On 1st August 1893 James Brooke sighted the coast Borneo for the first time. At the age of thirty-six, he had nothing of note, but was now filled with a fixed determination to grips up loins and Endeavour to affect an object and to perform a service which may eventually be useful command kind and credible. He carried letter and gifts from the Singapore official and business communities to Pangiran Muda Hassim, uncle of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin of Brunei, heir apparent to the throne and engaged in pacifying the antimony and gold’s producing district of Sarawak which had revolted against the exactions of the governor, Pengiran Mahkota, Brooke was impressed by both Hashim and Mahkota. He explored part of the district and sailed for the Celebes. Fired by the writing of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, he hoped to acquire o foothold for British influence of areas of the archipelago were the Dutch not yet active. Sarawak did not figure in his plans.

At the end of August 1840 he returned to Sarawak, some what disillusioned which what he had witnessed of native government in the Celebes. The revolt was still in progress and Hashim prevailed on Brooke to aid in its suppression. The additional of few Europeans and their gun to the motley Brunei forces brought the rebels to have them treated leniently. As the price of his assistance he had been offered by Hashim the Government of Sarawak, a fact which gained him enmity Mahkota, whose opposition caused Hashim to delay fulfilling his promise. Brooke acquired only the right of residence and trade, but soon he realized that his commercial enterprise could not flourish while his status uncertain. As Hashim still temporized, Brooke brought the ROYALIST’S gun to bear upon his palace and, going ashore with an armed escort, wrung from his Government of Sarawak.

This was only the first step. In July 1842 Brooke visited Brunei to rescue some seamen from the British vessel which had fallen into pirated hand and obtained the Sultan’s assent to Hashim grant. Those recognized, Brooke turned against the Sea Dayaks who, under leadership of semi-independent part-Arab Sherifs. Were raiding the coasted areas of Sarawak. By stressing their piratical proclivities, Brooke won support for his enterprise from the Royal Navy; thought perhaps more important from his viewpoint was the removal of centers of hostile political influence. In the first expedition against the saribas dayak in June 1843 Brooke was aided by men’s and boats from H.M.S Dido, whose captain Henry Kepple, was to became lifelong friend and admirer. This raid and another against the Saribas and Skrang Dayaks in August 1844 have to receive Hashim blessing as the territory concerned were outside Brooke’s jurisdiction.

Hashim was still in Sarawak, a rival source of authority and focus for loyalty. Brooke wanted him in Brunei were an anti-British faction. Led by Pengiran Usop Mumin, dominated the Sultan Hashim position at Court has been eroded during his absence and his only hope of retrieving it was with British assistance. Thus in November 1844 Hashim was returned, Brooke being accompanied by H.M.S. Samarang Commander by Captain Belcher and by the East India Company Streamer Phlegeton. A show of defiance by the Brunei fort at the mouth af the river gave Belcher and excuse to be present at the negotiations. Brooke demands were not readily assented to and it was only when the Phlegethon trained her guns upon the Sultan audience chamber that the Sultan replaced Usop with Hasssim as Menteri Besar and offered Labuan to the British.

Brooke saw Labuan as a coiling and trading station which would dominate the North Coast Borneo and protect the Pro-British faction headed Hashim and his brother Badrudin now established in Brunei.

Upon intrigued against Hassim and maintained connections with practical Leaders in North Borneo. In August 1845 British vessels shelled his home. He fled, but returned after British had left. He attempt to drive Hassim and his supported from power failed and he was executed by order of the Sultan. However, intrigues continued, the Sultan fearing that Hassim was aiming for the throne, and at the end of 1845 or early 1846 Hassim and his brother were assassinated by order of the Sultan. Brooke heard of the collapse of his policy on in April 1846. His vengeance brought Brunei more closely under British influence. Labuan was a last occupied and garrisoned and the stage set for the further expansion of Sarawak at Brunei’s expense.

Brooke rule was to be challenged by internal intrigues and more dramatically by the Chinese goldmines at Bau who seized Kuching in February 1857, the Rajah narrowly escaping death. The Chinese had no base for support and the arrival of the Borneo Company steamer and the Sea Dayaks war party led by James’s nephew, Charles Brooke Johnson, caused them to flee in disorder. A terrible vengeance was wreaked upon them by pursuing Dayaks and Malays and only a fraction found refuge in Dutch Borneo.

Kuching was soon rebuilt and the Brooke regime survived. Under James successor, Rajah Charles, its administration was strengthened and make more efficient. Further territory was acquired from Brunei by a mixture of diplomacy and force. Ironically, the British presence on Labuan, one of James achievements, saved the Sultanated from completed extinction at the hands of its predatory neighbor.

The timed which the following pictures illustrated have long past. But Sarawak and Brunei have not change so much that it is impossible to imagine against the scenes here depicted, the bluejacket sweating at their oars along the Saribas and Skrang river, the crash of canon and the war cries of the Sea Dayaks as their Prahus sweep round a bend. The Broad waters of Brunei Bay could still reflect the sails of Admiral Cochrane’s squadron and it is easy to see in the mind’s eye as one views Brunei’s Kampung Ayer the Phlegethon swinging on the tide, her guns loaded, the symbol of an irresistible power which made a British adventurer ruler of an Asian state and threatened with extinction a century-old Sultanate with a glorious history of its own

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Brunei Empire will rise again

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