Hassanal Bolkiah

Hassanal Bolkiah, GCB GCMG is the 29th and current Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei.

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Hassanal Bolkiah, GCB GCMG (full name: Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien; born 15 July 1946) is the 29th and current Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei. He is also the first and incumbent Prime Minister of Brunei. The eldest son of the late Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien III and the late Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit, he succeeded to the throne as the Sultan of Brunei, following the abdication of his father on 4 October 1967.

Early years and education

The Sultan was born on 15 July 1946 in Brunei Town (now called Bandar Seri Begawan) as Pengiran Muda (Prince) Hassanal Bolkiah. The Sultan received high school education at Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, after which he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom.

Installation as Crown Prince

In 1961 he was named Pengiran Muda Mahkota ("Crown Prince").

Accession to the throne

He subsequently became the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam on 4 October 1967, after his father abdicated.

His coronation was held on 1 August 1968, and made him the Yang di-Pertuan (Head of State) of Brunei. Like his father, he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, of which Brunei was a protectorate until 1984.

Political role as Sultan

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. On 9 March 2006, the Sultan was reported to have amended Brunei's constitution to make himself infallible under Bruneian law.[1] Bolkiah is also the Prime Minister as well as holding the portfolios of Minister of Defence and Finance. As Minister of Defence he is also the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces; an Honorary General in the British and Indonesian armed forces and an Honorary Admiral of the Fleet in the British Navy. He appointed himself as Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

He addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Brunei Darussalam's admission to the United Nations in September 1984. In 1991, he introduced a conservative ideology to Brunei called Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay Islamic Monarchy, MIB), which presents the monarchy as the defender of the faith.[2] He has recently favoured Brunei government democratization and declared himself Prime Minister and President. In 2004, the Legislative Council, which had been dissolved since 1962, was reopened.[3]

His designated successor is his eldest son, Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah.

The Sultan's official residence is the Istana Nurul Iman, with 1,888 rooms, 290 bathrooms, and a floor area of 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m2). The Istana also houses several offices of government, including that of the Office of the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, the Office of the Grand Chamberlain as well as the offices within the Prime Minister's Department. Parts of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance are also located at the palace. The Crown Prince, who is the Senior Minister, also works from offices at the Istana. Hyatt Borneo Management Services and HM The Sultan's flight also maintain offices there.

Brunei during Hassanal Bolkiah's sultanate

Development of education system

The University of Brunei Darussalam and Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University (UNISA) were established. In addition, technical and vocational institutions also built, such as the Institute of Technology Brunei, Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College, and vocational schools.

The religious Institute Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah was established. Scholarships for study in the country and abroad were provided. As of 2012[update] there were 106,000 students. of whom more than 3,600 were students at the University.

Defence and security developments

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces were expanded with the establishment of three major branches of the Royal Brunei Land Forces, Royal Brunei Navy and Royal Brunei Air Force.

Health, welfare and community services

Medicines and medical treatment are free of charge to children, policemen and members of the Royal Brunei Royal Brunei Armed Forces in hospitals and government clinics, and subject to a small charge for others.

There is one doctor per 949 patients. The life expectancy of the people and the country's population is 74.2 years for men and 77.3 years for females.

Other facilities offered include various National Housing Plan Scheme (RPN), Land Allocation Scheme, the additional monthly pension on the elderly, subsistence allowances for widows and people with disabilities.

Hassanal Bolkiah established the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation (YSHHB).

Foreign affairs

Brunei Darussalam is a member of various international and regional organizations such as ASEAN, Commonwealth, the Organization of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Hassanal Bolkiah was chairman of Summit APEC Leaders in 2001 when Brunei Darussalam hosted the

Membership of international organizations

Hassanal Bolkiah attended various meetings of international organizations.

Brunei Darussalam:

  • is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1984 as a member of the 6th. Hassanal Bolkiah presided over the meeting of the 7th ASEAN when Brunei hosted the meeting of ASEAN Heads of Government in 2001.
  • became a member of the United Nations (UN) on 21 September 1984, during the 39th session of the General Assembly.
  • has a long-standing relationship with the United Kingdom, and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1984. As a contributor to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, the country benefits from training in commerce, industry and human resource development.
  • joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 1984.
  • has been a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) since it was established in 1989. Hassanal Bolkiah was the chairman of the APEC Leaders Meeting in 2000.
  • became a member of the National Organisation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in September 1992.

Religious affairs

Hassanal Bolkiah is Head of Religion, and Islam is the official religion of the country. Mosques, surau and stations were built across the country. The Sultan decreed that Islamic celebrations such as Early Years Celebration Prophet's birthday, Isra and Miraj and Nuzul Al Quran are celebrated on a large scale. He often attends mosques and surau throughout the country for the obligatory Friday prayers.


There have been national economic development plans; oil and gas remain the main source of national income. Steps are being made to establish a petrochemical industry.

In the Islamic banking sector, Brunei Islamic Trust Fund (TAIB) was established on 29 September 1991, while in 2006, the Islamic Bank of Brunei (IBB) and the Islamic Development Bank of Brunei (IDBB) consolidated into Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) with total assets of US$5 billion.

Marriage and family

The Sultan married his current consort, Pengiran Anak Saleha, later the Raja Isteri, in 1965. His former second wife, Hajah Mariam (the former Pengiran Isteri), was a former stewardess for the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines. He divorced her in 2003, stripping her of all her royal titles. In August 2005 her place was taken by a former Malaysian TV3 presenter, Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim, who is 33 years younger than the Sultan. They divorced in 2010. He stripped her of all her stately awards, royal titles and monthly royal allowance. The divorce was announced on Radio Television Brunei by the Grand Chamberlain[4]

Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah is the current Pengiran Muda Mahkota ("Crown Prince") and the Sultan's heir, as the eldest son of the Sultan and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha. As of 2012[update] Hassanal Bolkiah had five sons and seven daughters with his three wives. He also has 9 grandchildren.[5]

  • By Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha:
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah (born 26 July 1969),(married to Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila di-Raja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji ‘Abdu’l Rahim bin Al Marhum Pengiran Indera Mahkota Pengiran Anak Dr. Kemaluddin Al Haj).
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah (born 12 October 1971)
    • Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda (Crown Prince) Al-Muhtadee Billah (born 17 February 1974), (married to Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pangiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman).
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah (born 16 March 1976), (married to Y.A.M. Pangiran Anak Khairul Khalil bin Pengiran Syed Haji Jaafari).
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah (born 12 March 1980), (married to YAM Pengiran Anak Haji Mohammad Ruzaini bin Pengiran Dr. Haji Mohammad Yakub).
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Malik (born 30 June 1983)
  • By (Pengiran Isteri) Hajah Mariam (married 1982, divorced 2003):
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Abdul Azim (born 29 July 1982)
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah (born 26 September 1984)
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Fadzillah Lubabul Bolkiah (born 23 August 1985)
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Mateen (born 10 August 1991)
  • By (Pengiran Isteri) Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim (married 2005, divorced 2010):
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Wakeel (born 1 June 2006)
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah (born 28 January 2008)


    • Pengiran Anak Raheemah Sanaul Bolkiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, daughter of Princess Rashidah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hariisah Widadul Bolqiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, daughter of Princess Rashidah.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Raqiib bin Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, son of Princess Rashidah.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Haseeb bin Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, son of Princess Rashidah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raqeeqah Raayatul Bolqiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, daughter of Princess Rashidah.
    • Pengiran Muda Abdul Muntaqim (born 17 March 2007), son of (Crown Prince) Al-Muhtadee Billah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muneerah Madhul Bolkiah. (born 2 January 2011), daughter of the Crown Prince.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Hafeez bin Pangiran Anak Khairul Khalil. (born 18 March 2008), son of Princess Majeedah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raihaanah Hanaa-Ul Bolqiah binti Pangiran Anak Khairul Khalil. (born 6 January 2010), daughter of Princess Majeedah.

Titles, styles and honours

In Malay the Sultan's full title is Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam.[6]

Academic honours

The Sultan received an honorary doctorate from a Russian university.[7][where?] He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Oxford, England, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the Chulalongkorn University of Thailand. In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities and Culture from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia.[8] On 27 January 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the National University of Singapore.[9] On 14 April 2011, he was conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Law by King's College London.[10] The scroll for the honorary doctorate was presented by Lord Duoro, the chairman of the Council of King's College London. He was awarded with an honorary doctorate in philoposhy and humanities on 21 April 2011 from Universitas Indonesia, one of the oldest universities in Asia having been established 160 years ago.[11]

Military honours

The Sultan holds an honorary commission in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom as an Air Marshal.[12] He is also an Honorary Admiral of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom,[13] a title given to him by Queen Elizabeth II when he took the salute at the passing out parade of the 2001 summer term at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, the Royal Navy's officer-training school in the United Kingdom. He has an English residence at Binfield Manor in Berkshire.

In April 2008, he was made an honorary member of the Indonesian Satgas Atbara Special Operations Unit. He holds the rank of Honorary Colonel of Pakistan's Special Service Group (SSG), awarded to him during his visit to the Pakistan Army's SSG headquarters at Cherat.[14] He possesses red beret and paratrooper wings of the Black Hawk paratroopers, presented to him by the Indian Army during his state visit to India.


Between 2001 and 2005 a UK businessman, Mark Burby, was defrauded by two members of the Brunei royal family, Pengiran Ayub (the Sultan's cousin) and Pengiran Damit (the Sultan's sister-in-law).[15] The case went to trial, and the Brunei Royals were ordered to pay over £50M of lost earnings to Burby.[15] After the judgement, Burby went to work for a more-senior Brunei Royal on the understanding that the Sultan would ensure that the debt was paid. As of July 2009[update], the debt remained unpaid.[15]


He had open disagreements with his brother, Jefri Bolkiah who owned a network of companies and investment vehicles under the name "Amadeo" run by his son, Prince Hakim, which was used to buy the luxury goods company Asprey and build an amusement park and other projects in Brunei.[16] In July 1998 the Amadeo group collapsed under US$10 billion in debt.[17] Between 1983 and mid-1998 some US$40 billion of what were called "special transfers" were made from the accounts of the BIA.[18] An independent investigation was undertaken into the circumstances of these special transfers, concluding that in round figures, US$14.8 billion were paid to the accounts of Prince Jefri, US$8 billion to accounts of the Sultan and US$3.8 billion for Government purposes; the destination, purpose and recipients of the remaining transfers were not established.[18] Due to the secretive nature of the state and the blurred lines as to where the royal family’s finances and the state finances began and ended, establishing the true course of events is very difficult.[16]

Prince Jefri was accused of misappropriating state funds to pay for his own personal investments, bought through BIA and Amadeo companies and removed from his position as head of BIA.[19][20] In February 2000 the Bruneian government attempted to obtain a freezing order on Prince Jefri’s overseas assets, which led to him countersuing in New York.[19] Following protracted negotiations a settlement agreement was signed by the Prince in May 2000,[18] the terms of which were never made public.[17] However, Prince Jefri claimed assurances were made to him by the Sultan with regards to keeping certain properties in order to maintain his lifestyle, which BIA denied.[17][18] In accordance with the settlement agreement signed in 2000, the prince began to return his assets to the state, including more than 500 properties, both in Brunei and abroad, more than 2,000 cars, 100 paintings, five boats, and nine aircraft.[17] In 2001 ten thousand lots of Prince Jefri’s possessions went to auction.[21]

However, the BIA alleged that the Prince failed to uphold the agreement by failing to disclose all his accounts, and allowing money to be taken from frozen accounts,[22] and restarted legal proceedings in order to gain full control of the Prince's assets. After a number of appeals,[23] this finally reached the Privy Council in London, which can serve as Brunei's highest court of appeal as a result of Brunei's former protectorate status.[24] The Privy Council rejected Prince Jefri's evidence, describing his contention that the agreement allowed for him to retain a number of properties as "simply incredible",[25] and ruled in favour of the Government of Brunei and the BIA; consequently the Prince's appeal was dismissed and he was ordered to return the rest of his assets to Brunei.[18] The decision of the Privy Council did not end the litigation between Prince Jefri and the BIA. The BIA re-opened proceedings in Malaysia and the Cayman Islands, resulting in the BIA gaining control over the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and The New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan.[26]

The BIA also re-opened collateral litigation in the High Court of England and Wales. After winning before the Privy Council, the BIA asked the court to determine whether Prince Jefri should be held in contempt of court for allegedly making misstatements in his listing of assets. The contempt proceeding was scheduled for a hearing in June 2008, but the Prince did not attend, instead going to Paris.[22][27] Judge Peter Smith did not rule on whether Prince Jefri was in contempt, but did issue a warrant for his arrest.[28] As of November 2010, the warrant still appears to be in place, meaning the Prince will be arrested if he enters the UK.[29]

As of October 2009, Prince Jefri appears to have been allowed back to Brunei. He is not back in any official government role but retains all his royal titles and decorations and remains in the royal protocol order. He is seen at major national functions like the national teachers day celebrations, the Sultan's birthday and at the National Day Celebrations. His most recent appearance was at The Legco (Legislative Council) opening ceremony in March 2012.[30]


The Sultan is a physical health conscious. His involvement in the sports for instance includes playing Polo, golf, badminton furthermore he also enjoys race car driving, flying helicopters and airplanes, most of which are part of his personal collection. He has also been reported to participate in the event walkathon regularly.


The Sultan is the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, Head of Islam, Head of Customs, Head of the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Inspector General of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

Honorary awards

Brunei honorary awards

  • Darjah Kerabat Mahkota Brunei - D.K.M.B.
  • Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati - D.K. (Laila Utama)
  • Darjah Kerabat Seri Utama Yang Amat Dihormati - D.K. (Seri Utama)
  • Darjah Seri Ugama Islam Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bersinar Darjah Pertama - P.S.S.U.B.
  • Darjah Paduka Laila Jasa Keberanian Gemilang Yang Amat Cemerlang Darjah Pertama - D.P.K.G.
  • Darjah Paduka Keberanian Laila Terbilang Yang Amat Gemilang Darjah Pertama - D.P.K.T.
  • Darjah Pahlawan Negara Brunei Yang Amat Perkasa Darjah Pertama - P.S.P.N.B.
  • Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia Darjah Pertama - P.S.N.B.
  • Darjah Paduka Seri Laila Jasa Yang Amat Berjasa Darjah Pertama - P.S.L.J.
  • Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia Darjah Pertama - S.P.M.B.
  • Darjah Perwira Agong Negara Brunei Yang Amat Setia Darjah Pertama - P.A.N.B.

Foreign honorary awards

  • Honorary Knight Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of The Bath - (GCB) - United Kingdoms
  • Honorary Knight Grand Cross of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George - (GCMG) - United Kingdoms
  • Honorary Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George - (CMG) - United Kingdoms.
  • Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara - D.M.N. - Malaysia.
  • Collar of The Supreme Order of The Chrysanthemum - Japan.
  • Order of al-Hussein bin Ali - Jordan.
  • The Civil Order of Oman, First Class - Oman.
  • The Order of Al Khalifa - Bahrain.
  • Order of the Mohammedi - Morocco.


  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Brunei Darussalam on 21 September 1989.
  • Peace Award 1989from the Foundation for Peace Together, Italy on 22 February 1990.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Malaya on 15 February 1992.
  • Honorary Degree Doctor of Civil Law by Diplomafrom the University of Oxford, England on 5 November 1992.
  • Appointment become Honorary Patron of the World Organization of the Scout Movement on 1 November 1993.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland on 6 July 1995.
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the National University of Malaysia on 28 August 1997.
  • The President's Gold Medal Award from Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland on 30 June 2000.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Queensland, Australia on 11 July 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Political Science from the International Islamic University Malaysia on 2 October 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate in International Relations from the Beijing Foreign Studies University, China on 20 October 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Political Science from the Chulalongkorn University, Thailand on 26 August 2002.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of the Philippines, Manila on 28 January 2003.
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree in the Humanities and Culture from Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 9 April 2003.
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute on 18 June 2004.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the National University of Singapore on 27 January 2005.
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia on 7 June 2005.


  • Honorary General of the British Army by Queen Elizabeth II, presented by Prince Charles during the first National Day celebration of Brunei Darussalam, in February 1984.
  • Field Marshal from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK, on 10 August 1986.
  • Dashing Decoration Chief of the Armed Forces and Special Commando Wing of the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces by the king of Malaysiain October 1986.
  • Honorary Air Chief Marshall of the Royal Air Force from the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, United Kingdom on 28 July 1994.
  • Medallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine Medal of Valor which is the Supreme Medal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on 5 March 1998.
  • Admiral of the British Royal Navy from the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartsmouth, United Kingdom on 2 August 2001.
  • Singapore Armed Forces Honorary Airborne Wing from the Singapore Armed Forces on 28 February 2003.
  • Special Forces Commando Badge (KOPASSUS) of the Indonesian National Armed Forces on 10 April 2003.
  • Honorary Colonel of the Special Service Group (SSG) from the Pakistan Armed Forces on 19 May 2004.


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