Early history

One of the first Chinese records is the letter of 977 AD to the Chinese emperor of the Po-ni ruler, which some scholars believe refers to Borneo. In 1225, a Chinese official, Chau Ju-Kua (Zhao Rugua), reported that Po-ni had 100 warships to protect his trade, and that there was much wealth in the kingdom.

In the fourteenth century, the Javanese manuscript Nagarakretagama, written by Prapanca in 1365, mentioned Barune as the vassal state of Majapahit, which had to pay an annual tribute of 40 katis of camphor. In 1369, Sulus attacked Po-ni, looting him of treasures and gold. A fleet of Majapahit managed to expel the Sulus, but Po-ni was weaker after the attack. A Chinese report of 1371 described Po-ni as poor and totally controlled by Majapahit.

However, scholars claim that the power of the Brunei Sultanate was at its height between the 15th and 17th centuries, with its power extending from northern Borneo to the southern Philippines. In the sixteenth century, Islam was firmly rooted in Brunei, and the country had built one of its largest mosques. In 1578, Alonso Beltrán, a Spanish traveler, described it as five stories and built on water.

War with Spain and decline

European influence gradually put an end to regional power, as Brunei entered a period of decline aggravated by internal conflicts over real succession. Since the Spaniards considered Brunei the center of Islamic preaching in the Philippines, Spain declared war in 1578, planning to attack and capture Kota Batu, the capital of Brunei at that time. This was based in part on the assistance of two nobles from Bruneia, Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The first had traveled to Manila, then the center of the Spanish colony, the same Manila was captured from Brunei and Christianized, Pengiran Seri Lela came to Brunei to offer a tributary to Spain in search of help to recover the throne usurped by his brother, Saiful Rijal The Spaniards agreed that if they managed to conquer Brunei, Pengiran Seri Lela would be designated as the sultan, while Pengiran Seri Ratna would be the new Bendahara.

In March 1578, the Spanish fleet had arrived from Mexico and had settled in the Philippines, were directed by De Sande, acting as Captain General, organized an expedition from Manila to Brunei. The expedition consisted of 400 Spaniards, 1,500 Filipino natives and 300 Borneans. The campaign was one of many, which also included actions in Mindanao and Sulu.

The Spanish invaded the capital on April 16, 1578, with the help of Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. Sultan Saiful Rijal and Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar were forced to flee to Meragang and then to Jerudong. In Jerudong, they made plans to pursue the conquering army far from Brunei. Suffering high deaths due to an outbreak of cholera or dysentery, the Spaniards decided to leave Brunei and returned to Manila on June 26, 1578, after 72 days. Before doing so, they burned the mosque, a tall structure with a five-story roof.

Pengiran Seri Lela died in August or September of 1578, probably due to the same illness suffered by her Spanish allies. There was a suspicion that he might have been poisoned by the ruling Sultan. The daughter of Seri Lela, a Bruneian princess who had left with the Spaniards, married a Christian Tagalog, named Agustín de Legazpi de Tondo.

The local accounts of Brunei differ greatly from the generally accepted view of events. What was called the War of Castile was seen as a heroic episode, with the Spaniards expelled by Bendahara Sakam, supposedly a brother of the ruling sultan, and a thousand native warriors. Most historians consider it to be a popular hero story, which probably developed decades or centuries later. The country suffered a civil war from 1660 to 1673.

British intervention

The British have intervened in the affairs of Brunei on several occasions. Britain attacked Brunei in July 1846 because of internal conflicts over who was the legitimate sultan.

In the 1880s, the decline of the Bruneian Empire continued. The Sultan granted land (now Sarawak) to James Brooke, who helped him quell a rebellion and allowed him to establish the Kingdom of Sarawak. Over time, Brooke and her nephews (who succeeded him) rented or annexed more land. Brunei lost much of its territory to him and his dynasty, known as the White Rajahs.

Sultan Hashim Khalilul Alam Aqamaddina appealed to the British to stop the invasion of the Brookes. The "Treaty of Protection" was negotiated by Sir Hugh Low and came into force on September 17, 1888. The treaty said that the sultan "could not cede or lease any territory to foreign powers without British consent"; It provided Britain with effective control over the external affairs of Brunei, making it a British protectorate (which continued until 1984). But, when the Kingdom of Sarawak annexed the Pandaruan district of Brunei in 1890, the British did not take any action to stop it. They did not consider Brunei or the Kingdom of Sarawak as 'foreigners' (according to the Protection Treaty). This final annexation of Sarawak left Brunei with its present small landmass and its separation into two parts.

British residents were introduced into Brunei under the Supplementary Protectorate Agreement in 1906. Residents were to advise the sultan on all matters of administration. Over time, the resident assumed more executive control than the Sultan. The residential system ended in 1959.

Discovery of oil

Oil was discovered in 1929 after several unsuccessful attempts. Two men, F.F. Marriot and T.G. Cochrane, smelled the oil near the Seria River at the end of 1926. He informed a geophysicist, who conducted a survey there. In 1927, gas leaks were reported in the area. Pozo Seria Number One (S-1) was drilled on July 12, 1928. The oil was reached at 297 meters on April 9, 1929. Pozo Seria Number 2 was drilled on August 19, 1929 and, starting from 2009 continues to produce oil Oil production increased considerably in the 1930s with the development of more oil fields. In 1940, oil production was more than six million barrels. The British Malayan Petroleum Company (now Brunei Shell Petroleum Company) was formed on July 22, 1922. The first offshore well was drilled in 1957. Oil and natural gas have been the basis of Brunei's development and wealth since late of the twentieth century.

Japanese occupation

The Japanese invaded Brunei on December 16, 1941, eight days after their attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States Navy. 10,000 troops of the Kawaguchi Detachment of Cam Ranh Bay in Kuala Belait landed. After six days of fighting, they occupied the whole country. The only allied troops in the area were the 2nd Battalion of the 15th Punjab Regiment based in Kuching, Sarawak.

Once the Japanese occupied Brunei, they reached an agreement with Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin on the government of the country. Inche Ibrahim (later known as Pehin Datu Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Awang Haji Ibrahim), a former British Resident Secretary, Ernest Edgar Pengilly, was appointed Chief Administrative Officer under the Japanese governor. The Japanese had proposed that Pengilly maintain his position under his administration, but he rejected it. Both he and other British citizens who are still in Brunei were interned by the Japanese at the Batu Lintang camp in Sarawak. While the British officers were under Japanese guard, Ibrahim made a point of personally shaking everyone's hand and wishing him well.

The Sultan retained his throne and the Japanese gave him a pension and honors. During the last part of the occupation, he resided in Tantuya, Limbangand and had little to do with the Japanese. Most of the Malaysian government officials were held by the Japanese. The Brunei administration was reorganized into five prefectures, which included northern British Borneo. The prefectures include Baram, Labuan, Lawas and Limbang. Ibrahim hid numerous important documents of the government of the Japanese during the occupation. Pengiran Yusuf (later YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusuf), along with other Bruneians, was sent to Japan for training. Although in the area on the day of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Yusuf survived.

The British had anticipated a Japanese attack, but lacked the resources to defend the area due to their involvement in the war in Europe. The troops of the Punjab Regiment filled the oil wells of the Seria oilfield with concrete in September 1941 to deny the Japanese their use. The rest of the equipment and facilities were destroyed when the Japanese invaded Malaya. At the end of the war, 16 wells had been restarted in Miri and Seria, with production reaching half of the pre-war level. Coal production in Muara also restarted, but with little success.

During the occupation, the Japanese were taught the language in schools, and government officials were required to learn Japanese. The local currency was replaced by what would be known as duit pisang (banana money). From 1943, hyperinflation destroyed the value of the currency and, at the end of the war, this currency was worthless. Allied attacks against the shipment finally caused the cessation of trade. Food and medicine were scarce, and the population suffered hunger and disease.

The airport runway was built by the Japanese during the occupation, and in 1943 Japanese naval units were based in Brunei Bay and Labuan. The naval base was destroyed by Allied bombing, but the airport runway survived. The installation was developed as a public airport. In 1944, the Allies began a bombing campaign against the Japanese occupiers, who destroyed much of the city and Kuala Belait, but missed Kampong Yesterday.

On June 10, 1945, the 9th Australian Division landed in Muara under Operation Oboe Six to recapture Borneo from the Japanese. They were supported by American air and naval units. The city of Brunei was extensively bombarded and recaptured after three days of intense fighting. Many buildings were destroyed, including the Mosque. The Japanese forces in Brunei, Borneo and Sarawak, under Lieutenant General Masao Baba, formally surrendered in Labuan on September 10, 1945. The British Military Administration took over the Japanese and remained until July 1946.

Post-World War II

After the Second World War, a new government was formed in Brunei under the British Military Administration (BMA). It consisted mainly of Australian officers and military. The Brunei administration was transferred to the Civil Administration on July 6, 1945. The Brunei State Council was also revived that year. The BMA was commissioned to revive the economy of Bruneia, which was badly damaged by the Japanese during their occupation. They also had to put out fires in Seria wells, which had been established by the Japanese before their defeat.

Prior to 1941, the Governor of Straits Settlements, based in Singapore, was responsible for the duties of the British High Commissioner for Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo (now Sabah). The first British High Commissioner for Brunei was the Governor of Sarawak, Sir Charles Ardon Clarke. The Barisan Pemuda ("Youth Movement") (abbreviated as BARIP) was the first political party formed in Brunei, on April 12, 1946. The party sought to "preserve the sovereignty of the Sultan and the country, and defend the rights." of the Malays. "BARIP also contributed to the composition of the national anthem of the country.The party was dissolved in 1948 due to inactivity.

In 1959, a new constitution was drawn up declaring Brunei an autonomous state, while its foreign affairs, security and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. A small rebellion broke out against the monarchy in 1962, which was suppressed with the help of the United Kingdom. Known as the Brunei Revolt, it contributed to the failure in the creation of the North Borneo Federation. The rebellion partially affected Brunei's decision to leave the Federation of Malaysia.

Brunei obtained its independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984. The official National Day, celebrating the independence of the country, is celebrated by tradition on February 23.

Writing of the Constitution

In July 1953, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III formed a seven-member committee called Tujuh Serangkai, to hear the views of citizens regarding a written constitution for Brunei. In May 1954, the Sultan, the Resident and the High Commissioner met to discuss the findings of the committee. They agreed to authorize the drafting of a constitution. In March 1959, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III led a delegation to London to discuss the draft Constitution. The British delegation was led by Sir Alan Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies. The British government then accepted the draft constitution.

On September 29, 1959, the Constitution Agreement was signed at Bandar Seri Begawan. The agreement was signed by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Sir Robert Scott, the General Commissioner for Southeast Asia. It included the following provisions:

  • The Sultan was made the Supreme Head of State.
  • Brunei was responsible for its internal administration.
  • The British Government was responsible for foreign and defence affairs only.
  • The post of Resident was abolished and replaced by a British High Commissioner.

Five councils were set up:

  • The Executive Council
  • The Legislative Council of Brunei
  • The Privy Council
  • The Council of Succession
  • The State Religious Council

National development plans

The 28th Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddien III, initiated a series of national development plans.

The first was introduced in 1953. The State Council of Brunei approved a total of B $ 100 million for the plan. E.R. Bevington, from the Colonial Office in Fiji, was appointed to implement it. A $ US14 million gas plant was built under the plan. In 1954, Brunei Shell Petroleum conducted prospecting and exploration work in fields both offshore and on land. In 1956, production reached 114,700 bpd.

The plan also helped the development of public education. In 1958, spending on education amounted to $ 4 million. Communications improved, as new roads were built and reconstruction at the Berakas airport was completed in 1954.

The second National Development Plan was started in 1962. A major oil and gas field was discovered in 1963, with this discovery, Liquefied Natural Gas became important. Developments in the oil and gas sector have continued, and oil production has steadily increased since then. The plan also promoted the production of meat and eggs for citizens' consumption. The fishing industry increased its production by 25% throughout the plan. The deepwater port at Muara was also built during this period. The energy requirements were met and studies were conducted to provide electricity to rural areas. Efforts were made to eradicate malaria, an endemic disease in the region, with the help of the World Health Organization. Cases of malaria were reduced from 300 cases in 1953 to only 66 cases in 1959. The mortality rate was reduced from 20 per thousand in 1947 to 11.3 per thousand in 1953. Infectious diseases have been prevented by public sanitation and the improvement of drainage, and the provision of pure water by pipeline to the population.


On November 14, 1971, His Royal Highness Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who later used the title because it was a protectorate of the United Kingdom, went to London to discuss matters related to the amendments to the 1959 Constitution. In November 1971 a new agreement was signed with the British representative Anthony Henry Fanshawe Royle.

According to this agreement, the following terms were agreed:

  • Brunei was granted full internal self-government
  • The UK would still be responsible for external affairs and defence.
  • Brunei and the UK agreed to share the responsibility for security and defence.

This agreement also caused the Gurkha units to be deployed in Brunei, where they remain to this day.

On January 7, 1979, another treaty was signed between Brunei and the United Kingdom. It was signed with Lord Goronwy-Roberts being the representative of the United Kingdom. This agreement gave Brunei international responsibility as an independent nation. Britain agreed to help Brunei in diplomatic affairs.

In May 1983, the United Kingdom announced that the date of Brunei's independence would be January 1, 1984.

On December 31, 1983, a mass was celebrated in the main mosques of the four districts of the country and, at midnight, on January 1, 1984, the Proclamation of Independence was read by His Majesty Hassanal Bolkiah, who is now addressing this way. .

21st century

In October 2013, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced his intention to impose Sharia law on the country's Muslims, who occupy approximately two-thirds of the country's population. This would be implemented in three phases, culminating in 2016, and making Brunei the first and only country in East Asia to introduce Sharia law into its criminal code. The measure attracted international criticism and the United Nations expressed its "deep concern".

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