By Azlan Othman
His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday officiated an exhibition commemorating 100 years (1906-2006) of development of Brunei town. The exhibition was held at the Bumiputera Commercial Complex in the capital.
HRH the Crown Prince was greeted on arrival by the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan; Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Dato Paduka Hj Dani; Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Dato Paduka Hj Idris Belaman and executive members of the celebration committee. In his welcoming speech, Dato Paduka Hj Idris Belaman, the Chairman of the executive committee said, based on historical evidences, 'Brunei city' or 'Brunei town' phrases are found in the travel reports of western explorers like Antonio Pigafetta who came to Brunei in 1521 during the reign of the fifth Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Bolkiah.
Based on information and historical facts, the capital or Brunei's governing centre from the end of the 14th century (or earlier) till the arrival of the western explorers especially the British around the 19th century was located in Kampong Ayer. The administrative centre, which was initially based in 'Brunei town' located in Kg Ayer had undergone significant changes when the nation implemented a Residence system in 1906.
The first step taken by McArthur, the first British resident, was to transfer the administration to inland due to political, economic, social and health factors. Government offices were operated at Sungai Lampai which became the initial administrative sites of the Police Station, Prisons, Customs and Excise Department.
A one and half mile road was constructed along the Brunei riverbank from Sungai Lampai heading to the new town. Since then, the town development began, which is now known as Bandar Seri Begawan.
The exhibition highlighted the sequence of development of Bandar Seri Begawan through designs and architecture from 1906 till today in the form of pictures and artefacts. The exhibition also portrays big and small-scale models of Bandar Seri Begawan and its surroundings. The exhibition is divided into different sections and also highlights the genealogy of the Sultans of Brunei over the past 100 years.
HRH also viewed exhibits put up by the Public Works Department, Town and Country Planning Department and Municipal Department before proceeding for a group photograph and a luncheon at the Brunei Hotel.
(15th February 2007)