Catalysing Independent Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB Series)

The coronation of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien III, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in Bandar Brunei in 1951

The coronation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in 1968

Catalysing independent Malay Islamic Monarchy

October 9, 2017

by Dr Muhammad Hadi Md Melayong,
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council, UBD

AFTER the failure of the youth movement known as Barisan Pemuda (BARIP) and several local organisations that fought for the independence of Brunei from British Protection especially after the end of World War II, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien strived to negotiate directly with the Secretary of State at the Colonial Office, in London about the political future of Brunei.

However, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin’s entourage also encountered a failure. A telegram received by Pengiran Bendahara Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien from Raja Isteri Tengku Ampuan Raihani on June 4, 1950 revealed that he had passed away on the way to London in 1950.

His body was brought back to Brunei through Labuan from Singapore on June 5, 1950. In the evening, a special meeting was held to determine the successor to the Sultan and a ceremonial funeral for the late Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien – chaired by Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad Yassin bin Pengiran Tua Omar Ali – was held. As a result of the meeting, all members came to an agreement that:

According to the Brunei Royal Customs and Traditions that have been practised for generations, Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien was enshrined to be the successor of the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam.

It was also decided that the ceremonial funeral shall be carried out in the Royal Tomb at 19th of Rejab, 1369 Hijrah equivalent to June 6, 1950, at 10am.

According to E E F Pretty (the British Resident), Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin had revetted in Singapore on June 3, 1950 due to illness (the Sultan was allegedly haemorrhaging) on the way to London for official visits.

His body was brought to the Istana Besar, Johor Baharu on June 4 and flown to Labuan the next day by the British Royal Air Forces with Dakota Airline. He was aged 36 and celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1949.

On June 6, 1950 at the Hall Government Office known as temporary Lapau, Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad Yasin declared Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien as the 28th Sultan of Brunei before the body of Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien. Almost a year on in May 31, 1951, Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien had been crowned (Puspaan) as Yang Di-Pertuan Negeri Brunei Darussalam.

In September 1951, Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien performed his first Haj. In the same year he proposed a migration plan for the residents of Kampong Ayer to the mainland and in 1953, a proposal to draw up the Written Constitution of the State of Brunei as a tool for continuity and the regeneration of the monarchy in Brunei was made.

He also initiated social and economic reform to prepare his subjects for reclaiming the sovereign rights of the state which had been pioneered by his brother and actuated by the Brunei nationalist movement near the end of World War II.

This was done through the introduc-tion of the 1st Five Years of National Development Plan (RKN Pertama) implemented in 1954.

Based on the terms of advice in the Protection Treaty of 1905/06 with the British Government, the late Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien had been able to master and monopolise power from the British Resident in the administration of the State of Brunei.

Therefore, every policies and action taken by the British Resident must be referred to the Sultan before being implemented.

This strategy was really successful in terms of dealing with the British Resident especially in regaining political power in the administration of the state, culminating in the signing of the Constitution Agreement in 1959 which saw the power of the government being handed back to the Sultan from the British Resident.

Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien’s struggle for the formation of an MIB State gained resistance not only from abroad but also at home by those who opposed the retaining of the monarchy system of government.

Hence in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a growing domestic and foreign political influence on Brunei’s struggle for independence.

This was the twist in the struggle that he faced in efforts to safeguard the wellbeing and welfare of the people of Brunei through the restructuring of policies and system of government through the establishment of the State Council and Legislative Council.

These solid consultations and discussions resulted in a good suggestion from the Honourable Members of the Councils meant to benefit the people and the state.

In the field of politics, to restore the sovereignty of Brunei Darussalam, the introduction of the Written Constitution of the State of Brunei no doubt represented an important step forward for Brunei, in the sense that it gave birth to the administration of an internal government for future formation of a Malay Islamic Sultanate as consented by the British Government in 1957.

However, despite the fact that he succeeded in restoring the power of the domestic government through the declaration of the Constitution of Brunei in 1959, the Sultan continued to face obstacles in his efforts to bring about self-governing status to the country, not only in the form of objections from his own people and the British, but also regional political developments – reverberatory effects from the conclusion of World War II.

During his reign of almost 17 years there were many challenges that had been tackled in efforts to restore the sovereignty of the State of Brunei, notably the need to rid from his country leftist wing elements which led to the outbreak of the rebellion on December 8, 1962.

This was a political turbulence in the history of modern Brunei due to the differences of opinions and views on political ideas.

Even though each political party in Brunei at the time fought to attain a common goal which is to return Brunei to its rightful status as an independent and sovereign state, the form and system of government wanted by each party was different to what was envisioned by Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien.

It was this difference in ideology that caused disagreements and friction between various political factions in their quest to realise an independent MIB state, which was eventually achieved 33 years ago.

This was also the main factor why Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifudddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien opposed Brunei joining the Malaysia Federation in September 1963.

Hopefully, all the twists and turns and struggles endured by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and 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 and his people in regaining the sovereignty of Brunei as an MIB state will be remembered and taken as a lesson by all Bruneians, especially the young generation, for the survival of our nation. As His Majesty the Sultan stated in his titah in 2010:

History is the tongue of righteousness: the most distended tongue. We cannot lock this tongue, but rather, let it be a word, because the words are very fluid and very valuable.

History should not be muted. The nation that mutes its history is a coward. Therefore, it is natural for us to be a brave nation: to dare to question and tantalise into ourselves.

This is how we learn from history. Nations who like to learn history are great nations.

Instead of history we start, and rather than history we also burn names. This is how great a history is.

The history of Brunei Darussalam was filled with one ‘great value’ – the MIB. It is not an option but a grace from Allah the Almighty. As a grace, the value is certainly higher than handmade products.

It demands responsibility, and that responsibility is also called ‘amanah’ (trust).

Who is responsible? The answer is all of us, as a nation and people.

It is therefore the obligation and responsibility of all citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam to equally preserve and safeguard the independence that had been struggled for several years ago, for the long-term good of future Brunei generations.

This was punctuated by His Majesty in his titah in conjunction with the 33rd National Day celebrations earlier in 2017:

In the celebration of the National Day speech this year, it is more eloquent to emphasise the formation of good inner qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness and faithfulness.

Without all these qualities, the lifespan or the spearing station will not be able to go well; even the opposite may be problematic and weak.

All programmes are reasonably scientific and inclusive and capable of transcending all generations.

Our goal with this is that all the ranks, by extension, will be able to understand the true meaning of independence.

So with that, it is hoped that all parties, particularly generations that follow, will really try to respect and cherish independence.

It should be remembered, that independence is a part of the nation’s history, and a ‘crown’ of the nation. Tarnishing our independence is like tarnishing our history, akin to taking for granted the nation’s crown.

Courtesy of MIB Secretariat

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