Monday, December 19, 2016

Learning through the lessons of history (MIB Series)

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and the delegation arriving at Bandar Brunei (Kampong Ayer) from Tantaya, Limbang Territory, after the end of World War II.

Ibrahim Mohd Jaafar and family in a photo with the family of the British Resident, Sir John Peel. – PHOTOS: MIB SUPREME COUNCIL

Learning through the lessons of history
on: December 19, 2016
| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong,
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

THE Japanese Occupation of 1941-1945 was a major blow to Brunei’s sovereignty as a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). Under the occupation acts of injustice towards the local populace caused deep resentment that eventually grew into hatred, particularly among Bruneian nationalists.

The occupation also led to the reclaiming of Brunei’s sovereignty led by the Youth Front (BARIP). The movement was supported by Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and his brother Pengiran Bendahara Pemaisura (later Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam).

Before the Japanese Occupation, Brunei was heavily controlled by the British, in which the power of the Sultan was limited only to matters on local customs and religion. Colonialism left Brunei politically weak, as evident from a document found in the National Archives at Kew Gardens in London, which stated that Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin had no power as a Sultan, and that the same constraints were imposed on his privileges, position and monthly royal allowance.

This poor treatment from the British prompted the Sultan to initiate talks on Brunei’s political stance and the monarchial system. This was the first political discourse between a Brunei Sultan and a British Resident, but the discussions came to a premature end when Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin died while en route to London on June 3, 1950.

During the residential era, Brunei was politically instable, with her administration in both internal and external affairs under British administration. In an interview with former British Resident Sir John Peel, in August 1995, he said:

“Brunei was a protected state and the treaty provided that he (the Sultan) should accept a British Resident and his advice on all subjects other than the Mohammedan religion and Malay customs. So the Sultan had to accept my advice on all other subjects and that was just how it was before the war. So I had very wide powers indeed. I was really responsible for the general affairs of the state. In the State Council which was presided over by the Sultan, I was sitting next to him to advise him, because actually I did the paper work of the meeting. Absolutely, I ran the government.”

During and after World War II, Brunei was still a British protectorate. The flames of nationalism were rising across the region, particularly in Malaya and Indonesia. Their fight for political freedom inspired Brunei’s own nationalist movement in the form of BARIP, which led the struggle for Brunei’s independence and sovereignty.

In a previous article, it was mentioned how H M Salleh and his faithful BARIP followers threatened business owners in the capital of Bandar Brunei, over their refusal to lower the Brunei flag to half-mast following the death of His Majesty Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin’s mother in 1947. Fortunately, the business owners agreed with their demands and averted potential riots in the capital.

Another act of patriotism occurred when Ibrahim bin Mohd Jaafar (Pehin Datu Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Ibrahim bin Mohd Jaafar) risked his own life in preserving several government documents during the Japanese Occupation, in 1941. Without those documents, it would have been difficult to rebuild Brunei after the war.

Like his late brother, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien believed that diplomacy was the best solution in engaging with the British, and that aggression was not an option. The road towards the Brunei Constitution is ample proof of the excellent diplomacy between Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and the British. In ‘Syair Perlembagaan’, a literary work by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, he described how Brunei regained her independence through diplomacy and soft negotiations.

Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien continued his brother’s final wish for independence, and reclaimed Brunei’s political rights and sovereignty based on the principles of Malay Islamic Monarchy (these components are upheld in the Brunei Constitution). The declaration of Brunei’s independence in 1984 marked Brunei’s political success in both its internal and external affairs.

Every year, Brunei observes National Day to mark Brunei’s independence. Bruneians, both young and old, gather in a show of patriotism in Bandar Seri Begawan before the monarch, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, to show gratitude towards Allah the Almighty for Brunei’s independence. But how many of us can recall the road to our country’s independence? The story of our national heroes and their fight for independence should be more widely known – a story that we can share with the younger generation. It’s the story of the Brunei patriots who fought to preserve our sovereignty, religion and nation.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted the importance of history as a guide to nation-building and national expansion in the following speech:

“History is the voice of truth, and a most eloquent one. We should not silence this voice, but let it continue to speak more fluently and clearly. History should not be silenced. A country that seeks to hide its history is afraid of its past. We need to have courage – the courage to ask questions and look inside ourselves.

“That is how we can learn from history. A nation that learns from its own past is a great one indeed. It is through history that we can trace our own beginnings and carve out our own name. That’s how wonderful history is.

“The history of Brunei Darussalam carries a most unique aspect: The Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). It was handed down to us not by human artifice but as a gift from Allah the Almighty. As a divine gift, its true worth is immeasurable. It also demands great responsibility, and that responsibility is known by another name – trust.

“So who carries this responsibility? The answer is: all of us, as citizens of this country. We will carry this trust, we will guard it, we will apply its principles, and we will continue to nurture it as our cultural pride.

“We should never allow it to be diminished by outside forces, whether it be an ideology or system which is incompatible with MIB.

“MIB is the life and soul of Brunei. It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but through wisdom and understanding. Everyone needs to understand that MIB is not a ‘narrow lane’ but a broad highway that leads to the comfort and happiness for all.”

These articles have been written to serve as a reminder and guide towards Brunei’s goals of Vision 2035. His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has already stated that he will carry on the legacy of his late father Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, in order to preserve the peace and stability of Brunei Darussalam based on MIB.

Alhamdulillah, with the blessing of Allah the Almighty, the combined strong leadership of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and His Majesty restored our country to her former state of sovereignty and independence on January 1, 1984.

To prevent history from repeating itself, we should embrace what has been entrusted onto us as Bruneians, to preserve the country’s identity and her national philosophy. Our country should not have to undergo another adversity for us to truly appreciate her sovereignty and identity. We should learn by reflecting on the lessons of history, and the fight by our national heroes to protect Brunei’s cultural heritage.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Revival of Brunei Nationalism (MIB Series)

A photo of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin attending the afternoon banquet in conjunction with the arrival of Macolm MacDonald in Brunei in 1947

The arrival of British High Commissioner for Asia, Malcolm MacDonald is greeted by Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien

A photo of the writer (left) with Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Masri (centre) and Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Haji Umar.

The revival of Bruneian nationalism
on: December 05, 2016

written by:
Dr. Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong
Special Senior Duties Officer
Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council

IT IS said that the greatest strength is forged in the fires of great adversity. The end of the Japanese Occupation during World War II in the 1940s ignited the spirit of nationalism among certain intellectuals who were schooled abroad, and their leadership ultimately paved the way for Brunei’s independence in 1984.

After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Britain hastily set up the British Military Administration (BMA) to oversee the governments under their influence, including Brunei.

British officials in charge of administrative matters in Brunei resented the fact that many locals had cooperated with the Japanese in order to preserve peace – a sentiment that probably stemmed from their military ties and their wartime experiences. Nevertheless, several local officers were denied posts in the government after being denounced as Japanese sympathisers. Many youths were treated as foreigners in their own country and imprisoned without trial.

The formation of Barisan Pemuda (BARIP) in April 1946 sparked a growing sentiment of nationalism among the local youth, particularly those in Bandar Brunei, to fight back for their rights in the land which they called home. Increasingly vocal about their mistreatment, they risked losing not only their assets and social standing, but also their own lives, in the pursuit of restoring the country to a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

One name stood out among others in the British Resident’s records: H M Salleh, (also known as Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Masri) who was supported by prominent local leaders such as P Y or Yura Halim (Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran (Dr) Haji Mohd Yusuf bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim) and Mohd Jamil bin Umar (Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Haji Umar).

H M Salleh led the BARIP movement and wrote about his experiences during the war in his book, ‘Tunangan Pemimpin Bangsa’, which he wrote while being incarcerated for 100 days in Kuala Belait by the government. Written in the Jawi script, the book described Brunei’s predicament by the Japanese regime and discriminated against under the BMA, with anecdotal evidence and records of events that the British Resident failed to record, such as the Ganyang China Incident, which was an altercation between the Malays and Chinese which led to the imprisonment of several key figures in BARIP.

During the arrival of Malcolm MacDonald, the British High Commissioner for Asia to Brunei in 1947, BARIP members raised a decorative arch which bore the following phrases: ‘Exclusive rights for the Sultan’, and ‘The Restorer of Peace and Justice, and his subjects’.

This was frowned upon by the British, who demanded that BARIP change the wording. BARIP responded by saying that its members would only erase the words with their own blood, an act of defiance which would later influence the tide of opposition against the British. To avoid further conflicts, the arch remained for the duration of MacDonald’s visit.

Another undocumented event in 1947 illustrates the staunch patriotism of the BARIP leaders. Influenced by foreign powers, all buildings in the vicinity of Bandar Brunei refused to carry the flag at half-mast upon the announcement of the death of Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Siti Fatimah.

With the consent of Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Jamalul Alam), H M Salleh and the other BARIP members threatened to burn all the buildings in Bandar Brunei, unless the owners showed proper respect for the death of His Majesty’s mother, and they eventually yielded.

In his interviews, H M Salleh frequently talked about the hardships faced by the Bruneians who were discriminated against in their homeland and denied their own heritage and sovereignty. This particularly applied to those who had studied in Malaya and had personally met with Malay nationalist leaders, such as Harun Aminnurrashid who had been seconded to Brunei from the Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College in Tanjung Malim, Perak.

Harun Aminnurrashid played an important role in developing and influencing young Bruneians, including those who studied at the Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College.

As recalled by H M Salleh:

“Sebelum dihantar ke Tanjung Malim saya belum begitu tahu dengan mendalam tentang semangat kebangsaan dan kesedaran tentang berbangsa. Waktu sampai di Sultan Idris Teacher’s Training College dan belajar dari Harun maka saya mendapat semangat itu. Cikgu Harun amat bijak, dia memerhati keadaan saya dan mencuba mendekati saya. Saya pada masa itu merupakan seorang murid yang agak maju di antara anak-anak Brunei dan dapat diumpamakan seperti kain putih. Cikgu Harun yang mencelup kain itu dengan warna merah, dia injek ke dalam jiwa saya semangat kebangsaan begitu juga kepada murid-murid yang lain. Bagi saya dia ialah seorang nasionalis tulen-pure nationalist, pejuang kebangsaaan yang besar, dia pelopor semangat kebangsaan Melayu. Menjadi tumpuan kami pelajar-pelajar menumpahkan kepercayaan kepadanya.” (“Harun Aminnurashid: Pembangkit Semangat Kebangsaan”, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka KL 1982, hlm 145-146)

BARIP’s words and slogans were often ridiculed and ignored, in favour of a perceived future full of peace and prosperity. Had our leaders followed the wishes of the majority back then, we would probably have ended up as an insignificant state with very little semblance to our former illustrious history. Some even questioned BARIP’s motives and mocked their efforts in publications such as ‘Ulu’, a book written in the West by Danish.

The efforts of BARIP and other nationalist parties to hold on to the values of MIB and protect the country’s integrity ultimately led to the preservation of our national history for the current generation — a gift that that we should learn to value, for the sake of future generations.

“…jangan lupa dasar luar kah atau dasar dalam kah, paksinya ialah MIB. Beta tegaskan di sini MIB bukanlah ia untuk tahan-tahan dalam negara sahaja tetapi juga untuk di bawa ke luar. Bertolak dari MIB inilah, kita akan menghulurkan tangan kepada semua orang untuk bersahabat dan berbaik-baik dengan siapa jua. Kita mesti tunjukkan kepada dunia akan keluhuran MIB bukan menapukkan.” – (From a titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bokiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien. Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; in January 2016)

The arduous journey towards the preservation of our national philosophy was far from easy. We faced and overcame the ordeals of foreign interference, but at a great cost. We need to reflect on the challenges faced by important figures in our history, who fought for the preservation of our national history and cultural heritage We should not take their patriotism for granted, and always remember how blessed we truly are by Allah the Almighty.

Significant historical figures who fought along Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1924-1950) and Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien (1950-1967) from pre-independence days until World War II are: Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohd Yassin; Pengiran Muda Abdul Kahar; H M Salleh; P M Yusof; Pengiran Abu Bakar; Pengiran Haji Muhammad Salleh bin Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad; Pengiran Haji Metassan bin Pengiran Haji Omar; Pengiran Muhammad bin Pengiran Abdul Rahman Piut; Haji Hasbollah bin Muhammad Daud; Marsal bin Maun; Basir bin Taha; Muhammad Jamil bin Umar; Pengiran Mohd. Ali bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Daud; Abdul Hamid bin Othman; Othman bin Sungguh; Abdullah bin Ali Hashim; Pengiran Damit bin Pengiran Sungguh; and Othman bin Bidin and others.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Brunei Darussalam Tackles Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases

Brunei Darussalam tackles rise of non-communicable diseases
27 Nov 2016

The rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is placing an increasing burden on Brunei Darussalam’s health care system and economy, though the government is stepping up efforts to improve the nation’s health.

NCDs have been the main cause of death in Brunei Darussalam for more than 30 years, with a shift away from traditional lifestyles and dietary patterns seen as the underlying cause, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

If unchecked, the increasing incidence of NCDs could put a strain on the country’s health care system, as well as affect social and economic growth.

“Without a change in our behaviour, the number of obese adults in the country is forecast to soar. This will prove devastating for the country and pose a real barrier towards our national development,” the MoH said in a statement in June.

Rising to the challenge

In response, the government has launched the Brunei Darussalam National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs (BruMAP-NCD) 2013-18­ – a broad programme to boost the prevention and treatment of NCDs ­– as part of the MoH’s Vision 2035, known as “Together Towards a Healthy Nation”.

The programmes aim to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 18% by 2018, a goal that is in line with the global target of a 25% reduction by 2025.

Under the BruMAP-NCD’s five objectives ­– to reduce tobacco use, promote a balanced and healthy diet, increase physical activity, identify people at risk of NCDs and manage effectively, and improve the quality of care and outcome of NCDs management – health officials have laid out a number of more specific national targets.

For example, the government aims to curb tobacco consumption by 30% by 2018 and to make public places smoke-free by the end of this year.

In terms of diet, state agencies are targeting a 10% reduction in salt usage, encouraging more Bruneians to engage in regular exercise and mandating improved diets for children by regulating the products offered at school canteens, as well as implementing health programmes in the country’s workplaces.

Overall, these lifestyle changes aim to achieve a 1% reduction in the rate of increase of obesity and diabetes by 2018.

Meanwhile, measures to bolster treatment will include initiatives to identify people at risk of developing NCDs, provide support for the effective management of illnesses and ensure the availability of affordable technologies and generic medicines in both private and public health care facilities.

Risk of obesity

The need for such measures is crucial especially as the country is seeing an increase in obesity in its youth, which is leading to higher levels of NCDs in the adult population.

Obesity is reaching alarming levels among the country’s young people, with half of the nation’s children over the age of five either overweight or obese, according to a statement made by Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, minister of health, in mid-October.

“From 2008 to 2014, obesity among school children in Brunei Darussalam increased from 12% to 18%,” he said. “This means that obesity rises by 1% every year. If this issue is unresolved, every single child in Brunei could potentially be obese in the near future.”

As a result of this growing trend, health conditions normally seen in adults are occurring in children, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.

The increasing rate of excessive weight in childhood is also likely to contribute to obesity later in life, with the MoH showing that currently 62% of Bruneians are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, 30% of the total population suffer from high blood pressure, 12.4% from diabetes and 70% from above-average levels of cholesterol.

Measurable success

Although Brunei Darussalam still has a way to go to curtail NCDs, progress is already being made, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO’s “NCDs Progress Monitor” released last year indicated that Brunei Darussalam had made the most strides out of all ASEAN countries in preventing and combatting NCDs. The country achieved 10 out of 18 indicators on the WHO’s index, such as smoke-free policies and health warnings to reduce tobacco usage, advertising bans and pricing policies to limit alcohol intake, drug therapy and counselling for high-risk individuals, and public awareness on diet and physical activity.

Brunei Darussalam scored higher than other countries in the region, such as Cambodia (3), Myanmar (2) and Laos (1), as well as slightly better than Singapore (9) and Malaysia (8).

Courtesy of the Oxford Business Group

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