Ethnic minorities in late twentieth century Brunei a survey of errors and imbalances in foreign analysis.
By way of introduction to the scene in question, let us propose that a provision of the 1959 Constitution of Brunei (State of Brunei 1959) and the 1961 Citizenship Enactment (State of Brunei 1961b), which seem almost quaint in retrospect, was their recognition of no less than seven distinct indigenous ethnic groups of Brunei with a legal status above the also-Bornean Iban, let alone the non-native Chinese. Even the rural subgroup of Muslim Malays, the Kedayan, were enumerated separately--albeit in their case possibly in order to preempt any pretension to equality of corporate ranking with the Bruneis of the riverine capital. At any rate, the perception of "quaintness" relates to the fact that at the time of Independence in 1984, the Sultanate began to define and prescribe the national identity in terms of an ideology called "the Malay, Islamic and monarchical state," which left no room for pluralism, whether political (democratic organization), religious (multiple faiths), or racial (ethnic identification other than "Malay"). Yet it is not ruled out that a vision of long-term absorption had existed earlier, separate enumeration in 1961 being not so significant, ultimately, as the classification of all seven groups as "groups of the Malay race." Already by 1971 the presentation of Census statistics was starting to lump all the "authentic indigenous" into a single category of "Malay." On the other hand, the potential of Islamic proselytization to accelerate the augmentation of the "Malay" population far beyond historic trends may well not have been clearly foreseen--as also the coming of Islamic revival was not foreseen, with its capacity to both demand and sanction more energetic forms of dakwah towards the "tribes." At any rate, a condition of rapid social transition, combined with change in state goals and definitions, was undoubtedly prone to engender ambiguities and confusion in relation to both fact and moral judgment. (2)
In this varied light, and assuming authoritarian restraints on free expression and dispassionate research by Bruneians, there would be a premium on conscientious research and publication on ethnic matters by any foreigners whose physical location and intellectual equipment proved suitably enabling. The foundation of a Brunei university in 1985 seemed particularly propitious, since the progress of education in the territory had previously lagged behind regional levels, and one could anticipate the bulk of academic staff in the early years being recruited from outside, among them some historians and social scientists. At the same time, the "rise of independent Brunei" qualified the state for coverage in annual academic surveys of the region, while the emergent image of the Sultan as "the richest man in the world" might stimulate foreign writers to try their hand at least at pot-boiling biography.
The very paucity of published sources, primary or secondary, on Brunei would surely be spotted, among certain academic or journalistic circles, as a lacuna worth filling. The more open questions would be whether that lacuna might in itself pose discouragement or raise a barrier to excellence for a first-time investigator, and whether the Brunei state would contrive to extend its restrictions and control of information beyond the ranks of its own citizens, thus raising a serious obstacle to the building of a foundation de novo. (3) As the topics selected for this study were nearly all chosen because of discovered cases of error in their treatment, it should not be expected that the study will be characterized by a tangible logical progression from one topic to another, or salient coherence among them. At best, it may be possible to hypothesize common (and instructive) causes of the errors in the work reviewed, although imprecise use of the concept of "Malay identity" in both internal and extemal context--an area fraught with inherent ambiguity and the potential for ideological manipulation--may offer temptations for slightly more confident explanation.
Suppression of Ethnic Entities
"Suppression" is a strong word, which might not come to mind at all without an awareness of an implicit imperative to that effect in the national ideology. Very conceivably, foreign writers echo official presentations of national population and culture without realizing that they are serving an agenda of the state with regard to native minorities earmarked for absorption as Malays. The most striking example which I have noticed of an ethnic group being "written out of the record," or at least being redesignated, concerns first the virtual, then the explicit, equation of the Bisaya-Dusuns of modern Brunei with the Kadazan-Dusuns of Sabah (Ave and King 1986: 13, 81), or with the Muslim Kedayans of Brunei itself(Av6 and King 1986: 6, map). (4) Then, six articles in the "authoritative" annual Southeast Asian Affairs from Singapore (5) prompt a query about the authors' reasons for either playing down or completely omitting minority affairs, likewise two in Asian Survey (Brown 1984a; Burton 1990), although of the former six, only two actually seem to be acting as mouthpieces for official insinuation that indigenous society is 100% Muslim and the intensified promotion of Islamic commitment especially justified by that token (Abu Bakar 1989: 92; Zainal 1990). (6) Lastly, in uncanny confirmation of George Appell's prediction of the rise of "certified knowledge," two British academics whose window on Borneo was none other than, respectively, the Departments of Geography and Social Administration of Universiti Brunei Darussalam, virtually replicated the positions of Av6 and King (1986) on the ethnic groups of Brunei in excluding "Dusuns" of any type while renaming the Kedayans (somewhat more justifiably) as simply "Malay" (Cleary and Eaton 1992: 95, incl. map). This work of human geography cannot claim exemption from the requirement of precision on the grounds that ethnic minority phenomena are outside the scope of such a book, for the authors make a point of describing Bomeo's ethnic diversity. While it may indeed be "very difficult to give precise estimates for different groups" (Cleary and Eaton 1992: 94), some intelligent calculation is possible, for instance of Bisaya-Dusun percentages. (7) And surely the inclusion of the Bisaya-Dusuns is important in any account of modern Brunei, not only on account of their history as the erstwhile definitive population of Brunei (more widely than Tutong District, as today), (8) but also given the repressive thrust of the state ideology vis-a-vis non-Muslim native minorities, which might become a factor for alienation, at the least, among these relatively numerous-and-concentrated, involuntary candidates for Islamization and exchange of ethnicity. (9)
Definition of "Malay"
Even when an observer consciously addresses the impact of Islamization on nonMuslim indigenes, there is still a potential for confusion in the definition of "Malay," etc. ISEAS-based Sharon Siddique explored the implications of Islamization most intensively in her annual surveys of the years 1985 and 1991 (Siddique 1986, 1992). Basically, the 1985 survey makes up for any lack of expressed "empathy" in the report for 1984 (Siddique 1985). The only slight criticism that might be advanced is that in discussing the State Information Director's scenario for "non-Muslims," the writer first uses this term in a way that seems to exclude Chinese (who are referred to as "non-Malays"--thus by elimination the "non-Muslims" are the indigenous non-Muslims); but a few lines later refers to "non-Malay Muslims" in a context which indicates that it is the Chinese that are here meant (logically, since the Chinese are neither Malay nor Muslim--i.e. not "Muslims who are not Malay" [non-Malay Muslims], such as the Indian Muslims, but not "Malays who are not Muslim" [non-Muslim "Malays"] either--again there is an implied category of indigenous non-Muslims against whom the Chinese are here in part offset, yet unforttmately, in this context the residual label for such non-Muslims is "Malay", and this usage may seem to play into the hands of those who justify Islamic revival for the whole of society by pretending that assimilation is virtually complete anyhow! Siddique 1986: 46.). The first three pages of Sharon Siddique's survey of Brunei in 1991 (Siddique 1992: 91) focus on Islamization/MIB, and she highlights immediately the issue of the impact (said to be "unclear") of MIB on non-Muslims, but again seems to regard all census "Malays" as Malay Muslims, citing Neville (1990). She does, however, then almost immediately acknowledge that there are several non-Malay ethnic groups among the census "Malays," which she lists loosely (Siddique 1992: 92). (10) From the other series of surveys, Brown, in the article already cited, at one point uses the term "Brunei" interchangeably with "Malay" (Brown 1984a: 204), (11) while in turn "Muslim" seems to indicate all indigenous (contrasted with, and divided by Islam from, the Chinese) (Brown 1984a: 206). (12) And Ranjit Singh (1986: 172), on what appears to be the same wavelength as Brown, uses the term "Brunei Malay" (privileged, majority ethnic group) contrastively with "Chinese" (underprivileged minority), as if referring to all indigenous, with the apparent implication that there is no heterogeneity in the native population.
In the light of these examples, it would surely pre-empt all confusion if the term "Malay" (or "Malay Muslim") were reserved for indigenous Muslims, and never applied to non-converts. (As for "Brunei", this should only be used in its original and narrow ethnic sense--where, of course, it still has utility, as in discussions of traditional and neo-traditional ranks: cf. Brown 1995). (13) The freer and all-embracing use of the term "Malay," derived from the constitutional category but imitating census usage since 1970, goes beyond the amorphous concept of a common archipelagic race to imply an advanced state of cultural assimilation to a Bruneian norm. Such an implication was not yet justified around 1990 by empirical evidence, but certainly served the objective of those State agencies which were working to achieve it.
Five or six years into Brunei's Independence, my observation was that the term orang Brunei had begun to do service as the term for what English calls "Bruneian," that is, any citizen or permanent resident of the state. Unfortunately, the Malay language lacks an equivalent of the convenient English suffix "-an" to indicate country of membership as distinct from one's race. In consequence, orang Brunei, in this sense of "Brunei citizen" and equivalent to the English usage (among locals and expatriates) "Bruneian," was not too easy to differentiate from, indeed was apparently acquiring overtones and unspoken connotations of, membership of a "Malay people of Brunei" (orang Melayu Brunei), as the orang Brunei sub-group or puak of the 1961 indigenous saw their culture, religion and language (at least a semi-standard bahasa Melayu Brunei) spread out among the population synchronically with government promotion of an inclusive, puak Brunei-convergent national identity. (14) Herein lies a paradox if it be assumed, on the one hand, that "Bruneian" originally lacked any other connotation than citizenship and place of residence but had become politically functional in terms of the state's nation-building assimilationist agenda post-1984, whereas, on the other hand, in the period around 1961, even alongside the tabulation of groups eligible for automatic Brunei citizenship, the way was being prepared for closer association with a much larger "Malay family," by robust promotion of use of the standard Malay language in the Peninsular mold and negotiations for some form of political merger. At that time the Brunei concept of "Malay" (or at least one such concept) was distinctly reaching out beyond Brunei's borders to embrace a much wider community. However, after the late Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, with strong popular support, rejected membership of Malaysia, but the leaders of the new Federation for several years harbored irredentist resentments about that rebuff, the wider Malay identification initially evoked became distinctly dysfunctional for official Brunei aspirations. Not, be it noted, that even before the failure of merger with the mainland, the Sultan had been keen on the alternative scheme, the Pan-Borneo Federation promoted by Sheikh Azahari of the Brunei People's Party. At any rate, ambiguity remains inherent or has become more so in a term which is again being molded towards an inclusive scope--albeit latterly in a way which takes the artificial, micro-territory of modern Brunei as its sole zone of application and basis of legitimation, in place of either northern Borneo or the wider Archipelago. (15)
The most surprising, and almost egregious, example of analytical assimilation of non-Muslims to the category of "Malay", even for early eras, is in fact seen in a Brunei University study of demography, on the very page on which it is admitted that the definition of "Indigenous" (not, however, the definition of "Malay") has varied between censuses:
The Brunei population has been predominantly Malay for many centuries and the population continues to be largely Malay in spite of the influx of immigrants from 1947 to 1960 (Niew 1991: 4). (16)
Even the Sultan's public relations consultant, Lord Chalfont, is more open to diversity than this, for despite the Sultan being, purportedly, the father figure of the Islamic "family" which constitutes his nation (Chalfont 1989: 14), we are informed, in connection with welfare services, that
several indigenous peoples, such as the Murut and Dusun, still live in the interior. The country has not forgotten them in its hectic programme of modernization and development--local hospitals and flying doctor services operate in the interior along with libraries and the other amenities of a lavish welfare state (Chalfont 1989: 17).
Superseding Native Historical Narrative
One way in which the erosion of indigenous identities can be promoted is by downgrading separate ethnic histories, especially those which point to an erstwhile era of political autonomy. Some of the early work of the leading theorist of the social structure of Brunei seems to introduce an ambivalent note, albeit quite unintentionally, as a byproduct of a research method and a particular methodology. In the initial search for data on traditional offices, questionnaires were distributed to the holders of the office of Menteri Darat, "to determine if the office had a history that would be worth exploring in actual interviews" (Brown 1976: 46). No traditions were reported, and from this the researcher concluded that the offices of rural, non-Brunei notables were "non-enduring," especially within families, i.e. "mostly created for their holders and not filled when they die." This lack of permanency was found to be in dichotomous and critical contrast with the hereditary nature of the offices of the Brunei nobility (as Brown perceived it), and on this foundation was apparently constructed the stratification theory for Brunei which posits a crucial, defining link between ethnic power and the durability of offices. That is, the rural ethnic minorities have no "enduring" offices because it is in the interests of the dominant ethnic group to avoid establishing hereditary centers of leadership in the subject areas.
It is not completely clear whether the questionnaires were simply sent out, or administered in the framework of an initial face-to-face meeting. If the former, then it is surprising that the answer "No traditions" could be taken as firm evidence of the nondurability of the offices of rural notables. Even if the respondents thought it proper to reply in detail to any such form if not emanating from the government, in what way did they conceive the term "tradition"? Even if the question was elaborated to indicate that it was information about inheritance from father to son that was of most interest, it would have diverted attention from the characteristic Brunei practice of appointing from kin-groups whose forbears have held the traditional offices. The offices of Menteri Darat might well "skip a generation" in one family, and pass, say, to a nephew of the latest holder, before returning to a son or grandson when one such had achieved sufficient maturity and standing to exercise the responsibilities of the office with conviction. Not the least among the evidence for this institution is the fact that it was the normal practice (or certainly has been in the twentieth century) with regard to Brunei nobility appointed as Cheteria, and the class of Pehin, also! (What are literally hereditary without break are the status of Pengiran
Anak and Pengiran, and it is true that only a member of this class, descendants of royalty, can become a Cheteria.) There were very particular reasons for upholding the institution of modified inheritance in the more remote areas. So far from there being a threat to control in the rise of a local notability, it was only by working through locally respected families that the Sultanate could exercise a modicum of control. It is also very much to the point that an understanding of administrative requirements is most typically developed among the sons of households whose leader is a title-holder or Penghulu. No doubt, local status was partly a function of the fact of office-holding itself by earlier members of a kin-group; no doubt, also, loyal attitudes would be likely to have been cultivated in these very kin-groups in the course of time; but it is striking that the Sultanate saw no danger in this degree of institutionalization. (17)
The moral for the historiography of Bruneian minorities is that while they have certainly been subject to the Sultanate for centuries, Brunei power did not penetrate on anything like the scale of the twentieth century bureaucratic model. Consistently with the feudal nature of the Brunei realm, power over the more peripheral minorities was diluted by distance, or exercised intermittently. But to play down the degree of ethnic autonomy in relatively recent historical times has a kind of consistency, indirectly, with another proposition derived from the observation of hereditary rank among the dominant group. This is the view that hereditary rank is necessary to the inculcation of a myth of immigrant origin and conquest (by the Bruneis, in this case), but by that very token is likely evidence of the fact that the dominant group were not immigrants at all! (Brown 1976: 47-48; 1973)
Be the origin of the Bruneis as it may, it shall not escape remark that once the notion of conquest is dismissed, it becomes more difficult than ever to postulate an autonomous Bisaya kingdom which the Bruneis overwhelmed and displaced, rather than a diffuse and acephalous "indigenous society," which developed its structural sophistication, including monarchy, from within its own resources and could sooner or later aptly be called "Malay." (18)
For complete avoidance of misunderstanding on the subject of downgrading separate ethnic histories, I conclude this section by drawing attention to one particular presentation of the Brunei origin myth by Donald Brown which in no way plays down the un-Malay (apart from un-earthly!) origins of the ruling line (Brown 1984c). The founders were Bomean natives (more readily identified as Murut than Bisaya), who called themselves "Braneis" once they had established their capital on the Brunei River, not "Malay." The latter nomenclature relates, apparently, only to a later phase: the conversion of the ruler to Islam under the influence of Johor, whence also he obtained Malay-style regalia. And from this it ought to be possible (I would think) to be open to the separate ethnic histories of those parts of the population whose ancestors did not masuk Melayu: unless, that is, local ancestrry ceases for any reason to be highly regarded. (19)
At all events, the Sha'er Awang Semaun (and its commentator, Brown) do not regard the Bruneis as immigrants. Rather strikingly, however, their political culture has an exogenous complexion, which for my taste either suggests an immigrant origin for the core population at the capital, or if not, an eagerness for a distinguishing, external authentication which at the same time (again, my instinct) still carried an imperative of countervailing emphasis on native authenticity in an environment dominated by competition for power between several "authentic" groups. The recent international academic debate on the nature of Malay identity, in case it is in need of restimulation, would do well to focus on the dynamics of cases of accommodation, or continued attachment, to local cultural norms and identities even as populations were being recruited into "Malayness" and calling their states Kerajaan. The perpetuation of the ethnic label, "Brunei", right down to the Nationality Enactment of 1961, in apparent connection with a perceived need to maintain an ethnic hierarchy even while neighboring groups such as the Kedayan were being invited into a semblance of fraternal unity (democratic elections were, after all, looming!), is a scenario which may merit further applications of reflection and analysis. (20) Such analysis must proceed independent of assumptions and models derived from the polities of the Malay Peninsula, ancient or modern. (21)
Diversions from an inclusive plural nation
The plural nation can be discredited by commentary or forestalled by laws. The first approach (denial that the native minority groups, in plural aggregate, are part of the contemporary nation) can nevertheless go hand-in-hand with awareness that diversity exists. In the quotation in Section 2, above, where Chalfont makes it clear that State welfare is not bestowed as of right, he and his firm (Shandwick plc. of London) showed themselves to be well aware of diversity, even while also understanding the view of their Brunei elite informants that non-Muslim Bruneians cannot be considered as members of"the nation" of modern Brunei as it is now being promoted. Here we may possibly speak of "imbalance" but not "error."
Another book which shows traces of elite sponsorship--the most substantial opus to emerge from Universiti Brunei Darussalam since its establishment--tacitly confirms and approves the same paradigm of the national identity, if only by its almost complete silence on the late Sultan's vision of the nation-that-should-be as he struggled to wrest power from the British Residency (Hussainmiya 1995).While the PRB rally in 1960 in support of the Ibans is noted (Hussainmiya 1995: 285), (22) the editorial sympathy of the local English-language press is not (cf. Borneo Bulletin 1960). Since editorial opinion at the Borneo Bulletin typically reflected British Residency/High Commission thinking at that period, it seems clear enough that the restrictions in the proposed Nationality Enactment reflected Brunei elite thinking, opposed by the British authorities as well as PRB. The late Sultan's political biographer notes the existence of a more liberal British view in June 1959, but mocks it as a case of the ingrained British proclivity to interfere, improperly, in the "sovereign rights of Brunei" (Hussainmiya 1995: 203). (23) On the other hand, no rationale whatsoever is offered of the Brunei Government's stand--in spite of a subtitle which evokes a nation in process of invention and arouses expectations of some effort of analysis and definition in this respect, including exclusions. (24)
With reference, now, to legal discrimination, in other words, differential fights among non-Muslim indigenes, it is true that up until 1960 (Jones/State of Brunei n.d.) the category of "Other indigenous" included Dusuns as well as Ibans, but it is crucial to recognize that, with the demarcation of a core of "most authentic citizens" in 1961, groups such as the Dusuns were placed above the Ibans and Penans in a number of ways. Whatever pressures they may be subjected to, subtly or blatantly, to embrace Islam today, the Dusuns are indubitably citizens, contrary to a claim from a lecturer in the Department of English, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, (25) and they do not have to convert in order to join the Army,
contrary to an opinion of Brown (1984b: 29) (let alone to join the Police). A discreet check of the identity of Royal Brunei Armed Forces sentries during Ramadan would almost certainly reveal that they are mainly unconverted Dusuns. Conversely, however, no person who is not from one of the basic seven groups of core indigenous (as, for instance, an Iban is not) may join the armed forces unless, apart from being born in Brunei (like recruits from the core indigenous), he is also
a non-indigenous Malay who professes the Muslim religion, conforms to Malay custom as practised in Brunei and is a subject of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan by virtue of any written law relating to nationality. (State of Brunei 1983, 2 .) (26)
One of the best-guarded of many Brunei state secrets is the extent of military dependence on converted Ibans for filling the Other Ranks, especially today, at a time when interest in military careers has seriously slumped among indigenous male youths in general.
So the Ibans have turned out to be more vulnerable, in one way, to state-inspired cultural pressures, than groups which were admitted to automatic citizenship in 1961. This follows directly or indirectly from an Enactment which was and is perfectly clear in its allocation of differential status, as between the seven core groups and "Other indigenous". (27)
Another way of diverting attention, consciously or unconsciously, from the question of Iban status in Brunei is to go to the extreme of treating them as an essentially immigrant community--i.e., essentially transient, with a homeland to which they will return in due course. There is another demographic study based on the 1986 census, which evinces a greater degree of subtlety or sophistication (in fact, a greater degree of interest altogether) with regard to the "age-dependency ratio" among the Iban (Neville 1990: 3341) than the study already cited (cf. Niew 1991: 46-53). At the heart of the "age dependency ratio" concept is the notion that if there is not only a "bulge" in the age pyramid at the young working adult level, but, moreover, a predominance of males over females at that level (with a fulfilled presumption that these males are indeed working), then the non-working children of that community are less "dependent", i.e. are sustained by a larger work force and source of income (the ratio is said to have "declined"). Now, although Neville acknowledges the presence of a permanent core of residents, these are "reflected in the older age groups" (p. 35); and while, for women "agriculture is still a significant category of activity (which is often closely linked with their normal domestic routine)" (p. 40), this is not invoked as evidence of a settled population in rural areas. On the contrary, the presence of many females and a flourishing family life are seen as exceptional, historically, for "the more male-dominated migrant communities ... in Southeast Asian countries" (p. 34)--and the rest of the paragraph (pp. 34-35) in combination with Tables 5 and 6 can clearly be seen to be referring to the general Iban community, not merely to an immigrant component abstracted from the general community. Yet in reality the Iban population in 1986 comprised a settled (citizen and permanent resident) component of just over 50% of the total, at 5,807 as against 5,679 transients (Negara Brunei Darussalam 1989: 45). Only if one works mainly from, say, the table of "Working Population by Sex, Community and Major Occupation 1986" (Negara Brunei Darussalam 1989: 67) might one assimilate the non-migrants to the migrants, because the "Other indigenous" are classified together by race with no further subdivision by residential status.
The purpose of our exposition on this point, therefore, is to suggest that an "age dependency ratio" has no meaning where immigrant income is not contributed to the 50% of the community who are in fact settled, but is repatriated (if not spent in Brunei within the "bachelor establishments" of shanty towns). The predominance of immigrant males is surely economically significant within Brunei, if at all, only among the immigrant (and mainly urban-dwelling) component of the Ibans. The age structure and employment situation in the longhouses of Batang Duri (Temburong), Supon (Tutong), and Labi, Sukang, and Melilas (Belait) would be more germane to an understanding of"the condition of the Ibans of Brunei." This is, of course, the reflection of a non-demographer, working with his own premises and interests. Demographers will have to say whether the point raised has validity for their discipline. (28)
If the fear of being swamped by the primaeval Bomean hordes has entered, as it were, the cultural genes of elite Bruneians, the format of Brunei Citizenship law betrayed even more the influence of Peninsular Malay fears of being swamped by the immigrant Chinese (though certainly the divided ethnicity and thus worrying "disunity" of the Bruneian indigenous supplied a sufficient local rationale). Paradoxically, as, by 1959, with the rise of multi-racial democracy, Malayan citizenship law had become much more liberal towards the Chinese than in 1948, Malaya and its successor Malaysia were set to become an anti-model for Brunei ideologues in this regard. Incidentally, this constitutes another reason why close identification with the "Malay family" outside Brunei's borders has not been an appealing proposition. The vaunted ketuanan Melayu of the Peninsular Malays often sounds like empty rhetoric. Being a good orang Melayu Brunei entails a strictly nonMalaysian view of political rights, both of the race vis-a-vis immigrant peoples and of Malay subjects vis-a-vis their traditional rulers.
Turning therefore to this immigrant or immigrant-descended minority of Brunei, even less privileged than the Iban: the most extraordinary "revelation" in post-Independence reporting, regarding Chinese status, was that although Chinese applicants were encountering extreme difficulty in obtaining Brunei citizenship after 1984, (29) the problem was mitigated for the stateless Chinese (i.e. the group corresponding to the Permanent Residents), (30) by their enjoyment of British citizenship status, whereby they could fall back on British Passports for purposes of travel, though without right of abode in the United Kingdom (E.I.U. 1992: 45, and 1996: 64).
Ignoring, for a moment, some problematic figures cited by the E.I.U. on two occasions (diverging not only from the official statistics but among themselves), one can only speculate as to why and by whom the disinformation on citizenship status was put into circulation, and how it was possible after the perfectly open and objective declarations by both the British and Brunei Governments on the eve of Independence, (31) which clarified a situation in which (a) the stateless Chinese had no claim whatsoever on British citizenship, not being born in a British colony; (b) even if--as was no doubt true in a few cases--they had been born in the then colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo, all such persons had been transferred, in principle, to Malaysian citizenship on Malaysia Day, 1963; and (c) the Brunei Government had no intention of liberalizing its Nationality Enactment to effect a similar, wholesale transfer of any remaining British citizens on its soil, or to admit British-protected persons to Brunei citizenship by some transitional formula of registration. Thus, the many Chinese holding British Protected Passports in combination with a Permanent Resident's pass retained their permanent residency, but henceforth would depend for travel on an International Certificate of Identity (ICI), issued by the Brunei Government. For a considerable proportion (a certain category) of these there has been the inconvenience of having to return to Brunei once a year to renew permanent residency, and many holders of ICIs meet disbelief and suspicion when applying for visas to enter foreign countries, especially when they are Brunei-born.
Meanwhile, the situation would appear to have been aggravated--according to my observation--by a new rule on acquisition of citizenship by naturalization, the only route for Chinese applicants not born in the country. Whereas the written law on nationality continues to specify a twenty-year residence record in the previous twenty-five, the Sultan delivered an intriguing, not to say sensational, speech to the Chinese community eight months after Independence, in which the requirement was stated to be twenty-five out of thirty. This was picked up and reported as an official change in the law by at least three foreign commentators, (32) yet the local English weekly, Borneo Bulletin, did not report any change, and the government newspaper Pelita Brunei, while certainly addressing the question of Chinese rights, apparently did so in order to insist that no change was being planned. (33) Nor was there ever any gazetted amendment to the law in the following years. However, even if this was originally an error by the Sultan's speech-writer, there is no doubt that National Registration officials would have taken note (if they saw the reference in the Brunei press) and might well have begun to apply, or stood ready to apply, this "new rule" because it had the apparent status of a royal pronouncement (titah), overriding gazetted legislation. It would be a supreme irony if they had not picked up the reference in the local press, yet saw it in a misled foreign journal and from such a source became aware of "a change in the law" that needed to be acted upon! They could even have been put on guard to a paranoia-provoking distortion of the numbers of Chinese in Brunei (by understatement) in their own government's published statistics--compared to a shocking "60,000 by unofficial estimate" (Mulliner 1985: 218).
The earliest appearance of this figure that I have noticed is in the Far Eastern Economic Asian Survey, and found an even higher level of 66,000 at the Economist Intelligence Unit seven years later (E.I.U. 1992: 45), but fell back again, for the same agency another four years on, to around 40,000--i.e. in line with the government's count (E.I.U. 1996: 64, 77). (34) Of the sources cited in this paragraph, only the Asian Survey article spells out that the official figures must be regarded as mendacious (Mulliner 1985: 218). The Economist Intelligence Unit remains most notable for attributing British citizenship to 60,000 of its discovered Chinese in 1992, while maintaining the more modest, yet still extraordinary, claim of 10,000 in 1996. (35) While perhaps one should not expect the highest academic standards from commercial organizations based abroad, whose customers are similarly unmotivated in that direction, cases of distortion by foreign staff employed for a number of years by UBD seem much more surprising. In an elegantly crafted study of the history of the Chinese in Brunei, Tan Peck Leng of the Department of History discerned the origins of citizenship in the Immigration Enactment which came into force on 1 January 1958 (Tan 1992: 128). (36) This is a very valuable insight. Right of permanent residence was granted to Chinese on the basis of a seven-year residence record in the previous ten. This was not, however, turned into an offer of citizenship at that time, she correctly avers. Nor were hopes much better satisfied at the time of Independence in 1984, she continues, when the qualifications for citizenship were "maintained" at the level of a language test, with a ten-year residence record in the previous fifteen for locally-born Chinese, and a twenty-year record out of twenty-five for non-locally born. Nevertheless, apart from the slight divergence of the residence requirement for Registration, as here stated, from the published Nationality Enactment, (37) a query has to be raised as to why the Brunei Government is said to have "maintained" a rule for which no concrete starting point is specified. It seems bizarre, and difficult to credit, but the study contains no reference to the Nationality Enactment which first bestowed citizenship on the Chinese, however sparingly.
At the same time, another UBD source, based in the Department of English (Dunseath 1996: 283), quotes Tan approvingly and equally sees no reason to mention the Nationality Enactment: indeed he fills the gap in Tan by stating that the Immigration Enactment itself bestowed citizenship! Comparable echoes of error are heard from elsewhere in UBD (Gunn 1997: 7-8).
Obliquely relevant to Chinese status is, of course, also the question of the autonomy and integrity of their language. This is not the only aspect of Brunei's life and times to have "attracted little interest outside the country," but a start has been made by the British lecturer just cited, who used a questionnaire to elicit information about language use in Chinese families. He recognizes the potential impact of political and educational factors, among several others, in weakening language maintenance even for a community segregated from the Brunei Malays by a complex of cultural attributes and a non-cognate language. But although the survey begins with a word about the establishment of a national education policy based on the twin language media of English and Malay at the time of Independence (Dunseath 1996: 280), we are very clearly given to understand that the Chinese schools, being privately owned and run, are not subject to government regulations in this respect: the further spread of Mandarin as a lingua franca of the Chinese seems plausible, in the writer's judgment, not only because of its growing importance in the Chinese diaspora, but because of its central role in Chinese schools. And the role in question is none other than that of medium of instruction (Dunseath 1996: 286, 295,299).
As with the case of the imaginary population statistics at The Economist, one can only speculate as to the reasons for such a distorted picture being projected. Even were an expatriate's job security in the Bruneian education system a point of anxiety (banish the thought!), there should be no squeamishness about mentioning the "mastery" of Chinese private education by the Minister of Education at the turn of the decade, for it was a political coup of which, by the Minister's own lights and from a Brunei nationalist perspective, he had every reason to be proud. At any rate, the interests of accuracy in future historical research may be sufficiently served if we sketch the following outline of events and their interconnections, spanning the mid-1980s to early 1990s (based, in the first stages, on the reporting of Chinese school managers and headmasters in personal communications): (a) an apparent, "modernizing faction" in the management of the flagship foundation, Chung Hwa Middle School, introduced a system of twin streams--an English stream alongside the traditional Mandarin stream--and in due course strongly promoted the new one; (b) protagonists of Mandarin in other Chinese schools, or certain friends of theirs in Sarawak, launched an attack on the "betrayal of Chinese education" in the Chinese press of Sarawak; (c) armed with such clear proof of "foreign interference" and a "security risk," the Minister moved swiftly to appoint, under his ill-defined powers, Malay headmasters from the government system, starting with Chung Hwa Middle School; (d) the imposition of the government's bilingual (i.e. Malay/English) system, step by step, starting from Primary I, followed within a couple of years; (e) the fact that a similar policy was being imposed on the English-medium mission schools at the time, along with Malay headmasters seconded from the government system, did facilitate the "assimilation" of the Chinese schools to government directives, but the internal politics of Chinese school management undoubtedly provided the proximate cause, and explains the remarkable speed of events. (38) Whatever the precise balance of causes, it could scarcely be doubted that there were consequences in store for the future use of Mandarin in Brunei--and that that "way ahead" would not be quite as adumbrated in the UBD-based survey. (39)
Becoming Malay, as prescriptive norm
Another British scholar who has felt moved to take his distance, in a mild way, from the pioneering work of Donald Brown, is Victor T. King, writing in 1994 at the University of Hull. However, at once it must be stressed that whereas I disagree with Brown's perception of discontinuity of Dusun offices in local families, King states with an unequivocal approval that Brown "demonstrates that, although the position of mentri darat appears to be an office, like all others, it is, in fact, a 'commission': the appointment is usually for life and specifically created for an individual" (King 1994: 183); "it was not in Brunei's interest to establish a stable and secure rural leadership" (King 1994: 193). The affirmation of the credibility of Brown's position on this matter seems just a little curious, given that one salient purpose of the paper is apparently to say that Brown did not pay sufficient attention to the position of the non-Muslim indigenes within the system of Brunei-bestowed ranks, and thus finished up with a far too narrow conception of Brunei society. What Brown should have realized, according to King (1994: 185), is that in receiving offices and ranks from the dominant Bruneis, the non-Muslim indigenes were to all intents and purposes members by incorporation of "Brunei society," not simply subjects of a "Brunei empire."
One would like to ignore this as a mere semantic quibble, but, in fairness, three points could be made: (a) Brown is talking about local office holders who were mainly not Muslim, and by their language and ancestral custom in no way identifiable as Bruneis; (b) Brown does not deny, indeed he emphasizes, that these local title holders were beholden to the Sultan for their local positions and thus in effect part of a system of Bruneian political hierarchy, though not of Brunei society in the ethnic-Brunei sense; (c) King's theory of a "multi-ethnic Brunei society" thus depends most of all on Brown's work itself, alongside a few others', though with some judicious rephrasing of the concepts, including the extension of the scope of "Brunei," not only to outside Kampong Ayer but out beyond the present limited borders of Brunei Darussalam to embrace large areas that were historically within the Brunei imperium.
A more fundamental purpose, or, at any rate, outcome, of King's "fresh look" at Brown's material seems to be that of demonstrating historical continuity in terms of, first, the rise of a Brunei form of Malay culture, upon the establishment of a Sultanate by native Borneans on Brunei River (King 1994: 185); then, its inexorable expansion by assimilation of more natives to the original core (King 1994: 178, 185) to the point where whole ethnic groups and languages disappeared and are disappearing (King 1994:187-195)--this historical process having been inaugurated in earlier times by the mechanism of selected local leaders often becoming Muslim (King 1994: 185, 190, 191), but being now speeded up under a concerted thrust for assimilation by the "Malay Muslim Monarchy" of independent Brunei Darussalam (King 1994: 178-179). The difficulties which I have with this historical aggregation are (a) that if local leaders were encouraged to convert to Islam they would by definition have lost their cultural identity and leadership role in the framework of tribal custom, which is scarcely consistent with the aim of the Sultanate to control the tribe through such local appointees; (b) in instances where the whole of a tribe eventually assimilates and becomes Malay (a phenomenon of which King finds several examples in the old Brunei imperium, notably, but not only, the Melanau), the theory
that these tribes are part of "Brunei society" on terms of retaining their distinct cultural identity becomes redundant, for a qualitatively different phenomenon has intervened, in the form of such assimilated groups becoming self-identifying members of "Brunei-Malay society" if not quite "Brunei society" in the Kampong Ayer-focused sense; (c) we meet no suggestions as to how soon and by which modalities the conversion of key leaders was followed by mass conversions--in some cases but not all; and (d), although modem "nation building" could in a sense be said to be aiming for the same result, the methods and pace are quite revolutionary, and cannot properly be called a continuation or extension of an historical tendency. The equivalent in Marxist terms is the shift from historical dialectic to Leninism. (40)
That King possibly does not a see a significant difference between the pluralistic "Brunei society" of his initial argument and a totally Malay society (whether produced by slow "historical process" or modem state intervention) is a thought that is rather prompted by his citation of a study of ideology, where this refers to non-Muslim Bruneians as a target for total assimilation (Braighlinn 1992: 19). Although quoting the 44-word passage word for word, King (1994: 186) at first invokes it as supporting the Brown/King "inclusive" conception (the plural but stratified one) of Brunei society. I am in a position to say that no such thing was in the mind of the author. Moreover, a dispassionate reading will surely confirm that the author's reference to "convergence," past, present or future, was not intended as a reference to a permissive pluralism. (41)
Be this as it may, King does not seem to be so much in thrall to his Brown-derived, if slightly Brown-corrective, conception that he cannot indeed equate, or seamlessly elide, it with something that is surely quite distinct. It would be discourteous to suggest a failure of logical discrimination. Yet this would be less offensive than to ponder whether an agenda of the Brunei state has intruded into an exercise in anthropological theory-making, inasmuch as the elision in question serves the urgent imperative of the state to legitimate its nation-building by maintaining that Brunei history has always pointed precisely towards a "national destiny" of total assimilation, on the threshold of full realization by 1984, whereas the structure which King derived from Brown did not evince the built-in historicist dynamic which he seems to believe in simultaneously. (42)
Ethnic rights and academic integrity
As I have suggested elsewhere, (43) the question of minority rights in Brunet is linked in less obvious ways to the general decline of democratic institutions since the 1960s--or as ideologues of MIB would have it, the restoration of authentic Brunet political forms after the British-imposed aberration of a Legislative Council. Where there is no "popular political process," not only is there unlikely to be an ethnic political party to represent the citizen members of a particular group or groups: minority interests can never even be articulated through a class or ideologically-based party responsive to a district (but possibly ethnic) constituency. In a system of representative democracy it is difficult to imagine Iban longhouses converting en masse in return for an electricity generator, supplied by the government through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, as was happening in Brunet in the early 1990s. The generator would be promised by politicians in return for the longhouse vote!
Certainly the abolition of the Legislative Council in 1984 had future significance far beyond the boundaries of ethnic minorities. Most patently, it pre-empted the open articulation and integration of class interest in a society where economic inequality was more salient, and more clearly correlated with differential political power, than ethnic diversity would ever be. But with regard to the persistence of ethnic stratification or the progressive erosion of diversity, the abolition of the legislature cast a light of historical irony on the divisive Nationality Enactment, whose original intention was not to divide, as such, let alone erode, but to lay one of the foundation stones of democracy by defining a reasonably inclusive electorate--an electorate which would no doubt have utilized the potential for ethnic self-expression and self-defense among its constituent parts, despite the partial disenfranchisement of a couple of them. But when leading annual academic surveys leave even the historic abolition of a national legislature unmentioned, a fundamental aspect of the affairs of a "small and far-away country," with wide ramifications, is obscured and the reputation of the media concerned sadly tarnished, even before they compromise themselves with small-scale, though cumulative and usually regime-serving, error in any other respect. (44)
And the most pregnant errors may be those which assist, if only by obscuring or denying, a species of "ethnic cleansing" that is being carded out under the aegis of revivalist Islam far more than a dated Malay nationalism. Possibly Islam possesses the ideological asset that it does not in principle recommend the existence of nations; the Malay people are tolerable, being Muslim, but Dusuns are certainly not; and their extinction is more comfortably justified as "God's will" than as the ambition of a large ethnic group or nation which happens to be allied to absolute political power. Any academic friends of Malay nationalism may care to ponder whether it betrays its fundamental values by treating vulnerable minorities in its midst with the same cynical disregard as was once shown for Malay development, allegedly, by the European colonialists and the Chinese around the region. Why are Brunei Malays entitled to resist their historic submergence, whereas Brunei Dusuns must serve the aims of Malay resistance by swelling its ranks, at the cost of their own separate survival? Of course there is no imperative for every analyst to adopt a moral stand in such a connection, but one can at least plead for accuracy, and a rounded exposure, regarding a situation of accelerated change at the interface between Malay and ancient Bornean civilization--a perennially moving frontier which has both a well-documented historical existence and is now a conscious subject of social engineering by the Brunei state and its ideological apparatus. (45)
In my perception two other prominent ethical issues emerge among the examples discussed in this paper. Annual surveys based overseas, within academic institutions or the offices of prestigious news magazines, have no right to trade on their reputations for reliability, in commissioning writers who lack the motivation or expertise to both collect and soundly interpret a range of data on a country in the year in question. Such shortcomings will often be connected with sheer absence from the country, yet the disability of residence abroad can be overcome to some degree, even to surprising degrees, by dedicated application to the task. Conversely, it has been found that residence in Brunei, even employment at the local university, is no guarantee of veracity. The second ethical issue arising is therefore whether university appointees are entitled to trade on the reputation of the academic profession for diligent pursuit of truth, when they were either not motivated towards their new subject (or even equipped to practice it competently); or were intimidated by the fear that the truth might be politically uncongenial to their very own employer, an absolute monarchy with an absolutist agenda for building a monolithic nation. Which of these factors were in play in the examples studied (or other factors entirely) can only be a subject for speculation, unless and until the writers reviewed deliver their own individual confirmations or refutations. (46)
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295 Clashnessie, Lochinver
Scotland IV27 4JF
(1) To some extent Kershaw 1998a was already responding to "error and misunderstanding," in setting out to create a solid basis of understanding of ethnic ranking in the face of the kind of ignorance or distortions which will be dealt with in a more concerted way in the present paper. Some questionable assertions were identified, however, in a review article, Kershaw 1998b, whose focus was Saunders 1994; Horton 1995; and Singh and Sidhu 1997. A small number of criticisms relating to their presentation of minority affairs are repeated in note 9, below.
(2) A succinct introduction to the role of Islam under M1B, and generously funded "outreach" to potential converts (there were 420 recorded conversions in 1991 alone), is given by Horton 1996: 56-63. The absence of a place for non-Malays in the new state ideology was also identified and discussed by Braighlinn 1992:86 (n 28, n 29), Kershaw 1998a: 95 (n 36), and, in due course, Reid 2001: 312-313.
(3) It is rather remarkable, however, that legal detail such as the classification of ethnic groups is not a state secret, but perfectly accessible in Enactments published singly or in law collections by the Brunei government. Yet some writers have reported the scene as if they had met obstacles to simple inquiry. For the basic information for readers of this paper, the seven indigenous groups which have citizenship rights by operation of law are: Brunei, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait, Dusun, Bisaya, and Murut. I like to call these the "authentic" indigenous. The Ibans and Penan, being regarded as immigrants in fairly recent times from outside the four districts of modern Brunei (i.e. indigenous to Borneo rather than Brunei), are allowed "operation of law" only if they and both their parents were born within Brunei's borders. For extended discussion see Kershaw 1998a. For comparison with the Chinese, see note 29, below.
(4) On the map the whole of the coastal strip from Tutong to Belait, and the middle reaches of the Tutong River, are marked as "Kedayan" only. For a carefully researched, alternative statement of Bisaya-Dusun strength, see Martin 1995--highlighted in more detail in note 7, below. In a later, single-author work, King (1993: 57) correctly treats the Dusuns of Brunei as entirely distinct from the peoples similarly labeled in Sabah, pointing out the lack of any meaningful distinction between them and the Bisayas of either Brunei or eastern Sarawak, while, however, making the highly curious assertion that "Tutong" is a Brunei Malay synonym for these Bisaya, alongside "Dusun." This is not what we read in a publication of the following year (King 1994: 195), where the Tutongs are treated as an entity quite distinct from the Dusuns (albeit already, apparently, themselves "absorbed into Malay culture," like the Belaits), and we are even alerted to the existence of a misapprehension that the Dusuns are the same as Tutongs (King 1994: 192).
(5) By Siddique (1985); Abu Bakar (1989); Zainal (1990); Doshi (1991); Mani (1993); Thambipillai and Hamzah (1995).
(6) However, Abu Bakar does acknowledge the presence of non-Muslim bumiputeras in his reference to the willingness of a political party (BNUP) to admit such persons as members (see p 95).
(7) Cf. Martin 1995. with his clearheaded calculation of ethnic numbers by speakers of" each native tongue. Dusun and (separately counted) Bisaya speakers, totaling together 15,600, would
constitute 5.35% of all "authentic indigenous," amounting to 291,750 (i.e., not including Ibans and Penans). This may not seem a large segment, but it must be remembered that in the district of Tutong the various dialect branches of the language account for almost the whole of the population of the middle reaches of the Tutong River.
(8) For elaboration of this historical dimension, see note 18, below.
(9) Some of the weaknesses discussed in this paragraph were also in evidence in the works reviewed in Kershaw 1998b. As it happens, Saunders 1994 (and repr. 2002) was very sparse on minority matters except the Chinese, so there is little likelihood of error in that general area anyway. I could just repeat (from Kershaw 1998b), a query as to why Kedayans are classified among the "other indigenous," like lbans. With reference to Horton 1996 I might reiterate the point that the Dusuns of Brunei are not Kadazans. On the other hand, University of Malaya authors Singh and Sidhu (1997) deserve full critical exposure, again, for their assimilation of all native groups to the category of "Malay" (as if the 1981 Census was sociologically correct); silence on the Dusuns in particular, except when making a single reference to their leader in 1961-62; and the assertion that no Chinese are citizens, indeed that only 10% could even travel abroad! My calculation of the proportion of ethnic Chinese residents with Brunei citizenship in the 1980s was 20.38%.
(10) However, while Tutongs and Belaits are omitted from this itemized list of "the Malay majority" perhaps because considered as Muslim (and closer to "real Malays"?)--Kedayans, bizarrely, are named, as if not part of the group of "local Malays," also included separately in the list.
(11) When "Malay" means "indigenous Muslim," it is not equivalent to "Brunei," for where are the Kedayans and Tutongs in the latter category?
(12) On pp. 205 and 206, educated opinion is cited as the opinion of "Bruneis," which either inaccurately infers that no Labuan Malays and Eurasians, or Kedayans, or Tutongs, etc., have made their way to the top of the bureaucratic elite, or represents a usage of "Brunei" which here embraces all the indigenous minority groups, perhaps even regardless of religion.
(13) And for further analysis see Section 3, below.
(14) That being a Malay also means being a Muslim is a matter of almost universal definition in the Malay world since the Golden Age of Malacca. By this standard, to call every native Bruneian a "'Malay" gives him the tacit status of a "Muslim-in-waiting," at least, and delegitimizes any efforts at ethnic cultural preservation in advance.
(15) For a complementary presentation of the perspective of this paragraph, but excluding "the wider Malay family," see Kershaw 1998a: 99-101. The most able ideologue of the contemporary Brunei regime, Pehin Udana Khatib Badaruddin (Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs at the time of writing, 2010) traces his "Malay world" credentials back to student days in Singapore and early flowering as a Malay nationalist poet, prior to A1Azhar. He was active in the Dunia Melayu movement around 1990, apparently seeing Brunei as a potential role model for the revival of authentic political structures and pan-Malay literature, yet also not unconscious of the degree to which the interests of Brunei monarchy and a sustainable Brunei sovereignty prescribed maintaining a certain distance from Malaysian Malay intellectuals and their political masters, and making a subtle or not so subtle distinction between Malays of Brunei and other kinds of Malays. Reid (2001:312-313), too, has made a succinct point about the contradiction between the Malay world identification of 50 years ago and a concept of "Malay" which, as expressed in M.I.B. today, presupposes a set of cultural characteristics which sets Brunei quite deeply apart from its neighbors.
(16) Interestingly, the published census for 1986 on which Niew bases his work (Negara Brunei Darussalam 1989) does resurrect the Dusuns and Muruts ("lost" since 1981) as separate groups in its table of"Working Population by Sex, Community and Major Occupation 1986" (p. 67), and informs us in footnotes to tables on pp. 41, 42, 45 and 48 that the "Malay" figures include Dusun and Muruts. Pp. 41, 42 and 67 are even reproduced photographically by Niew (1991, Appendix B).
(17) The perspective of this paragraph owes a very great deal to the research of Eva Maria Kershaw, which we hope to be publishing in a future study, Kershaw, E.M. and R. Kershaw, eds., Forthcoming. Section 7, below, is devoted to the responses to Donald Brown's work by Victor T. King (King 1994), starting with the question of Brunei-bestowed ranks.
(18) On "the other city" at war with the Bruneis in 1521, see Nicholl 1980: 38-39. If the Bruneis did emerge by some process of asymmetrical schismogensis, it remains curious that subsequently the assimilation of the rest of the root society to the Bruneis' religion has taken so long--indeed seems to have owed its significant strides more to the technological and bureaucratic advantages bestowed by the British than to innate capacities of earlier times. On the historic slowness of the spread of Islam in Brunei territory, see Nepote 1985.
(19) Once a group such as the Dusuns of Tutong accept, as they had by the 1980s, that no one can be the ruler of Brunei unless he is a Muslim (and, hence, "Sultan"), the portents are hardly good for their ultimate survival, even as a subgroup of "the Malays," however defined.
(20) Since 1984, evidently, unity is engendered more coercively, and the Sultan asserts his "Bomean" credentials simply by claiming, through official historiography, that the structure described or prescribed by MIB has lasted since time immemorial, and that the "Malay" ethnicity of the people is not (and never was) internally differentiated, let alone challenged, by any rival or alternative native identity outside it. Kedayans now find themselves tacitly cast as a role-model in convergence, instead of being classified separately in a hierarchy--with all the dysfunctional consequences which that may have had for the Brunei state when PRB/TNKU was recruiting guerilla fighters in the rural areas!
(21) The "debate" to which I have referred has left a small number of landmarks, such as work by Barnard (ed. 2004); Milner (2008). Kershaw (2008) offers some first thoughts on the latter and on its antecedents. I think it is fair to say that Milner, possibly influenced by the Peninsular "experience," places his whole emphasis on how new-Malays cling to residues of their ancestral culture and identity (cf. passages in Chapter 7), without exploring any legitimizing adjustments on the part of their prestigious Malay rulers-cum-dominant group if the latter are ultimately themselves of autochthonous ancestry, as is found in Borneo.
(22) And see note 3, above, on the legal status afforded to the Iban in the event--a victory for Malay conservatism, as we are about to see. Also commentary in note 27, below.
(23) It is not made clear why the British had no fight to attempt to influence the future political structure of Brunei at a moment when the 1905-06 Supplementary Agreement was still in force, and negotiations in progress, precisely, over what form of semi-independent polity the British government should surrender its authority to. Hussainmiya also omits from his documentary appendices the section on citizenship in State of Brunei 1954, which recommends that the Dayaks be recognized as indigenous Bruneians.
(24) But one can readily understand why the subject of the Kedayans might be given little attention: if they were a key group in the Rebellion, this is hardly consonant with their recognition, today, as part of the Malay mainstream (Hussainmiya 1995: 39-40). For a broader discussion of Hussainmiya's study, see Kershaw 2000.
(25) "Non-Malays are constitutionally excluded from citizenship, even if they are indigenous to the territory (as in the case of the Dusun and Iban peoples) ..." (Attwood and Bray 1989: 71-72). (Attwood was the lecturer particularly responsible for this reference.)
(26) This wording is unchanged from the original Enactment: see State of Brunei 1961 a, 6 (I) (b).
(27) It is true that the lbans are listed in the First Schedule of the Nationality Enactment as "groups which are considered to be indigenous to Brunei," but the same sentence continues: "within the meaning of this Enactment." The whole point of the First Schedule, in conjunction with Articles 4 (1) (b) and (c) (ii), is that this type of "indigenous" has entitlements interior to the seven core groups. Hence the appearance of the lbans as "Other indigenous" in census statistics.
(28) But a further point, whose validity will not be denied, is that the condition of the Ibans can only be fully assessed when account is taken of the fact that the settled population of "Other indigenous" is itself divided between citizens and Permanent Residents. The figures are, respectively, 2,753 and 3,054 (Negara Brunei Darussalam 1989: 45). Thus, well over half of the settled Iban population could face obstacles to obtaining a livelihood outside the village on account of the employment and travel restrictions which they face.
(29) The position since 1961 being--it would be helpful to point out--that Chinese can only become citizens by naturalization or registration, except that the status of citizen, if once achieved by one of these routes, was heritable by the children of a male citizen, by operation of law.
(30) Who at 14,016 were 35% of the total Chinese population (including foreign citizens) of 39,461 in 1981, or 63% of the 22,059 settled Chinese, as I calculate based on Negara Brunei Darussalam 1989 and Negara Brunei Darussalam n.d.
(31) Cf. a debate in the House of Lords, reported in Borneo Bulletin, 24 February 1979; the full details of the Independence Agreement, reported from Britain in Borneo Bulletin, 24 March 1979; statement by the Information Director, Pehin Haji Badaruddin bin Pengarah Haji Othman, in Borneo Bulletin, 26 March 1983. Also, an accurate, if sparse, account is given by A Correspondent in Bandar Seri Begawan 1984: 69.
(32) Starting with A Correspondent in Bandar Seri Begawan 1984, who is quoted by Mulliner 1985: 218, and apparently echoed, at an unknown number of removes, by E.I.U. 1992: 45; 1996: 64.
(33) Two issues of the government newspaper were involved: Pelita Brunei 1984a, 1984b. The second of these sources--the Editorial--very specifically refers to a time requirement laid down by the Nationality Enactment, with no hint of any amendment. It does also stress that the Enactment has its own "essence and philosophy" against which Chinese applicants should measure themselves, but the meaning appears to be that this is the background to the existing time requirement, not that the requirement had been found to be in need of tightening because of a stricter definition of cultural compatibility. It could also be noted that at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Sultan's Birthday Banquet the previous year, the Sultan had given an understanding that the conditions would not change: see Pelita Brunei 1983, and commentary on it in Kershaw 1984: 77.
(34) The most precise figure available is the 41,401 given for 1986 in Negara Brunei Damssalam 1989: 41. As before, we will note that this figure includes the many Chinese expatriates (from Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, etc.) working in Brunei.
(35) A more legitimate sensation to write about--because true, though affecting very few--would have been the "totally stateless": those who did not even have permanent residency, and were thus, in effect, fugitives from the law as non-holders of any identity card. As for the stipulation "twenty-five years out of the last thirty," in search of even a very slight gleam of truth in this regard, one might consult the report of a confidant of the late Sultan that in the Anglo-Brunei constitutional negotiations of March 1959 it was initially agreed that aliens should be admitted as citizens if resident for the past twenty-five years or for twenty-five years in a preceding period of not above thirty (Mohd Jamil 1992: 79).
(36) As she was using Borneo Bulletin as her source, the author gives as the date of promulgation what was in fact the date of coming into force of legislation enacted late in 1956 (see State of Bmnei 1956).
(37) It should be twelve out of fifteen years.
(38) However, I believe that the fact that the chief champion of the English-medium for Chinese students enjoyed well-established credibility as a spokesman for the Chinese community generally, and at the same time (both as cause and effect) was in a confidential relationship of mutual benefit with the Minister, gave the Minister access to reliable and reassuring intelligence as to the limits of tolerance on the Chinese side.
(39) The above criticism has been made rather emphatically because the objection that the researcher was ignoring the impact of the newly enforced policy was raised by a well-informed temporary resident of Brunei at the conference in Kota Kinabalu, 1992, at which the original draft of his paper was presented. Although future historians will find no reference to the early stages of this drama of Chinese education in any of the Brunei press, it could not be unknown to a research specialist on Chinese language at the time.
(40) That Malay culture has been able to exert some kind of magnetism over "pagan" groups, historically, at least within the scope of the prestige or political power of Sultanates, seems to be confirmed for west Borneo by Collins (2001). Evidently, if it could be shown that a factor in this was the establishment of missionary programs by historical Sultanates, then modem Brunei Darsusalam would not be as severely out of step with the past as I have just suggested.
(41) Where I say that King "at first invokes it as supporting ...," I am taking his words "is reinforced" in the sense of "intellectually confirmed." But if he also means "sociologically promoted," the understanding that Braighlinn means the same as the Brown/King formulation is still in evidence where this is then described as the "more permissive mode" of the MIB ideology.
(42) However, to say that King espouses a vision of historical inevitability might not be quite correct either, for it appears that in order for history to "complete its course" the ideology is equipped with a "more intolerant mode," which "does translate into active strategies to incorporate the non-Malay 'sub-groups' into the dominant society and culture" (King 1994:186). I also think
I detect an inference at one point that a historic symbiosis between the groups in the hierarchy has some life in it yet, and in some mysterious way is necessary and functional, not least to the dominant group; in other words, the assimilationist ideology could be at variance with historical dynamics! (King 1994: 185)
(43) In the last two paragraphs of Kershaw 1998a: 102.
(44) Neither Mulliner 1985 nor Siddique 1985 has any reference to the demise of the Legislature. The legislation abolishing (or, as it stated, "suspending") it is Negara Brunet Darussalam 1984. This was not, of course, given any publicity in the government press, but Borneo Bulletin, 10 March i 984, slipped a condensed note, headed "Legco dissolved," onto its back page--not without incurring a sharp "rap on the knuckles" from the Information Department, as one heard. It must be noted--and admitted--that the Legco here dissolved was not an elective body, but had been appointive since the abolition of elections under State of Brunet 1970. (An earlier, more short-lived abolition had occurred under State of Brunet 1963.)Also to be noted--and regretted--is the fact that Kershaw 1984 has no reference to what turned out to be the very last gathering of the Legislative Council for two decades, to pass the Budget for 1984, at the end of December 1983
(an omission due to editorial pressure to submit copy before the end of that year). (A photograph of the last Council, assembled on 21 December 1983, may be seen on the front page of Pelita Brunei, 28 December 1983.) On characterizations of popular legislatures as an alien import and imposition (an ominous portent for the fate of Legco, it may seem now), see Kershaw 1984: 76. Eventually, in 2004, the Legco was reinstated, but at the time of this writing (early 2010) remains a nominated body.
(45) Further to a comment in note 21, above, on Milner (2008), Chapter 7, relating to assimilation in Borneo, it may seem a little anachronistic to call for this kind of recognition from a debate which only took off in the late 1990s, whereas the present study deals with realities and their reporting a decade earlier, or two decades before Milner's new publication. Still, the latter is more than anything else a historical study, whose author did not lack time for information gathering, reading of academic secondary sources, and analytical reflection on the "flagship" Sultanate with its pretensions to reinvent Malay nationalism. Not the least of the available fruitful sources on Brunei elite and state goals for the future of the native minorities are publications by a Bruneian sociologist (notably Hashim 1984, 2003). Latterly equipped with a Ph.D. from the University of Malaya (on which Hashim 2003 is based) and a post as Prof. Madya (Reader, in British terms) at UBD, this writer says of the Dusuns: "As for the Dusun ethnic group, the majority live in the interior of Tutong District. This group are still pagans, but practise Malay culture. A small number of them have embraced Islam. In their daily social mixing they use the Dusun language or dialect. The total numbers of this group are estimated at around 8,000" (Hashim 2003: 28. Transl. R.K.). The deficiency of the non-Muslim Dusuns in terms of the national identity being spelt out by MIB had been argued--in a spirit of admonition to the Dusuns themselves--by Hashim 1984: 10.
(46) I have previously written of an apparent capacity of UBD to mold the minds of expatriates, or at least censor their public thoughts, in Kershaw 2000a, 2003 (the latter is the original English text of the former).
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|Title Annotation:||RESEARCH NOTES|
|Publication:||Borneo Research Bulletin|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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