Monday, November 30, 2015

Wanderings in South Eastern Seas


The Golden Legacy Article
written by Rozan Yunos
Bandar Seri Begawan
Sunday, November 29, 2015

THERE are not many books about Brunei written in the past. The few that are written are cherished. Almost all of these books were written by men authors and there are times we missed the views from the gentler side. However there is one chapter of a book describing Brunei, if not an entire book at least, written by a lady author. The book is entitled ‘Wanderings in South Eastern Seas’ and it was published in 1924 by T Fisher Unwin Ltd of London. The author was Charlotte Cameron.

Charlotte Cameron was described as an intrepid traveller. In that book, she listed the itinerary of places she had visited from 1910 to 1923 where for each visit, she wrote a book and the list include “Twenty-four Thousand Miles in South America” in 1910; “The Imperial Durbar at Delhi” in 1911; “Russia” in 1912; “Twenty-seven Thousand Miles in Africa”in 1913; “War Work Lecturing from the Atlantic to the Pacific“ from 1917 to 1918; “Twenty Thousand Miles in Alaska and Yukon” in 1919; “One Hundred Thousand Miles in the Southern Seas” in 1921 to 1922; and “Wandering in South-Eastern Seas” in 1922 to 1923.

Who was Charlotte Cameron?

One Indonesian blogger has written extensively about her and published his writings in a blog called ‘NaratasGaroet’. He was interested in her because she also wrote about a number of places in Indonesia that she travel to in that same book.

What we do know about Charlotte Cameron is that she was a very rich woman from England as she could afford to travel around the world during those years. Her full name was Charlotte nee Wales-Almy Cameron. She was born in either 1872 or 1873 and was first married to Major Donald Cameron, who died about 1901. She re-married on May 19, 1901 to Ernst Auguste George Jacquemard de Landresse but this was apparently a very short-lived second marriage, that she did not use the name of her second husband. Cameron died in 1946.

During a visit to Australia, many of the media who covered the arrival of Cameron reviewed her books which she has written up to that time. In a review of her book, ‘A woman’s winter in Africa’ (1913), which is a record of the trip ‘Twenty-seven Thousand Miles in Africa’ Sydney’s Freeman Journal noted that Cameron was the most intrepid woman traveller since the time of Mary Kingsley.

In that winter travel around Africa in 1913, Cameron started from Mombasa on the east coast to the extreme towards Sierra Leone in the west. In six months she recorded the 26,000-mile journey down the coast as well as a thousand miles across Rhodesia to Victoria Falls.

Traveling for her is an adventure. She wrote “when there runs through your veins the blood of sailors, soldiers, adventures, and hardy pioneers, yours is not a temperament that rejoices much in rest. Having seen most of this wonderful world, you have an unquenchable desire to explore yet farther”.

The Brunei that she wrote in 1923 was an interesting place. His Royal Highness Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II ibni al-Marhum Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin, was reigning then as the 26th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

He ascended the throne as the eldest son of Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin. When his father died in May 1906, the responsibility of the Sultan was in the hands of the Council of Regency as he was only 17 years old then.

It was only in 1918 that His Royal Highness was coronated as the 26th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II took a great deal of interest in the progress of the country, encouraging advances in agriculture, medicine and education.

Charlotte Cameron noted that the year before her visit, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales came over to Brunei in March 1922 and “… upon his arrival, the Sultan, with an attendant holding the yellow fringed umbrella of State, made his first speech in English to the Prince, saying it was a great pleasure to welcome him to Brunei…”

Cameron also wrote about the royal etiquette and customs of Brunei including the types and sizes of candles to be lighted during the presence of the royal family and the pengiran peranakans and noted that the candles of the Resident and the Pengiran Bendahara were exactly the same in weight and height.

She noted that the Sultan was very proud of the British, and acknowledged the benefit that has accrued to his kingdom from their association. She got it wrong though when she said that Brunei has had a British Resident for more than 60 years. It was only in 1906 that the British Resident was in Brunei and by 1923 it had only been 17 years and not 60 years as she had written.

She also wrote about Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II’s visit to Singapore when the Prince of Wales was there. Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam was taken around to see the sights of Singapore. The British Resident noted that His Royal Highness Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam was the “most dignified of all the Sultans present” during that visit. Cameron observed that the Sultan “is descended from men who have ruled since the 14th century, so it is evident that blood does tell”.

She wrote about a royal custom of Brunei then which was the presentation of cigars. A huge ‘Brunei’ cigar is at least a foot long and is made of the best native tobacco. It was said that the Sultan presented a Brunei cigar to the Prince which was a foot and a half in length and the Prince gallantly accepted it.

She also noted that Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam “having mixed more or less with English people, appreciates the fact that to keep fit one must exercise, therefore every day he is rowed to the mainland and, accompanied by his yellow umbrella bearer, he indulges in a five-miles constitutional…”

Cameron also wrote about the time when British Resident Lucien A Allen invited the Sultan and the royal family for a Christmas celebration. The Sultan with his two sons (later to become Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III) and with a number of attendants came for what she described as an unprecedented event.

In the rest of that chapter about Brunei, Cameron wrote about Brunei. She described many things about Brunei including the padians, the silversmiths and the weaved brocades with gold threads. She described the padians “…the market women of Brunei wear immense hats. As they sit in their canoes, you might imagine a village of mushrooms to have sprung up…”

She also talked about ‘Kutch’ (cutch) works factory. She talked about “… battles raged about Brunei and volumes of history have been written…” She described the throne in the audience hall of the palace as a quaint and beautiful throne in silver and gold. It was from this throne that the Sultan made his first short speech in English to welcome the Prince of Wales and on which he was coronated in 1918.

That short chapter was a glimpse into Brunei in 1923. The British Resident Lucien Allen described the year in his annual report as “… one of undeniable prosperity for Brunei and the prospects of the future are still more bright…”

The writer of The Golden Legacy column – the longest running column in The Brunei Times – also runs a website about Brunei at

The Brunei Times

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Brunei Top of World in Girls' Education

Brunei on top of the world in girls’ education
on: November 28, 2015
| Azlan Othman |

BRUNEI Darussalam clinched the top spot globally in the category of female enrolment in secondary and tertiary education, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Global Gender Gap Report.

The country’s overall gender equality ranking moved up 10 positions in 2015 to 88 out of 145 countries from 98 out of 142 countries last year.

The Global Gender Gap Index 2015, which was released this week, ranked the economies according to how well they are leveraging their female talent pool, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.

Brunei Darussalam is among the top 20 countries globally with the highest women to men ratio in higher education.

The Sultanate has some of the best educated female citizens in the world, the report noted. They outnumber their male counterparts in tertiary education institutions. Brunei is one of the countries where women are more likely to take up tertiary education and are better educated than men, the WEF report said.

Brunei’s jump in overall rankings is also attributed to its improved ‘Economic Participation and Opportunity’ category score which the country gained due to the presence of more female legislators, senior officials and managers as well as female professional and technical workers.

The Sultanate scored exceptionally well in economic participation where it was ranked at 23 (compared to 36 in 2014).

The country was placed in the top spot in the subcategory of earned income. In terms of educational attainment, it stood at the 70th spot (compared to 88th in 2014).

However, the Sultanate was ranked at 131 (126 in 2014) in the category of ‘health and survival’.

The report said that the gap between men and women in health, education, economic opportunity and political representation has closed by four per cent in the past 10 years. In economic terms, the gap has reduced by only three per cent with progress towards wage equality and labour force parity stalling markedly since 2009/2010.

Over the past few decades post independence, women in Brunei have taken great strides in making themselves level with men both educationally and professionally with literacy among girls reaching its peak at 96.3 per cent in 2013 and 30 per cent of them seeking tertiary level qualifications. Currently in Brunei, more women than men are holding civil service positions with salaries comparable with those of their male counterparts.

Brunei’s government believes that women’s involvement in all aspects of the community is needed in the nation’s development and that women carry with them a different perspective that provides balance in decision making.

In a titah delivered at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September this year, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said that with the pace of globalisation, lifelong learning has been given serious attention. His Majesty stated that girls and women have equal opportunities to upgrade their knowledge and skills, particularly in evolving areas like ICTs.

“Women have attained high positions in various professional fields such as medicine, law, education, business and engineering, with progressive education and equal opportunities for employment.”

His Majesty added that in the past decade, the participation of women in the workforce has increased from 59 per cent to over 70 per cent. “With women making up almost half of Brunei Darussalam’s population, their contribution to the national development is of great significance.”

His Majesty further stated that women have equal access to health facilities. “Over the past two decades, women’s life expectancy has improved to about 80 years. Women are also increasingly active in business ventures through various credit financing schemes,” the monarch said, noting that more than half of Brunei Darussalam’s Small and Medium Entreprises (SMEs) are owned by women who have achieved economic self-reliance.

Regionally, Brunei Darussalam is part of the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children. The Asean Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children was also adopted during Brunei Darussalam’s Asean Chairmanship in 2013.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, November 28, 2015

List of Permanent Secretaries and Deputies (Updated 28 November 2015)

Latest changes (new Deputy Permanent Secretary MINDEF) included up to 28th November 2015.


Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Yahya bin Haji Idris (Corporate Affairs and Civil Service)
Dato Paduka Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi (Energy)
Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman (Research and Development, Economy and Finance)
Dato Paduka Haji Joanda HA Rashid (Law and Welfare)
Adi Shamsul bin Haji Sabli (Industry)
Pengiran Datin Shazainah bte Pg Dato Paduka Shariffudin (International)
Haji Abd Mutalib bin Pehin Dato Haji Yussof (Media and Cabinet)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Datin Paduka Hajah Suriyah binti Haji Umar

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohammad
Ahmaddin bin Haji Abd Rahman (Performance)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi
Datin Tan Bee Yong
Dato Paduka Haji Matnor bin Haji Jeludin
Sheikh Haji Fadilah bin Sheikh Haji Ahmad
Emaleen bte Abdul Rahman Teo

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Md Abdoh bin Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Salam

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abd Rahman (Core Education)

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Md Yusof

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Md Lutfi bin Abdullah (Administration and Finance)
Eddie bin Dato Paduka Haji Sunny (Technical and Professional)

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Hajah Normah Suria Hayati Pehin Dato Haji Md Jamil

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Dato Paduka Dr. Haji Affendy bin Pehin Dato Haji Abidin
Datin Paduka Dr. Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Jalil

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Haji Zakaria bin Haji Serudin


Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Muhammad Nor Shafie bin Dato Paduka Haji Jalil (IT, E-Government and Industry)
Dr. Hajah May Faezah bte Haji Ahmad Arifin (Economy and Finance)
Haji Md Azmi bin Haji Hanifah (Energy and Industry)
Md Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos (Corporate and Public Administration)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Abu Suffian bin Haji Ali
Capt. Hj Md Amirul Shahnoel bin Hj Md Noel

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Abu Bakar bin Haji Ibrahim
Pengiran Nimala binti Pengiran Mohamed

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Haji Sulia bin Haji Nayan
Adanan bin Haji Jaafar
Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abd Wahab
Haji Osman bin Haji Mohd Yusof

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Idris bin Hj Md Ali
Haji Md Sunadi bin Buntar

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh
Datin Dr. Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina bte Pehin Dato Haji Abd Aziz

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Haji Harun bin Haji Juned
Haji Roslan bin Tajaah

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Khairuddin bin Abd Hamid
Wardi bin Md Ali

Ministry of Communications (MOC)

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Noorjusmin bin Haji Abd Samad

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Dr. Rahmah binti Haji Said
Dr. Hazri bin Haji Kifle

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stray Buffaloes

News from the past. 50 years ago.

Police launch campaign against stray buffaloes

NOVEMBER 20, 1965 – Photo shows a car on the Muara road giving a particularly wide berth to two bulls fighting on the road. Police have launched a campaign against stray buffaloes and cattle on Brunei’s main roads. They have told their owners to keep them in enclosures, especially at night. Over the last few years, stray cattle have caused many accidents, some of them fatal. A law was passed some years ago making it an offence to let cattle go stray.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Kianggeh Coal and US-Brunei Treaty of 1850

My article was published on my column The Golden Legacy in The Brunei Times on Sunday 22 November 2015:-


USS Constitution was in Brunei in 1845
The Kianggeh Coal and the US-Brunei Treaty of 1850

Rozan Yunos
Bandar Seri Begawan
Sunday, November 22, 2015

THE invention of the steamship had a profound effect on the world of trade, military conflict and colonialism. James McLin (2012) noted that “while not the sole cause of victory in colonial warfare, nor a guarantee of victory, the steamship was an indispensable tool in the expansion of colonialism in the 19th century. Allowing for the tactics of gunboat diplomacy, lightning fast wars, and vast improvements in logistics, the path of European colonialism was shaped by the steamship.”

Adam R Nelson writing an article entitled “Nationalist Science and International Academic Travel in the Early Nineteenth Century: Geological Surveys and Global Economics, 1800-1840” published in 2006 noted that “Britain’s demand for coal to run steam-powered vessels mounted steadily in the 1830s and became a strategic preoccupation of its geological surveys around the world. In this context, the British and the Americans frequently clashed over mineral deposits in far-flung places.”

It was in 1837 that an American vessel, the Himmaleh, sailed along the South China Sea and noted the extensive coal deposits along the northern coast of Borneo.

In 1840, three years after a naturalist on board the Himmaleh had first reported the existence of coal in Brunei, the Royal Geographical Society published a memoir on Borneo which mentioned a deposit of coal on the nearby island of Labuan.

William Buckland, a renowned geologist then noted that if there is indeed coal in Labuan, then Labuan would become a very important station used by steamships travelling between China, India, Australia and the great islands of the Malay Archipelago.

In fact, this is the main reason why the British wanted to acquire Labuan from Brunei and went to great extent in forcing the Sultan to sign a treaty surrendering Labuan with its gunboat diplomacy.

According to Shulman in his book “Coal and Empire” (2015), the American interest in coal found in Brunei had “come about entirely by accident”. It was George Tradescant Lay’s report that brought about the interest. George Tradescant Lay was a missionary from the British and Foreign Bible Society, a missionary organisation operating from Batavia and Manila which was seeking to further access to Southeast Asia.

Lay joined the ship Himmaleh which was owned by an American merchant house in Canton called Olyphant and Company. Olyphant and the Bible Society agreed to work together because Olyphant’s owner, David WC Olyphant had a strong Quaker faith. Lay also had extensive experience in natural history as he had served on HMS Blossom on its Pacific voyage where he served as a naturalist.

It was on May 10, 1837 when the ship Himmaleh reached Brunei. A day to day account of the Brunei visit was published in a periodical called the Chinese Repository which was published in Canton. The periodical was published from May 1832 to 1851 to inform Protestant missionaries working in Asia about the history and culture of China, of current events, and documents.

Lay and a member of the crew became guests of His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II and stayed at the palace. It was while staying at the palace, Lay received a sample of local coal which was brought to the palace for his perusal. He was told that the coal came from a place called the ‘Kianggi’ but no one could tell him exactly where that coal was found. It was not until 29 May 1837, about two days before he left Brunei, that Lay accidentally found the coal seam while returning from a trek outside the Brunei town.

His companion described the find, “… on our return we stopped by the side of a pleasant stream, (the Kianggi, before noticed,) under the shade of some large trees, to rest ourselves. Here Mr Lay struck his hammer upon a rock, and found it was coal. On further examination, it appeared that there was a large vein of superior bituminous coal, easily accessible, being not over a mile from the town, and capable of being transported most of the way by water.”

Lay later recalled that “… I struck my hammer upon what seemed to be a vein of sandstone but to my very great delight, I discovered that it was the very thing I had so often sought for in vain, the coal of ‘Kianggi’…”

Lay published his memoirs of the voyage in New York two years later, and knowledge of his discovery spread very quickly in both Great Britain and the United States.

The British Governor in Bengal tested the Brunei’s coal through local appointed agents and found that the coal appeared to be outstanding steamship fuel. This excited the shipping world as British steamers can now go further and this would also serve to facilitate trade with China by using coal from Brunei and Borneo.

The discovery also interested James Brooke and with his own discovery of additional coal crops identified around Brunei in 1838, Brooke concluded that the British Government need to secure the monopoly and establish a coal station nearby. Brooke eventually managed to carve out an extremely large area from Brunei to eventually build up what is today’s Sarawak.

The acting American Secretary of the Navy, David Henshaw also assigned Captain John Percival and the USS Constitution the task of gaining access for the US to support American steamers in Southeast Asia. In his secret instruction to Percival, he instructed Percival to find coal and purchase such rights if necessary for the United States.

It was in March 1845 when the Constitution arrived in Brunei. His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II warmly welcomed the ship’s expedition with a nine-gun salute. However Lieutenant Chaplin, deputising for the ill Percival, failed to negotiate an agreement with the Sultan and returned empty-handed.

The need for coal continued and in August 1849, the American Secretary of State John Clayton instructed Joseph Balestier, the US Consul in Singapore to undertake a series of diplomatic mission in Southeast Asia including Brunei. It was on June 23, 1850 when Joseph Balestier signing on behalf of the United States and His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II signed a treaty between the United States of America and Brunei called “The Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation”.

This treaty outlined the relationship of the United States and Brunei and is still in place today. It was ratified by President Millard Fillmore on January31, 1853, two months before he left office on March 4, 1853 and the treaty was subsequently proclaimed by his successor, President Franklin Pierce on July 12, 1854.

Lastly, an interesting question would be, ‘What would have happen to the history of Brunei if George Tradescant Lay did not discover that coal in Kianggeh?’

The writer of The Golden Legacy column – the longest running column in The Brunei Times – also runs a website about Brunei at

The Brunei Times

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