|Written by Arimi Sidek|
Brunei, 1904 - less than a government
In the second snippet of this series, I mentioned that Brunei was less than a government. It was in about 103 years ago, or a century, more or less.
There is no malicious intend in saying that. It was a factual statement on the nature of (poor) the governance state of being in the kingdom based on a historical record.
Mr. McArthur (1904) in his report about Brunei explained what “less than a government” means:
"With no public expenditure and with a disreputable ruling class scrambling for cash advances from foreign governments of private speculators, seizing all they dare from their luckless subject, and valuing their position solely as a mean of self-indulgence and extravagance, to talk of a government seems ridiculous.”
"There are no salaried officer, ... no forces, no police, no public institutions, no coinage, no roads, no public buildings – except a wooden mosque, and – most crying need of all – no gaol. There is a semblance of a judicature, but little justice ...”
McArthur, M.S.H., 1904. “Report on Brunei in 1904” by M.S.H. McArthur. P.O. 572/39, 5 Dec 1904, para 23 in Horton (1986)
Horton, 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.