab
Anonymous said…
i notice there is one male royal tomb in kg menumbok, sabah. my mother told me that the brunei istana used to visit and doa there in the 70s. i hope pg runa can share some light with me. - ali
Anonymous said…
Assalam DP rozan dan pg Runa saya sangat berminat untuk mengkaji sejarah sultan brunei, saya ingin tahu siapakah dia Pg Bendahara pg anak hj muhd yassin yg pernah memangku raja semasa pemerintahan Almahrum SMJAII dan Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin?
Anonymous said…
dari cerita orang tua , Pg anak hajah Siti Zubaidah iaitu salah seorang isteri sultan Ahmad Tajudin juga mempunyai seorang anak iaitu Dayangku Cucu. Dayangku Cucu telah berkahwin dengan orang Lawas dan berpindah ke Lawas dan mempunyai 3 ORANG ANAK... TETEPI KENAPA DALAM GEANYLOGY MUZIUM bRUNEI TIDAK DINYATAKAN PERKARA TERSEBUT. ...
Anonymous said…
saya adalah salah seorang cicit kepada Pengiran anak Hajah Siti Zubaidah ... iaitu salah seorang isteri kepada Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin . Andai anda mengetahui lebih detail tentang moyang saya ..sila hubungi saya di alamat tinta_ainna80@ , ..kerana saya benar benar ingin mencari dan merapatkan semula talian siratuln rahim yg telah lama terputus.
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry to ride on all your comments but I just have to clarify some things...

First of all, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was married to Kadayang Amas before his marriage with Tengku Raihani.

Second of all, he had 3 daughters with Kadayang Amas: Pg Anak Saerah (Belabab Basar), Pg Anak Siti Zubaidah (Belabab Tangah - deceased) & Pg Anak Hjh Siti Halimah (Belabab Damit - deceased in Jan 2009)

Thirdly, Puteri Norehsani is not Belabab Damit. 'Belabab' was the nickname given only to his 1st three daughters with Kadayang Amas by the Sultan himself.

Forthly, Belabab means beloved. Yes, it's beloved.

Pg Anak Siti Zubaidah is not his wife but she's her daughter. So I don't know where y'all get that Dayang Cucu info from.
Anonymous said…
oh ok terima ksih atas informasi tadi, disitu terdapatnya beberapa kesilapan , di mana saya sendiri telah menanyakan beberapa orang tua di lawas, moyang saya yang bernama pengiran anak siti zubaidah ibni sultan hashim bukan sultan tajuddin, pengiran anak siti zubaidah ni mempunyai rĂ mai adik beradik antaranya pengiran anak siti mariam, pangiran anak tengah di mana waris mereka ini sempat saya temui ketika di labuan dan lawas, malah cerita tentang moyang saya ini saya ketahui melalu pengiran harun dan pengiran qadut di lawas, yang kini berusia lebih dari 80 thun,org tua lain kebanyakan sudah tiada ,... selain itu saya ingin mengetahui siapakah perempuan yg bergambar dgn sultan tajuddin kerana rupa perempuan tersebut sgt sgt menyerupai adik ibu saya iaitu dayang bongsu. . .
Anonymous said…
assalamualaikum, saja kan bertanya dan mau tahu, dapatkah biskita mencarikan salasilah datukku Pg.haji Apong Bin Pg.Puteh?
Anonymous said…
hello, just want to clarify some things here, correct me if I'm wrong but don't quote me on this. Is the belababs (belabab tangah, respectively) are the daughters of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin from a gundik or more commonly known as a commoner?
david teoh said… meminati sejarah kesultanan melayu nusantara.melalui hasil bacaan sy dapati ada bbrp keluarga diraja meninggalkan Brunei waktu dahulu.satu yg mnjadi tarikan sy adalah SMJAll yg meninggalkan Brunei lalu ke Sabah kemudiannya meneruskan ke bbrp tmpat d Selatan Filipina.selang bbrp tahun kemudian SMJAll kembali ke Brunei lalu dijadikan Sultan pd masa itu.walaupun perjalanannya tidak dipaparkan namun begitu tertarik mengetahui kisah prjlanan SMJAll..

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