|Written by Arimi Sidek|
In 1905, there were three separate governments in British Borneo.
Or kingdoms, as they wanted to be known. The most exotic was the Rajah Brooke government (White Rajah of Sarawak). The lesser known was Maharajahate of Sabak (sic) of a Hong Kong based, the North Borneo Chartered Company. And of course the mighty of the time, Her Majesty government of British Empire stationed in Labuan.
At this point, you may wonder that I probably missed something. Where was the government of Brunei?
Actually, NO. I did not missed anything. There was no government in Brunei at the time. Please bear in mind, I am talking about 1905.
Brunei was less than a goverment in 1905
It has no proper governance.
It has a ruler - with a long and glorious history, but kingdom was terribly weak and dying.
Brown said (during this era) in Brunei there was 'no Government .. only ownership'. The country was divided up into three sorts of tenure, each carrying with it taxation and administration right for the owner: kerajaan (crown lands), kuripan (ministrial lands) and tulin (private land).
Borton explained that a sultan (Sultan of Brunei) has little real power except over his own districts and people. He was unable by custom to interfere with the internal administration of other districts.
British tried to ignore Brunei at their most. Most administrative matters pertaining Brunei placed out via Labuan office, a British protectorate since 1847.
Brown, D.E., 1970. Brunei: The Structure and History of a Bornean Malay Sultanate by Professor D.E Brown,(Monograph of the Brunei Mueseum, 1970), pp. 79 -85, in Horton, 1986.
Horton, A.V.M, 1986. British Administration in Brunei 1906 - 1959 by A.V.M Horton. Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 20, No.2., (1986), pp. 353-374. Cambridge University Press.