MIB: The basis of Brunei’s independence

|     Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong, Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council     |

THIS February 23, Bruneians will celebrate their country’s 35th National Day to commemorate the day Brunei Darussalam achieved independence and was established as a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) in 1984, as stated by 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 in his titah on January 1, 1984:

“Maka oleh yang demikian, dengan nama Allah Yang Maha Pemurah dan Yang Maha Mengasihani, Beta Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam serta sekalian jajahan takluk rantau dan persisirnya, dengan ini memasyur dan mengishtiharkan dengan nama Beta dan bagi pihak diri Beta dan bagi pihak pengganti Beta dan bagi pihak rakyat Negara Brunei Darussalam bahawa mulai 1hb Januari 1984 tahun masehi bersamaan dengan 27hb Rabiulawal hijrah Nabi Muhammad SAW 1404, tahun yang ke-17 Beta di atas takhta kerajaan, Negara Brunei Darussalam adalah dan dengan izin serta limpah kurnia Allah SWT akan untuk selama-lamanya menjadi sebuah Negara Melayu Islam Beraja yang merdeka, berdaulat dan demokratik bersendikan kepada ajaran-ajaran agama Islam menurut Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah dan dengan berasaskan keadilan, dan amanah dan kebebasan dan dengan petunjuk serta keredhaan Allah SWT jua akan sentiasa berusaha memperolehi ketenteraman dan keselamatan, kebajikan dan kebahagiaan bagi rakyat Beta.

“Dan demikian juga pemeliharaan perhubungan persahabatan di kalangan antarabangsa atas dasar saling menghormati terhadap kemerdekaan, kedaulatan, persamaan dan keutuhan (kukuh) wilayah bagi semua Negara yang bebas dari campur tangan dari luar negeri.”

The points highlighted in this historic speech were further fortified by His Majesty in his titah delivered during the opening ceremony of the Majlis Ilmu (Knowledge Convention) held in conjunction with His Majesty’s 64th birthday on July 26, 2010 / 14th of Syaaban 1431 Hijrah:

“Sejarah Brunei Darussalam, sedia terisi dengan satu ‘nilai besar’, Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB). Ia bukanlah pilihan tetapi anugerah. Anugerah daripada Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala. Selaku anugerah, nilainya tentulah lebih tinggi daripada apa yang dihasilkan oleh tangan sendiri.

“Ia menuntut kepada tanggungjawab, dan tanggungjawab itu pula bernama ‘amanah’.

“Siapakah yang bertanggungjawab itu? Jawabnya ialah kita semua, selaku bangsa dan rakyat. Kita jawat anugerah ini, dan berikutnya kita pelihara ia, kita pakai dan kita pupuk terus, sebagai kebanggaan dan warisan.”

Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam delivering a titah through Radio Brunei on December 8, 1962 from Istana Darul Hana in Bandar Brunei
Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien with Brunei’s leaders who together fought to restore the country’s sovereignty

As people of Brunei Darussalam, we are obligated to uphold His Majesty’s wishes to accept and appreciate the blessings given by Allah the Almighty. The struggle borne by our forefathers to reclaim Brunei’s independence as a Malay Islamic Monarchy was not a simple task. They are patriots who fought through challenges, sacrificing money, time and their lives to restore Brunei’s sovereignty.

We need to immerse ourselves in the struggle so we may understand the hardship faced by our leaders to fight for independence since the end of World War II. In comparison with other Southeast Asian countries, Brunei needed more time to claim her independence as the Sultans of Brunei had to struggle with internal and regional issues with the British Government, which had been occupying Brunei since 1888.

In the 40 years Brunei was under British governance after World War II, Brunei has gone through national rebuilding under the reign of Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien, the formation of Perlembagaan Bertulis Negeri Brunei 1959 under the reign of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam, Cadangan Gagasan Malaysia in 1961 by Tengku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj, the Brunei Rebellion in December 1962, the Brunei-Indonesian Confrontation in 1961-1966, political tension with neighbouring nations in the 1970s and the negotiation on Brunei’s independence with the British Government from 1950 until 1979.

These were the challenges Brunei went through before she was able to claim independence as a Malay Islamic Monarchy state.

We have to look behind and learn from our past mistakes so that we can move forward to preserve Brunei’s sovereignty. When Brunei was accepted as the 159th member of the United Nations in September 1984 at the 39th United Nations Assembly Meeting, His Majesty stated the following in his address:

“We are a new nation, but an ancient country: one of Asia’s oldest. So we have known pride and glory. But we have experienced much pain…our land and our region were wrecked by rampant piracy. As series of war; the violence of those who called themselves explorers, but whom we knew as exploiters…Our country has known peace but also war; wealth but also poverty…

“We have to learn from our history and use it as a guide to move forward. Make these past events as a source of reference to preserve Brunei as a Malay Islamic Monarchy. These challenges still persist in the present era, however they may be in different forms. Let MIB values help strengthen our patriotism and love for the country. Brunei is also well known for her priorities in disseminating Islamic education to the people to create a strong foundation of unity, especially among the present generation of Brunei youth.”

In conjunction with the 35th National Day celebration, we, as His Majesty’s subjects, are to be involved in all activities organised during the celebration as a mark of patriotism.

The active involvement of every citizen of Brunei Darussalam will solidify the patriotic spirit of the nation, as we hoist our national flag and pray to Allah the Almighty for the blessings that have been gifted to the country.

During its 35 years of independence, the Sultanate has undergone various advances and development which continue to bring prosperity and tranquility to the country.

The monarchy system has proven to be a positive and solid political apparatus, helping establish strong socio-economic stability in the country, as conveyed by His Majesty’s titah on February 7, 2018:

“Maka demikian itulah juga perkara konsep dan dasar. Janganlah terus-menerus terpesona mengikut orang lain tetapi lihatlah dahulu ke dalam diri siapa kita sambil mengenal pasti apa keperluan kita yang sebenarnya.

“Inilah cara yang lebih baik dan bijaksana untuk dilakukan bukan dengan mengambil dan memakai apa saja yang dilihat atau didengar daripada jauh tanpa perhitungan yang mendalam.

“Kita adalah bangsa dan negara merdeka. Kita dituntut untuk berfikir dan bertindak sebagai bangsa dan negara yang merdeka juga. Kemerdekaan akan kurang bererti dengan hanya membanggakan sahaja tetapi akan lebih bererti bila mana kita pandai mengisinya.

“Di manakah mengisi kemerdekaan itu dan oleh siapa? Tentu saja tidak lain oleh kita sendiri. Di sini ada menteri-menteri, timbalan-timbalan menteri dan setiausaha-setiausaha tetap, mereka inilah barisan paling hadapan yang diamanahkan untuk mengisi kemerdekaan supaya kemerdekaan kita itu benar-benar bermakna.”

As a sign of gratitude and respect for our forefathers, we should immerse and appreciate their history and their fight in the struggle to reclaim Brunei’s independence.

This lesson can be referred to in the Syair Perlembagaan written by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, known as the Penyair Diraja (Royal Poet), which provides the full picture of government institutions as a political material in maintaining the MIB system and heritage.

His works are rich in the values of a pure Bruneian for the purpose of satire and teaching as well as serving as guidance for a better world and the hereafter.

They commemorate the struggle of His Majesty and His Majesty’s subjects to reclaim Brunei’s independence through diplomacy by preserving Brunei’s identity as a Malay Islamic Monarchy.

This was the strategy they used during their meetings and negotiations with the British, noted by Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr Ustaz Haji Yahya bin Haji Ibrahim:

“Selepas Pengiran Shahbandar Mohd Salleh, muncul lagi seorang Penyair Diraja yang telah mula menulis syair di sekitar 1958 iaitu Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien atau menggunakan nama pena Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien. Mungkin Baginda adalah raja terakhir selepas Raja Ali Haji. Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien telah menghasilkan 14 buah judul syair termasuk tiga buah dalam Rampaian Laila Syair.”

The strategies used by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien in dealing with the British during the independence talks can be analogised as menarik rambut dari tepong, rambut tak putus tepong tak terburai; a cautious move without harming the mutual relationship and cooperation with the British Government.

This is all recorded and illustrated in his writing entitled Syair Perlembagaan, which gives the pictures of the journey made by Brunei from 1953 to 1959 to restore the supremacy of MIB, a philosophy that has become the reference and form of Brunei since she attained her independence in 1984.