(The Brunei Times) - Succeeding Sultans of Brunei have denied that northern Borneo was given to, and only the weight of tradition supports the claim. The weight of Brunei tradition challenges it
The first treaty was signed by Brunei's Sultan, Sultan Abdul , appointing Baron de as the Maharaja , Rajah and signed on December 1877. The second treaty was signed by Sultan of appointing Baron de as and Raja on January 1878, about three weeks after the first treaty was signed.
That begs the question: Who was responsible for or North Borneo as it was known then towards the end of the century? That probably has a bearing on the event now unfolding in in , where a group of armed men supposedly from the Sultanate of and North Borneo is claiming that they are the rightful owners of .
Many of the early modern accounts of written history in Brunei noted that was given possession of or parts of for help rendered to Sultan , the Sultan of Brunei who fought a civil war against the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Abdul .
Sultan Abdul usurped the throne after killing Sultan Muhammad Ali when the latter tried to stop Sultan Abdul from taking his revenge for the death of his son killed by the son of Sultan Muhammad Ali. Sultan Abdul appointed Sultan as but eventually Sultan tricked Sultan Abdul into leaving Brunei for and appointed himself as the new Sultan of Brunei. The two Sultans fought against each other and Sultan finally triumphed, said to be due to the assistance provided by the Sultanate.
Sir Hugh Low, writing in the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society ( ) published on 5 June 1880 entitled ' (Book of Descent) of the Rajas of Bruni', wrote that "by the assistance of a force from the Sultan of , the forts on the island ( ) were captured".
Earlier Sir Hugh Low described the negotiation between and Brunei: "the of went up to Bruni and met the Sultan and having feasted and drank, the Sultan asked the for his assistance to destroy the enemies at the island, promising that if the island should be conquered, the land from the North as far as westward as should belong to ".
HR writing in the Journal of the Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society published in August 1940 entitled A Sketch of the History of Brunei wrote: "by the beginning of the century, the kingdom (Brunei) had been territorially diminished by the cession to the Sultan of in the north".
CA in his book Muslims in the Philippines (1973) referred to a letter from Sultan of to the Governor General of Spain on 17 September 1879 that the coast area from to was to pay tribute to the Sultan which he said proved that the Brunei territory facing was ceded to .
Interestingly enough, writing in his book, Brunei II: Period of and Fame (2007), countered all of the above. did not deny the fact that the were invited and promised the northern Brunei territory by Sultan if they helped him win the civil war against Sultan Abdul . However, during the battle for , the forces who were supposed to attack the island from and from the sea, did not do so. They were terrified by the resistance of Sultan Abdul forces in . It was only after Sultan had won the battle did the forces landed and took the opportunity to seize a number of war booties.
According to , Sultan refused to cede the territories claimed by . noted that the area was only "claimed" and not "ceded", as Sir Stamford Raffles, in his book "History of Java" (1830), had noted "on the north-east of Borneo proper (Brunei) lies a very considerable territory ( ), the sovereignty of which has long been claimed by Government".
further noted that according to the oral tradition, continued to press their claim. In 1775, one of their chiefs came to Brunei pretending to seek fresh water. What they really wanted was to seek an audience with the Sultan regarding . However, the Sultan ordered one of the chief to see them and he threatened that if they wanted to pursue their intention, he will kill them all. The immediately left. Despite that setback, the continue to maintain their claims.