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Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam
Chapter 10: Brunei Darussalam
Rosnah Opai A short political history Brunei was referred to as ‘Po-ni’ or ‘Po-li’ in the ancient Chinese records of 518, 523 and 616. In the ninth century, it was conquered by the Sumatran Hindu Empire of Srivijaya. When the Srivijaya empire collapsed, Brunei came under the control of the Majapahit empire for a short while but soon regained its independence. From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries Brunei was able to extend its control and inﬂuence over Sabah, Sarawak and the lower Philippines. During this period (1605–19) the ninth sultan, Hassan, fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which still remain today. However, this period of golden age entered a period of decline in the early seventeenth century due to internal conﬂicts as well as the rising inﬂuences of European colonial powers. Brunei’s territory gradually reduced. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he ﬁrst became governor and then later ‘Rajah’ of Sarawak in northwest Borneo expanding the territory under his control. In 1846 the island of Labuan was ceded to the British and a year later a treaty of friendship and commerce was signed between Brunei and Britain in which the Sultan agreed not to cede any more territory to any power, except with the consent of the British government. Later on, the British North Borneo Company expanded its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1847, the...
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