History talks reflect on Imperial rule

National 1 minute, 51 seconds


TWO veterans of the Japanese Occupation in Brunei shared their hardships in the years 1941-1945 such as the scarcity of food and clothes and also the fear of military rule.

Panelists at the Brunei History Centre’s (BHC) history lecture yesterday, the two also discussed the valuable lessons learnt from the ordeal like the rise of nationalism.

Pengarah Hj Mokti Salleh and Hj Musa Edin was also joined by Hj Muhaimin Hj Mohamed, a retired BHC historian who shared his knowledge in research and publications.

Recalling the difficulties in purchasing produce such as rice, corn and bananas; Pengarah Hj Mokti’s parents had to sneak out at night to buy food and did so surreptitiously with the residents of neighbouring countries such as Limbang.

“We had to be careful when buying our food, if the Japanese officers found out, they would confiscate them,” the 81-year-old said, “the residents at the time relied mainly on sago and Ubi Kayu (Cassava) to survive.”

Clothes were also hard to come by and residents had to resort to wearing rice sacks leading them to contract skin diseases from bugs.

They would attempt to treat the rashes by patching herbs on the affected areas, Hj Musa said.

Hj Musa also touched upon the education system under the Japanese regime, where all the schools in the Sultanate were instructed to teach the Japanese Language. “Under the British, only certain schools in the country and selected students deemed smarter than the others were taught English,” he said.

Over 70 students and teachers from various secondary schools and higher institutions listened intently to the stories told by the panelists and even asked several questions to delve further into understanding the country’s state over half a decade ago.

Present as the guest of honour at the event was Dr Hj Mohd Hadi Hj Melayong, Head Secretariat of the Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB) Council.

Despite the harsh conditions during the Japanese Occupation, the spirit of nationalism was instilled in the residents of Brunei, said Hjh Fatimah Asgar, BHC’s Head of Research and Documentation.

“From the experience, we can also learn about the importance of strict governance and significance of thorough tactical planning,” she added.

The Brunei Times