Monday, October 31, 2016

British Royal Visits To Brunei


British Royal Visits to Brunei
by Rozan Yunos

The recent state visits by the Emir of Kuwait and the President of the Philippines did not faze the public very much in Brunei. The Brunei people are so accustomed to seeing heads of states and heads of governments visiting Brunei ever since Brunei became an independent nation in 1984.

It was not the case before that. When Brunei was still a British Protectorate state, there was no regular visit of such prestige. Over the course of about eighty years prior to full independence, there were only visits by the British Monarch and members of the British Royal Family. When they visited Brunei, they were treated with great pomp and ceremony.

During the reign of His Majesty Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, there were two such visits.

It was sixty four years ago to this month that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent and her son, the Duke of Kent visited Brunei. It was on October 21, 1952. The Duchess of Kent was Princess Marina, daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and her son was Prince Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick. The Royal visitors were accompanied by the High Commissioner, Lady Rachel Davidson and Viscount Althrop.

His Majesty himself greeted the arrival of the royal party together with the British Resident, Mr JCH Barcroft and members of the Brunei State Legislative Council. After inspecting the Guard of Honour, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent accompanied by His Majesty were borne by a Royal Litter to the Council Chamber escorted by the bearers of the Brunei Royal Regalia.

It was at the Council that an address of welcome was made by His Majesty to which Her Royal Highness made a reply. In the days when there was no official royal residence for visitors, the Duchess stayed at the British Residency at Jalan Subok. She stayed there for two nights before proceeding to Seria. A Royal Banquet was held in her honour by His Majesty at Istana Darul Hana.

It would be eight years later before another visit took place. On February 28, 1959 His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Brunei.

The Duke of Edinburgh was accompanied by the former Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Alexander Graniham, the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Admiral Lord Fraser of North cape, Squadron Leader J. Severne acting as Adjuntant and JBV Orr, the Duke's Confidential Secretary. The royal party arrived on the plane 'Heron' which was piloted by His Royal Highness himself.

The Duke of Edinburgh first set foot on Brunei soil at 9.26 am at Anduki Airfield in Seria. A few minutes later, the crowd was able to view him when he was taken in an open car to Seria along the road thronged with people and school children, all happily waving the Brunei and British flags. At Seria, His Royal Highness was taken on a tour of an oil rig in operation, the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company's Trade School and the youth gathering at the Marina Padang. The Marina Padang is now an empty open area. In that area, there was once a cinema called the Marina.

In the afternoon, the Duke's plane took off from Anduki and landed after a very short flight at Berakas Airport. This was the old Berakas Airport. That airport terminal is now used by the Government Printing Department and the runaway is now a road serving the many government ministries and departments in the Old Airport Complex area.

On his arrival, His Majesty himself welcomed him. Accompanying His Majesty was the High Commissioner Sir Anthony Foster Abell, the British Resident Mr DC White and other State Dignitaries.

From the airport, the royal motorcade was greeted by school children, scouts, girl guides, red cross and the public all lining up along the road. Prior to arriving at Istana Darul Hana, His Royal Highness officially declared open a new bridge which was named after him as the Edinburgh Bridge. This is the bridge that crosses over the river connecting Bandar Seri Begawan to the Batu Satu area. It used to be part of Jalan Sultan but it has now been renamed as Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha.

At the Istana Darul Hana, the Duke was introduced to members of the Brunei Royal Family after which he received gifts on behalf of his children, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne. The gift presented to the Prince was a scaled model of an 'Ajong' (Royal Barge) used in ancient times and named 'Sindaun'.

In the evening, the Duke accompanied by His Majesty watched a firework display, decorated boats pageant and decorated houses of the Kampong Ayer from the deck of the MV Sultan. A State Banquet was also held.

It was the next day, after inspecting the Guard of Honour and after bidding farewell to His Majesty that the Royal Party flew to North Borneo at around 9 am. It was in remembrance of the visit that a palace was built and named as the Istana Edinburgh.

During the reign of Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II, a visit by a member of the British Royal Family also took place. It was on May 19, 1922 when His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales arrived in Brunei. The Prince later became King Edward VIII in 1936 but after less than a year, he abdicated to marry an American lady, Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Visiting Brunei was part of the Prince of Wales' tour of the Colonies and Protected States which began in 1919 and ended in 1931. His arrival was greeted by His Majesty and his chief ministers. The Brunei Annual Report of 1922 noted that "on the arrival of the launch bearing the Royal Standard a salute was fired and having made a tour round the Kampong on the water, the Prince landed at the Customs Jetty. The Prince and the Sultan journeyed to the Audience Hall in a wonderfully carved litter of immense size borne by a dozen or more lusty bearers."

At the Lapau, His Majesty gave the first public speech in English. After the welcoming ceremony the Prince of Wales was taken for a tour of the Tasek and after lunch, the Prince and his party left for the Customs Jetty to leave Brunei.

It was not until 1972, that a British Monarch first came to visit Brunei.

It was at 9.30 am on February 29, 1972 that HMY Britannia berthed alongside the new Muara Port. On the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II, the British High Commissioner welcomed Her Majesty, HRH Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Anne. The Royal Party then departed by car for Datu Gandi where they board the Royal Barge accompanied by Court Ministers in their decorated boats to continue the journey to the Customs Wharf in Bandar Seri Begawan.

On arrival, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah personally welcomed Her Majesty. After inspecting the Guard of Honour under the command of His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the royal visitors traveled by the Usongan (Royal Carriage) to the Lapau. Both monarchs gave their addresses at the Lapau before a Royal Luncheon at Istana Darul Hana.

In the afternoon, Her Majesty visited the Churchill Memorial Museum, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and the Brunei Museum where she officially opened the Museum before holding a reception for British nationals at the Residency. In the evening, she held a reception on board HMY Brittania.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Brunei again in September 1998, where she returned to a Brunei which has since gained independence.

/End of Article

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Centre of Excellence for Halal Research UNISSA

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni AI-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam delivering a titah during the 6th Hafl Al-Takharruj (convocation ceremony) of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif All (UNISSA) held at the International Convention Centre yesterday. PHOTO COURTESY : INFOFOTO

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, 23 October 2016

Brunei Darussalam can be developed into a global Halal hub that will help drive the country's economic growth.

This was stated in a titah delivered by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni AI-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the 6th Hafl Al-Takharruj (convocation ceremony) of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif All (UNISSA) held at the International Convention Centre yesterday.

"There are many areas that UNISSA must explore. One of them is the Halal industry that is fast expanding globally. Is the Halal status not a key requirement of Islam?" His Majesty asked.

"The global market value of the Halal industry is increasing and is estimated to be very large. Within the overall global food industry, the Halal industry has expanded by 16 per cent. The industry may expand to 20 per cent of global trade in food products.

"In view of this, I fully support UNISSAs plan to set up a Centre of Excellence for Halal Research as a catalyst to fulfil my aim to make Brunei Darussalam a 'global Halal hub'that will help drive the country's economic growth," the monarch said.
Highlighting UNISSA's present significance, His Majesty said, "In facing the current issue of accusations and provocations against Islam, I see UNISSA as having a very important role to play in portraying a correct and accurate image of this religion," His majesty said.

"In moving towards this direction, UNISSA students not only have to be proficient in the Al-Quran and the Arabic language, but must also have a deep understanding of the classical works of the Ali Sunnah Wallama'ah scholars of the past in various disciplines of knowledge.

"In addition to that, UNISSA, as an institute of knowledge, also has to be attuned to the developments in the academic landscape and the human resource demands in Brunei.

As such, I am optimistic that the rebranding of the faculty, the expansion of programmes and the offering of new ones, as well as the assessment and changes to a number of courses, are wise and apt steps taken by UNISSA. These steps are some of the best initiatives in further expanding career opportunities for graduates of this university."

"As such, it is important that we pay attention to UNISSA. A key focus that relevant parties should pay attention to includes the building of UNISSA's permanent campus in Temburong. This is important in realising UNISSA's status as a world-class Islamic institute of higher learning."

Earlier in the titah, His Majesty congratulated the graduates who are receiving their degrees and diplomas as well as the parents, guardians and lecturers "who have always worked very hard to see our graduates succeed".

The monarch was happy to know that on the 6th Convocation Ceremony, UNISSA managed to produce its first batch of double degree programme graduates in Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Syariah Law and pleased to note that the first batch of graduates from the Syariah Criminal justice System Certificate completed their studies at UNISSA.

All praise be to Allah the Almighty, this achievement, in my view, is a significant one, aligned with the nation's needs and the expansion of contemporary knowledge.

"Meanwhile, I also hope that the graduates will not be satisfied with merely having a certificate and their academic titles, but are also able to become the driving force in my government, specifically, in establishing the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013."

His Majesty also took the opportunity to congratulate and thank the entire UNISSA community, including the university's Council and senate members, rectors, key officials, academics, and all officers and staff of the university for their contributions.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Brunei in 1888

Brunei in 1888
By Rozan Yunos

Sometime in 1888, Vice Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon, VC, KCB, was cruising off the coast of Borneo according to the newspaper The Illustrated London News on 13 October 1888. He stopped in Brunei and met Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin ibni Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, the 25th Sultan of Brunei. Sultan Hashim ascended the throne in 1885 after the death of Sultan Abdul Momin. Vice Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon was the commanding officer of the British Naval squadron on the China station.

The newspaper also reported that the island of Borneo had not yet been thoroughly explored. It noted that there were three states, that of Rajah Brooke’s Sarawak, the area occupied by the British North Borneo and Brunei. It also reported that the Dutch Government has formed settlements in the southern and western parts of Borneo, which are administered in connection with Java, but the interior, with its “primitive tribes of natives” is pretty much left to itself.

The Illustrated London News ran a number of articles on Brunei during that century. On 13 December 1845, it wrote about the capital of the “kingdom of Borneo Proper, or Brunai” which contained “a considerable number of houses, built on posts, four or five feet high, which, at the rise of the tide, allow the water to pass freely under them. The streets are formed by canals, either natural or artificial, which facilitate communication; and they are always covered with boats, which are managed by women with great dexterity… the Chinese find it advantageous to build their junks here; for, though the island has no teak, it produces other kinds of good ship-timber, among which is the camphor tree.”

On 27 June 1857, it ran another article entitled ‘Bruni’ and it described the capital of Brunei which the Europeans then refer to as Borneo Proper. It described Brunei, “most of the houses are built on piles, the remained being erected on the ground. At the back of these tenements the hills gradually rise, with their upas and other trees growing on them … at a distance the locality is miserable to behold, but on a near approach the lively and busy aspect which usually pervades the town produces a very different impression.”
“There being no shops in Bruni, bargaining in many sort of articles is pursued in the little craft which lies off the town. Several Chinese junks navigate the river … there are two streets in the town, intersecting each other, forming an irregular cross, and dividing it into four sections. The palace is large but as incommodious as the houses. Iron is so scarce as to be sufficiently valuable to be used as money. The lower orders of people wear a conical straw hat, with a very wide brim; and others are but slenderly clothed. The population (whose number is uncertain) chiefly consists of Malays, who indicated their citizenship by calling themselves Brunese.”

In the 1888 article, the newspaper described the town of Brunei, as the place “where the Sultan resides, is situated at the head of the Gulf of Labuan, only thirty miles from the little island of Labuan, with its British official residents, and is regularly visited by steamers from Singapore.”

“The inhabitants of the town, numbering 12,000, are Malays, with some Dyaks, and there are no Europeans living there. Our correspondent, the Rev. O’Donnell Ross Lewin, naval chaplain to H.M.S. Audacious, who has favoured us with Sketches of Borneo describes Brunei as a town actually built in the water, the houses being erected on piles. It stand in the estuary of a river, and can be approached only by small vessel.”

“The Sultan’s palace is entered by a ladder. The Sultan is a stout old Malay, of a reddish-brown complexion. He wore a blue jacket, a very large girdle, with an ornamental creese stuck in it; a sarong or short gown, and white trousers. His velvet cap was worked with gold embroidery to resemble a crown. His Prime Minister attended to him.”

By the1880s, Brunei’s situation was quite dire. More territories had been lost to both Rajah Brooke’s Sarawak and the British North Borneo company. Sultan Hashim in 1887 appealed in a letter to Queen Victoria not to allow the cession of more territory and Sir Frederick Weld, the Governor of the Straits Settlement was sent to investigate the situation in Brunei. 

Sir Frederick Weld was sympathetic to the case put forward by Sultan Hashim. He recommended that the solution was to be similar to that already applied to the Malay states which was to appoint a British Resident to assist the Sultan in administering the state. However Sultan Hashim while welcoming the protectorate was not as enthusiastic in accepting a Resident. At the same time the British Government also considered placing a Resident in pre-oil Brunei as too expensive.

The Treaty of Protection was signed on 17 September 1888. The Agreement gave the British Government no right to interfere with the internal administration of Brunei. Similar agreements were also signed by the British Government with Sarawak and British North Borneo. 

The Agreement prohibited Brunei from ceding or alienating territory to any foreign state, or the subjects or citizens thereof, without the consent of the British Government. The British Government was also anxious to prevent a situation in which the German or the French might interfere.

The Illustrated London News had often reported about Brunei and the disintegration of Brunei throughout the 19th century can be read throughout those years in the newspaper. However, its British readers may not realised it at that time. 

DJM Tate in the book ‘Rajah Brooke’s Borneo’ (1988) which compiled all The Illustrated London News articles about Borneo and Brunei noted that “it would be difficult for the ILN reader to detect that, as far as the Malays of Brunei were concerned, they were engaged in a desperate if silent struggle to preserve their political identity. Ever since the fatal cession of Labuan in 1846, they had watched as the various districts of Brunei fell piecemeal into the hands of the Brookes to the west, and, in the late 1870s, into the newly-formed British North Borneo Company to the east.”

Tate credited Governor Weld for the survival of Brunei, “by the time of Admiral Salmon’s visit to the Brunei Court in 1888, the ‘Scramble for Brunei’ was in full swing and matters were reaching a crisis. In fact, it was only the last minute intervention of Sir Frederick Weld, Governor of the Straits Settlement, that prevented the Sultanate from disappearing under the sway of either, but placed under direct British protection, an event which took place in the year of Salmon’s visit.”

During the years after 1888, despite the treaty, Sultan Hashim felt that the British were not much interested in really protecting Brunei. Limbang was taken by Rajah Brooke in 1890. 

Sultan Hashim tried to seek help from Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey. It was then the British sent Malcolm McArthur to look into Brunei’s situation. In 1906, the first British Resident was in Brunei after the Supplementary Agreement to the Treaty of Protection was signed in 1905/1906. Sultan Hashim died in May 1906.

/End of Article

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Brunei's Deep Offshore History, Sunken Wrecks


Brunei's Deep Offshore History, Sunken Wrecks
By Rozan Yunos

A RECENT talk at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam entitled The Offshore Deep History of Brunei Darussalam combined two interesting topics — that of the history of the millions of years of the underwater geological development in the formation of Borneo Island and Brunei, and the history of maritime shipwrecks especially those of the Second World War.

The talk was given by Dr Antonino Briguglio, a Senior Lecturer of Micropalaeontology and Biostratigraphy at the Faculty of Science and Dr Frank Dhont, a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Asian Studies.

Borneo Island and Brunei can be considered ‘new’ geologically having spent much of its time underwater and only rose up to be Borneo Island probably in the last few million years, a long time for human beings but a very short time in the life of the earth.

The changes of the physical structure of the island and the changing levels of the sea have allowed for the formation of fossil fuels which were derived from organic materials washed down ancient rivers down to the deltas which are now submerged under the sea. The same ancient rivers also created a fairly deep and wide incision out of the Brunei Bay now known as the Muara Channel, whose deepest point according to the marine maps is 79 metres.

During World War II, with its abundance of oil, Brunei was considered a very important and strategic prize. Dr Frank Dhont stated that the oil from Borneo and Brunei is estimated to have supplied up to 35 per cent of the Japanese refined petroleum products. Despite the British attempts to deny oil to the Japanese by destroying the oil wells in Seria and Miri, the Japanese were able to bring production back for these oil wells. The Japan Times and Advertiser newspaper on March 25, 1942 had the headline “Borneo Oil Wells Gushing Abundantly”.

The Brunei Bay was an important place for the Japanese warships fighting World War II. In the crucial Battle of Leyte, there were a few Yamato Class Battleships which refueled in Brunei in October 1944. By winning the Battle of Leyte, the Americans were able to lay the foundation to recapture and liberate the entire Philippine Archipelago and ended almost three years of Japanese occupation.

Among the Japanese battleships which refuelled in the Brunei Bay were the Musashi which sank in the battle and the Yamato which was damaged. Serving the ships refueling for the battle were many huge oil tankers. These have been identified as Itsukushima Maru, Nichei Maru, Omurosan Maru, Ryoei Maru, Banei Maru and Yuho Maru. Two additional oil tankers, the Hakko Maru and Nippo Maru arrived too late to help refuel the ships.

Many of these and other Japanese oil tankers were later sunk during the war. The Itsukushima Maru sank at the north of Borneo on October 27, 1944, the Nippo Maru sank in Kudat also in October 1944, the Yuho Maru sank in Miri on November 26, 1944, the Atago Maru also sank in Miri on November 3, 1944, and the Banei Maru sank near Busuanga on November 6, 1944.

Another Japanese oil tanker, the Baei Maru sank on October 28, 1944 in the Brunei Bay with three crew members dead. The shipwreck is now lying in the deeper waters of Brunei.

There are two other World War II shipwrecks in the Brunei Bay. One is known as the American Wreck and the other is known as the Australian Wreck. The American Wreck is a US naval ship, the USS Salute but the Australian wreck is not an Australian ship but a Japanese ship erroneously said to be sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force.

According to Wikipedia, the ship USS Salute (AM-294) was a US Navy oceangoing minesweeper. It was only about three years old when it sank in the Brunei Bay in July 1945 towards the end of World War II. The ship was built by Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Company in Seattle in November 1942, launched in February 1943 and commissioned in December the same year.

The USS Salute was fairly well armed as an Admirable-class minesweeper. She was 56.24 metres long, weighing about 795 tonnes with a top speed of 15 knots and carried a crew of 104. She was armed with one 3-inch/50-calibre gun, one twin Bofors 40mm guns, six Oerlikon 20mm cannons, one Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar, four depth chargers projectors (K-guns) and two depth chargers track.

In March 1944 she was in Hawaii and between April and September 1944, the USS Salute escorted convoys between Pearl Harbor, Majuro, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Guam and Saipan before joining the US 7th Fleet for the Leyte invasion. The USS Salute stayed in Leyte for the next few months as she carried out local patrols and sweeps. The USS Salute also joined in subsequent landings in the Philippines from December 1944 until April 1945 and later to Morotai to prepare for operations in the Netherlands East Indies in May 1945.

On June 7, 1945, the USS Salute began the pre-invasion sweep for the landings in Brunei Bay. It was on June 8, 1945 that she struck a mine, buckled and both bow and stern began to sink.

Even though two landing crafts attempted to salvage the ship, the crew was unable to control the flooding and the ship sank. The USS Salute now lies in 30 metres of water in the Brunei Bay. The ship broke into two pieces and one piece lies across the other.

The Australian Wreck lies south west of Rusukan Besar Island about 23 km from Labuan, not far from the American Wreck. Some say that it is called the Australian Wreck because the ship was sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II but there are some uncertainties about the details of the ship and its sinking.

According to a diving website, the wreck is of a ship which used to be a cargo and passenger steamer originally named SS De Klerk, built in Amsterdam in 1900 (some say 1909) by Nederlandsche Scheep, Maatschappij. She was operated by the KPM (NV Royal Packet Company) plying around the Dutch East Indies area serving the Indonesian islands, Southeast Asia and Australia. The ship was 91.4 metres long and weighing around 2,035 tonnes. She had a speed of 12 knots.

During World War II, the ship was taken over by the Dutch Indies Government at the end of 1942 to be converted as a troop carrier for the Royal Dutch Navy at Cilacap, Indonesia. That conversion could not take place as there were not enough personnel and the Dutch Navy decided to scuttle the ship instead at Dental Jonk Priok on March 2, 1942 to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands.

However, the Japanese were able to salvage the ship in November the same year and renamed it the Imbari Maru (some say it was Imaji Maru).

It was on September 16, 1944 while on a voyage from Singapore to Manila it struck a mine off Labuan and sank. Another version says that the ship was sunk by a torpedo bomb dropped by the Australian Air Force. There were 1,210 personnel on board and 339 of them lost their lives, mostly women and workers. The wreck now lies on the seabed under 21 metres of water.

World War II finally ended for Brunei when the Allied Forces landed on 10 June 1945. A Brunei-Australia War Memorial was unveiled in December 2008 at the site of the Australian soldiers landing at Muara beach.

The writer of The Golden Legacy — the longest running column in The Brunei Times — also runs a website at

The Brunei Times

Inspirational Quotes