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  Home > National


Bandar Seri Begawan’s Historical Development


 


 August 27th, 2016  |  06:47 AM  |   11062 views

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

 

The capital of Brunei Darussalam has undergone several changes - from its origins as an important human settlement on the banks of the Brunei River in the 8th century to an important port of call in the 15th - 17th centuries; the changing of its name from Bandar Brunei (Brunei Town) to Bandar Seri Begawan in 1970, and the massive enlargement of its size reaching nearly nine times its former land area of 12.87km2 (4.97sq mi) to 100.36km2 (38.75 sq mi) in 2007.

 

As the country's administrative seat, it has certainly stood the test of time, having survived the aerial bombings carried out by the Allied Forces during World War II against the occupying Japanese Army.

 

It also lost its place as an important port of call when a deep sea port at Muara opened in 1972, launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Before the current expansion of its territory, the commercial prominence of Bandar Seri Begawan - which at that time was surprisingly smaller than that of the municipality of Kuala Belait and Seria - was challenged by the rising Kiulap, Gadong and Serusop commercial areas.

 

For centuries, the capital was simply Bandar Brunei (Brunei Town), but on October 5 1970, it was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan to honour Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam, the late father of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzadin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

 

According to Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos - a prominent government officer and a former permanent secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, who has written historical accounts on Brunei under the pen name of Rozan Yunos - although Brunei had existed for at least 500 years, the idea of a capital on dry land is fairly a recent one, with much of the old town standing over the Brunei River in the early years of the 20th Century.

 

The capital shifted to dry land in 1909, at a time when people were reluctant to give up their traditional way of life, and even the first British Resident, McArthur, wrote in his report, "I want a clean, dry village with suburbs of kampong houses. I also want to discourage building on dry land."

 

According to Rozan Yunos, it took cholera and a smallpox epidemic in Kampong Ayer to change the mindset of the populace, including the Chinese business community at Kampong PekanLama (then known as Kampong Bakut China), who started to build their shops on dry land.

 

In 1910, the capital only had six shops. The number rose to 26 in 1911 and just before the outbreak of World War II in 1941, there were more than 80 shops in Bandar Brunei.

 

Many of today's government departments, according to Rozan Yunos, were formed in 1906 and in the subsequent years.

 

There were 21 departments in 1920 which had increased to 31 by 1931.

 

The forerunner to today's Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Board, then known as the Sanitary and Health Board, was established in 1921 and was responsible for maintaining the hygiene and health standards of the new town.

 

Soon, schools began to be established. The new capital's only mosque, Masjid Pekan Brunei (also known as Masjid Marbur Pak Tunggal), was built near the current site of the Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque but was eventually destroyed during World War II.

 

Today, the landscape of Bandar Seri Begawan has changed greatly. Very- few people live in the water village now, with modernisation setting in.

 

Modernisation has also brought magnificent buildings, such as the Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque.

 

Completed in 1958, the mosque is often considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

Built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River, the mosque has marble minarets and golden domes, a courtyard and is surrounded by a large number of trees and floral gardens.

 

A bridge reaches across the lagoon to Kampong Ayer in the middle of the river.

 

Another marble bridge leads to a structure in the lagoon, meant as a replica of the Sultan Bolkiah Mahligai Barge in the 16th Century.

 

The barge itself was completed in 1967 to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of the Nuzul Al-Quran (Revelation of the M-Quran) and was once used to stage Al-Quran reading competitions.

 

A dominant structure at the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, the Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque was an engineering marvel of its time and a symbol of modern Brunei.

 

Meanwhile, Bandar Seri Begawan is set to undergo another transformation in early 2017, with the scheduled opening of the $138.9 million 750 metres Sungai Kebun Bridge, spanning across the river to Mukim Lumapas.

 

Like the golden domes of Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the bridge also has a dome portraying Islamic culture and the country's centuries-old concept of a Malay Islamic Monarchy.

 

The opening of the bridge will definitely provide another iconic and picturesque structure on the landscape of the ancient city, and showcasing its modernity

 


 

Source:
@BRUDIRECT.COM

by BruDirect.com

 

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