Printer Friendly

"The little sultan": Ahmad Tajuddin II of Brunei, Gerard MacBryan, and Malcolm Macdonald'.

His early life had not been very happy. He had succeeded to the throne when he was very young and two regents had been appointed. According to some well-informed Malays, power was kept out of his hands for years and he was given little chance of preparing for the assumption of royal duties. He was effectively prevented from asserting himself and becoming a personage in his own right. Older members of the Sultanic family dominated him through his youth and into his early manhood.

T.S. Monks (1992)

Although he lived relatively recently (1913-1950), Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin 11, Brunei's 27th ruler, has been an almost forgotten figure in its history, despite the fact that he pressed for greater political and financial independence for the Sultanate in a way that was in advance of his time. This, together with his advocacy of a new political confederation of northern Borneo under the authority of the Sultanate, anticipated much of the political process beginning in the late 1950s and ending in January 1984 when Brunei's independence from Britain was finally established. Nevertheless, most historians of modern Brunei have until recently ignored his reign in their published work, preferring to focus on that of his younger brother, Sultan Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin Ill, better known as the "Seri Begawan." (2) B.A. Hussainmiya in his substantial biography of Sir Omar Ali has thrown some positive light on Ahmad Tajuddin's reign, suggesting tactfully that he "began the movement of regaining royal dignity and sovereignty" with "mixed" success, but at the same time using him to highlight "the magnitude of [Sir Omar Ali's] achievement." (3) The semi-official mythology of Brunei still tends to represent Sir Omar Ali as both rescuing the state from a dissolute ruler and heroically upholding its sovereignty against the British.


Manipulated by his Political Adviser, the mercurial Gerard MacBryan, privately ridiculed by Britain's wily High Commissioner for Southeast Asia, Malcolm MacDonald, and largely forgotten by posterity, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin deserves to be looked at afresh. What follows is not a comprehensive and detailed account of his reign, however, but a sketch of its main features which may serve to stimulate further research. While Hussainmiya has given an account of his relations with his Residents and the Colonial Office, a finer analysis is needed. For his own extraordinary role in modern Sarawak and Brunei history, MacBryan himself deserves a dedicated study. Malcolm MacDonald's official role in relation to the Borneo states is well-known but his private perceptions and opinions of Ahmad Tajuddin are only briefly revealed by his biographer, Clyde Sanger. (4)

In addition to the relevant sections of Malcolm MacDonald's private journals reproduced as part of the text, a number of historical documents have been appended, namely a Malayan Civil Service official's account of Sultan Abroad Tajuddin's coronation in March 1940 (Appendix I), a British North Borneo official's account of his funeral (Appendix II) and the Brunei court biography (Appendix III).

The reasons for Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin's neglect are not difficult to find: he was only eleven (just three years older than the boy-king Tutankhamen) when he succeeded to the throne as Yang di-Pertuan on the premature death of his father, Sultan Sir Muhammad Jamalul Alam II, K.C.M.G., at the age of thirty-five on 20 September 19247 While the Sultan was said to have died of malaria, there was no official inquest and it was strongly rumored that he had been poisoned by someone close to him.


Ahmad Tajuddin did not attain full sovereignty until 19 September 1931 when he was eighteen, and was not crowned until 17 March 1940. During his seven year minority, the two senior wazir, Pengiran Bendahara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman and Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Muhammad Yassin (sometimes referred to as "the two wicked uncles") acted as joint Regents and, together with his mother, Paduka Seri Isteri Pengiran Anak Fatimah, reportedly exercised a malign influence over him? Indeed, it was said that they deliberately corrupted him so that they could retain their authority. At the age of thirteen he was given his first gundek, or concubine. (7) His mother reportedly sabotaged British Resident E.E.F. Pretty's plans to send him to Malaya or England for his education, (8) although he received English lessons from the age of fourteen from a specially appointed British teacher. His younger brother, Omar All Saifuddin, was later sent to Malay College, Kuala Kangsar, the "Eton" of the Malay aristocracy, but not without some resistance from his mother. There is little evidence of how Ahmad Tajuddin reacted to his difficult situation, but it was commonly said in Brunei that he was so afraid of being poisoned that he sometimes cooked his own food in soda water. (9)

Ahmad Tajuddin's somewhat timid personality also meant that the authority of the British Resident was strengthened and that during his regency and for the first decade of his reign there were no serious crises of the kind that his father, the forceful young Sultan Jamalul Alam, had brought about during the regency set up on his succession in 1906. (10) Jamalul Alam's strong opposition to the new Land Code proposed by the Resident in 1909, which had far-reaching implications for the Kedayan ethnic minority, was only overcome by the application of extreme pressure by the Resident, most notably the threat to depose him. (11) Significantly, as with Ahmad Tajuddin's reliance first on his Malayan private secretary and later on the former Sarawak government officer, Gerard MacBryan, Jamalul Alam's father, Sultan Hashim, had preferred to make use of an outsider--in this case an independent Englishman managing a foreign-owned cutch (mangrove bark) company--rather than rely on his Resident. (12)

Ahmad Tajuddin signaled his lack of confidence in Brunei's political system by boycotting most of the meetings of the State Council between 1931 and 1950, apparently in protest against the power of the Resident, (13) and by employing as his private secretary Inche Mohamad Hassan bin Kulop Mohamad from Selangor or Perak. Inche Hassan, subsequently described by an Englishwoman living in Brunet as "very sharp in an oriental way and definitely above average bright," (14) had a good grasp of English and could be relied upon by the Sultan to do his bidding. In October 1931 the Sultan visited Malaya for three weeks and then spent from July 1932 until August 1933 in Britain where he went nominally to improve his English. On 30 April 1934 he married Tengku Rohani (Roihani), daughter of the Sultan of Selangor, Aliuddin Sulaiman Shah, at Klang's Istana Negara, having already fathered three daughters by his principal gundek, known as "Kedayang Emas."

In early August 1935, the newly-appointed Commissioner for the Malay States, Sir Shenton Thomas, arrived in Brunet from Singapore on his first official visit and subsequently recorded these impressions:
 We anchored opposite the Customs wharf and the Sultan came off to
 call. His car is a big Lincoln with yellow trappings on roof and
 radiator. He is 23 years old and quite tiny, wears spectacles, and
 his hair is much too long behind. (15)

He went on to describe his return visit to the Istana:
 I rode with the Resident from the wharf to the palace in an
 enormous litter of scarlet and gold carried on the shoulders of
 about 30 men who staggered drunkenly over the road. The journey was
 only 200 yards but quite enough. The reception hall was a poor
 building of wood and iron, again done in scarlet and gold with
 cheap German rugs of the brightest colours. This jazz effect was
 heightened by pillars which were done in the colours of the various
 chiefs, pinks, and blues, and greens, while drawn up on one side
 was a line of spearmen in bright cherry. We sat and drank orange
 pop as usual and were given Brunei cigarettes. (16)

The Sultan was at that time under considerable pressure from his brother-in-law and former Raja Muda and Sultan of Selangor, Tengku Kelana Jaya Petra, who had recently arrived with two companions and fifteen attendants to take the Tengku Ampuan back to Klang for the birth of her first child:
 He seems a good deal in awe of the Sultan of Selangor [Sir Shenton
 observed], which is only natural, seeing that he is but a boy head
 of a small State whereas the Sultan is at least 70 years old, and
 he is being pestered by the ex-Raja Muda. (17)

Not only was this proposal contrary to Brunei adat, or custom, that the heir should be born in the state, but might well have been dangerous for the mother traveling at that time of year. It was certainly costly to transport the royal party to Malaya and Sir Shenton consequently advised the Sultan to resist the pressure, promising British Resident of Selangor, Roland Turnbull's, support and writing both to Tengku Kelana and the Sultan of Selangor to explain the situation. Nevertheless, the Selangor family prevailed and in late August the Sultan, Tengku Ampuan and party traveled to the royal capital of Klang where Tengku Norehsani (Tuanku Ehsan) was born on 15 October 1935.

Although the details are sketchy, it is clear that by 1936 the Sultan's relations with his Resident were deteriorating. A.V.M. Horton cites Acting High Commissioner A.S. Small writing in June that "[His Highness] is proving rather troublesome that he is now growing up and had acquired taste or power." The Sultan had been involved in "several clashes" with the Resident and Small found it necessary to send to Brunei former Resident E.E.F. Pretty "in order to smoothe matters down." (18) A significant outcome of all this was the decision by the Colonial Office to appoint more senior officials as Residents from that time. (19)

In his 13 January 1940 dispatch to the Secretary of State for Colonies, Malcolm MacDonald, informing him of the Sultan's forthcoming berpuspa or coronation on 17 March (which the Resident, J.G. Black, had attempted to postpone and the Sultan had insisted take place ), (20) Sir Shenton remarked that while the latter's conduct during the early years of his reign "was not always correct" and that he had had to be "warned severely more than once," the past five years had passed without any major problems. He might be "irresponsible," Sir Shenton conceded, but he had "no vices." He added: "In considering the past his upbringing must not be forgotten. It is not easy for a young boy, brought up in a remote State and in the atmosphere of a small and sycophantic Court, to withstand the temptation to which as a member of the Royal House he must be subjected." (21) Besides, the Sultan's loyalty had been demonstrated in a tangible way by his offer of Straits $100,000 to the British government for Imperial defense purposes in June 1939. (22) Accordingly, Sir Shenton recommended that he be awarded a K.C.M.G. on the occasion of his coronation. The Sultan was, after all, the only Malay ruler not to have been honored in some way by the British Crown. This was duly agreed, but on the recommendation of the Resident the coronation was attended not by the Commissioner himself, as might have been expected, but by his Private Secretary, Robert Irvine, M.C.S., who provided a report of the proceedings (Appendix I).

Very little information is available about Ahmad Tajuddin's role during the Japanese occupation, which commenced on 22 December 1941 with the arrival in Brunei Town of an army unit from Kuala Belait under a Capt. Koyama. (23) It was the policy of the Japanese to keep the Malay rulers of Malaya and Borneo in place as a means of securing the support of their subjects but, like the British under the Resident system, to deny them any real power. As part of the new political configuration of Boruneo Kita (northern Borneo) consisting of Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo, the Sultanate, together with what had been the Fourth and Fifth Divisions of Sarawak, made up what was called Mirishu, or Miri province. It had its own military governor who answered to the first military commandant of Boruneo Kita, Marquis Toshinari Maeda. Basing himself at the Brooke Astana in Kuching rather than at Miri, whose oilfields (together with Brunei's recently developed Seria field) accounted for the Japanese interest in the area, Maeda made a visit to Brunei in early 1942 where he and his senior officers were photographed with the Sultan, his brother, and Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Hj. Mohd. Yasin.

During the next three and a half years, Brunei was nominally governed by its Council of State under the direction of the pre-war Government Secretary, Inche Ibrahim bin Mohamad Jahfar. However, he was under constant scrutiny from the resident Japanese provincial governor, based initially in Miri but after April 1942 in Brunei Town, who appears to have acted much as the British Resident had previously done. While the minutes of the Council's proceedings have survived, (24) no historian has so far made use of them to improve our understanding of governance during the occupation period, but it seems that the Sultan's role was increasingly that of a figurehead. (25) The only significant concession made to him was the restoration of the island of Labuan and the Limbang, Lawas and Trusan districts to Brunei's nominal rule as part of Miri-shu. (26) While there is no record of the discussions that the Sultan must have had with the Japanese on this subject, it seems highly likely that it was his initiative. The loss of Labuan and Limbang (the latter being a significant source of tax revenue) had always been a source of bitter resentment in Brunei and it was no accident that after Ahmad Tajuddin's brother, Pangeran Omar Ali, became Sultan, he told the newspapers in Singapore on 4 September 1951 before going on the haj that they should be restored to the Sultanate. (27)

With the intensified Allied bombing of oil installations at Miri and Lutong and the machine-gunning of the Istana Mahkota itself in early 1945, the Sultan and his immediate family, together with Pehin Dato Amar Hj. Kasim, retired to Kampong Tentaya, Limbang, and in his absence much of the contents of the Istana, including items of the royal regalia, were plundered. The one description of the Sultan during the Japanese occupation is a vignette penned later by M.C. Clarke, an Australian doctor working in North Borneo before the war who had been allowed by the Japanese to practice without restriction. He was called in with his Canadian colleague, Dr. George Graham, to the Istana Mahkota in early 1943 on the pretext of the Sultan being ill when all he really wanted was some convivial company:
 Presently the Sultan joined us. His attire acknowledged the Malay
 love of brilliant colours. In his early thirties, he was slightly
 built, with an aquiline nose, large humorous eyes and a scanty,
 rather whimsical moustache. He was not happy about the Japanese
 invasion. Rather than doing nothing, he became deliberately
 busy--he gambled, drank and made love, fulltime! ... Before we
 departed, the Sultan had us examine an old retainer who, worried by
 events, had been consuming too much Chinese wine. Graham advised
 him to give up drinking. The Sultan asked, "But why?" Graham faced
 the matter bravely. He explained how, due to malnutrition,
 excessive drinking could lead to cirrhosis of the liver. He became
 graphic in describing this disease, it progressed slowly, with the
 liver contracting and getting harder and harder, until finally, the
 blood could not percolate through it and fluid collected in the
 abdomen. His Highness looked alarmed and patted his faithful
 retainer on the shoulder. I remarked that the process sometimes
 took twenty or even thirty years: at this everyone in the room
 began to breathe more freely. (28)

The Sultan welcomed the Australian 9th Division liberators with open arms on his return to Brunei Town on 17 June 1945. Received with a Guard of Honour organized by the Australian military commander and taken to the Residency for tea, he quickly availed himself of medical assistance for his asthma before being reinstalled in the Istana Mahkota "in protective custody." Like the Malayan rulers, he was under suspicion of collaborating with the Japanese, but investigations did not lead to any repercussions. (29) Pre-war Resident E.E. Pengilley, who returned briefly in late September after internment, believed that "up to December 1941 he was perfectly and genuinely loyal to the British connection" and that he had played no significant part in the administration of the state under the Japanese. (30) Nevertheless, his political role was once again eclipsed, first by the Australian-controlled British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit (BBCAU) and then by the British Military Administration (BMA) until 1 July 1946 when civilian administration was restored under a new Resident, W.J. Peel. (31) His earlier request to visit India and Britain was politely deferred by BMA Commandant, Col. C.F.C. Macaskie.


Fortunately for his state of mind, perhaps, the Sultan was unaware of war-time planning in June 1944 by the Colonial Office's Borneo Planning Unit for new treaties imposing the Foreign Jurisdiction Act on Sarawak and Brunei, thus allowing the British government to legislate for Brunei and treat it as part of one administrative unit together with Sarawak and (what would become) the Crown Colony of British North Borneo. (32) Such an arrangement would have practically destroyed what remained of the Sultan's sovereignty and reduced Brunei's constitutional status under British law to that of a protectorate, rather than a protected state, but it was held back by the fact that the Borneo territories and their post-war civil affairs administration came initially within American, and subsequently, by delegated authority, Australian military control. A draft treaty had actually been drawn up by a Colonial Office official in 1944 containing the provision that "His Britannic Majesty shall have full power and jurisdiction within the state of Brunei." The plan was to send out a "special emissary" after the war to "negotiate" this treaty with the Sultan when similar treaties had already been negotiated with the Malayan rulers by Sir Harold MacMichael. (33) Pengilley had indicated to the Colonial Office in December 1945 that he did not anticipate any difficulty with the Sultan about this as he was "a physically insignificant and mentally colourless and inadequate individual" who had been "much addicted to strong drink" and whose morals "left much to be desired." (34)

As the 1 July 1946 deadline for the restoration of civilian government in Brunei approached, the Secretary of State for Colonies, Arthur Creech Jones, accepted Malcolm MacDonald's advice that the Sultanate should not be linked with the North Borneo or Sarawak administrations. A return to pre-war arrangements would suffice until such time as the Sultan was apprised that new constitutional changes were being contemplated and that a new treaty would be "presented for consideration with [sic] him [in] due course." (35)

In the meantime, the Sultan was showing signs of asserting himself more actively than he had done before the war. In February 1947, just a year after Rajah Vyner Brooke had publicly announced his intention to cede Sarawak to the British Crown, the Sultan protested to the newspapers in Singapore that his traditional rights over Sarawak had been overlooked, if Sarawak had to be ceded to anyone, he emphasized, it should have been to him. (36) Needless to say, Resident W.J. Peel was not with him at the time, or else the embarrassing statement was highly unlikely to have been made. Hussainmiya's suggestion that subsequent Resident E.E.F. Pretty may have "discreetly encouraged" the Sultan in his correspondence with the Secretary of State for Colonies also seems unlikely. (37) Further, there is no evidence of a "softening" in the Colonial Office's attitude to the Sultan or of any invitation to him to attend talks in London. (38)

There were other issues than the cession. After liberation, Tajuddin had moved with his consort, Tengku Ampuan Rohani, and their daughters and attendants to a modest bungalow in Brunei Town. During the devastating Allied bombing of Brunei Town in early 1945, the Istana Mahkota at Tumasek Point, which had only been completed in 1932, was seriously damaged and was not habitable. When his continued demands that the British government should build him a new Istana and pay him Straits $64,630 compensation for War Damage fell on unsympathetic ears, the Sultan protested physically by relocating himself in Kuching in mid- 1949, together with the Tengku Ampuan and inche Mohamad Hassan. (39) For the time being, the Sultan's Istana Kechil in Kuching's Rock Road flew the Brunei flag and his car sported the royal pennants. British resistance to his wishes was officially justified in terms of there being more important priorities in the program of post-war reconstruction, notably the hospital and the Residency. The British decision to make the Governor of Sarawak ex officio High Commissioner for Brunei in mid-1947 meant that in Kuching the Sultan was closer to the real seat of power, but he would almost certainly have been seriously affronted by this subordination of the Sultanate to the authority of its former province and by the first steps to unify the administrations of Sarawak and Brunei (the filling of twenty-one Brunei government positions from the Sarawak government establishment). (40)

It was only with the greatest difficulty that the Sultan was persuaded by his Kuching friend, Datu Bandar Abang Hi. Mustapha, (41) and by Sarawak's Chief Secretary R.G. Aikman, to attend his own Silver Jubilee celebrations in Brunei on 22 September 1949. Two weeks earlier he had been extremely ill, reputedly from advanced alcoholic poisoning, and had admitted himself to Kuching hospital. He was also unhappy about having to pay for part of the celebrations from his own allowance. Once having returned to Brunei, however, he decided (or was persuaded) to remain in the state, the commencement of work on his new Istana no doubt being the major determining factor.

Gerard MacBryan

It was in May 1950 that Gerard Truman Magill MacBryan, who had been Rajah Vyner Brooke's Private Secretary in the late 1920s and again in 1941, made his reappearance in Kuching and persuaded the Sultan to appoint him as his Political Adviser. MacBryan's career in Sarawak had been controversial, even notorious. He had been held responsible for conspiring with Ranee Sylvia Brooke to vary the traditionally male succession in favor of her eldest daughter, Leonora, and of "stacking" the Supreme Council with three newly-created life datu of non-elite origins in order to obtain its agreement. MacBryan's scheme seems to have been premised on his marrying one of the Rajah's three daughters, two of whom (Leonora and Valerie) he is known to have courted, or one of Bertram Brooke's daughters (Anne Brooke) whom he also courted. Although he failed in this, he would have subsequently noted Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin's apparent achievement in 1937 of persuading his wazir to vary the Brunei succession in favor of his own daughter, Tuanku Ehsan. (42)

Succession through the female line was not unknown in Borneo, where Puteri Ratna Kesuma, the daughter of the second Sultan, had married an Arab from Tai'f in Saudi Arabia (Syed Sharif Ali Bilfakih), thus enabling him to become the third Sultan ("Sultan Berkat") in 1426. (43) There had been female rulers in their own right in the Malay Muslim kingdoms of Pattani in southern Thailand and in Aceh, Sumatra, where there were no less than four in the seventeenth century. And as we have seen, Ahmad Tajuddin's own mother, the Rajah Isteri, together with the two Regents, had been a de facto ruler in Brunei after the death of her husband, Sultan Jamalul Alam.


MacBryan made a number of attempts to return to Sarawak, including one in 1935 when he married a beautiful Kuching Malay woman, Sa'erah binte Abdul Kadir, in Singapore by Islamic rites and then claimed to have made the haj, or pilgrimage, with her to Mecca, returning dressed in white Arabian robes (mishlah) and headgear (allegedly presented to him by King Ibn Saud in his new persona of Hj. Abdul Rahman) and looking for all the world like Lawrence of Arabia. (44) However, the hereditary datu protested vigorously to the Rajah against his remaining in the state and he was obliged to return with Hajjah Sa'erah to London where he reportedly worked as a stockbroker in association with his brother and gradually took over the management of their father's private mental hospital at Box, near Bath.

Eventually MacBryan persuaded the Rajah to allow him to return in August 1940 to Kuching, where he worked briefly at the Sarawak Museum before being readmitted to the Sarawak Service in January 1941 and appointed Private Secretary. (45) This was part of his reward for brokering a secret financial settlement between the Rajah and his senior bureaucrats, the Committee of Administration, which paved the way for the announcement of a written constitution on 31 March 1941. (46) In December 1940 he had accompanied the Rajah to Brunei on an official visit and subsequently persuaded him that the forthcoming Centenary of Brooke Rule in 1941 was the ideal time to finalize the outstanding claims made by the Sultan and by some of his pengiran for compensation for the loss of their traditional rights in the Limbang district, annexed by Rajah Charles Brooke in 1890. In February 1941 he once again traveled to Brunei in the government yacht, Maimunah, anchoring upstream from the Istana Mahkota. Significantly, he wore the robes and headdress that he had been given in Saudi Arabia. MacBryan was well aware of the high prestige Arabs enjoyed in Borneo, especially if they claimed descent from the Prophet (as they almost invariably did), and of the impression that his attire was likely to make.

MacBryan had become familiar with Brunei during his first posting as a government cadet at Limbang in July 1920. In June of the next year he paid a visit, together with the Resident of the Fifth Division, F.F. Boult, to witness the official investiture of Sultan Jamalal Alam with the K.C.M.G. by the then Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Lawrence Guillemard. MacBryan's rapid acquisition of the Malay language, including the archaic courtly version used by the Brunei aristocrats, enabled him to establish good contacts there and to gain some useful insights into the operations of the broken-down Sultanate.

Meeting Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin at the Istana and a representative of the Limbang pengiran in February 1941, MacBryan successfully negotiated settlements with them. The Sultan agreed to receive Straits $20,000, subject to Sir Shenton Thomas's approval, in compensation for Sarawak's enjoyment of keraja'an rights (sovereignty) over Limbang for the previous fifty years and to accept Straits $1,000 per annum in perpetuity in consideration of future sovereign rights. A total cash payment of Straits $60,000 was made to Pengiran Sabtu Kamaludin on behalf of the Limbang pengiran for their surrender of tulin, or taxation rights, and they were to receive Straits $6,000 per annum in perpetuity in consideration of future tulin rights. Pensions of Straits $310 per annum were also awarded to certain descendants of Raja Muda Hashim (who had ceded sovereignty of the Sarawak River area to James Brooke in September 1841) and the Sultan's younger brother, Pangeran Muda Omar Ali, was given Straits $2,000 as a wedding present. (47) The arrangements had been made after consultation with the British Resident, Major E.E. Pengilley, in December 1940, but he was now described as at one point running along the river bank chasing the Maimunah, which suggests that he had second thoughts. When the Colonial Office subsequently learned of the payments, it immediately canceled them as transgressing Britain's 1888 treaty with Sarawak. The Sultan was subsequently allowed to receive Straits $6,000 as a Centenary gesture from the Rajah and an annual payment of Straits $1,000. The deed produced by Pengiran Sabtu Kamaludin as the basis of MacBryan's payment of compensation for tulin rights was found to be a forgery. However, he does not appear to have returned the money handed over to him by MacBryan, and consequently the latter's standing in Brunei remained strong.

Accompanying the Rajah during his wartime exile in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, for two years, MacBryan provided Australian Naval Intelligence's Captain Roy Kendall with a plan to smuggle Malay and Indonesian students stranded by the war in Arabia and Egypt back to their countries of origin by submarine as a way of obtaining information about the Japanese. Thwarted in his efforts to direct this scheme when his British security record was revealed, he then tried unsuccessfully to interest the then Brisbane-based General Douglas MacArthur in employing him. Returning with the Rajah to Britain in 1943, he subsequently played a key role in the final negotiations with the Colonial Office which led to the Rajah's agreement on 24 October 1945 to cede his sovereignty to the British Crown. One of the conditions stipulated by the Rajah was that MacBryan should be entrusted with the responsibility of obtaining the agreement of Sarawak's Malay and Chinese leaders. Although British Military


Intelligence had a thick file on MacBryan, which recorded his evasion of military service in 1940 and his suspicious actions in Dutch Borneo in early 1942 (where he was almost shot as a Japanese spy), the Colonial Office had no choice but to work through him to achieve its ends.

In early January 1946, MacBryan arrived unannounced in Kuching. With him he brought a small suitcase of official documents legitimizing the cession through rapidly-arranged meetings of the Supreme Council and Council Negri. He also distributed a large quantity of newly-printed banknotes, purportedly to reimburse the datu for their loss of pay during the Japanese occupation but in fact to secure their compliance with the Rajah's wishes. When this shady deal was exposed in the British press by the Rajah's younger brother and Heir Apparent, Bertram Brooke, the Colonial Office was obliged to go through the proper constitutional processes instead. This culminated in a narrow vote in favor of cession in the Council Negri in Kuching on 15 May 1946, thanks to the support of its official European members, and formal annexation under an Order-in-Council by the British Crown on 1 July. (48)

MacBryan spent 1946 and the first half of 1947 in London, when he was subject to mental breakdowns. Believing that by using a mysterious black box he could make himself invisible, he tested his theory on one occasion by taking peaches from a fruit barrow in central London, only to be arrested and fined by a magistrate. Aware of his precarious mental state and the imminent onset of a nervous collapse, he had himself admitted to a mental hospital outside London on at least two occasions. Nevertheless, he continued to offer the Colonial Office his opinions on the future of the Borneo states, suggesting in September 1946 that Brunei be united with Sarawak and claiming that he "could easily persuade [the] present Sultan to cede Brunei to the Crown for this purpose." (49) There was some expectation that he might want to visit Brunei to achieve this end and the Resident was duly warned, but in the event he was to remain in London for the next twelve months.

Returning at last to Sarawak on 30 April 1950 from Johannesburg in South Africa, where he had made his home since late 1947 with his third wife, Frances, MacBryan's principal mission was to revive the Sarawak State Trust Fund for the education of young Sarawakians that he had earlier attempted to establish with 1,000,000 [pounds sterling] of Sarawak's remaining state funds. (50) While the Colonial Office in March 1946 had confirmed the intention of creating the Fund, by September 1949 it was saying that it could not be established as there was no legal footing. (51)

MacBryan put his case forcefully at meetings with a committee consisting of Sarawak's Attorney-General, Arthur Grattan-Bellew, and other senior government officers, only to find that they stuck to the Colonial Office line. They refused to accede to the request contained in the Rajah's proclamation of 14 January 1946 that 1,000,000 [pounds sterling] be paid from Sarawak's reserve funds to MacBryan to endow the Trust Fund. (52) Thwarted in his ambitious scheme, which he represented as the quid pro quo for the 1946 cession because of the benefits that it would offer young Sarawakians, it was a major setback.

Concern about the fate of the Fund had already been responsible for the temporary fits of insanity he had suffered in Johannesburg over the previous two years which had necessitated hospitalization there. (53)

MacBryan and the Sultan

During his stay in Kuching, MacBryan was contacted by Enche Hassan, Ahmad Tajuddin's private secretary, and spent some hours talking with the Sultan. "We get on very well together," he wrote to Frances shortly afterwards. "Do you remember I told you how vital I conceived Brunei to be?" (54) The two men had indeed struck up a close rapport and within days MacBryan persuaded the Sultan to appoint him as his Political Adviser on all questions outside Brunei and to help him pursue his constitutional and financial rights in London, on the pretext of seeking medical advice there. Consulted by the Sultan at MacBryan's instigation, Britain's Special High Commissioner for Southeast Asia, Malcolm MacDonald, could raise no objections to MacBryan's appointment: after all, the terms of Brunei's 1905-06 supplementary treaty with Britain only stipulated that "the advice of the British Resident must be taken and acted upon on all questions in Brunei [my emphasis]." In a letter written at the time to the Rajah's personal secretary, Mrs. Evelyn ("Sally") Hussey, whom he had made his confidante, MacBryan outlined what he thought was Ahmad Tajuddin's position:
 The Sultan in his heart is deeply dissatisfied, and exemplifies
 Asiatic opinion generally. He is not by any means such a fool as he
 may seem to some. His weakness arises out of his sense of utter
 frustration. I have repeatedly warned the Colonial Office ... about
 the dangers of the Brunei Treaty to the whole British Commonwealth
 system in the East. The British Government would do well to realise
 that my warning was serious. (55)

By 1 June 1950, they were installed in Raffles Hotel in Singapore and MacBryan was making arrangements to travel to London by air on l0 June while the Sultan was to sail on the Willem Ruys, together with the Tengku Ampuan, Tuanku Ehsan and Enche Hassan. They were to rendezvous in London and pursue with the Secretary of State for Colonies the issue of Brunei's constitutional relationship with Britain. In the first of four letters, typed and no doubt composed by MacBryan but evidently signed by the Sultan, the latter formally appointed him as his Political Secretary as from l0 June. (56) In a second letter, the Sultan stated that he had pronounced a titah, or royal decree, "irrevocably appointing and anointing" Tuanku Ehsan as his successor and heir, and requesting MacBryan in his capacity as her official guardian to inform the Colonial Office that she was to be known henceforth as Puteri Besar, or Heir Apparent. (57) Tajuddin's younger brother, the Kuala Kangsar-educated Omar Ali Saifuddin, had already been appointed Pengiran Bendahara, or first wazir, in July 1947, an office which fell short of making him Heir Apparent but established him as the most senior member of Brunei's political hierarchy under the Sultan.

In a third letter, the Sultan emphasized that Rajah Vyner Brooke had had no right to cede Sarawak, complaining that he himself had not been consulted and claiming that he should be paid the sum of Straits $5,000 (originally 4,000 Spanish dollars) due to him as tribute due on the transfer of Sarawak's sovereignty. (58) He authorized MacBryan to pursue the issue with the Secretary of State for Colonies and promised to let him see a letter to General Carlos Romulo of the Philippines which he had apparently written on the subject. (59)

In a fourth letter, the Sultan complained that Brunei's oilfields had been developed to the detriment of himself and his people and he consequently authorized MacBryan to take up the matter with the Secretary of State.

The Sultan was still resentful over his treatment by the British authorities in relation to the re-building of his Istana and had not been altogether mollified by an increase in the modest oil royalties paid by the British Malayan Petroleum Co. and an increase in his own salary. Playing on this, and on the Sultan's suggestible nature, MacBryan had evidently persuaded him to take immediate political action. If we are to accept MacBryan's word, Ahmad Tajuddin's planned visit to London was designed to renegotiate Brunei's constitutional status (reducing the power of the Resident) and to place further pressure on British Malayan Petroleum to increase royalty payments by threatening to enter into talks with the Standard Oil Company of America.

In a final letter dated 1 June and addressed to MacBryan but once again typed and no doubt composed by him, the Sultan referred to the four previous letters, telling him:
 I have been very ill for a long time and the cause of it has been
 mental anguish at the way the oilfields of Brunei have been
 conceded without consideration of myself or my feelings or of the
 interests of my people. But I have been helpless because of the
 Treaties ... which have forced me to do whatever I was told in all
 matters ... My sole desire is that from a financial point of view a
 reasonable resource should be available to me to relieve the
 distress and suffering of my own people in the particular way I
 think right and not in the way that the British Residents and High
 Commissioners and Agents think right. (60)

In case the British government continued to show "a continued unreasonable attitude in these affairs," he authorized MacBryan to proceed to the United States "as my chosen and personal and political representative" and negotiate an agreement with the President of Standard Oil for the full development of Brunei's oilfields. (61) The American connection was one that MacBryan had been investigating since 1941 when he first approached the United States Consul in Singapore, although it seems unlikely that he had actually made contact with Standard Oil by mid-1950. (62) The Sultan also instructed MacBryan to inform the United Nations of the injustices that Brunei had suffered from the "enforced treaties" with Britain. Finally, he told him:
 Kindly also mention that my daughter has equal rights with the
 daughter of the King of England to succeed to a throne. (63)

An advertisement to this effect was duly inserted by MacBryan a few days later in Singapore's The Straits Times.

To what extent MacBryan was manipulating the Sultan during this brief but eventful time is a difficult question to resolve. The four letters apparently signed by the Sultan on 1 June 1950 were typed by MacBryan on his distinctive portable typewriter and expressed in a way that went far beyond the former's modest command of English. The originals, which should have borne the Sultan's personal yellow seal, have not survived, but their validity was attested to by Singapore's Notary Public on 10 June 1950 and by the Commissioner of Oaths in Johannesburg the following April. However, MacBryan would most likely have had access to the Sultan's personal seal after his death and would easily have been able to concoct and backdate the letters. It would be naive to suggest that he was incapable of forgery, although a forger would probably have moved the date of his formal commencement as Political Adviser from 10 June to 1 June. MacDonald certainly regarded the letters, with the possible exception of the titah, as spurious, but then he had never been inclined to give "the little Sultan" much credit.

From what we now know of the Sultan's strained relationship with the Brunei Residents before the war and the issues which preoccupied him after the war, the content of the letters sent by him to the Colonial Office between 1947 and 1949 does not seem to be out of character. "Translated" and typed (and most likely composed) by Enche Hassan, they nevertheless conveyed his genuine concerns in polite but firm terms. (64) The four letters composed and typed by MacBryan should be seen in the same light.

It seems likely that MacBryan, too, had quickly come to understand the Sultan's concerns and was able to express them in a way that he approved. MacBryan's own immediate interest was to make himself indispensable to the Sultan, replicating the situation he had created in his earlier role as Private Secretary to Rajah Vyner Brooke. He clearly enjoyed being the eminence gris behind the throne and his fluency in courtly Malay, together with his knowledge of how the Resident system in Brunei worked, meant that he was in a unique position to exercise power. He also appears to have taken over the management of the Sultan's financial affairs, as he had done for Vyner Brooke, no doubt to help secure his influence over him. (65)

Beyond this position of power, and the substantial salary that he might expect from the Sultan, however, was MacBryan's evolving grand plan to unite the Muslims of northern Borneo and the southern Philippines in a single political entity under the restored authority of Brunei. The logical first step in this process was to scrap the treaties of 1888 and 1905-06, which bound Brunei to Britain and rendered the sultans virtually impotent, and to improve the Sultanate's share of Brunei's burgeoning oil production.

This contingency no doubt alarmed officials at the Colonial Office, concerned as they already were about the Sultan's refusal to communicate through his Resident. As we have seen, he had earlier taken the unprecedented step of writing several letters directly to the Secretary of State for Colonies, Arthur Creech Jones, in connection with the rebuilding of the Istana, payment of compensation for War Damage, the funding of his Silver Jubilee celebrations and the increase of his monthly allowance. (66)

In any event, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin suffered a hemorrhage at the Raffles Hotel on the night of 3 June and was taken to the hospital where he died the next morning of kidney failure. He was just thirty-seven years old. While his body was lying in state at the Sultan of Johore's Istana Besar in nearby Johore Bahru, the Tengku Ampuan (whose brother was by then the Sultan of Selangor) vainly attempted to persuade the Singapore authorities that he should be interred at Klang in the burial ground of Selangor royalty.

She had to be reminded very firmly that Brunei custom required that his subjects should see his face before he was buried and that not until then could his successor be named. (67) in the meantime, High Commissioner Malcolm MacDonald was composing an ambiguous message of condolence to her:
 I was very fond of His Highness the Sultan. He was one of the most
 colourful personages whom I have ever met and we had many
 interesting times together.

 I shall always remember his lively personality on future visits to
 Borneo. (68)

The Sultan's funeral ceremony and burial at Brunei took place on 6 June after his body had been flown back on an R.A.F. aircraft to Labuan and brought with full ceremony by royal barge to the Lapau (Court House) in Brunei Town. A detailed description of the proceedings was made by the North Borneo government's official representative, A.M. Grier (Appendix I).

The Brunei Succession

Immediately after the ceremony at the Lapau at 2.30 p.m., British Resident E.E.H. Pretty officially proclaimed Pangeran Omar as Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and the 28th ruler of Brunei. Whether this was in response to a direction from Sarawak's Governor Anthony Abell, in his capacity as High Commissioner for Brunei, or the unanimous resolution of a prior meeting of Brunei's Council of State, is not clear, although both parties were clearly in agreement. Abell's only official responsibility was to confirm the succession under the terms of Article 2 of Britain's 1888 treaty with Brunei. Pretty told Grier after the ceremony that there was some suggestion that in 1937 Tajuddin had forced his wazir to sign a document recognizing his daughter's succession and that surviving pre-war documents proved "that it had always been made clear to the Sultan that only male issue could succeed." (69) For his part, the thirty-five years old Omar Ali Saifuddin happily accepted his new role and quickly asserted his authority by insisting that his late brother be interred at the traditional royal burial ground upriver rather than at Ahmad Tajuddin's own estate four miles out of Brunei, as the Tengku Ampuan had wanted. He also insisted that Tajuddin's face was packed with mud in full view of his subjects before he was interred, in accordance with Brunei custom.

Writing to Rajah Vyner Brooke's nephew, Anthony Brooke, from Brunei in March 1950 a few months before these events took place, the part-time journalist and banker's wife Kathleen Clark told him of the unpopularity of Ahmad Tajuddin, who had been given only a few years to live "because of the frightful condition of his liver from various dissipations." (70) Omar Ali Saifuddin, on the other hand, was
 a most charming and excellent man who will make a first class
 Sultan with his very pro-British feelings[;] in fact he is a very
 fair man! He takes a real interest in this country, has a great
 sense of history and I think is as bright as glass, though he is so
 quietly spoken. (71)

Significantly, she pointed to Pengiran Mohamad, the Wireless Engineer, as the leader of the pro-Omar Ali Saifuddin faction:
 A most charming, intelligent Malay who I believe has been educated
 outside Brunei, he is quiet and courteous and has great standing
 amongst his fellows. You always find he is the one who has been
 elected to organise everything ... (72)

Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin had left no legitimate male heir, but the supposed 1937 agreement with his wazir and the 1 June 1950 titah meant that it was still open to MacBryan to challenge the legality of Omar Ali Saifuddin's succession and push instead for the installation of the then sixteen years old Tuanku Ehsan as ruler. This he did in a letter to Malcolm MacDonald written on the night of 6 June. At this point, however, he was probably unaware that there was a significant faction in Brunei that was loyal to Tajuddin's wishes and was strongly supported by some members of the Selangor royal family. Indeed, Pretty confessed many years later that he had put Omar Ali Saifuddin on the throne "against significant local opposition." (73) Present at the funeral was Tengku Kelana Jaya Petra, the brother of Tengku Ampuan Rohani, who had been denied the Selangor succession in the mid-1930s by the British and restored to it by the invading Japanese, (74) only to be deprived of it again by the returning British in late 1945. Not surprisingly, he was bitterly anti-British and strongly committed to the cause of his niece, Tuanku Ehsan. Dressed in splendid robes and with his eyelids painted with antimony in the traditional aristocratic style, (75) the flamboyant Tengku Kelana was a temporary rallying point for local opposition to the new sultan. This manifested itself late the following year in critical articles appearing in the Singapore journal Melayu Raya and evidently written by members of a dissident group which included a number of schoolteachers. (76)

The morning after Tajuddin's funeral and Omar Ali Saifuddin's proclamation as his successor, MacBryan cabled King George VI from Singapore:
 May I be allowed to protest at the action your Majesty's Governor
 Anthony Abel[l] in Sarawak at having without your Majesty's command
 approved on behalf of His Majestys Government that a person other
 than the Sultan's annointed [sic] heir should be proclaimed by the
 Council of Brunei upon the direction of the local British
 Resident[.] The rightful heir is Princess Ehsan. (77)

MacBryan's plan may well have been to become Tuanku Ehsan's consort and thereby fulfill his grand T.E. Lawrence-style scheme of uniting all the Muslims in Borneo and the southern Philippines under a revived and strengthened Brunei Sultanate. Significantly, he had once again brought with him his Arabian robes and headdress.

The Tongkat Ular

The same morning, 7 June, MacBryan held a press conference in Singapore at which he claimed that the planned coronation of Omar Ali Saifuddin would be invalid without the presence of the golden orb and the tongkat ular, which he alleged were parts of the Brunei royal regalia that had come into his possession. (78) According to the Singapore-based Australian journalist, Dennis Warner, who was present, the tongkat ular (snake-headed walking stick or cane) "was simply a length of rattan, perhaps a couple of feet long, with a golden serpent's head and tail." (79) Accusing the British government of depriving Tuanku Ehsan of her throne, MacBryan cited a document signed and sealed by the Sultan appointing him as her guardian until she was enthroned. All this received extensive publicity in the Singapore and British press, with photographs of MacBryan brandishing the tongkat ular. (80) He was further reported as claiming that the late Sultan had shown him how to use the items of regalia "in traditional rites not known to anyone in Brunei." (81)

MacBryan managed the same day to see Malcolm MacDonald, who was clearly apprehensive of his ability to stir up controversy in the press and was anxious to restrain him. Predictably, MacBryan stressed the unconstitutional nature of the recent succession proceedings in Brunei, citing the titah signed by Ahmad Tajuddin on 1 June which claimed Tuanku Ehsan as his rightful heir. In order to support his case, MacBryan had brought with him the tongkat ular but he resisted MacDonald's repeated attempts to take possession of it and return it to Brunei. Subsequently, he was canny enough to deposit the two alleged items of regalia with a local bank, so that a search of his room at Raffles Hotel and his lawyer Sir Roland Braddell's offices by Singapore Special Branch or British Intelligence was in vain. (82) MacDonald had refused to countenance MacBryan's claims as to the invalidity of the coronation without the missing regalia, while MacBryan continued to insist that Tuanku Ehsan was "the rightful ruler." in his report to the Secretary of State, Arthur Creech Jones, the High Commissioner told him that this was "a characteristic piece of irresponsibility and foolish interference by MacBryan, whose conversation is pretty wild and shows signs of mental imbalance." (83) He was not overly concerned about MacBryan's intention of visiting Brunei and then going on to London to consult with Creech Jones: "In any case [he added], we presumably need not take this business too seriously, for MacBryan seems so blatantly in the wrong and is moreover such an irresponsible advocate of the case." (84) Nevertheless, the question of the tongkat ular raised a doubt about the legitimacy of the planned coronation of Sultan Omar All Saifuddin.

MacBryan in Brunei

Arriving in Brunei on 11 June, ostensibly to deal with the late Sultan's affairs, MacBryan nevertheless made no attempt to contact the Resident or to meet any Brunei Malay officials. Sarawak's Attorney-General, Arthur Grattan-Bellew, who was visiting Brunei at the time, made a point of seeing him and managed to obtain a "glimpse" of the letters from Ahmad Tajuddin which were the basis of MacBryan's claimed authority. However, he was unsure of their exact contents and whether or not they bore the Sultan's official seal "as MacBryan kept talking to him in a completely incoherent and nonsensical way." (85)

MacBryan meanwhile had begun to drink heavily and behave extremely strangely while staying at the Government Rest House, "wandering naked around the verandah" (86) and "conducting thunderstorms." (87) He was heard to pose the question: "Who are the Holy Trinity?", to which he answered: "The Virgin Mary, Princess Elizabeth and Mrs. Hussey." (88) There were other reports of erratic behavior towards his fellow guests at the Rest House and in the bazaar where he pinched the cheek of a Chinese woman drinking coffee before wandering around the town holding a half-filled glass of whiskey, followed by a crowd of curious children. (89) He was consequently certified as "being of unsound mind" by the Brunei State Medical Officer on 17 June and put aboard the next boat to Singapore, the fishing vessel M.V. Tenggiri, for medical treatment there. (90) Locked in his cabin for most of the voyage, MacBryan nevertheless managed to smash down the door, seize the ship's navigational instruments and charts and throw them overboard. (91) On his arrival in Singapore on 22 June, he was detained at the Mental Hospital there until mid-August under an order issued by the colony's Colonial Secretary. Released on the expiry of the order, he announced to the press that he intended going to London within a few days to pursue Tuanku Ehsan's case with the Colonial Office, taking the tongkat ular with him. The Colonial Office was sufficiently concerned at his claims about the missing regalia for Omar All Saifuddin's coronation to be delayed by almost a year until 31 May 1951.

Back in London on 21 August, MacBryan tried unsuccessfully to see Colonial Office officials about the succession and consequently seems to have suffered a mental breakdown. There was a story of him trying to direct traffic at Piccadilly Circus and his sister committing him to the mental hospital at Epsom in Surrey, (92) where he had already been a voluntary patient on at least two occasions in 1946 and 1947. On his release, he returned to Johannesburg and on 26 October The Times published a letter from him emphasizing that the late Sultan had been concerned with his "unhappy political plight" and that of his people under the 1905-06 treaty with Britain, which subjected him to the authority of the British Resident in all matters except the Muslim religion. MacBryan claimed that the Sultan had wished to renegotiate Brunei's constitutional arrangements and to form a strategically important "British Bornean Union" with Sarawak and North Borneo, to be underpinned by the revenue from Brunei's oilfields, "the richest in the Commonwealth." (93)

From Johannesburg, MacBryan continued to bombard the Colonial Office with letters relating to the Brunei succession and the revision of Brunei's treaties with Britain. However, his dispatch to Brunei's State Council in March 1951 of copies of letters written to him by Rajah Vyner Brooke on 28 June 1946 and by Sultan Abroad Tajuddin on 2 April 1950 was rejected by its President, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, who saw "no useful purpose" in passing them on to the State Council. (94) When MacBryan protested to the Colonial Office that the documents had been withheld from the State Council on the advice of the Resident, a resolution was made by the State Council on 18 April that he be banned from entry to Brunei. (95) Following this, however, MacBryan was able to ascertain from the Colonial Office that it had no objection to his visiting the state. He promptly cabled Malcolm MacDonald in Singapore to confirm that there was no problem in making a visit in order to take legal proceedings against the Resident and make known the "commands, wishes and instructions of the late Yang di-Pertuan." (96)

MacBryan was back in London in August 1951, writing to The Times about oil royalties in Sarawak and Brunei but failing once again to meet anyone at the Colonial Office. He appears to have returned to Johannesburg and then set off for Singapore once again before the end of that year with the intention of visiting Sarawak and meeting Governor Anthony Abell in his capacity as High Commissioner for Brunei. (97) In any event, however, he seems not to have visited either Sarawak or Brunei, going on instead to Hong Kong where he died in unexplained and certainly suspicious circumstances in a hotel shortly before Christmas 1953. (98) It seems likely that the failure of his plans to establish the Sarawak Trust Fund and to put Tuanku Ehsan on the Brunei throne had proved too much for his increasingly delicate mental balance. While there is no proof that British Intelligence played any part in his death, there was every reason for the British government to have been relieved at the demise of this brilliant and charismatic man who had the potential to cause serious embarrassment in Brunei and London. Although he had taken the tongkat ular with him on his return to London, it subsequently disappeared and has never been heard of again. Whether it in fact constituted a vital part of the Brunei royal regalia is also a question that has never been settled. (99)

There were only the briefest references to Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin in historical writing about Brunei in 1977 when I was completing my doctoral thesis on the cession of Sarawak in 1946 and it was because of this that I wrote to the Palace in Brunei asking if I could be supplied with any information. 1 had encountered the story of the diminutive Sultan during my research on the cession, an event which moved him to protest publicly in February 1947 that his traditional rights over Sarawak had been overlooked: that if Sarawak were to be ceded to anyone, it should be to him. (100) This was a remarkable outburst, particularly in light of the British government's commitment to the official annexation of Sarawak in July, but Tajuddin made his statement to the newspapers in Singapore where he was free from the "advice" of his Resident. What he was seeking, however, was not the resumption of his own sovereign rights over Sarawak but the payment to him by the British government of Straits $5,000 for the transfer of sovereignty, an arrangement that Rajah James Brooke had undertaken with Brunei's governor of Sarawak, Rajah Muda Hashim, in September 1841.

I had seen photographs of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin with the first Japanese governor, Marquis Maeda, and his entourage of officers on their first visit to Brunei in early 1942. I had also learnt something of his relationship with Gerard MacBryan through my acquisition of the latter's private correspondence with his (since deceased) first wife, the Australian, Eva Collins (then living at Nambour in southern Queensland), and his third wife, Frances Benn (then living near Warminster in Wiltshire).


My request for information about Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin of II October 1976 finally resulted in a letter from Datin M.E. Lloyd-Dolbey, then Personal Secretary to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, of 6 September 1977, enclosing a nine-page typescript which is reproduced below (Appendix III). To all intents and purposes, it is an official biography and appears to have been written by one of the Sultan's Bruneian officials. While the information it contains appears to be factually accurate as far as it goes, it reveals very little of Abroad Tajuddin's personality and character and of the problems he faced.

The foremost authority on these subjects was Britain's High Commissioner for South-East Asia, Malcolm MacDonald, who was based in Singapore from 1946 until 1955 and was a frequent visitor to Borneo. His official dispatches to the Secretary of State for Colonies on Brunei during those years were shrewd and informative but gave very little indication of his personal reactions. While he was an urbane and canny diplomat, Macdonald also had a sharp eye and an even sharper pen when it came to recording his personal impressions of the leading personalities with whom he came in contact. Although his journal entries were essentially private writings, they were self-conscious productions that were probably intended for publication at some later time. MacDonald was no doubt familiar with W. Somerset Maugham's Malayan and Borneo short stories and his writing closely imitated Maugham's acerbic style.

Some of MacDonald's descriptions of personalities, notably of Sultan Abroad Tajuddin, were scurrilous in the extreme and this explains why his journals were apparently "vetted" by an employee of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after his death and some time after their removal from the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Burlington Avenue, London, to Durham University where MacDonald had been Chancellor and where his other papers were deposited. I noticed the "vetting" when I found that the journals in Durham were not in sequence and had some obvious gaps, including some pages which I had earlier photocopied when they were held at Burlington Avenue. As there had been a limit to the amount of photocopying allowed there (10% of the original), ! had not managed to copy all the Brunei references, but the copies I managed to make, together with some further copying at Durham, meant that i had a fairly good coverage of MacDonald's impressions of Brunei. A quick perusal of his typescript autobiography, "Constant Surprise," also held at Durham University Library, revealed it to be a bland "official" account of his public career which in no way reflected the mordant Maugham-like persona of his private journals. His memoir, Borneo People (1956), (101) was an affectionate and highly readable account of many of the people whom he had met there. Most prominent in these stories was Sarawak, where he frequently visited Paramount Chief Temenggong Koh's Baleh longhouse on the upper reaches of the Rejang river by flying boat and where persistent rumors linked him romantically with one of Koh's daughters. When it came to the point, however, he was unwilling to commit his less benign thoughts to print.


What do the incomplete private journals reveal? (102) MacDonald made his first visit to Brunei in mid-July 1946 (the basis of the first two accounts reproduced below) and was there once again for the Sultan's Silver Jubilee celebrations in September 1949.

His last meeting with the Sultan was in Singapore in late May 1950 when the latter was en route to London, but MacDonald visited Brunei again in May 1951 for the coronation of his younger brother, Omar Ali Saifuddin.

July 16 [1946]

Voyaged overnight on Alacrity to Suka Point on Muara Island, where we arrived at 7.45 this morning. Thence by Higgins' launch into the Brunei River, where we were met by two Government launches bearing the Sultan, some of his daughters and the Resident ([John] Peel). The Sultan came on board to greet me. He stands less than five feet high and has a face as weak as his character. From youth he has abandoned himself to wine, women and perhaps (in occasional hiccoughy snatches) song. It is not necessarily his fault. He is a badly brought up, and spoilt and (under the encouragement, I am told, of his mother) debauched princeling. He succeeded to his Sultan's throne when a minor, and is now 33 years old and in the 22nd year of his reign. When he succeeded it was the custom that the new Sultan inherit the harem of his predecessor. As there had been a succession of short-lived Sultans (some of them succumbing to the effects of deliberately administered poison) before this boy came to the throne, the accumulated harem had reached considerable proportions. I believe it contained seventy women. This would not have deterred the young Sultan, but it seemed objectionable to the British resident of the day ([Eric] Pretty, now in Johore). He decided that the time and opportunity had come to ration His Highness as regards wives. He took action accordingly. I must ask Pretty for the exact details of this interesting piece of Brunei history.

Whatever the ration that Pretty fixed, the Sultan indulged his appetite for women, and drink, to excess. I believe his excesses are of quality as well as quantity. He is a degenerate. Again, it was not wholly his fault, for apart from physical, mental and moral defects due to heredity, his mother provided him with an undesirable environment. She encouraged him to enjoy the company of women and to spend most of the time enjoying it. Her influence was against his taking his responsibilities as a Ruler seriously. His education was gravely neglected in all matters except those concerning the bed-chamber. Then he was suddenly sent to England for a little schooling; too sudden and erratic a change for an inexperienced and weak-witted minor Asiatic Sultan. His principal impression of Britain is the splendour of the G leneagles Golf Course Hotel.

He was officially married to the daughter of the late Sultan of Selangor. He has treated her brutally and tyrannically. She never appears outside his house and few people seem to have seen her in it. i have heard some story about her being kept in a cage part of the time. His other wives are not officially married to him, but to his spear, his kriss [sic] and other parts of his possessions, according to some ancient Brunei custom. This fine distinction in theory makes no difference in practice.

This was the half-grown little ruler of Brunei who greeted me on the Brunei River a few miles below his capital this morning. His black hair has a circular shaved patch on the back of his crown; his pop-eyes are concealed behind large, dark glasses; his moustache consists of a few long, curley whisps of black hair doing their best to look like a bushy cavalry moustache; his beard is even more ludicrously inadequate and absurd (consisting of about eight individual, unrelated, long, straggley black hairs); and his other features in keeping with these weak points. This morning he wore a musical-comedy uniform--a black peaked hat like a glorified London bus-driver's head-gear; a tunic of dark blue and silver fitted to his waist by a silver metal belt; blue breeches cut like riding breeches; and black top-boots. A couple of medals (those of the Jubilee and the Coronation) and the insignia of his C.M.G. strung round his neck completed the dress of this comic and sinister little personage.

Accompanying him were three of his daughters, two by 'unofficial' wives and the third by his official spouse. She is the youngest, looking about eight years old. They are young, dark-eyed girls with Malay features and beauty. But the youngest has wild, bad-tempered eyes.

He and his young relatives betook themselves from my launch into another and preceded me up river to Brunei town ...

[pages missing]

... and other Englishmen who in days of yore had adventured to these same parts, bent upon business with the notorious Sultan of Brunei. It was pleasant to feel that the place wore almost the same aspect now as it did in their time, that perhaps no corner of the world had changed less in century, and that my eyes were to gaze upon much the same scenes and spectacles as strange as those which greeted them ...

This was swiftly contained when we sailed into the river. Two small, trim launches approached us, and then stopped and hailed us. In one was Mr. John Peel, the British Resident of Brunei, immaculate in a white suit and topee, as befitted an able young representative of the old British Raj which is gradually disappearing from the East. In the other was the reigning Sultan of Brunei, accompanied by members of his family.

Our craft halted in mid-stream and the Resident and Royalties came aboard with smiles and words of friendly welcome. This gave me my initial opportunity to study the appearance of His Highness. I had been led to expect an extraordinary sight, but nothing so astonishing, so incredible as this. I could scarcely believe my eyes. I pinched myself to make sure that I was not dreaming. I had to discipline myself, to make sure that I did not stare in too rude wonderment. And that I did not burst into peals of merry laughter.

The Sultan was not a midget, but he was not very far from that. He measured 4 feet 8 inches high. Nevertheless, his various parts were well made, all in good proportion with the others. And his figure was like that of a neat little boy of pre-school age.

His face, however, bore a somewhat different character. He was adult, and eloquent of awful weakness and (should I say?) degeneracy. His skin was pale for a Malay potentate, but his hair was as black as pitch. Like smooth, polished ebony, it was brushed straight back from his boney forehead, and parted on the crown to reveal a shaved circular patch of bare pate. His dark, glistening eyes bulged too much from their sockets, an unhealthy effect accentuated by the lenses of his horn-rimmed spectacle. His nose had a delicate, yet sensuous, curve, and large, ugly mouth was grossly full-lipped. His cheeks and most of his jaw were hairless, but above his upper lip some skimpy, curling whisps of black hair did their best to simulate a bushy cavalry moustache. Whilst less than dozen long, apparently unrelated, straggley hairs sprouted from his chin appeared like a ludicrously plucked and despoiled head of a worn-out Chinese sage.

In his eyes was a vague, dissolute look.

His costume was colourful, if incongruous. One of His Highnesses [sic] idiosyncracies was a passion for designing odd uniforms for himself. On this occasion his dress seemed best suited for the head chauffeur of some Austrian princeling in far-fetched musical comedy set in the Tyrolean Alps. His hat was shaped like a bus-driver's, with broad shiney black peak. His tunic was of dark blue, with silver lapels, cuffs and buttons. Its wasp-waist was clasped within a silver-metal belt. His trousers sported a different shade of blue, and were cut like particularly vulgar riding-breeches. His legs and feet were enclosed in black patent leather top-boots. A couple of beribboned medals oil his bosom and the bauble of the C.M.G. strung around his neck completed the make-up of this comic personage.

With him were a quartette [sic] of daughters. Sons had he none; but those four young females he begot by various mothers. A Moslem monarch. There was no particular limit to number of ladies whom he might sire. One was his official wife, enjoying the title of Tungku Ampuan, a Sultan's daughter from the Unfederated Malay States. The others were, by some strange, ancient, hallowed Malay fiction, married to his principal weapons of war and the chase his spear, his kris and the rest. The marital rights, however, were exercised wholly by His Highness.

Some of these women were the mothers of his three eldest daughters, who all gloried in the title Belabub. There was the Belabub Besar, or Big Belabub; the Belabub [blank] or middle one, and the Belabub Damit, or small Belabub--like the three bears in the fairy story of Goldilocks. The Sultan's youngest daughter was the legitimate offspring of himself and his wife, and she therefore was a fully-fledged royal princess who took precedence over her older half-sisters.

At the time when I first met them the Belabub Besar was a girl of seventeen summers. and the Princess Esah [Ehsan] was a child of nine. The other pair of girls were distributed in age somewhere between the two. They were a pretty quartette, black haired, dark eyed, brown skinned, sweetly featured, and dressed in brightly coloured, flower patterned bajus and sarongs.

Yet they betrayed already their breeding. The eldest girl in particular had the gay, roving eye, the unabashed, inviting smile and the abandoned swing of the hips of a young lady who is no better than she ought to be. The two younger Belabubs had no such blatant style, and seemed innocently virgin yet they had an air of being natural, untamed and free, like jungle animals. The princess, as I have said, was still a mere child; but a selfish, imperious look in her eyes revealed that she was a true descendant of a long line of Brunei Sultans.

Brunei 3

The Sultan's Silver Jubilee fell on September 20th 1949.

On the previous day I took wing from Singapore, to attend the celebrations. My 'plane landed in Kuching, not only to take on more fuel to complete the flight to Brunei, but also to take on the Sultan and transport him to his Jubilee. He had been staying some time in his house in Kuching. Without him on this auspicious occasion the ceremonies in his state would indeed be a performance of 'Hamlet' without the Prince of Denmark.

However, when we landed on Kuching airfield he was nowhere to be seen. Nor were the officers of Government who should have been there to greet me and to speed me on my way. Instead an apologetic telephone message from [Chief Secretary] Gordon Aikman awaited me, explaining that the Sultan and the Tungku [sic] Ampuan (who was with him) were in ill-humour and were at the moment resisting the suggestion that they should go to Brunei, and that I might have to delay my onward passage whilst the process of persuasion were [sic] completed.

Whilst I waited I heard from an acquaintance of the events of the last few weeks. The Sultan had taken up residence in Kuching some time ago. He was in casual, happy-go-lucky mood. He complained of his health, and eventually took to his bed. For ten days no-one was allowed near him in his bedroom, where he apparently led the life of an invalid recluse, receiving no visitors, doing no work and declining contact with the outside world. Enquiries of his staff elicited the reply that he was feeling a bit under the weather, and was resting.

Suddenly one morning the doctor in the hospital received an urgent telephone call, saying that His Highness felt seriously ill, that he wished to stay for a while in the hospital, and that he had already entered his car and was on the way.

The royal patient arrived a few minutes later. The doctor had only to glance at him to diagnose his complaint. He looked in terrible condition, and was in a highly exciteable state. He complained that he could not remain at his own residence, because the children there made so much noise, yelling and laughing all day long. The doctor knew that there were no children whatever in the house. Later, when His Highness was undressed and in bed in a private ward, he complained to the nurse of the bells that kept ringing in the corridor outside his door. Could someone stop their continuous tintinabulations?

There was in fact no bell anywhere within ear-shot. The ward was perfectly silent. His Highness's peace of mind was assailed not by noises, but by the preliminary signs and portents of a vicious attack of 'delirium tremens'.

The doctor visited the Sultan's residence, to discover what was the particular source of this indisposition. There he learnt that in the room which His Highness had occupied alone for the last ten days there were 423 empty beer bottles. It seemed therefore on average that the little man had been consuming 42 bottles per day. This seemed sufficient explanation of his physical condition.

It was now within two or three weeks of the Jubilee, in which the Sultan was to be the principal actor. The doctor and nurses did a thorough job with him, and restored him to a presentable condition in time for the great event. But the recovery was superficial; His Highness' fundamental condition was serious; the royal kidneys were gradually breaking down under the strain which they had borne for many years.

The doctor made no secret of this to His Highness, and gave him a sharp warning of the danger. He calculated that at his present rate of deterioration the little Sultan had only between six months and eighteen months to live.

His Highness was therefore inclined to lose interest in life. He began to regard with indifference the vain pomp and glory of this world. At any rate he thought that to give a few days to the ceremonial of his Jubilee was to devote too large a share of the time remaining to him to futile vanity. If life was now to be short, let it at least be merry. Let its cup be filled to the brim with joy. Let him drink it to the very dregs and if perchance time permitted, let it be refilled again and yet again. He would savour its taste fervently, Praise to be Allah! And salaams to Bacchus too! Cheerio, chin-chin! Here's mud in your eye. No heeltaps! He did not wish the cup to be dashed even briefly from his lips by the nonsensical, mundane official tomfoolery of a reign which was in any case drawing rapidly to a close.

He declared that he would not go to Brunei for the Jubilee. His wife, who abhorred all public appearances, encouraged him in his opposition. They both dug their toes in.

Hence my delay on the airfield at Kuching. My travelling companions and I waited more than an hour whilst a tremendous argument took place in the royal residence. Aikman urged that the Sultan must grace his Silver Jubilee with his presence. His Highness averred that he was too ill to travel.

Eventually we, on the airfield, saw a little cavalcade of motor cars approaching us. On the bonnet of the leading car we spied the royal flag of Brunei, fluttering bravely in the breeze. Then within the car we recognised the dark goggles of the Sultan's sunglasses perched on his thin, pale face. So Aikman had won. Hamlet was after all to make a personal appearance in the leading role in the week's drama.

When the Sultan stepped out of the car, I saw the ravages of illness on his person. His body seemed to have grown smaller than ever. He was shrivelling up. His face appeared haggard and its colour was bad. The wings of the angel of death did indeed seem to be brushing his hollow cheek.

He walked towards us like a man in a trance. Then, as we shook hands, his lack-lustre eyes brightened with sudden recognition. He gave me a wan smile, and for a brief moment a mischievous sparkle lit his eyes, as if he and I were fellow-conspirators in some dark plot. It dissolved as quickly as it had formed and he turned away mechanically to ascend the steps into the jaws of the waiting aeroplane.

The Tungku Ampuan looked sour. She evidently regarded with extreme distaste our expedition.

But there was no turning back now. The aeroplane's doors closed sternly behind us. A few minutes later we were poised in position to start at the end of the runway. Then the propellers buzzed into violent activity, the machine raced madly along the ground, and with its inmates were hurled like pebbles from a catapult into the air.


The next morning broke fair, after a night of rain. There was a freshness in the air, and a slight breeze blew, bringing welcome hints of coolness to us ...

[pages missing]

... the Sultan mounting the steps. There, on the threshold of the hall, he was met by the Penghiran [sic] Bendahara and the Pengiran Pemancha, who bowed solemnly to him, With his consort he walked with stately pace along the carpet towards the dais. The whole audience rose in salutation.

The interior of the pavilion was tastefully decorated with flags and bunting, sprays of foliage and bouquets of flowers. But its most beautiful [sight] was the many coloured costumes worn by some of the distinguished people in it. [C.W.] Dawson [Acting Chief Secretary of Sarawak] and I contributed little to the array, striking a sober note in the white drill and gold braid of the sartorial adornment of tropical Governors. But the leading Malays in particular indulged in an orgy of colour which lent the scene a sparkling brilliance.

I have already mentioned that the Sultan himself was clad in a rich regal Malay dress of emerald green silk and gold thread, its stuff was of the finest shimmering and glittering quality. Possibly the complete dignity of his appearance was a little marred by the fact that he wore his crown at a slightly rakish tilt; yet this seemed to be charmingly in character. Moreover, it was more the crown's fault than this. The crown was too tight, not the Sultan. The head measurements which had been sent to the Goldsmiths Company to ensure an exactly fitting crown omitted to mention the fact that space should be allowed for a cloth skull-cap to be inserted between the circle of metal and the Sultan's skin. The net result was that the crown was too small; and His Highness had to wedge it over his forehead at a slight angle in order to prevent it from rolling off.

As I have also mentioned before, the Sultana was dressed that day in dark blue and gold, with yellow and gold scarf around her shoulders. The Penghiran Bendahara wore a magnificent suit of oyster and gold from the tip of his turban to the toes of his slippers. It had been especially woven for the occasion by his young wife. The Belabub Besar did not attend the ceremony, having fallen into disgrace as the result of some joyous escapade scarcely in keeping with the status of a married woman; but her two pretty sisters, the Belabub Lua and the Belabub Daunit, were sitting side by side in the front row. The former dressed in Cambridge blue and the latter in Oxford blue, each with a flowered pattern of gold on the silk. The Penghulu Pemancha was in a white uniform and wore a pork-pie hat with almost as many colours in its make-up as graced Jacob's coat. The Penghiran Mohamed had on a black velvet cap, dark brown baju and trousers and a purple and gold sarong. Inche Hassan, on the other hand, wore a pink baju and trousers offset by a white and gold turban and sarong. The Orang Kaya de-Gadong [sic] sported a red and gold turban and sarong over his white uniform. Several Hajis wore many-hued turbans and long, close-fitting, grey or brown 'frock-coats' which often distinguish those who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Other Muslim personalities were clad in costumes of varied shades; the Chinese towkays came in black and white; and the Iban chieftains from up-country enlivened the show with caps of fur or feather, loin cloths of bizarre designs and, for the rest, gleaming brown flesh decoratively spattered with blue tattoo.

[pages missing]

... utterly exhausted at the winning post; the rest of my crew seemed completely fresh, and gave loud war- whoops of triumph.

A tea-party in the Residency garden followed. Amongst the large company were the Sultan and his four daughters. An even more interesting arrival was his mother. I already knew her astonishing and sinister reputation and looked at her with curiosity as we all sat down at a table to eat cakes and sip tea.

She appeared to be an affable old lady, gentle and dignified. He small, slight frail figure seemed the incarnation of feminine weakness, and her serene, wrinkled face and trim grey hair had perfect air of ladylike gentility. Could this be (1 thought) the notorious regent, the cold-blooded tyrant, the unnatural mother of the scandalous tales which had circulated in the region? It seemed strange--although her smile, if gracious and sweet, was at the same time a trifle enigmatic. Perhaps the secret lay in her eyes. Occasionally they betrayed a quality in contradiction to the rest of her appearance. They had an imperious glance, cold, calculating and selfish. Then the embers of some fire within her glowed through them, and I felt instinctively that they could kindle easily into passionate fury and hate.

Noticing the fine, long deft fingers on her delicate hands, I realised that they had probably not lost their cunning. If the whispered insinuations of her enemies were true, these beautiful claws had dabbled in poison. Perhaps even now--if she felt so disposed--she could slip by some incredible, invisible sleight-of-hand grains of fatal powder into my tea. I looked at my cup and saucer, but they appeared untampered with. The fact that I am still alive to tell this tale is no doubt proof that she was innocent of guile that sunny afternoon. Perhaps in nay case the darkest rumours spread about her past conduct were the idle, scandalous inventions of disgruntled courtiers. But I felt as if I were privileged to sit at table with an aged, two clawed Imperial dragon on its best behaviour.

I shall have more to write about her in due course.

As we sipped our tea and toyed with cakes we chatted about this and that. The Sultan understood a certain amount of English, but lacked confidence to speak it. John Peel acted as interpreter between us. His Highness was extremely talkative. He spoke of the miseries which he and his people suffered under Japanese rule. And of their joy at the return to Brunei of their British protectors and friends. He made sly, ingratiating, flattering remarks about my visit, with some kind and courtly phrases which warmed my heart towards him. They indicated a certain sense of diplomatic nicety in him, which no doubt sprang from impulses little more than skin-deep, but which was none-the-less engaging in a rascally, Oriental sort of way for that. I liked his artful quality. Frequently his smooth words were accompanied by a wistful, boyish smile of what appeared to be sincere friendship. Moreover his utterance occasionally showed a pretty turn of humour. His smile would then break into a healthy laugh, the sounds of which contained mischievous, hilarious notes.

The ladies took no oral part in the conversation. Moslem women are usually silent in the presence of strangers. But they spoke plenty with their eyes. The Sultan's mother gazed upon us with kindly yet lofty tolerance, as an all-wise, well-mannered elder does when compelled to listen to the chatter of half-witted children. The Belabub Besar rolled her huge, sultry eyes at me with the frank, familiar come-hither stare of a street walker at dusk in Piccadilly Circus. The two little Belabubs ogled and simpered like a couple of shy but rather sophisticated children; whilst the princess kept shooting towards me glances charged with bored and bad-tempered resentment.

The Sultan did not seem to be wildly enthusiastic about the tea. In fact he left a full, steaming cup of it untasted. Every now and then his hand moved instinctively towards the cup, but at the first contact with this unfamiliar object it drifted vacantly away again, whilst His Highness's eyes roved a trifle wildly in vain search of other refreshment.

As soon as he finally abandoned hope of any such sustenance coming to his rescue he rose, stretched out his hand to mine, bowed so low that you saw the tonsured circle, like a small full moon on the top of his head, and took leave. His mother and daughters followed him like a drove of hinds and fawns silently attending a royal stag.

I dined early at the Residency, for the reveling [sic] that day was a nonstop performance and would continue throughout the evening on the padang in the town. Immediately after the meal the Sultan called to take me to it. He was dressed now in faultless tail-coat, white waistcoat and the suitable accompanying garments. Round the neck of his boiled shirt dangled the ribbon and accolade of a Companion of the Noble Order of the British Empire, and on the lapel of his coat hung the two little medals which he had gained on the battlegrounds which were so hotly contested when authority had to decide who should get Jubilee and Coronation medals. He looked much too small and--in spite of his incredible pretence at a moustache and beard young for this adult garb and finery, like some prodigious child conjurer dressed up for a Command Performance.

His eyes shone with gaiety. If there was just hint of glassiness in their glitter, it was of no account. No doubt he had been making up for the lack, at the afternoon tea party, of beverage to his taste, but he had done this wisely, not too well. He was in natural, spontaneous high spirits. Almost every sentence which he spoke twinkled with jest, and every now and again he gave a hilarious laugh. He was like a boisterous youngster, a child who had never properly grown up. I felt a strange sympathy for him, a sadness at this rather charming yet pathetic royal figure who seemed somehow so untrained to the responsibilities and dignities of rule.

We motored to the town. The night was dark, but heaven's high vault was brilliantly lit with the candles of ...

[pages missing]

The presence of the Sultan and two of the Belabubs was a remarkable innovation. Before the war the attendance of females at such a function would have been unthinkable. But in some respects, even in conservative Brunet, ancient custom was breaking down. Amongst others, the strict taboo against women in such public social gatherings was loosening its hold. Its power had not completely disappeared. Much argument had preceded the attendance of the Sultan's ladies, and although in their case this act of emancipation was urged and permitted, in other cases the old restraint had prevailed. For example, the Penghiran [sic] Bendahara had pleaded with his wife to come to the Jubilee celebrations; but she obstinately refused, on the grounds of impropriety. Other wives and daughters also had to stay away.

The Sultan's old nurse, however, had cast her vote for the new custom, and came to witness the ceremony. This withered hag occupied a place of honour, squatting on the floor close beside the throne. With her were two other aged and ugly harpies. Clad in dirty clothes with unkempt grey hairs and wrinkled, toothless faces, they looked like the three witches from 'Macbeth'. It was as if that infamous trio had met round their cauldron on the blasted heath near Forres, mixed a vile concoction of obscene spells and drams, and after chanting, 'Where shall we three meet again?' decided on Brunet as the site of their next tryst.

Certain well known local characters were however, positively refused admittance to the audience. They were the Evil Spirits who, unless forbidden, were apt to haunt and spoil pleasant sociable gatherings in Borneo. Ancient custom decreed how they could be prevented from attendance. In the middle of the red-carpeted aisle through the centre of the audience was propped a strange-looking object like a large model of Neptune's trident. On the end of its long wooden shaft was set threateningly a three-pronged fork, worthy to be in the armoury of some horrific torture chamber. This weapon was a warning to all ill-disposed Spirits to keep away. If they intruded, they would be impaled upon these sharp and twisted spikes.

That was why the ceremony passed off without any untoward incident.

The Sultan and Sultanah advanced with regal tread to their thrones on the dais. These pieces of furniture were as much like bits of stage property for an amateur theatrical performance as were their swords, shields and lances of the Royal Bodyguard. They had been knocked together, planed and chiseled a few days earlier out of some common planks, and the black and gold paint on them still smelt fresh. They stood under a domed canopy also newly fashioned of painted wood, with an embroidered ceiling, silk side-hangings and a carpeted floor. On either side of the thrones, stood a large, shining, brass Brunei cannon.

When the Sultan and Sultanah reached this bower and seated themselves, the audience also sat down. Then an expectant hush was shattered by the Royal Orchestra, which broke into an astonishing musical shindy. The half-dozen solemn performers crowded on the floor near the thrones, lugging their instruments. These consisted of three ancient drums of stretched snake-skin, two colossal gongs and a wood-wind instrument with the wide mouth of trumpet. They thumped, crashed and wailed at the tops of their voices all together and at what seemed to be interminable length.

They would have continued indefinitely, if ancient custom had been observed. The uproar of this orchestra on special occasions is supposed to have had semi-sacred imports, and the longer it lasts the more virtue it imparts to a ceremony. However, the Sultan did not, apparently, share that view. It was only with the greatest difficulty that he was persuaded to allow his trusty bandsmen to take any part in the proceedings at all. He could not abide them. To borrow a descriptive expression, he hated their guts, and their drums, gongs and flute as well.

I could not blame him. In accordance with time-honoured tradition, they had been playing continuously, with scarcely pause to draw breath, all the previous day, half the night, and all that morning They started in a room next to his living room. He cursed the infernal noise, and commanded silence; only to be told that ill luck would dog his Jubilee if it were not accompanied by this customary music. He almost went insane. After a while--unable to strangle them--he dismissed them to the verandah, then to the lawn outside and finally to an out-house beyond the lawn. So great was their prowess with wind and fist that even from there faint, maddening strains of their hullaballoo irritated the royal ear. The Sultan declared that he never wanted to hear another peep or squeak from them, and ordered that their performance should be struck from the programme prepared for the Jubilee Pavilion.

Once more the pundits pointed out to him that this would presage some awful disaster ...

May 30 1952

Sultan of Brunei lunched with me at Bukit Serene [the High Commissioner's official residence] today. He is on his way to England, to pay his respects to the King and thank him for his 'K' [knighthood]. I wonder whether he will ever get there. He looks like a doomed man to me, much thinner, weaker, frailer than at his jubilee. His head seems narrower, his flesh thinner (almost nothing beneath the skin), his eyes with death in them.

He was sober and rather silent, not lacking in dignity except to those awful, bulgy, telltale eyes and a general sense of a living corpse, a human body where decomposition has started before death has claimed it. But he talks in spasms. He drank whiskey-and-soda. Before lunch he drank three-quarters of a tumbler full, and then hesitated over the rest. Tunku Mahkota, who was a fellow guest, told him to swallow it so that we could go and eat.

The little Sultan professed inability.

'I drink whiskey very little', he said with a sheepishly naughty laugh.

'Hardly a drop', I said encouragingly.

H.H. smiled in friendship at me and then said 'I used to drink to excess'.

He gave his gay, infectious laugh which is like that of a boy who is being extremely naughty but who knows that he will get away with it because no one dare say him 'nay'.

Afterwards he drank two more full whiskeys and-sodas.

June 9th

The little Sultan died this morning at 9 o'clock. He had a haemorrhage last night, was taken from Raffles Hotel to the Hospital, and never had a chance of recovery. So passed away the last of the mediaeval Sultans.

May 29-June 1st

In Brunei for the Coronation.

Arrived with Abell on the Mermaid after two days at sea from Kuching .....

The house party at the Residency, where Pretty--the greatest British Resident ever in Brunei, and the 'last of the Nineteenth Century Residents in Malaysia'--is entering on his last month:--[Revd P.H.H.] Howes, Abell, Prettys, Andrey and me.

The lit-up kampong at night like a long procession of glow worms. An occasional firefly above in the form of a lamp on a pole.

The Bendahara's eyes were popping [more] than ever as he raises his arm with its drawn sword and shouts 'Sambah', looking around at his audience with a glance that would be penetrating if they were not half-blind ...

APPENDIX I: Robert Irvine, "Report of Visit to Brunei for the Coronation of H.H. the Sultan on the 17th March, 1940"

[NA CO 717/143/20]

I embarked on m.v. Marudu on Saturday the 9th March, 1940, and reached Labuan at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday the 13th March. I spent Wednesday night with Mr. Jakeman, the Resident, Labuan, at the Labuan Residency and about 12 noon on the following day I left for Brunei on the launch Kittiwake, arriving there at about 4.45 p.m.

My formal landing in Brunei took place the following morning, the 15th March, at 9.30 a.m. It had been arranged for me to present the British Resident, Major E.E. Pengilley with his Efficiency Decoration at this formal landing. Accompanied by R.W. Jakeman, Resident, Labuan, and by Lieutenant Harun bin Mohamed Amin, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (Superintendent of Education, Brunei) I traveled by the launch Muara from the Residency jetty to the Customs jetty, a distance of about 1 1/2 miles, and was met on arrival by the British Resident. Mr. Jakeman and I were in Civil Service uniform and Major Pengillcy and Lieut. Harun in Volunteer uniform. We ascended the Customs wharf and were accorded a salute by a Guard of Honour of 21 men of the Brunei Police under the command of the Chief Police Officer, Mr. W. Martin. The Guard was drawn up at the head of a hollow square facing my point of arrival, on one side were stationed the principal residents of Brunei town and on the other a number of privileged spectators. After inspecting the Guard of Honour I took up position behind a small table draped with a Union Jack near the middle of the hollow square, with Mr. Jakeman on my right and Lieut. Harun on my left and Major Pengilley stationed himself in front facing me at a few paces distance. Mr. Jakeman read out Major Pengilley's record of service in English and Lieut. Harun a Malay translation. Major Pengilley stepped forward and I pinned on his Decoration. I was then introduced to each of the principal residents. This concluded the formal landing and Major Pengilley, Mr. R.F. Evans (the representative from British North Borneo), Mr Jakeman and I left the Customs wharf and proceeded to the Astana [sic] Mahkota, 3 miles away, for a formal call on His Highness the Sultan.

We arrived at the Astana at l0 a. m. and were shown upstairs by the A.D.C. and the Private Secretary to His Highness. In the room upstairs were the two wazirs (Duli Pengiran Bendahara and Dull Pengiran Pemancha), the Pengiran Shahbandar, several other Brunei Chiefs and Tengku Klana Jaya Petra, who had come to represent the Sultan of Selangor at the Coronation. The Sultan appeared almost immediately, in white uniform. He greeted us all very affably and invited us to sit. We conversed together for about a quarter of an hour and then took our leave.

At about 11.20 a.m. the Sultan paid a return call on me at the Residency, bringing with him the chiefs who had been present at my formal call at the Astana. We chatted together for about half an hour or so, very pleasantly and easily, and the Sultan then returned to the Astana. During this interview the British Resident and I had a few minutes private conversation with his Highness when His highness informed us that he wished to make a gift of $100,000 from the State's revenues to His Majesty's Government for the prosecution of the war.

The Coronation Ceremony was timed for 3 p.m. on the 17th March in the large room of the Government Office, which had been cleared of all furniture and decorated for the occasion.

At the far end of the room, on a plattform raised about 2 feet from the floor, was the throne from the Lapau (the old Council Chamber) a wooden structure painted yellow and surmounted by a dome and various banners, having with it a cushioned chair covered with yellow silk. Facing the throne on the left were placed chairs for the European spectators and on the right chairs for the important Asiatic spectators. These chairs occupied about half of the hall and behind there was standing room for the general public. Adjacent to the throne on the left was a raised dais for the representatives of the various Governments. Down the centre a broad passage was left and railed off to prevent the spectators from breaking into the centre.

I arrived punctually at 2.45 p.m. and took up position on the verandah of the office where the other representatives, Selangor, Sarawak and British North Borneo, had already assembled. A few minutes later the two Wazirs arrived with the Sultan's Crown and it became apparent that the programme would run late as the Wazirs had to return to the Astana to accompany the Sultan to the Lapau and by this time the Sultan should have been at the Lapau entering his litter for the procession to the Coronation Hall. After about 10 minutes wait we were informed by telephone that the Sultan had left the Astana and 10 minutes later that he had arrived at the Lapau and that the litter procession was about to start. It came into sight in a few minutes, with drums and gongs beating, trumpets blowing and people shouting. The litter, a wooden construction painted yellow, was carried on the shoulders of 24 men, 6 to each pole. It had a seat for the Sultan with a canopy over it and standing on the litter in front were the two Wazirs and the A.D.C. and behind two attendants carrying regalia. Walking in front of the litter, at the sides and behind, were chiefs, regalia bearers and attendants with swords and spears. There must have been well over a hundred of them. Particularly noticeable amongst the regalia bearers were five men carrying giant candles in giant candlesticks painted in bright colours. The Sultan was bareheaded and in a white velvet uniform with yellow facings and yellow stripes on the trousers.

The litter was set down before the Guard of Honour of 24 Brunei Police under the command of the Chief Police Officer, and, after inspecting the Guard, the Sultan came up on to the office verandah where I and the other representatives greeted him. We then went into the Resident's office where a procession was formed for the entry into the Coronation Hall. When the procession was ready it moved off down the centre of the Hall to the throne at the far end, The Sultan ascended the throne, I and the other representatives and the British Resident took our places on the raised dais, and the chiefs, regalia bearers and attendants took up their allotted positions around the throne.

Facing the Sultan on the platform beside the throne, on the Sultan's right, was the Wazir Duli Penguran Bendahara, and in the same position on his left the Wazir Dull Pengiran Pemancha. Beside the Pemancha stood the A.D.C. At each of the four corners of the platform stood regalia bearers, the bearer in front on the right holding a brazen arm and hand, the palm of the hand facing upwards at right angles to the arm, the bearer in front on the left holding a brazen lion, and the two behind weapons. Kneeling on the platform immediately in front of the Sultan was an attendant holding a drawn sword with the hilt, presented to the Sultan and the point on his own breast. A giant candlestick was stationed at each corner of the platform and one behind the throne. The Pengiran Shahbandar and some major chiefs stood facing the platforms and on both sides and behind the platform were the rest of the attendants and regalia bearers.

The proceedings commenced with the Coronation of the Sultan by the Dull Pengiran Bendahara. The Pengiran carrying the Crown handed it to the Dull Pengiran Pemancha who in turn handed it to the Duli Pengiran Bendahara who placed it on the Sultan's head. The crown is a yellow songkok (cap) with a broad band of gold studded with small diamonds and brilliants and having a white plume in front. It is a new crown made to the Sultan's design, the old one having disappeared since the last Coronation.

The Duli Pengiran Bendahara then read out the long proclamation. (At this point the Bendahara, an old man and not very strong showed signs of distress and had to be supported). At the end of the proclamation the first gun of a 21 gun salute boomed out, the 'nobat' (the royal band) consisting of drums and trumpet played and the Bendahara called out in a loud voice 'sembah' (do homage). All the Malays around the throne waved their swords and spears and shouted back 'sembah'. So also did the several hundred Malays standing at the back of the Coronation Hall and I could hear loud shouts of 'sembah' from the crowd outside the Hall. The Duli Pengiran Pemancha then read out a short proclamation, at the end of which the 'nobat' played again and there were more shouts of 'sembah'. There were several more of these short proclamations each ending with the 'nobat' and shouts of 'sembah'.

As the sound of the last gun of the 21 gun salute died away, I came down from the dais and stood facing the Sultan 3 feet or so from the platform. I read out in English the message from His Majesty the King, the message intimating to the Sultan his appointment to be an honorary Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, the message from the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the message from His Excellency the High Commissioner. I paused at the end of each message for Mr. E.C.G. Barrett, the Assistant Resident, Brunei, to read out a Malay translation. I handed the yellow packet containing the messages in Jawi to the A.D.C. who handed it to the Sultan, bowed, and returned to my seat on the dais.

The representatives of Selangor (Ttmgku Klana Jaya Petra and Dato Kayu Abdul Hamid), Sarawak (the Resident of Miri and a Native Officer) and British North Borneo (the Resident of Jesselton and a Native Officer) than went forward in turn and delivered their messages. At the conclusion of the messages the Sultan stood up and read out a reply to each representative. Prayer was then offered by the Dato Imam of Brunei and the ceremony ended. The Sultan descended from the throne and proceeded down the centre of the hall in a procession similar to the procession of entry to the porch of the offices where his litter was in readiness. The chiefs and attendants took up their positions and the litter procession returned to the Lapau where the Sultan entered his car and returned to the Astana.

Apart from the delay of half an hour or so, which I have mentioned previously, the ceremony went smoothly and without any hitch and the Resident and the other Government officers responsible for the arrangements are much to be congratulated. The crowds thronging the road from the Lapau to the Government offices must have numbered several thousands but they were orderly and gave no difficulty to the Police and Boy Scouts controlling the route. Inside, at the back of the hall, there must have been several hundred Malay spectators and they too caused no trouble. There was a certain amount of jostling and pushing in the confined space of the porch and steps of the office as the attendants scrambled to take their places for the return procession of the litter to the Lapau, and some people had their clothes disfigured with splashes of grease from the giant candles as the bearers pushed their way into position, but apart from that everything was most orderly. I noticed after the litter procession had passed on its return journey that many spectators rushed forward to secure a piece of the white cloth which had been been laid down along the route--as a memento, 1 presume.

After giving the Sultan some minutes to get clear, the invited guests followed him to the Astana for the bersanding ceremony. There was a wait of about half an hour and then the Sultan and the Tengku Ampuan came down to the audience hall below and took their seats on cushioned chairs of yellow silk on the throne. Seated on the floor in front of the throne in two lines forming a passage way up to the throne were 30 small Malay girls and the other women of the Astana stood around. After a few moments the Sultan's eldest sister stood up and turning around called out in a shrill voice 'sembah semua'. This was repeated three or four times and then the women withdrew. During the whole performance the Tengku Ampuan remained quite motionless, staring straight in front and, with her face completely devoid of expression. She was beautifully dressed in a cream coloured robe with many jewels mostly diamonds and brilliants and had a small diamond crown on her head.

On the conclusion of this bersanding ceremony the Sultan and the Tengku Ampuan proceeded to their decorated motor car for the motor car procession through the town. Outside the town many of the kampong people had made little shelters in which to sit and watch the procession and in the town itself the route was thronged with spectators. The Sultan and the Tengku Ampuan drove in an open car with an attendant standing behind shading them with a large yellow umbrella.

On returning to the Astana the guests were provided with tea.

The Sultan was unable to be present at the State Banquet held at 8 p.m. the same evening in the Recreation Club. He sent a message to say that the 'adat' (custom) prescribed that he must remain within his Astana for several days after his Coronation. The Dull Pengiran Bendahara was also an absentee, his heavy day having been too much for him. There were 150 guests at the Banquet. The toast of His Majesty the King was proposed by the British Resident and I made a short speech in Malay expressing pleasure at having had the opportunity of being present at his Highness's Coronation and wishing him and his country success and prosperity.

The following evening, the 18th March, the Sultan gave a dinner party at the Astana for the representatives of the Governments attending the Coronation and for important residents in Brunei. After dinner all the guests were invited upstairs. The Sultan and the Tengku Ampuan (who was not present at the dinner) seated themselves on cushioned chairs of yellow silk on a raised platform at the end of the room and after a short pause, the Sultan stood up and read out an address thanking the representatives for their attendance at the Coronation and the British Resident and the other Government officers concerned for the efficient arrangements which had been made for the Coronation ceremony and for the celebrations, a well-deserved tribute. I made a short speech in Malay in reply expressing my pleasure at having been given the opportunity of being present at His Highness's Coronation and thanking His Highness on behalf of myself, the other representatives and the other guests, for his hospitality that evening. We then bowed and withdrew. Some amusements, a ronggeng, main silat, and Dusun dancing had been provided in the grounds of the Astana and we spent a very pleasant hour, the Dusun dancing being particularly interesting as it was new to most of us ...

APPENDIX II: A.M. Grier, "Funeral of the Sultan of Brunei"

[Brooke Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS Pac. s .77]

1. On my return from Jesselton on 5th June I found telegrams waiting for me to the effect that launches from Brunei with senior officers of the State and mourners would arrive about noon and desired to return immediately with H.H. body and those members of his entourage who had accompanied it. While I was in Jesselton I was instructed to use my discretion about attending the funeral ceremonies as the representative of the North Borneo Government and to advise when the funeral was to be. Unfortunately the wireless link with Brunei does not work until 1300 [hours], after its early morning session, and, as the aircraft bearing the body was due at 12.30 hours, it would not be possible to signal the time of the funeral before the launches returned to Brunei. I therefore decided to accompany the launches and to send a signal from Brunei.

2. The mourning launches on arrival were a most impressive sight, with everyone wearing, if a Muslim, a white band around his songkok, and if a European, a black band on his sleeve. There was a generally cheerful air about the whole party. Lorries and other transport were available and the mourners followed by many of the inhabitants of Labuan went up to the airfield to await the aircraft.

3. Arrangements at the airfield were excellent. The plane arrived dead on time and was backed into position beside the Guard of Honour. The coffin was brought out and placed upon an R.A.F. 1,500 cwt. truck where it was covered with a State flag with representatives seated each side of it. The wreaths were of great beauty and from a large variety of individuals, States, and high Government officers. The family party had grown since I saw them off from Labuan, and now included the Tungku Ampuan's elder brother, the Tungku Klana, and a talkative and somewhat unpleasant younger brother. The coffin went straight to Small Ships Wharf where, before an enormous crowd, it was embarked on the M.L. Muara, while the family retired as usual to the Rest House. However their sojourn there was shorter than it had ever been before, and both launches set out about 1.0 p.m.

4. I was on the Muara and consequently heard a considerable amount about the Sultan's last illness from his secretary, Inche Hassan, with as can be imagined, very full details of the cost of clothes which had been bought for the trip to the U.K., cost of the coffin, anxiety about his future, and highly slanderous sidelights on the visiting members of the Selangor Royal House, who were stated to have pawned the Sultan's watches and fountain pens as soon as he died. I gathered that Inche Hassan felt that his future in Brunei was not secure.

5. Owing to the speed with which everything had been handled in Labuan, we were suddenly advised once we had entered the Brunei river that we were running ahead of schedule. We therefore had to slow down to arrive at 5.0 p.m. The wharf and town were a wonderful spectacle. By the wharf lay a large barge on which a two-storey superstructure had been erected. The top and first storey were decorated with the Royal yellow and State flags leaving the bottom storey free for the coffin and the Guard of Honour. Beside the wharf lay dozens of prahus whose occupants wore large domed hats giving an effect of a field of mushrooms on the water. There was a Guard of Honour from the Brunei Police waiting on the wharf but apart from this control all other available space was occupied by a vast, respectful, but entirely uncontrolled crowd, of the Sultan's subjects. The coffin was carried ashore and placed in a carrying bier covered by a domed erection of yellow silk shaded by the royal umbrella. It then set out for the Astana, in theory followed by members of H.H.'s family and other mourners. In practice only the British Resident and Mrs. Pretty reached the Astana [sic] with the family. I was taken to the Residency by the Assistant Resident and therefore to my regret missed the only signs of mourning which were paid to the Sultan. I also missed the interesting spectacle of the Selangor royal family making a quick assessment of the value of the presents given to the Sultan on his 25th anniversary which are now the personal property of his heirs.

6. There were two matters on which trouble might have been expected. While in Singapore the Sultan had taken on as private secretary a certain Mr. McBryan [sic] and it was thought in Brunei that it was he who had arranged for the insertion in the Straits Times of a notice to the effect that the Sultan wished his only legitimate daughter to succeed him. It was known that the Sultan had long held this desire and there was some doubt whether he had not compelled the wazirs to sign a document in about 1937 recognising his daughter's succession. Fortunately Brunei did not lose its documents during the war and the British Resident was in a position to prove that it had always been made clear to the Sultan that only male issue could succeed. However apparently the Sultan had been reinforced in his wishes by a speech made by Mr. Malcolm Macdonald extolling the virtues of Queen Elizabeth of England. The other difficulty was that the Tungku Ampuan was determined that the Sultan should be buried on his own land near the 4th mile from Brunei Town along the motor road, and had obtained some sort of agreement from the Deputy Commissioner General, probably in order to expedite the despatch of the body from Singapore. In the event the wazirs decided that the Penghiran Bendahara should succeed his brother, while the Penghiran Bendahara put his foot down firmly about the place where his brother was to be buried.

7. The funeral ceremonies were scheduled to begin at 1.30 p.m. on Tuesday 6th June, by which time everyone had assembled in the Court House. The coffin and family mourners arrived about three-quarters of an hour late and owing to a misunderstanding the Tungku Ampuan with her daughter and brother failed to attend the ceremony. The Tungku Ampuan and her brother went straight to the wharf. The ceremony in the Court House was most impressive, the coffin being carried from the public road to the dais along a pathway covered with white cloth. After suitable prayers the Penghiran Bendahara was announced as the new Sultan. He made a short speech and appeared to be very popular with the people. He was then congratulated by the representatives of the Governments of neighbouring territories. The coffin had meanwhile been taken up and carried to the wharf through vast crowds of people and escorted by the bodyguard carrying spears or staves with red pennons [sic] which I imagine had last done duty at the Sultan's Jubilee celebrations. As the Court House became empty there was a wild scramble for pieces of the white cloth which had covered the route, and as far as I could make out an effort was made to see that everyone who struggled hard enough got a fair share.

8. The water procession was of a beauty which will not easily be forgotten by those who saw it. The barge carrying the coffin and the bodyguard was towed by the M.L. Sri Brunei while the M.V. Muara carried the late Sultan's family, important officers of State and the representatives from neighbouring territories. A large crowd of prahus and other launches followed behind while the procession went slowly past the river kampong to the burial place across the water. A small jetty had been built but it was not easy to scramble ashore. The site for the grave was high on the hillside resembling a Chinese graveyard, and the grave diggers were still busy when the procession arrived. Incidentally the ground was very rough so that the procession was little more than a scramble up the hillside until everyone had found a convenient tomb or tree on which to sit. It was also very hot.

9. On its arrival, the coffin was opened so that the Sultan's body could be placed in contact with the earth which was put around his face. Fortunately he had been embalmed in Singapore. After that the hole was not large enough to take the coffin. However no-one seemed to mind and the coffin was finally lowered and the grave filled in, after which the whole party streamed back to the launches in a manner reminiscent of a football crowd finding a gap in the fence around the field when they had already been informed that there were no spare seats.

10. I returned to Labuan the same evening arriving about 9.30 p.m. and am most grateful for the opportunity of seeing this ceremony which was such an interesting mixture of old world ceremony and uncontrolled crowds. I was most impressed by the way the British Resident and Mrs. Pretty coped with the situation, and by the respect and esteem in which they are both so clearly held.

10th June, 1950.


His Highness the SULTAN SIR AHMAD TAJUDDIN AKAZUL KHAIRI WADDIN ibnu Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam, the 27th Sultan of Brunei who was born in Istana, Brunei Town on 2nd September, 1913 corresponding to 30th Ramadhan, 193 l, was a very young Sultan at the time His Highness succeeded His Highness' father Sultan Sir Muhammad Jamalul Alam, K.C.M.G., who passed away on 11th September, 1924 at Istana Sungai Tekuyong, Brunei Town. Because at the time when His Highness received Keris Sinaga to succeed His Highness' father His Highness was then 11 years of age, all governing responsibility for the State of Brunei was handled by two Wazirs namely Pengiran Bendahara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman and Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Muhammad Yassin. Three years after His Highness became Sultan in August, 1927, His Highness made an official visit to Labuan and incidently [sic] it was His Highness' first visit abroad.

In his early age His Highness received Islamic Religious education from appropriate religious officers. Later, at the age of 14 years that was in 1927 of the Christian Year His Highness then began his English education under the tuition of a European teacher. While studying English His Highness was said to be a bright pupil and was able to master all the lessons that were taught to him. His Highness' talent could be observed from his achievements within so short a time to master the English Language although at that time English was considered to be a difficult language as it was sparsely [sic] being heard then. in view of his achievements which were beyond expectation, at the end of that year careful preparation was made by His Highness' teacher to fit the rapid advancement of His Highness' education into a more effective system. By the will of Allah, His Highness was able to follow the system with success and this had enabled His Highness to further his education by himself based on the advices [sic] given by His Highness' teacher. From the way His Highness studied it could be seen that His Highness was a man of great determination and consequently His Highness was able to receive an education comparable to those who studied in schools.

To commemorate his attaining the age of 17 years old which is known as the age of discretion, on 30th Ramadhan of the Hijrah [sic] 1348 corresponding to 28th February of the Christian Era 1930, His Highness' 17th birthday was celebrated with pomp and ceremony, because such age was considered as a transition period to adulthood. Since then, His Highness' birthday was calculated annually according to Muslim Calendar. None-the-less, preparation for the continuation of His Highness' education went on with the engagement of the service of an English teacher.

One year after attaining the age of adolescence, on 19th September, 193 I, in a ceremony attended by state dignitaries, the power to rule the State of Brunei which was then handled by the two Wazirs was handed back to His Highness. As of that date His Highness himself governed Brunei. As a result, His Highness was always fully preoccupied with government affairs. To smoothe out the affairs of the government, a State Council was established, comprising of 9 members including the British Resident. The Council was responsible for the governing arrangement which was to be implemented and all enactments had to be submitted to the Council before being put into force.

As a historical landmark, it was during His Highness' reign that oil exploration was started in Brunei. By the will of Allah, in April, 1929 an oil well was discovered in Seria being a source of revenue for Brunei and the oil mining work was from time to time being expanded until it became an important industry which brought prosperity and made Brunei Darussalam famous. The gift of Allah which was discovered during His Highness' reign has always been remembered by His Highness' subjects because from its revenue gradual development has been undertaken to meet the needs of the people and the State. The development of roads and schools was extended in line with the revenue. A bridge was built to link Brunei Town area with areas in the west which provided a link to Seria oil field.

As stated in the history of Brunei, it is true that most of the previous Sultans of Brunei were keen to make visits abroad to see the condition of those foreign countries so as to make comparison with their own country. The footsteps of the previous Sultans of Brunei who were very keen to make visits abroad had, more or less, been followed also by His Highness. On 1st October, until 21st October, 1931 His Highness went to Peninsular Malaya and later in July, 1932, His Highness went to England to see the development there. It was a long visit and [it was] only in August, 1933 that His Highness returned to Brunei. During His Highness' visit, His Highness' Government was administered by Pengiran Bendahara and Pengiran Pemancha too. During both visits His Highness was accompanied by Pengiran Muhammad bin Pengiran Abdul Rahman Piut as ADC (honorary) who was later known as Seri Paduka Pengiran Temenggong Sahibul Bandar Pengiran Haji Muhammad. Later the post of ADC was bestowed on Pengiran Besar Bagol ibnu Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam (His Highness' brother).

A great celebration was held in Brunei to welcome His Highness' return from England. The event was celebrated not only by the people and the inhabitants of Brunei but also by the people of the neighbouring areas in Sabah and Sarawak who still considered the Sultan of Brunei as their Sultan. With the arrival in Brunei of a large number of boats from the places mentioned, the Customs Department bad not the time to carefully check them and almost every house was said to have visitors from the neighbouring areas who were related to them. The display of colourful fireworks which was specially ordered from Japan brightened the night scenery during the festivity. Boat race which was known to be the pride of Brunei people since the days of Awang Semaun was also held. During the boat race, both sides of the Brunei river were full of perahus and sailing boats (tongkang) backed with spectators including foreign visitors. After dark every house was illuminated with colourful lights and lanterns and on top of Bukit Penggal, Bukit Subok, Bukit Saililah and Bukit Sungai Kebun big fires were lighted which illuminated the whole of Brunei Town on that night.

Later, in 1934 His Highness went to Selangor and married Tengku Raihani, the daughter of Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaudin Sulaiman Shah. The ceremony took place on 30th April, 1934 at Istana Negara, Kelang, in accordance with the practice of the Brunei and Selangor Royal Customs. The 'Akad Nikah' ceremony for the marriage was held in Masjid Jami'Rahmah, Kelang, Selangor. His Highness was accompanied during his visit by His Highness' mother Her Highness Paduka Seri Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Fatimah and His Highness' brother Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin, State dignitaries, His Highness' relatives and retinue including regalia bearers and 'Naubat' group who took part in the ceremony. When the wedding ceremony was over, His Highness returned to Brunei in July, 1934, but in October, 1934, His Highness went to Kelang again. Later in November, 1934, His Highness and Tengku Ampuan Raihani together with the retinue returned to Brunei. His Highness' arrival was ceremoniously received by the people and inhabitants of Brunei.

His Highness was said to be a Sultan who highly respected his visitors. Before his visit to Selangor, in March 1934 at that time when the Rajah [of] Sarawak, Mr. C.V. Brooke visited His Highness as a Royal guest of Brunei, arrangement was made for him to stay in Istana Mahkota that was His Highness' place of residence. This was a special honour accorded to a guest. Similarly too towards His Highness' friends who were of the same age range whom His Highness always treated as if they were of no differences to His Highness himself, either in presenting clothings [sic], to them, during a social gathering, dinner etc., except when attending certain functions or in public which required formality. His Highness' friendly character was remembered eternally by those who were very close to His Highness, but if those people were to use the opportunity for an ulterior design, and if his motive come to His Highness' knowledge, His Highness would in a diplomatic manner change his attitude towards them.

At the end of August, 1935 His Highness went to Kelang again together with Tengku Ampuan Raihani and His Highness stayed there until Tengku Ampuan Raihani gave birth to His Highness's princess, Tengku Norehsani on 15 October, 1935. Earlier His Highness married Kedayang Emas, who gave birth to Pengiran Anak Siti Saerah, Pengiran Anak Siti Zubaidah and Pengiran Anak Siti Halimah. Until the end of his life, His Highness did not beget any prince.

Since the tie of relationship between the Royal families of Brunei and Selangor was established, relationship between the two Royal families became more close. In August, 1937, once again His Highness together with His Highness' family went to Selangor to attend the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Sultan of Selangor which was held in August, 1937. On his return from Selangor, in December, 1937, His Highness went for an official visit to Kuala Belait and to formally declare open a newly built Recreation Club. The visit was received with great joy by the people and the inhabitants there even people from the interior came to Kuala Belait Town to join in the celebration and to have a look at His Highness.

Approximately nine years after ascending the throne that was since the handing over of the power on 19 September, 1931, His Highness was crowned. The ceremony for the opening of 'gandang jaga2' for the Coronation Ceremony was formally opened at the Lapau on Monday 26th February, 1940, that was forty days before the Coronation Ceremony, was to be held and a Red Flag was hoisted at Bukit Sungai Kebun and a Yellow Flag at Bukit Penggal to herald the beginning of the Coronation Ceremony. During the period of 'jaga2' all Royal embellishments were erected in places which would be passed by the procession and the 'gandang jaga2' which had been officially opened would continuously be played and the beat subjected to time which were fixed for it especially at night when the state dignitaries attended the 'Berjaga2' Ceremony which was held ever[y] night in the Lapau during the period of berjaga2. Besides that during the period of berjaga2 various types of entertainments were organised such as martial art, dances, bubu dance, 'berdiang dangan', 'bernaindong', 'Berdundang', 'berkajat' and other forms of entertainment.

On 17 March 1940 at 5.15 p.m., the Coronation Ceremony was successfully conducted according to the Royal Tradition of Brunei which had been inherited by the people of Brunei and had become the symbol of greatness of the people since ancient time. Coinciding with the placing of the Crown on to His Highness, all those who were present did their obeisance for seven times accompanied by the firing of cannon according to the decided number. After that Pengiran Bendahara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman read the Praise of Coronation with a soft voice according to the normal practice of ancient time with the consequence that the ceremony at that time was very quiet because every one was concentrating to hear the contents of the reading. When the ceremony was over His Highness was taken in procession around Brunei Town.

His Highness can be said to be a man who was interested in developing the learning of Islam among his subjects, in 1940, with His Highness' consent a private Arabic School was established in Brunei Town under the guidance of Syed Abdul Aziz Asimi who became a teacher of that school. His Highness himself consented for the school to be housed in one of His Highness' Istana as an encouragement for the development of that beneficial subject. By the will of Allah the development of that school had progressed rapidly and within a short period pupils from that school had proven their achievements, but during Japanese occupation of Brunei in 1942 the school was closed down.

During the Japanese occupation of Brunei since the beginning of the Pacific War in 8th December, 1941, His Highness still resided in Brunei Town, but in the middle of 1945 when the Allied Forces attacked Brunei, His Highness went and settled in Tantaya together with Pehin Dato Amar Haji Kasim until 17th June, 1945 when His Highness and the Royal family who were with His Highness returned to Brunei Town together with Australian army and on his arrival His Highness's personal standard was hoisted. At that time Brunei was still administered by the Allied Forces and only on 6th July, 1946 was the administrative power handed over to the civil authority. It was during the Japanese occupation that His Highness's brother Pengiran Besar Bagol passed away and the post of Sanggamara was filled by Pengiran Ahmad bin Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohd Yassin who is now known as Pengiran Maharaja Anakda.

Twenty-five years after ascending the throne of Brunei, another big celebration was held in the State of Brunei to celebrate the 25th years of His Highness' reign that was His Highness' Jubilee, which was held on 22nd September, 1949. During the ceremony His Highness was awarded the 'Excellent Order of the British Empire' by His Majesty King George VI which was presented by the British High Commissioner in a colourful ceremony. The presentation of the Order took place in the presence of the Commissioner General for South East Asia and representatives from the neighbouring countries. Commemorative stamps for that historical day were issued to mark that joyful ceremony. The celebration in connection with the ceremony was held for three consecutive days in Brunei Town, followed a week later by a similar celebration in Kuala Belait. To commemorate the event, His Highness awarded Jubilee Medals to 50 dignitaries of the State of Brunei. Before the Silver Jubilee celebration was to be held all the people of Brunei felt apprehensive because three weeks before that His Highness was taken seriously ill during his stay in Kuching. A Thanksgiving Ceremony led by Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh (later known as Paduka Seri Pengiran Digadong Sahibol Mal Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh) was held in the Brunei Town Mosque to pray to Allah to whom praise and whose name be exalted tot His Highness' good health. The prayer was answered.

At the age of 36 years, His Highness the Sultan Sir Abroad Tajuddin, K.B.E., C.M.G., 7 months after his Silver Jubilee, on 4th June, 1950, His Highness passed away in Singapore as a result of haemorrhage while on his way to an official visit to the United Kingdom. At the request of His Highness the Sultan of Johore, the body of the late Sultan was laid in State at Istana Besar Johor Bahru, and on the following day it was flown to Labuan by an R.A.F. Dakota and then brought to Brunei Town by boat. His Highness' burial ceremony was held at the Royal Mausoleum, Brunei Town with full tradition and was attended by foreign representatives among whom were the British High Commissioner, a representative from the Sarawak Government, and also the British Malayan Petroleum Company. Before the body was intered [sic], in an area considered as Lapau, in front of the hearse a succession ceremony was conducted. When it was over His Highness the Seri Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Sa'adul Khairi Waddin then became the Sultan and ascended the throne.

During his life time, His Highness was interested in sports. His Highness was a good football player and was also fond of horse riding. Besides that His Highness was considered to be a Royal artist who was keen in the field of writing. A written work left by His Highness which was treasured by the people of Brunei is a book entitled 'Guidance for Security' which was printed by Mohd. Darwi of Mohamediah Press, Muar, Johor, which contains valuable and important advices [sic]. May Allah bless His Highness' soul.

Bob Reece

Professor of History

School of Social Sciences and Humanities'

Murdoch University

Western Australia

(1) This article is dedicated to the memory of my good friend, the late Robert Nicholl, who always encouraged me to write about MacBryan. I would like to acknowledge the extremely generous assistance provided by Simon Francis.

(2) See A.V.M. Horton, The British Residency in Brunei. 1906-1959, Hull: Centre for South-East Asian Studies, 1984; Pehin Dr. Jamil Al-Sufri, Brunei Darussalam: The Road to Independence, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei History Centre, 1998, and A..J. Stockwell, "Britain and Brunei, 1945-1963: Imperial Retreat and Royal Ascendancy," Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (2004), pp. 785-819. To be lair, Horton treats Ahmad Tajuddin in more detail in his 1985 doctoral thesis (see note 7), but this unfortunately remains unpublished.

(3) B.A. Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain: The Making of Brunei Darussalam, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 45-6. 59-60.

(4) Clyde Sanger. Malcolm MacDonald: Bringing An End to Empire, Toronto: McGill-Queen's University Press, pp. 332-334.

(5) Tutenkhamen was eight years old when he became king of Egypt.

(6) E.E. Pengilley, "Brunei, after its re-occupation by Australian Military Forces," National Archives [NA] CO 537/1629.

(7) Dato' W.H. ("Borneo Bill") Doughty, interviewed by Don Brown, Brunei, 1969. Doughty's full Brunei title was Pehin Dato' Laila Setiawan.

(8) A.V.M. Horton, The Development of Brunei during the British Residential Era, 1906-1959: A Sultanate Regenerated, Ph.D..thesis, University of Hull, 1985, p. 301.

(9) Ibid.

(10) For reasons that are not entirely clear, the regency lasted until 1918 when Jamalul Alam was twenty-eight.

(11) Graham Saunders, A History of Brunet, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1994. p. 114. According to Saunders, ibid., "the Sultan's allowance was cut and he was threatened with deposition before he agreed." See also. Ranjit Singh, Brunet 1839-1983: The Problems of Political Survival, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 116. and Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin 111, pp. 17-18.

(12) Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar All Saifuddin III, p. 74. note 47.

(13) Ibid., p. 47.

(14) Kathleen Clark to Anthony Brooke. 27 March 1950. Rhodes House MSS Pac. s. 73. Box 19/7.

(15) Shenton Thomas, "'Tour to Sarawak. Brunet and British Borneo. 1935," NA CO 717/111/7.

(16) Ibid.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Horton, "'The Development of Brunei during the British Residential Era," p. 299, cited by Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p. 47.

(19) Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p.49.

(20) Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p. 47.

(21) Shenton Thomas to MacDonald. 13 January 1940. NA. CO 717/143/20.

(22) Shenton Thomas to Secretary of State, 14 June 1939, NA CO 717/130/13.

(23) Mohd. Raus bin Haji Mohamed Amin, "Stories of Brunei: Daru'l Salam," c. 1951. Rhodes House MSS Ind. Ocn. s. 101.

(24) Dr. B.A. Hussainmaya, personal information.

(25) T.S. Monks, Brunei Days, Lewes [Sussex]: The Book Guild Ltd.. 1992, pp. 105-6.

(26) Pengilley, "'Brunei."

(27) NA CO 943/2/13. Under strong pressure from the Singapore authorities, Sultan Omar Ali subsequently denied that he had made any such statement, his private secretary accepting full responsibility in order to save any embarrassment.. Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar All Saifuddin III, p. 64.

(28) Derwent Kell [M.C. Clarke], A Doctor in Borneo: In Peace And Bear, Brisbane: Boolarong Publications, 1984, pp. 113-4.

(29) According to Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p. 75, note 60, the official British documents relating to these investigations were destroyed under statute.

(30) Pengilley. "Brunei."

(31) Monks, Brunei Days. p. 103.

(32) Reece. The Name of Brooke, pp. 172-175..

(33) "Agreement between His Britannic Majesty's Government and The State of Brunei," NA CO 825/42.

(34) Pengilley, "Brunei."

(35) Creech Jones to MacDonald, 18 June 1946, NA CO 537/1629.

(36) The Straits Times, 28 February 1947.

(37) Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p. 51.

(38) Ibid.

(39) A house subsequently purchased by the Sultan was at the junction of what was then known as "Pig Lane" (now Park Lane) and Central Rd. It was subsequently owned by Datu Bandar Abang Hj. Mustapha who probably purchased it from him.

(40) The Sultan's reactions to this development were evidently not recorded, but there is evidence of its having raised antagonistic feelings in Brunei. See Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Safuddin III, p.52 and p. 74, footnotes 43 and 44. Oddly. V.L. Porritt. British Colonial Rule in Sarawak, 1946-963, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1997, makes no mention of the issue.

(41) See Bob Reece, Datu Bandar Abang Hj. Mustapha of Sarawak: Some reflections of his life and times, Kuching: Sarawak Literary Society, 1991, p. 120.

(42) See Appendix 11 (A.M. Grief. "'Funeral of the Sultan of Brunei,'" Rhodes House MSS Pac. s. 77). If there was ever in fact a document embodying this agreement, it has long since disappeared.

(43) Amin Sweeney, "'Silsilah Raja-raja Berunai,'" Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 41, Pt. 2 (December 1968), p. 45.

(44) MacBryan's account of his pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia under the assumed name of "David Chale" was the basis of Owen Rutter, Triumphant Pilgrimage: An English Muslim's Journey from Sarawak to Mecca, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1937. There was some doubt in Sarawak as to whether MacBryan actually completed the claimed pilgrimage, most strongly expressed in the caustic review that appeared in The Sarawak Gazette, I September 1937. However, reviewers in The Scotsman of 15 July 1937 and The Daily Telegraph of I September 1937 accepted the story at face value.

(45) Banks was still a staunch defender of MacBryan when he was interviewed by the author in 1974.

(46) For the text of the secret settlement, see Anthony Brooke, The Facts About Sarawak, Bombay, 1947, pp. 35-8.

(47) "Extract from Minutes of Committee of Administration concerning various payments to Brunei in connection with the annexation of Limbang." NA CO 532/27, file 53034. See also, Anthony Abell to Secretary of State, 19 November 1948, NA CO 938/5/3.

(48) The story of how the Rajah came to an agreement with the Colonial Office and the way this was implemented is related in detail in R.H.W. Reece, The Name of Brooke: The End of White Rajah Rule in Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. 1982. pp. 187-240. Some of the official documents relating to the final negotiations in October 1945 are still retained under statute, however, and more details remain to be revealed.

(49) Creech Jones to Malcolm MacDonald, 12 September 1946, NA CO 537/1629.

(50) At the Colonial Office Conference in London in 1930 which he attended as an observer, MacBryan had persuaded Vyner Brooke to set up the Raiah of Sarawak Fund to assist with the education of the children of Sarawak's European officers. However, the Colonial Office had frustrated MacBryan's intention by preparing a deed which restricted the benefits to children of pure European descent from the higher ranks of the Colonial Service, not just the Sarawak Service. (MacBryan to Frances MacBryan, 4 May 1950, copy in the possession of the author).

(51) A resolution of Sarawak's Council Negri in May 1946 had revoked an agreement by the Supreme Council engineered by MacBryan on 5 January 1946 and replaced it with the Rajah's Dependants Order which allocated annual life payments to members of the Rajah's family and others, including MacBryan himself, The Times, 28 April 1950.

(52) The Daily Telegraph [London], 13 May 1950: Kenelm Digby to Mark Morrison, 24 May 1950, Mark Morrison Papers, State Library of New South Wales, ML MS 863; copy of Rajah's proclamation of 14 January 1946, ibid.

(53) Mrs. Frances Benn, interviewed by the author at Henley-on-Thames. 24 March 1981.

(54) MacBryan to Frances MacBryan, 4 May 1950, copy in the author's possession.

(55) MacBryan to Evelyn Hussey, l0 May 1950, Brooke Papers, Rhodes House Library Oxford, MSS Pac. s. 83.

(56) Ahmad Tajuddin to MacBryan, 1 June 1950. Although the originals of these letters have disappeared, copies of individual letters are located in the various places indicated and can be put together to form a set.

(57) Ahmad Tajuddin to MacBryan, 1 June 1950, NA CO 938/12/4, file no. 64148.

(58) This was in accordance with the original agreement made by James Brooke with Rajah Muda Hassim of Brunei in September 1841.

(59) United States National Archives. College Park, Washington, 746H.00/4-255 1.

(60) Ahmad Tajuddin to MacBryan, 1 June 1950, Rhodes House, Oxlbrd, MSS Pac. s. 83, Vol. 29, Box 4/4.

(61) Ibid.

(62) United States National Archives. 746H.00/4-255 1. Hussainmiya's claim (Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, p. 52) that the Sultan "began in the late 1940s to court A. Hoffman, the President of the Standard Oil Company," appears to have no substance.

(63) Ahmad Tajuddin to MacBryan, 1 June 1950, Brooke Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS Pac. s. 83, Box 4/4.

(64) The letters can be found at NA CO 943/2/8 and CO943/2/8.

(65) The Rajah's and the Sultan's bank account details were found by the author among MacBryan's papers.

(66) For these letters, see NA CO 943/1/20.

(67) The Straits Times. 5 June 1950.

(68) The Straits Times, 6 June 1950.

(69) A.M. Grier. "Funeral of the Sultan of Brunei." Rhodes House, Oxford. MSS Pac. s. 77.

(70) Kathleen Clark to Anthony Brooke, 27 March 1950, Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS Pac. s. 73 Box 19/7.

(71) Ibid.

(72) Ibid. Pengiran Mohamad's lull Brunei title was Pengiran Kerma lndra Pengiran Mohamad bin Pengiran Abdul Rahman Piut.

(73) Robert Nicholl, interviewed by the author. Oxford, 13 March 1981.

(74) See Yeo Kim Wah, "The Selangor Succession Dispute, 1933-38," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 2, Pt. 2 (September 1971), pp. 169-184.

(75) Ibid.

(76) "Extract from Sarawak and Brunei Political and Intelligence Report for October 1952," NA, SEA 114/33/01.

(77) This was reported in The Daily Graphic and The News Chronicle of 8 June 1950.

(78) Dennis Warner, personal communication, 17 May 1996.

(79) Ibid.

(80) The Daily Graphic. 8 June 1950.

(81) Dennis Warner, personal communication, 17 May 1996.

(82) Dennis Warner, personal communication, 17 May 1996: The Daily Express, 19 August 1950.

(83) MacDonald to Creech Jones, 10 June 1950, NA CO 943/2/12.

(84) Ibid.

(85) Anthony Abell to Secretary of State for Colonies, 19 June 1950, NA, CO 943/2, file no. 59726.

(86) Hugh Hickling, personal communication, 9 August 1991.

(87) Mrs. Binda Large, personal communication, 13 March 1981. Binda Large was the wile of William Large, a pre-war Brooke officer who was at that time Chief of Police in Brunei.

(88) I.A.N. Urquhart to Mrs. B. Large, 3 March 1981, letter in possession of the author.

(89) Ibid.

(90) The Sarawak Tribune, 23 June 1950.

(91) Kathleen Clark, "Chronological Account of Events Concerning the Brunei Regalia (Tongkat and Chop) and MacBryan's Activities: 23rd May 1950 to 18 Aug 1950," copy of typescript in the author's possession.

(92) Bertram Brooke to Margaret Noble, 31 September 1950, Brooke Papers, Rhodes House MSS Pac. s. 83, Box 28/5.

(93) The Times, 26 October 1950.

(94) Omar Ali Saifuddin to MacBryan, 2 April 1951, Brooke Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS Pac. s. 83, Vol. 29, Box 4/4.

(95) MacBryan to James Griffiths. 13 April 1951. Brooke Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford MSS Pac. s. 83, Box 4/4: MacBryan to James Griffiths, 4 June 1951. CO 938/12/4, file no. 64148.

(96) Telegram from MacBryan to Malcolm MacDonald, 23 May 1951, NA CO 938, 12/4.

(97) MacBryan to Secretary of State for Colonies, 4 June 1951, NA CO 938/12/4.

(98) Significantly, perhaps, there is no extant record of a Hong Kong police inquiry or coroner's inquest into MacBryan's death. Nor is there any information as to where he was buried. Personal inquiries made by the British anthropologist, Stephen Morris, in the 1980s could establish nothing. The documents found with MacBryan alter his death were retained by the Hong Kong government authorities and eventually forwarded to the Colonial Office in October 1955 and thence to his third wile, Frances (NA CO 537/1635). The most recent document among those recovered was dated 3 November 1953. The Rajah. the Ranee, Sir Dennis White and Averil Mackenzie-Grieve all gave different accounts of MacBryan's death (Reece, The Name of Brooke, p. 279).

(99) There is no mention of the tongkat ular in the official listing of the 38 items of regalia used during the coronation of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in 1972.

(100) The Straits Times, 28 February 1947.

(101) Malcolm MacDonald. Borneo People, London: Jonathan Cape, 1956.

(102) "Diary of various events in South East Asia, June 1946, to April 1952," MacDonald Papers, Durham University Library, MS.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Borneo Research Council, Inc
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Reece, Bob
Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Previous Article:Piracy against the Sambas "pirates"? The case of Captain Burnside--and what happened to him afterwards in the antipodes.
Next Article:A Cambridge anthropologist in Borneo: the A.C. Haddon Photographic Collection, 1898-1899.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters