Ketuanan Brunei: A Historical Perspective (MIB Series)

A historic moment which illustrates the superiority of Brunei’s Supremacy that practises MIB through the Customs on the Safeguard Customs on August 1, 1968

Customs written by PM Yusuf (Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusuf bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim)

The evidence of Brunei’s Supremacy on Borneo Island whereby the name of Brunei Bay was also Borneo

‘Ketuanan Brunei’ – A historical perspective

August 7, 2017

| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong, Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) Supreme Council |

BRUNEI is one of the oldest Malay empires that has existed since the Sixth Century, according to historical Chinese records.

Few of the well-known empires in the Malay world include Funan, Campa, Langkasuka, Old Kedah, Negeri Gangga, Angkor, Jambi, Pan-Pan (Kelantan), Sriwijaya and Tanjung Pura.

The majority of these empires were influenced by Hindu-Buddhism, but were later introduced to Islam by the third Khulafaur Rashidin, Saidina Uthman bin Affan in the Seventh Century, with Islamic influence spreading throughout Asia to the Far East.

Through the pages of Brunei’s history, it is acknowledged that we had practised a monumental tradition of monarchy for over 1,400 years – a legacy where the Brunei government had influenced the Malay civilisation before the advent of Islam.

This monarchy is one of the foundations of Brunei’s Supremacy that continues to this day. We are grateful that Brunei continues to maintain this tradition while most of the Malay kingdoms had lost their heritage through time.

This system is a source of harmony and well-being for the life of the people of Brunei, which is a gift from Allah the Almighty in the land of Brunei Darussalam.

In today’s Malay world, Brunei is the only country still practising and maintaining the monarchy system of absolute power, which the Malay people of the Nusantara used to practise. This is based on the sustainability of the monarchy by referring to the early establishment of the Sultanate of Brunei in Kota Batu under the leadership of Awang Alak Betatar in the mid-14th Century AD.

The existence our monarchical system is not only proven based on old records, but also based on the relics of the historical and local artefacts such as tombstones, pottery materials and the Batu Tarsilah located at Makam Diraja, Bandar Seri Begawan.

The advent of the Kingdom of Brunei was further expanded due to the trade routes in Brunei, which inadvertently expanded the political and Islamic influence throughout the Borneo Island. The Sultanate of Brunei was once known to be a supreme empire on Borneo in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

As stated earlier, the Malay race was supreme in the Malay or Nusantara world through the existence of several Malay kingdoms at the beginning of the early centuries. These governments in fact had diplomatic and family relationships linking to mythical sources and historical histories.

This is based on records from some of the great writers like Tun Seri Lanang, Raja Ali Haji, and Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munshi. Tun Seri Lanang’s work entitled ‘Sulaltussalatin’ (or Malay History) is an important legacy to prove the existence of the Malay Supremacy in the Nusantara of the past.

Brunei is one of the kingdoms that inherited the Malay Supremacy based on the practice of Malay values since 1368 AD. The tradition’s legacy continues to be practised until today.

As a country that employs the monarchical, the Malay monarchy’s culture and way of life have spread and expanded on the coasts of Borneo towards the Philippine archipelago. This was apparent when Brunei became a powerful force that dominated the entire Borneo Island in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Based on records of Western immigrants, especially the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch, the name ‘Brunei’ in their context was replaced with ‘Borneo’. This is based on the maps drawn by the Spanish, the Dutch and the Portuguese where ‘Telok Brunei’ was also known as ‘Borneo’.

This shows that Brunei’s civilisation has long existed on Borneo, and even has Brunei as its founder, the successor and survivor of the traditional Malay civilisation to this day.

The monarchy system that has been practised for centuries is a Malay legacy that has been established based on the social contract formed between Lebar Demang Daun and Sang Purba, who became Raja Bukit Seguntang in Palembang.

His heirs became kings in the Malay world, who were also related to the Sultanate of Brunei as a result of Awang Alak Betatar’s marriage with Puteri Johor (the Old Singapore Kingdom) in the mid-14th Century AD. This social contract is also included in the Royal Brunei Customs of PM Yusuf’s writings, which noted:

“Negara Brunei terdiri adalah dengan persatuan dan perpaduan hati raáyat yang telah menyerahkan kuasa diri masing2 kepada Raja (Sultan) untok hak Negara dengan berdasarkan ‘Raja tidak boleh zalim dan raáyat tidak boleh derhaka kepada Raja’.”

In the book Sejarah Melayu authored by Dr Ahmad Dahlan, 2002 issue, it says that a social contract that monopolise the monarchy system was founded by Demang Lebar Daun, who made an agreement with Sang Purba, who was said to be the heir of the descendants of Raja Iskandar Zulkranian, born in Macedonia in 356 BC.

According to the agreement, Demang Lebar Daun who ruled the kingdom of Palembang willingly handed over his royal throne to Sang Purba on the condition that Sang Purba took his daughter, and this was justified as recorded in the Book of Sulalatus Salatin:

“Baiklah tuanku. Tetapi jikalau anak-cucu tuanku (keturunan raja) mengubahkan dia (tetap mempermalukan rakyat) anak-cucu patik (rakyat) pun mengubahkan dia (mengingkari kesepakatan). Dan itu pun dipersetujui sang raja. ‘Baiklah, kabullah hamba akan awád (syarat) itu’ sahut sang raja. Syahlah sumpah setia atau kontrak politikitu, yang akan dijunjung tinggi kedua belah pihak (raja dan rakyat) sampai ke akhir zaman.”

This is the historical record of the Malay Supremacy, which was inherited by the Brunei people as recorded in the Adat Istiadat Diraja Brunei. In essence, Ketuanan Brunei (Brunei’s Supremacy) means that Brunei Darussalam is the property of the Brunei people who practise the system of monarchy, Islam and Brunei Malay culture.

Brunei’s Supremacy based on the monarchy system will continue to preserve and protect the sanctity of Islam as the official religion for Allah the Almighty.

The king is the head of state as Ulil-Amri and the head of the religion, and will continue to rule and ensure the practice and implementation of the teachings of Islam and the culture that does not conflict with Islamic values as the identity of Brunei.

Hence, monarchy as the basis of Brunei’s throne refers to the political system, Brunei’s life and identity. This heritage has been practised by Brunei Darussalam more than 600 years ago, which affected our socio-culture, politics and religion.

The king is the government. The king is the umbrella of the people in which the contract between the king and the people is established through the bond of the king who cannot be cruel, and the people cannot be disobedient.

The king in reign is not a symbol but has actual power to govern and the king is an Ulil-Amri entrusted by Allah the Almighty as a caliph on earth to protect and lead mankind to the path He approves.

The Malay archipelago was ruled by Malay Supremacy, which practises the monarchy system and Islamic religion as the official religion based on the rulings of the king or head of a kingdom in the Malay world before the colonial eras of the 18th to 20th Centuries AD.

Malay Islamic Monarchy is part of the Malay way of life and is still being practised in Brunei, as it is the identity and source of greatness for the Malays in the archipelago.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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