Malay history: What’s missing from the textbooks

By John Doe

Brunei has always been known to be one of the earliest Muslim Kingdoms in Southeast Asia. They pride themselves in this fact. All their neighbors pride themselves in this too, and of course, since it is fact, it is irrefutable. Right?Good. Let’s quickly look at some FACTS then:

It is taught in school textbooks that Pateh Berbai, the brother of Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar, discovered Brunei. Awang Alak Betatar subsequently became Brunei’s first Sultan and was known as Sultan Muhammad Shah. Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar were the famous heroes in Brunei during that time.

Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first Sultan of Brunei. He ruled Brunei from 1363 to 1402. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei as a result of his conversion to Islam in 1363 for his marriage to a Johorean-Temasik princess. Prior to conversion to Islam, he was known as Awang Alak Betatar.

He sent a mission to China in 1371 by which his name is recorded in Ming historical record as Mo-ha-mo-sha. Sultan Muhammad Shah died in 1402. Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first Sultan of Brunei. He ruled Brunei from 1363 to 1402. He married the daughter of Iskander, a Johorean-Temasik princess introduced by Bal-Paki, her brother-in-law to be.

So far so good… Oh Really?

Read the above again very carefully !! Sultan Muhammad Shah married a Johorean-Temasik princess in 1363. Now, for all those products of Biro Tata Negara (BTN) out there, what year was Malacca formed? 1403. So, there was a Johor king already in 1363? Are you going to argue with Ketuanan Brunei on this? (By the way, he’s more Melayu than YOU!) Also for those who insist that Penang be handed over to Kedah, read the following again and again …

The Johor ruler was under the Thais. The entire Peninsular belonged to the Thais! The ‘king’ of Singapore (Temasik), whom Parameswara of the Malaccan Sultanate murdered in cold blood was in fact the brother-in-Law of the ‘King’ of Pattani, who was under Ayodthaya rule. For those who do not know, Ayodthaya is in Thailand. And that, my friend was already well established before 1363.

Next, Kota Gelanggi was also another Thai City, (yet to be publicized). And why not? Because it is a Thai Buddhist kingdom. Yes, it’s along the Johor River. All I’m allowed to say at this point is that Kota Gelanggi is REALLY along the Johor River. Expose Kota Gelanggi, and you will find its 30ft Buddha statues and its many Buddhist Temples, in all it’s glory.

So, for Penang to go back to Kedah, ALL of the peninsula needs to go back to the Thais. Sarawak needs to go back to Brunei, Brunei needs to go back to Majapahit, Sabah needs to go back to the Philippines, and Parameswara needs to go back to Palembang, leaving the Orang Asli in charge all over again. (I find it ludicrous that the Orang Asli are disqualified as ‘Bumiputera’ although they have been here since 60,000 years ago)

Next, the year 1363 is of great significance. Why? That was the year that the first Sultan of Brunei converted to Islam. And he immediately became the Ruler of Brunei? What was he before that? A fisherman? A carpenter? A farmer? What was Awang Alak Betatar in 1362? And what happened the following year when he became a Sultan? Is becoming a Muslim enough to justify becoming a Sultan? Was he the first person in Brunei to convert to Islam?

Let’s scroll back time by 100 years; the year is now 1264. A full hundred years BEFORE Awang Alak Betatar converted to Islam, and declared himself a Sultan. A trip to Bandar Seri Begawan is not complete unless one visits the Muslim graves at Rangas. Chuck your ‘pantang’ out the window if you want to enjoy this first-hand, and in real life. Amongst these tombstones is the one of a Chinese Muslim by the name of Pu Kung Chih-mu. He was buried there in 1264. He was a Muslim, buried in a Muslim grave! This is more than a hundred years earlier, before the ascension of Awang Alak Betatar as the ‘first’ Sultan of Brunei. Not only that, he is not the only Chinese Muslim there. I cross-checked against the Brunei Museum Journal of 1993, and found that this has been so well documented!! In fact, this grave had already been found since 1973. Whole communities of Chinese Muslims had already been living in Kampong Batu well before the 12th Century. It is clearly recorded in the 1973 Brunei Museum Journal, and was visited by professors from Japan and China. Pictures are on page 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12. Some are even in colour.

So, here’s another nugget for BTN un-educators. The Chinese brought Islam to this region in 1264. Wait! That’s not even correct. It was even earlier, because, this Muslim Chinese died in 1264. He had lived a full life in Brunei before he died. And before anyone even thinks of contesting this, let me draw your attention to yet another well-established fact, and let’s see how early the Chinese arrived.

According to records – as in the ‘Notes on the Malay Archipelago and Malacca Compiled from Chinese Sources’ by WP Groeneveldt in 1880 – a Chinese Islamic trader arrived in Brunei in the 10th century. His name was P’u-lu-shieh. He was both a trader and a diplomat. SQ Fatimi writing in the Sociological Research Institute in Singapore in 1963 under an article entitled ‘Islam Comes to Malaysia’, P’u-lu-shieh name is akin to Abu al-Layth.

The Brunei King at that time was named ‘Hiang-ta’. The arrival of the diplomat-trader from China was greeted with great ceremony. If this is so, Islam actually arrived in Brunei in the year of 977.

If this is the year 977, and the Sultan’s name in the year 977 is Hiang-Ta, then how can Awang Alak Betatar be the ‘first’ Sultan of Brunei in 1363? For those with very bad logic (or timeline problems), the year 977 is 406 years older than 1363. And in the year 977, the Chinese were already sending Muslim ambassadors to Brunei. The real question should be, thus, who exactly was that ‘Hiang Ta’ who ruled Brunei in the year 977? An Iban? A Kadazan or a Chinese?

It gets even better. The MOST interesting thing was that the Brunei king’s delegation to China to return the emperor’s greetings was also headed by another Muslim official by the name of P’u A-li (Abu Ali).

Based on this fact alone, Abu Ali must have held an important position in the Brunei government if he was tasked to be Brunei’s ambassador in those days. This is again, irrefutable proof that there was already a government, with a King, and some members of his royal court were Muslims. Again, this is proof that Islam had already reached Brunei before the year 977. This is 75 years into the beginning of the Soong Dynasty, and only severely retarded people will say that Abu Ali was an Arab because of his name.