Brunei Darussalam’s current Sultan, 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, is the country’s 29th ruler.
His Majesty is a descendent of a royal lineage spanning over 600 years since 1405 when the first Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Muhammad Shah, ascended to the throne and founded a dynasty. This renders Brunei’s monarchy as the world’s oldest.
Chinese, Javanese and local Brunei records have provided insights into Brunei’s early history, including the early days of the monarchy. It is believed that Sultan Muhammad Shah introduced Islam to Brunei, leading the nation to become the Islamic country that it is today.
The country’s Golden Age commenced in the 16th Century, reaching eminence when Brunei’s power was recognised throughout Borneo, the Sulu Archipelago and the Southern Philippines. The Golden Age coincided with the rule of Sultan Bolkiah and Sultan Hassan. During this period, both rulers were able to expand Brunei’s territory and extend its cultural influence. Additionally, the rulers pioneered Brunei’s Royal Court to its full grandeur and brilliance, rivalling other monarchies.
In the 19th Century, Brunei became a British protectorate and its land area was reduced to 5,765 square kilometres. During the reign of Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam, Brunei was divided into two separate enclaves: Brunei- Muara, Tutong and Belait districts on one side and Temburong on the other as a result of the annexation of Limbang by Rajah Charles Brooke.
The country made its first commercial discovery of oil in 1929, and Brunei underwent a massive economic growth over the decades as the oil and gas industry continued to grow. In 1984, Brunei gained independence and attained self-government from the United Kingdom. The Sultanate’s resilience is evident from being the only monarchy in the Malay Archipelago to not only autonomously survive but also prosper into the late 20th Century.
Brunei follows Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), dubbed the national philosophy, which stresses the significance of the Malay culture, Islamic religion and a country reigned by the monarchy. Taught in schools, MIB aims to guide the citizens’ way of life and preserve the national identity.
Copyright 2019 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook 2019 All rights reserved.