Sultans of Brunei Series - The Sambas Sultanate

[Note: This was published last Sunday in Brunei Times. I wrote this as a two part, the first part published the week earlier was about Sultan Tengah. This article is about his descendants establishing the Sambas Sultanate which lasted till today. But the Japanese massacre of Malay people in Kalimantan during the Second World War decimated many family members. I have not been paying much attention to Indonesian history but when researching for this article, there is much to learn.]

When Sultan Tengah, the first Sultan of Sarawak and the younger brother of Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar of Brunei Darussalam the 10th Sultan of Brunei, was in Sukadana, he married one of the Sukadana princesses, Puteri Surya Kesuma. Puteri Surya Kesuma's brother was Sultan Muhammad Safiuddin, the Sultan of Sukadana.

After the marriage, Sultan Tengah requested from his father in law that he be allowed to leave for the Sambas River so that he can continue his mission to spread Islam in the area. Sultan Tengah arrived in Kota Lama and met Ratu Sepudak. Ratu Sepudak was from the line of the Majapahit Governors of Sambas.

In Sambas, Puteri Surya Kesuma gave birth to several sons, the first was Radin Sulaiman, the second Pengiran Badaruddin and the third Pengiran Abdul Wahab, and daughters Radin Rasmi Puteri and Radin Ratnawati.

Sultan Tengah was allowed to carry out his propagation work without any resistance from Ratu Sepudak. He stayed there for a while and married his eldest son Radin Sulaiman to Ratu Sepudak's princess Puteri Mas Ayu Bongsu. Sultan Tengah left later on for Matan and eventually died in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, his son, Radin Sulaiman carried out his father's work and converted many of Kota Lama's residents to Islam. However there were a number of people who were against Radin Sulaiman’s mission including the successor to Ratu Sepudak, Ratu Anum Mangkurat.

Radin Sulaiman decided to leave Kota Lama for Sambas and when he left, almost the entire Kota Lama left with him leaving Ratu Anum Mangkurat to reign over an empty kingdom. Ratu Anum Mangkurat later asked for forgiveness from Radin Sulaiman and left for Kota Balai Pinang to stay with his brother Radin Anum Kesmayuda.

In Sambas, Radin Sulaiman was crowned as the first Sultan of Sambas, Sultan Muhammad Safiuddin I in 1584. Before he was coronated, he sent a message to his uncle, Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar in Brunei that he wanted to use the title Sultan. His uncle granted him to use the title on the condition that every time before the coronation of his descendants, they must come to Brunei. Sultan Muhammad Safiuddin I started the Sambas Sultanate lineage.

When he died in 1669, his son, Radin Bima became Sultan Muhammad Tajuddin. Like his father, he also went to Brunei to receive his blessings from the Sultan. The Sultan reigning in Brunei was Sultan Muhyiddin. Sultan Muhammd Tajuddin died in 1708.

His son, Radin Maliau, became the third Sultan and took the name Sultan Omar Aqamaddin I. He too continued with his predecessors’ work to spread Islam. He was known as Sultan Adil (the Just Sultan). He died in 1732.

One of his sons, Radin Bongsu became the next Sultan, Sultan Abu Bakar Kamaluddin. He died in 1762. He was then succeeded by his son, Radin Jama who became Sultan Omar Aqamaddin II.

It was during the reign of Sultan Omar Aqamaddin that Sambas prospered. A goldmine was opened and brought a lot of revenues to the government. Sultan Omar Aqamaddin II stepped down from the throne voluntarily in 1786 and his eldest son, Radin Gayong became Sultan taking the name Sultan Muda Ahmad Tajuddin. He died in 1793 without an heir.

His brother, Radin Janggut became the next Sultan with the name of Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin I. Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin I named his son as the Crown Prince but he died before ascending the throne and so his brother, Radin Pasu or also known as Pengiran Anum was made Crown Prince.

Pengiran Anum under the orders of his brother, Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin I attacked Banjarmasin to avenge the death of an Islamic scholar. On his return, he also met a British Warship entering Sambas and he battled that ship too. In 1799, Siak-Inderapura came to attack Sambas because their application to open a gold mine was refused by Sultan Sambas. Pengiran Anum led the Sambas Army to defeat the Siak-Inderapura army.

While visiting Brunei around 1812, a British navy attacked Sambas. He returned back but the British negotiated for a truce. Until then, Sambas remained independent.

With the coming of the East India Company, the capital went through that bombardment in 1812. The Dutch remained interested in the state and often interfered with succession and was implicated in the deposition and exiling to Java of Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin II.

Pengiran Anum became Sultan Muhammad Ali Safiuddin I when his brother Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin I died in 1814. He made peace with the Dutch in 1819.

The next in line was his brother, Radin Osman who became Sultan Osman Kamaludin in 1828 but he too did not rule for long. He was succeeded by his brother when he died in 1832. His brother, Radin Samar was known as Sultan Omar Aqamaddin III.

When Sultan Omar Aqamaddin III died in 1846, Radin Ishak, the son of Sultan Muhammad Ali Safiuddin I ascended the throne and became known as Sultan Abu Bakar Tajuddin II. In 1853, he voluntarily stepped down from the throne and his replacement was Radin Toko, the son of Sultan Omar Aqamaddin II. He became Sultan Muhammad Safiuddin II in 1866.

In Sambas History, Sultan Muhammad Safiuddin II was the longest reigning Sultan. During his reign, he improved the infrastructure of the state while at the same time carrying out his mission to continue to spread Islam. He stepped down from the throne in 1922 and he was succeeded by his prince, Radin Muhammad Aria Diningrat who became known as Sultan Muhammad Ali Safiuddin II. He died in 1924 and two years later his father also died.

There was no immediate successor to the throne because Sultan Muhammad Ali Safiuddin II’s princes and other descendants were still considered minor, the country was governed by a Regent Council headed by Pengiran Radin Muhammad Busu Mohammed Taib. It was in 1931 when Radin Muhammad Ibrahim became Sultan Muhammad Ibrahim Safiuddin and he ruled until 1944.

During his rule, the Japanese invaded West Kalimantan. Sultan Muhammad Ibrahim Safiuddin was executed at Mandor in 1944. The Sultanate was thereafter suspended and replaced by a Japanese ruling council, only being restored with the return of the Dutch after the War.

After the end of World War II, Sultan Tuanku Muhammad Taufik ibni al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Ibrahim Safiuddin became the Sultan until 1984.

In 1984, the head of the royal house was Pangeran Ratu Winata Kusuma of Sambas. He died in 2008 and currently Pangeran Ratu Muhammad Tarhan Winata Kusuma, is installed as chief of the royal family since 2008.

Today, Sambas is a regency in the Province of West Kalimantan, Republic of Indonesia.


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