The 1905 Brunei Report

If you have been a regular reader of this blogsite, you would notice that one of the more authoritative text I used a lot is the MacArthur Report of 1904. MacArthur who became Brunei's first British Resident in 1906 was in Malaya when he was asked by the British Government to come and report on Brunei in 1904. It was his report which lays out to the British Government that despite the massive loss of Brunei's territory and the intense pressure from Brooke to be allowed to absorb Brunei into Sarawak, Brunei is still an independent nation and would like to remain independent but needed a lot of help. As a result, the 1906 Supplementary Agreement to the 1888 Protectorate Agreement was signed and a British Resident was placed in Brunei in 1906.

That 1904 report really described what Brunei was like at the turn of the 20th century. Recently I came across another report written in 1905 by another British civil servant by the name of Conway Belfeld. I don't have any information about Belfeld apart from the report that he wrote.

The report was very much shorter than MacArthur's. It appears only as a five A4 very small print report. He reported on both Labuan and Brunei and not just on Brunei alone. He very much substantiated what MacArthur had written but only added certain aspects. He also met with Sultan Hashim and it was his description of Sultan Hashim that many historians used when writing about Sultan Hashim. He said that Sultan Hashim was "... he shows no sign of intellectual weakness, and is only stupid or deaf when it suits him to misunderstand a representation made to him ... there is a greater power of comprehension behind a somewhat immobile countenance that Mr. McArthur gave him credit for ..."

Of Limbang, Belfeld stated that "... that it is improbable that His Majesty's Government were in possession of all these facts when they gave consent to the transfer ..."

There are a number of other information despite the thinness of the report that can make one understand more about Brunei in those days.


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