MIB: The thread that binds us together

|     Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong     |

IN THE midst of modernisation, Brunei Darussalam continues to practise the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy, recognised as the state policy to foster unity among the people irrespective of their different religions, cultures and social backgrounds.

The era of globalisation which has both positive and negative impacts allows Bruneians to preserve the traditional legacy of a Malay Islamic

Monarchy which has been declared 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 on January 1, 1984, as stated in the proclamation of Brunei Darussalam’s independence:

“…Negara Brunei Darussalam adalah dan dengan izin serta limpah kurnia Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, akan untuk selama-lamanya kekal menjadi sebuah Negara Melayu Islam Beraja yang merdeka ‘berdaulat dan demokratik’ bersendikan kepada ajaran-ajaran ugama Islam menurut Ahli Sunnah wal Jama’ah…”

The proclamation clearly illustrates the wishes of His Majesty to preserve the status of Brunei Darussalam as a Malay Islamic Monarchy forever and as a land of charitable deeds.

In line with the goal of the MIB Supreme Council’s Strategic Action Plan (2015-2020) in disseminating and strengthening the practice of MIB values as a way of life, all programmes and activities of the MIB Supreme Council’s Secretariat Office will directly involve the entire people and citizens of the state based on the targets set.

Hokkien Association of Brunei Darussalam committee members with the writer in a group photo

In this regard, throughout November 2018, the Secretariat Office of the MIB Supreme Council has worked with the Hokkien Association of Brunei Darussalam and Radio Television Brunei (RTB) to hold the Malay-language Speech Contest open to members of the Chinese community in Brunei Darussalam.

The project was announced during a press conference on October 5, 2018 at the Hokkien Association of Brunei Darussalam by the association’s Chairman and also the writer, delivering remarks on the competition’s goals and objectives.

The competition was held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Hokkien Association of Brunei Darussalam and in support of His Majesty’s titah in conjunction with the 36th anniversary of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce which was established on September 1, 1982.

Below are notable excerpts from His Majesty’s titah:

“Dalam perkara Bahasa Melayu ini, Beta ingin mengingatkan kepada rakyat dan penduduk di negeri ini yang berketurunan Tionghoa, supaya mereka mempelajari Bahasa Melayu dengan sungguh-sungguh dan terus menerus serta menggunakannya pada setiap masa sebagai satu bukti taat setia yang tulen dan sebenar-benarnya kepada Negeri Brunei ini, supaya mereka tidak dicurigai oleh rakyat Brunei yang terdiri daripada penduduk-penduduk tempatan negeri ini.

“Dengan amalan sedemikian, maka orang-orang yang berketurunan Tionghoa di negeri ini akan dapat membuktikan yang mereka mempelajari

Bahasa Melayu ini bukan setakat hanya untuk mendapatkan kerakyatan Negeri Brunei malahan menerima dan mengakui bahawa Bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa rasmi negara dan menggunakan pada setiap waktu.”

We note that based on the Brunei State Constitution of 1959, the Malay Language is stated as the official language of the country.

Therefore as citizens of Brunei and the subjects of His Majesty, the people are obliged to use the Malay Language as a medium of communication and intermediate language in addition to the English Language without extinguishing their native language.

Through language we can familiarise ourselves with the culture of the nation.

The Malay Language is one of the symbols of the independence of the Malay Archipelago which has become a lingua-franca for hundreds of years.

All of this is part of the responsibility to keep in line with the MIB philosophy as the national policy of the state, as indicated in the Malay proverb Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa (‘language is the soul of the nation’).

The theme of the speech competition was Negaraku Brunei Darussalam (My Country Brunei Darussalam), chosen to support the survival of MIB.

The competition was aimed at creating awareness and enthusiasm to learn and practise the Malay Language, and enhance fluency in the language as a language of communication and interaction with others, either formally or informally in community life.

Indirectly, it is also seen to foster a patriotic spirit of loving the country and its leaders based on the MIB philosophy.

The competition was divided into four categories – Category A: Years 4 – 6 students (Tiong Hua Schools in Brunei Darussalam); Category B: Years 7 – 10 students (Tiong Hua Schools in Brunei Darussalam); Category C: Open (All the Chinese communities in Brunei Darussalam); and Category D: Members of Chinese associations in Brunei Darussalam.

The preliminary screening round for participants was held at Ong Tiong Oh Hall of Chung Hwa Middle School, Bandar Seri Begawan on November 10, 2018.

The final contest and the presentation of the winners was held at the RTB Hall in Bandar Seri Begawan on September 24, 2018.

Congratulations to the Hokkien Association of Brunei Darussalam for organising this charitable activity.

We hope the efforts will lead to the strengthening, practice and appreciation of the MIB philosophy in this country.

The Secretariat Office of the MIB Supreme Council continues to open its doors to working together with all parties to support the titah of His Majesty in adherence to the aims and objectives of the establishment of the MIB Supreme Council in 1985.

Among other things, His Majesty clearly stated in his titah in conjunction with the celebrations for His Majesty’s 44th birthday on July 21, 1990:

“Maka dalam hubungan inilah, Beta baru-baru ini telah memperkenankan penubuhan sebuah badan peringkat nasional Konsep Melayu Islam Beraja. Konsep ini sebenarnya bukanlah baru tetapi sudah lahir semenjak beberapa abad lagi.

“Ianya tidak lebih dari menunjukkan bentuk dan corak sebuah kerajaan Brunei Darussalam yang tulen. Kerajaan Melayu Islam yang Bersultan atau Beraja. Dan sebagai sifatnya sebuah Kerajaan Islam maka ia adalah yang terbaik dan yang terunggul serta paling adil untuk semua lapisan rakyat dan penduduk di negara ini sama ada mereka itu berugama Islam atau pun tidak.”

What His Majesty meant in the titah is that since the Malay Language is an important component in the retention and solidarity of the MIB practice, it is not only used as a medium of communication but also as a means of unity and identity among the people of Brunei, a community of different religions, races and cultures.

Therefore, the Malay Language is very important as an agent of unification and unity in establishing a peaceful and prosperous country to achieve Brunei Vision 2035.

This shows that the people of Brunei live in peace and harmony living side by side without any conflict and discrimination.

This is proof that the practice of MIB which has become a national policy is accepted by citizens of Brunei Darussalam based on the Brunei Constitution of 1959, whereby individual rights are protected by the laws of the state.

As mentioned in His Majesty’s titah in conjunction with the month of Ramadhan 1440 Hijrah/2019 at Istana Nurul Iman on 30th of Sya’aban 1440/May 5, 2019:

“In upholding our international commitments and obligations on human rights, Brunei Darussalam will be ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country. They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the public as well as respecting the privacy of individuals.

“With the righteous intent of implementing this law, may Allah bless us and our country with this holy month of Ramadhan.”