Openness Based on MIB Preserves Sovereignty (MIB Series)

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 addressing the United Nations in New York

The Sultan of Brunei’s seal used when making diplomatic ties with the Governor of Singapore in the 1820

The message of Sultan Hashim Jamalul Alam Aqamaddin sent to Sultan Hamid in Turkey in 1890

Openness based on MIB preserves sovereignty
August 28, 2017

| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong, Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

WE can acknowledge that the monarchial system could be the source of Brunei’s survival, hence the existence of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). As long as the country practises the monarchial system and upholds Islam as the official religion, the Malay legacy will be preserved in all areas of life such as culture, education, administration, business, agriculture, land, economy, etc.

We believe that the sovereignty of Brunei Darussalam is due to the people of Brunei who appreciate and understand the importance of Islamic and Malay values in life, and accept MIB as the identity of Brunei. As 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 had stated, MIB is an internal policy as much as it’s a foreign policy of Brunei Darussalam. MIB has become the basis of the resilience in establishing relations with foreigners coming to Brunei through both formal and informal agreements. It acts as a firewall to overcome challenges from within and outside the country.

Alhamdulillah, the openness of Brunei based on MIB has successfully preserved Brunei’s sovereignty. MIB has been a reference point and an integral part of the government’s policies for more than half a century of Brunei’s existence as a country. As stated by His Majesty on his 46th birthday celebration titah in 1992:

Juga berkait dengan dasar luar ini, Negara Brunei Darussalam terus mengambil langkah mengadakan hubungan mesra dengan negara-negara yang ingin berbaik-baik dengan kita. Sehingga kini, negara kita telahpun menjalin hubungan diplomatik dengan lebih daripada 70 buah negara, dengan mengambil kira perkembangan-perkembangan muta-ahkir, iaitu serentak dengan tamatnya pertentangan ideologi. Pendeknya, dengan izin dan rahmat Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala serta berkat pegangan kita terhadap dasar-dasar MIB selama ini, maka Negara Brunei Darussalam terus menikmati keamanan, makamur dan bahagia, di bawah perlindungan dan ‘inayah Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala.

Brunei’s foreign policy is in tandem with the way of Islam, the same way how policy was upheld during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Rashidun Caliphs in Madinah. This is a preliminary basis of Islamic diplomacy which is the reference and practice of half of Islamic countries today. Diplomacy or external relations promoting mutual respect and goodwill with the outside world based on the rights and sovereignty of the respective countries is the principle of Islam. This is in line with the teachings of Islam which commands us to treat outsiders as equals regardless of their religions and origins.

The first diplomatic event that took place in the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was during the dispute of the Quraish in the event of Hajar al-Aswad. The dispute could have led them to war as each tribe wanted the rights to lay the holy stone after the Kaabah was rebuilt. For the sake of Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wassallam, based on justness and diplomacy, this dispute resolved without bloodshed.

He himself had asked all the Quraish chiefs to lift the stone which was placed on a white cloth and when it reached the corner of Kaabah, he (Rasulullah) himself placed the Hajar al-Aswad Stone to its original place. As the tribes agreed on whoever was the first to enter the Kaabah the next day, he was granted the right to be a judge. And it turned out that he Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam was the first person to enter the Kaabah.

In the aspect of foreign relations, policies that were made during the time of Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam became a reference and guidance in the management of foreign policy of most Islamic countries, inclusively through the introduction of the ambassador and diplomacy system. Diplomacy can be defined as a form of international relations management through the process of negotiation, a method coordinated by ambassadors or representatives, business or diplomatic arts, skills in handling international affairs and consultation.

For Brunei Darussalam, history has proved that since the advent of Western powers began in the early 16th Century, the policy of goodwill and respecting foreign guests was symbolic of the openness of the people of Brunei, especially in establishing trade relations and diplomatic relations with the outside world. This is evident through Brunei’s friendly relations with China as well as its neighbouring countries and the Western world from ancient times till today.

This attitude of excellence is the result of Brunei’s sovereignty that was preserved. We can agree that foreign policies based on MIB are an exemplary form of international relations management based on Islamic law which creates peace, and strengthens both regional and international cooperation.

The practice of MIB is aimed at preserving the rights of the Brunei people without discriminating against the outside world. It is a fair methodology to police a society of diverse races, religions and cultures. Openness is needed to maintain the integrity of the nation, to strengthen relationships, and to avoid international conflict. Foreigners are given the same services and opportunities based on the Constitution and the laws of the country in line with the MIB way of life.

This is evident in the reality that the foreign community in the country has access to the same opportunities as Bruneians in developing the country with regard to business and commerce. Foreigners who contribute to the country with whatever ability they have are rewarded in terms of titles, ranks and privileges. In the field of business, foreigners monopolise half of all the economic activity in Brunei. This is an example of the open attitude of the Brunei people based on MIB values.

So the principle of sovereignty of Brunei based on MIB is fair and a source of unity in Brunei. Together, the Malays, Chinese and Indians should understand the aspirations of the country to create a sense of harmony of community life. As His Majesty said: Beta ingin juga untuk mengingatkan sekali lagi kepada masyarakat Tionghua dan masyarakat keturunan lain di negara ini khususnya generasi muda supaya akan terus berusaha pada menyesuaikan diri dengan keperluan-keperluan dan aspirasi Negara Brunei Darussalam dalam berbagai-bagai bidang kehidupan, selaras dengan kedudukan Negara Brunei Darussalam yang dengan izin Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala, Insya Allah akan untuk selama-lamanya kekal menjadi sebuah Negara Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB) yang demokratik.

The survival of Brunei is dependent on the people of Brunei itself. It should be understood that the attitude of openness is not necessarily favourable or will have a positive impact on the people of Brunei, especially in preserving and retaining Brunei’s sovereignty.

History has proven that due to the openness of Brunei’s foreigners and the arrival of Western powers – to the point of being overwhelmed by foreign influences, Brunei almost lost its place in the world map. It is thus wise to refer to the nation’s past as a lesson to move forward in the era of globalisation to achieve the National Vision 2035 and move on into the future.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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