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Brunei Politics

Political System of Brunei

Although it is said to be rather modest what one knows about Brunei's earliest history, sufficient data exists to establish that the country's population in the 6th century may have traded with the Chinese and paid tribute to the Chinese emperor. After forming an alliance with the Mahapahita Kingdom in Java, Brunei was located in a Hindu dominated area. In the 8th century, the area was conquered by the Islamic empire, which occupied almost all of Borneo. Although the European presence - Portuguese, Spaniards and Dutch - was almost permanent from the 16th century, it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that colonial powers seriously undermined the large island. As the Dutch moved south, the Sultan of Brunei appealed to the English, in an attempt to preserve Brunei independently.

In 1841, the Sultan surrendered the Provisional Sarawak to James Brook, in payment of support for the suppression of an uprising in 1839-1840, thus creating the peculiar size of "the White Rajah", the head of a Malaysian state. In 1846, the British annexed the strategically important island of Labuán, and in the following years the separation of Sabah Province was prepared. This succeeded in 1888 when the British patronage of Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah were officially established as separate entities. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how BN can stand for Brunei.

After the Second World War, the island participated in the decolonization process, despite the British's obstructionist efforts. By an agreement with the last «rajah», Brooke, Sarawak and Sabah were converted to English colonies. Kalimantan, the former Dutch Borneo, gained independence in 1954 within the framework of the Indonesian state.

The Sultanate of Brunei was then the only surviving English protectorate, reduced to a modest area, sandwiched between 2 Malay provinces and only 40 km from the Indonesian border. Shell discovered major oil deposits in 1929; in the following decades, the extraction of oil and natural gas on the coasts of the order of 175,000 barrels of oil was initiated daily.

Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudin in 1962 accepted a proposal by the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Rahman to join the Malay Federation, which united Sabah and Sarawak with Singapore and the provinces of the Malay Peninsula, but the People's Party, Rakyat, which had 16 MPs elected by The 33-member Legislative Assembly opposed and demanded the formation of a single state in North Borneo, along with Sarawak and Sabah, but separated from the rest of the Malay Peninsula.

In December 1962, a popular uprising started by Rakyat, who had ties to Barisan Social from Singapore, and assisted by Sukarno's anti-imperialist regime in Indonesia. The rebels opposed the incorporation into the Malay federation, demanding popular participation in the leadership of the country and the abolition of the monarchy. The rebellion was quelled, the party Rakyat banned and its leaders imprisoned or forced into exile.

Despite the ethnic, historical and cultural ties to Malaysia, Sultan Omar finally decided to remain on the "outskirts" of the federation as it was no longer satisfactory to share power with the other Malaysian monarchs and, to an even lesser extent, share the wealth earned from the oil, as envisaged in the federation agreement.

Following the initiative of Malaysia and with the support of the UN, in 1976 an opportunity emerged to renegotiate the former colonial status when the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Hussain Onn, pledged to respect Brunei's independence. In 1977, Brunei accepted the independence but postponed the date set to January 1, 1984.

On this date, the transfer of power was formalized, although the party was postponed to February 23, 1985, thus enabling the presence of the foreigners invited. Hassanal Bolkiah, son of Sultan Omar, who abdicated in favor of the son in 1967, dissolved the legislative assembly a month after the Declaration of Independence formally entered into force, and then ruled the country through decrees.

 

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