Omar Ali Saifuddien III

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Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Omar Ali Saifuddien III.jpg
28th Sultan of Brunei
Reign 4 June 1950 – 5 October 1967
Predecessor Ahmad Tajuddin
Successor Hassanal Bolkiah
Minister of Defence and Colonel in Chief of Royal Brunei Armed Forces
Tenure 1 January 1984 – 7 September 1986
Predecessor post created
Successor Hassanal Bolkiah
Monarch Hassanal Bolkiah
Born Pengiran Muda Tengah Omar 'Ali Saifuddien
(1914-09-23)23 September 1914
Istana Kota Lama, Kampong Sultan Lama, Brunei Town, Brunei
Died 7 September 1986(1986-09-07) (aged 71)
Istana Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
  • Dayang Siti Amin binti
  • Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Setia Diraja Awang Haji Hashim
  • Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit (1941–1979; her death)
  • Pengiran Bini Pengiran Anak Hajah Salhah (1979–1986)
Issue 10 children (4 sons and 6 daughters),
Father Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II
Mother Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Siti Fatimah

Mullah Begawan Sultan Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien III (full name: Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien ibni Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II, GCVO, KCMG; 23 September 1914 – 7 September 1986) was the 28th Paramount Ruler and Sultan of Brunei who ruled from 4 June 1950 until his voluntarily abdication from the throne on 5 October 1967. He was also the first Brunei Minister of Defence. He was known as "The Architect of Modern Brunei",[1][2] "The Royal Poet",[2] and "The Father of Independence".[2]

Early life

Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien was born at Kota palace, Kampong Sultan Lama, Brunei Town on 3 Zulkaedah 1332 Hijrah, corresponding to 23 September 1914. He was the second of ten children of Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II and Raja Isteri Fatimah.[3] His older brother later become Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin. His siblings were; Pengiran Muda Besar, Pengiran Muda Tengah, Pengiran Anak Puteri Besar, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Akhazul Khairi Waddien, Pengiran Anak Puteri Tengah, Pengiran Anak Puteri Damit, Pengiran Muda Anum, Pengiran Muda Laila Gambar and Pengiran Muda Bongsu.

Career experiences

Pengiran Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien studied at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in Perak, British Malaya from 1932 to 1936. After finishing education in Malaya, he returned to Brunei in 1936 to work in the Forestry Department, Kuala Belait as a Cadet Officer. This job enabled him to be closer to the people in villages and remote areas. As such he was also able to understand the people's problems and their needs.

In 1938, he was transferred to the Judiciary Department, also in Kuala Belait in 1937. Here, he was able to learn about the Criminal and Civil Procedure Code from the Assistant British Resident, Hughes-Hallet. He remained there until 1938.

In 1941, he worked as an administrator in the British Resident's office. It was here that he studied English language under the guidance of H.F. Stalley.

During the period of Japanese Occupation and the Second World War, he worked at the Japanese Governor's office as a secretary to the Japanese Sub-district commander, Kimura.

After the war, in 1947, he was subsequently appointed a member of Brunei State Council and chairman of the Syariah Court.

He was the first member of the royal family to suggest fact-finding visits to the rural villages.

Personal life


His first wife was Dayang Siti Amin binti Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Setia Laila Diraja Awang Haji Hashim, but the couple had no children. On 6 September 1941, he married his cousin as his second wife, Pengiran Anak Damit binti Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman. She was the great granddaughter of Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin. She bore him 10 children, including the eldest, Hassanal Bolkiah, the incumbent Sultan of Brunei.

On 13 September 1979, his wife, Paduka Suri Seri Begawan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit died. After that, for the last time, he married Pengiran Bini Pengiran Anak Hajah Salhah binti Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara Pengiran Anak Abdul Rahman, who was also his sister-in-law. The couple, however, had no children. She died on Friday, 18 February 2011.


The titles Pengiran Muda and Pengiran Anak Puteri only fall to the children of ruling Sultan of Brunei.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III had several grandchildren,

  • By his eldest son, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah:
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda (Crown Prince) Al-Muhtadee Billah.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Malik.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Abdul Azim.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Fadzillah Lubabul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Mateen.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Wakeel.
    • Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah.
  • By Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Muhammad Bolkiah (born 1947):
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Taiyibah Qalbul Bolqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda 'Abdu'l Qawi (born 1974).
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Ruqiyah Mataul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda 'Abdu'l Fattah (born 1982).
    • Pengiran Muda 'Abdu'l Mu'min (born 1983).
    • Pengiran Anak Mansurah Izzul Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda Omar 'Ali (born 1986).
    • Pengiran Anak Khaliilah Bolqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Naafi'ah Khairul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda'Abdu'l Muqtadir.
  • By Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Sufri Bolkiah (born 1951):
    • Pengiran Muda Muhammad Safiz (born 1974).
    • Pengiran Anak Kamilah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhdiyatul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hamlatul Arsy Mulia
    • Pengiran Anak Ajeerah Fidrausul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raafi'ah Amalul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda 'Abdul Khaliq.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Aliiyah Amalul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda 'Abdul Aleem.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Aizzatul Bulqiah.
  • By Pengiran Muda (Prince) Haji Jefri Bolkiah:
    • Pengiran Muda Hajji Abdul Hakeem Bolkiah (born 1973).
    • Pengiran Anak Hamidah Jamalul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda Abu Bahar(born 1981).
    • Joanna Jefri Bulqiah.
    • Samantha Richelle Bulqiah.
    • Karraminah Clarisse Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Kiko Jefri Bolkiah(born 1995).
    • Pengiran Anak Faiq Bolkiah(born 1998)
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Masna:
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Wadood Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Mohammed Al-Mokhtar.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul 'Ali Yil-Kabier.
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Ameenah Bushral Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Qudduus.
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Norain:
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Hadi Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Kadir.
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Siti Radhiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Wahidah Widadul Bolqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hafiyyah.
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Umi Kalthum Al-Islam:
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Mohammed Saifullah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Huda Bahaaul Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Nafee'.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Ghaffar.
    • Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Mui'z.
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Amal Rakiah:
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Mujaabah Safaaul Bolqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Mun'im.
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Amal Nasibah:
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Badee'.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Rashid.
  • By his youngest daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Amal Jefriah:
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Nurul Amal Ni'matullah Athirah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Nurul Amal Munjiatul Athirah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Abdul Haffiz.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Abdul Qayyum.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Abdul Razaaq.


Great Grandchildren

    • Pengiran Anak Raheemah Sanaul Bolkiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Hariisah Widadul Bolqiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Raqiib bin Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Haseeb bin Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raqeeqah Raayatul Bolqiah binti Pengiran Maharaja Setia Laila Diraja Sahibul Irshad Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Rahim, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Abdul Muntaqim, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muneerah Madhul Bolkiah, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Muda (Prince) Muhammad Aiman, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Faathimah Az-Zahraa Raihaanul Bolkiah, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak 'Abdul Hafeez bin Pangiran Anak Khairul Khalil, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raihaanah Hanaa-Ul Bolqiah binti Pangiran Anak Khairul Khalil, daughter of Princess Majeedah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Za'eem bin Pangiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Aamir bin Pangiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Hakeem bin Pangiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muthee'ah Raayatul Bolkiah binti Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Muda Haji Abdul Malik,granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Fathiyyah Rafaahul Bolqiah binti Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Muda Abdul Malik, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Became Pengiran Bendahara

He had the title Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara conferred on him by his brother, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin on 15 July 1947.

Succession to the throne

Upon the death of his brother, who left no male heirs, on 4 June 1950, he was proclaimed the next Sultan on 6 June 1950.

Omar Ali Saiffudien III was crowned as the Sultan Dan Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on 31 May 1951. In conjunction of the coronation, he was conferred with the Honorary Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) by Queen Elizabeth II. In September 1951, upon becoming Sultan, he performed his first pilgrimage to Mecca, and made another in April 1962.


Under Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III’s leadership, Brunei gradually gained self-rule while its external affairs and defence remained under the charge of Britain. The introduction of the 1959 Constitution effectively brought to an end to the Resident’s rule in Brunei and reinstated the Sultan’s internal sovereignty, making him the supreme executive head of government in Brunei. He was increasingly able to make his own decisions in finance and administration.

In 1959, the post of the British Resident was replaced with that of High Commissioner. The High Commissioner was still required to give advice to the Sultan on all matters concerning the administration of the state except on matters pertaining to religion and customs.

One of his contributions was in raising the inherited monarchy to a height of prosperity. After he came to power, he faced formidable challenges from within the sultanate as well as from the British Government to bring Brunei in line with the status enjoyed by other Southeast Asian countries.

Developments in Religious Affairs and Religious Education

Upon his ascension to the throne, Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudien III also became the head of the Islamic religion in the country. His influence over religion guaranteed the continued beliefs and practices of Islam among the people.

One important contribution of the Sultan was to regularise Islamic administration in Brunei. In 1948, a religious council, comprising the Mohammedan Religious Advisers, was formed. Due to the Sultan's initiative, the council met for the first time on 31 January 1948. He himself was appointed chairman of this council. After examining several laws on Islamic affairs in the Malay Peninsula, the board made new proposals regarding the religious administration in Brunei.

According to his speech during the Opening Ceremony of the Shariah Council,

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III was also responsible for the formation of the Department of Religious Affairs on 1 July 1954. The department was responsible for all the important decisions made on Islam in Brunei. All aspects of Islamic activities such as community life, laws, education, missionary activities and social administration were supervised by these two religious bodies.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III was also concerned about the insufficient time allocated for religious instruction in government schools, and authorized the government to request for assistance from Johor. In 1954, two religious officers from Johor were sent to Brunei. They were Haji Othman bin Mohammad Said and Haji Ismail bin Omar Abdul Aziz. (The latter, also known as Pehin Dato Seri Maharaja, was appointed as the State Mufti in 1962 until his death in 1993). As a result of their recommendations, in September 1956, religious schools operating in the afternoon were established.

The Bruneian government also offered religious scholarships to students with potential to continue their higher education overseas. This was limited to Aljunied Arabic School in Singapore at first, but from 1956 onwards, students were also sent to the Islamic College in Klang, Selangor, Malaysia (then the Federation of Malaya) and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt for degree courses.

Other contributions

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III granted permission to build mosques and surau throughout the country in his efforts to expand and strengthen the Islamic religion. The most significant of all his achievements was the completion of a new state mosque named after him, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque on 26 September 1958. He was also responsible for making Islam the state religion of Brunei. This was stated in the 1959 Constitution Agreement. Islam’s position was therefore strengthened in Brunei.

Notable visits by foreign leaders during reign

Creation of the Constitution

In 1952 the Sultan worked for the implementation of the constitution as the foundation of governance and the achievement of independence from the United Kingdom. On 9 June 1953, he was conferred with the Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Writing of the Constitution

In July 1953, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III formed a seven-member committee named Tujuh Serangkai to find out the citizens’ views regarding a written constitution for Brunei. In May 1954, a meeting attended by the Sultan, the Resident and the High Commissioner was held to discuss the findings of the committee. In March 1959 the Sultan led a delegation to London to discuss the proposed constitution.[4] The British delegation was led by Alan Lennox-Boyd, 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton who was the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The British Government later accepted the draft constitution.

On 29 September 1959, the Constitution Agreement was signed in Bandar Seri Begawan. The agreement was signed by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Sir Robert Scott, the Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia. Some of the points of the constitution were:[5]

  • The Sultan was made the Supreme Head of State.
  • Brunei was responsible for its internal administration.
  • The British Government was now responsible for foreign and defence affairs only.
  • The post of Resident was abolished and replaced by a British High Commissioner.

Five councils were also set up:[6]

Administration under the 1959 Constitution

Under the Constitution, the Sultan remained the supreme executive authority in the state. Five councils were created to assist him. They were the Executive Council, Privy Council, State Religious Council, Legislative Council and the Council of Succession. Five principal administrative posts were also created. They were the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), State Secretary, Attorney-General, State Financial Officer and Religious Adviser.

During his reign, 3 chief ministers was appointed according to the Constitution. They were Pehin Dato Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Ibrahim Bin Mohammed Jahfar, Dato Paduka Haji Marsal Bin Maun, and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Dr. Haji Mohd. Yusof bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim.

The National Development Plans

A series of National Development Plans were initiated by the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddien III.

The First National Development Plan

The First National Development plan was introduced in 1953.[7] A total sum of B$100 million was approved by the Brunei State Council for the plan. E.R. Bevington from the Colonial Office in Fiji.[8] A $14 million Gas Plant was built under the plan. In 1954, survey and exploration work were undertaken by the Brunei Shell Petroleum on both offshore and onshore fields. By 1956, production reached 114,700 bpd. His Highness had launched the first delivery of 10-inch oil pipeline from the seabed off the coast of the Seria oil Base on 28 October 1964.

Developments on education were also made. In 1952, a written policy on education was made.[8] By 1958, expenditure on education totalled at $4 million.[8] Communications were also improved with new roads built and reconstruction works at Berakas Airport being completed at 1954.[9]

The Second National Development Plan

The second National Development Plan was launched in 1962.[9] A major oil and gas field was discovered in 1963, with this discovery, Liquefied Natural Gas became important. Developments in the oil and gas sector has continued actively and oil production has steadily increased since then.[10] The plan also saw an increase of production of meat and eggs. The fishing industry increased its output by 25% throughout the course of the plan. The Muara Deepwater Port was also constructed under the plan. Power requirements were met and studies were made to provide electricity to rural areas.[10] Efforts were made to eradicate malaria, with the help of the World Health Organisation, under the plan. Efforts were successful, bringing the down the cases of malaria from 300 cases in 1953 to only 66 cases in 1959.[11] The death rate was also brought down from 20 per thousand in 1947 to 11.3 per thousand in 1953.[11] This has been attributed to public sanitation and improvement of drainage and the provision of piped pure water to the population.[11]

First State Election 1962

Brunei's first state election was held in 1962. This was to elect members to sit in the Brunei Legislative Councils. These elected members would then be involved in discussions of governmental policies. However, beside this, the Sultan still held the absolute power and authority in the government.

Among the political parties which contested in the election were Brunei People's Party (PRB), The Barisan Nasional Organisation (BNO), and The Brunei United Party (BUP).

The polling went on for two days on 30 and 31 August 1962. The Brunei People's Party won the election.

Desire to join Malaysia

When Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya announced his proposal for a merger of Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Brunei, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien saw this as an opportunity for Brunei to achieve independence from British influence. He sent a congratulatory telegraph to Tunku Abdul Rahman, showing his support for the merger.

For him, Brunei as a small country, still needed a protection of a larger country; the only way to achieve this was by merging with Malaya and the rest of the states.

Brunei Revolt

On 8 December 1962, the PRB, led by A.M. Azahari led a rebellion against the government because of Brunei's intention to join Malaysia. With British military aid, the rebellion was later crushed and PRB were defeated. In July 1963, a year after the revolt, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III made the decision that Brunei was not to join Malaysia.

Brunei's Stand on the issue of joining Malaysia

After the rebellion, the discussion still goes on. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III sent a delegation to attend meetings of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC). The views of the people was also seek by the committee chaired by Marsal Bin Maun, the Chief Minister of Brunei at that time.

The views were varied, some were in favour of Brunei joining Malaysia, some opposed and some wanted the Sultan to make the decision.

In 1963, a meeting was held to discuss the prospect of Brunei joining Malaysia. They failed to reach an agreement on the issues of Brunei's oil revenue and federal rights to taxation. The Sultan also refused to accept that he was to ranked as the most junior member in line to be the Yang Di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. In fact, the then-Yang Di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia at that time was waiting to finish his term.

Finally, the Federation of Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963, without Brunei.


After ruling for 17 years, on 4 October 1967, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien willingly abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Crown Prince Hassanal Bolkiah.[12] At the time of the announcement, the Crown Prince was in England, training as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The Prince returned immediately to Brunei.

After his abdication from the throne at the age of 53, he took the title of His Royal Highness Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, a title he held until his death in 1986. He was conferred with the Honorary Grand Commander of the Victorian Order (GCVO) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Brunei on 29 February 1972.

Coronation of Hassanal Bolkiah

After his abdication, his eldest son, Crown Prince Hassanal Bolkiah ascended the throne to become the twenty ninth Sultan of Brunei.

The coronation ceremony began with the flying of the yellow flag at Bukit Panggal and the red flag at Bukit Sungai Kebun in February 1968. The announcement was also made throughout the country by Radio Televisyen Brunei. The new Sultan rode to his coronation at the Lapau Diraja on 1 August 1968, on a royal carriage drawn by fifty specially selected soldiers of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

Omar Ali Saifuddien placed the crown on the head of his son, and handed him the Keris Si Naga, symbol of supreme power in Brunei.

The new Sultan took vows to maintain peace and prosperity of the nation. He also promised to improve the standard of living of his subjects through various development projects and the protect and uphold Islam and Brunei's Adat Istiadat.

After the crowning ceremony, the new Sultan proceeded in procession through the capital, passing lines of school children cheering 'Daulat Tuanku.'

Among the foreign dignitaries who attended the ceremony were, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and the British High Commissioner to Brunei, A.R. Adair, who represented Queen Elizabeth II.

Later life and Road to Independence

Although he had retired from the throne and all his responsibilities to his country had been handed over to his son, Hassanal Bolkiah, but as a father, he still held the lead responsibility towards his son’s perfection. That is why he always held open discussion together with his son, both in Council or anywhere, including in London. He wanted to see his son’s success in leading the administration of the State. He always led and guided his son in carrying out the duties as the Sultan of Brunei in preparation for the time Brunei would eventually become an independent and sovereign country.

  • His Highness witnessed the signing of the amendment and revision of the 1959 Agreement at the Lapau, Bandar Seri Begawan on 23 November 1971.
  • His Highness accompanied his son, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to London to initial the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation on 29 September 1978.
  • His Highness attended the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation to assume full responsibility towards the independence and sovereignty of Brunei Darussalam, and responsibility for foreign affairs and defence from the United Kingdom. His Highness became one of the signatories of the treaty which was held at the Lapau, Bandar Seri Begawan on 7 January 1979.


Brunei achieved its independence on 1 January 1984. Although he had abdicated seventeen years ago, Omar Ali Saifuddien III continued to play an important role as a mentor to his son. He was elected[by whom?] as the first Minister of Defence and consequently conferred the rank of Field Marshal in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. He attended the first Celebration of Independence Day of Brunei Darussalam on 23 February 1984.

Omar Ali Saifuddien III welcomed the arrival of Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on his official visit to Brunei on 26 July 1984.

As Defence minister, he attended the official opening ceremony of the Reconnaissance Armoured Vehicle Squadron of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces on 30 July 1984. He also attended the opening ceremony of the International Literary Festival IV on 9 December 1985.

Death and state funeral

The tombstone of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III (left) at the Brunei Royal Mausoleum. He was buried next to his wife, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit.

Omar Ali Saifuddien III died on 7 September 1986, several weeks before he would have his 72nd birthday. On that day, the Grand Chamberlain officially announced his death.[citation needed]

On 8 September, a state funeral was held. A large number of world leaders attended the funeral, including Malaysian Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Iskandar of Johor and fellow Malay Rulers from Malaysia such as Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, the Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Jaafar, Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah of Terengganu, Tuanku Syed Putra of Perlis, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah, Sultan Salahuddin of Selangor and Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, US Vice President George H. W. Bush (representing President Ronald Reagan), President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, President Suharto of Indonesia, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, President Hussain Muhammad Ershad of Bangladesh, Secretary of British Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth, Sir Geoffrey Howe, and many others.[citation needed]

His body was laid in state at the "Lapau" (the former Legislative Building at Bandar Seri Begawan) before being moved to nearby Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque for a funeral prayer. A casket draped with his royal standard flag was placed on a hand-drawn carriage for the funeral procession around the Capital. He was buried in the Royal Mausoleum in Bandar Seri Begawan, alongside his wife, and his father, Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II, his grandfather, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin and his eldest brother and predecessor Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin.[citation needed]

Several foreign leaders had given their quotes about Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III,

[citation needed]

[citation needed]


[citation needed]

A Surah Yassin book was published with the consent of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, to mark the 40th day of the passing away of his late father.


Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III was the second cousin of Pehin Orang Kaya-Kaya Koroh bin Santulan of Keningau in Sabah, Malaysia, the First Native Paramount Leader of (North Borneo), now Sabah state, Malaysia who was also the father of former Sabah State Minister Tan Sri Stephen (Suffian) Koroh, and Sabah's fifth State Governor, Tun Thomas (Ahmad) Koroh, (the elder brother of Suffian). Santulan, the father to Pehin Orang Kaya-Kaya Koroh was an ethnic mixed race Kadazan-Dusun and Murut descendant of Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin, the 25th Sultan of Brunei, was also a Pengeran (by descent).

The Churchill Memorial in Brunei

He was a keen admirer of the wartime British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. This can be seen in the way he dressed in several occasion.

He also ordered the construction of Churchill Memorial at Bandar Seri Begawan. Now, the memorial had become the Royal Brunei Regalia Buiding. In 2017, Royal Brunei Regalia Buiding was rename to Royal Regalia Museum.

Personal interests

He had an interest in writing poems. Apart from that, he was also known for designing the national medals. He also made a design of flowers on his cloths, the "Tenunan Brunei" which he wore on several occasions.

Also, he was interested in self-defence martial arts such as silat and kuntau.

As a poet

His works are on "Syair" (poet). Among his poems were:-

  • The Constitutional Poem (Syair Perlembagaan).
  • "Syair Asli Rajang Hari".
  • Rampaian Laila Syair.

These poems contain his advice for the people of Brunei.


  • Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien is regarded as the Architect of Modern Brunei.[1]
  • On 13 July 1991, he was proclaimed as the 'Religious Paramount Figure (Tokoh Agung Agama) for Brunei Darussalam.[citation needed]
  • An annual exhibition known as "Paduka Anakanda Julangan Kasih Ayahanda" was introduced in 2005, in memory of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III. The first exhibition was held on 27 July to 6 August 2005.[citation needed]
  • By the consent of his son, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Brunei Darussalam, organised an annual Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Memorial Lecture that started on 25 February 2009 to commemorate the late monarch, who is seen as an exemplary statesman. In the first Memorial Lecture, Singapore's Minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew was invited to give a speech titled "The Legacy of Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien". The second memorial lecture was held on 7 October 2010 and the speech was given by Dr. Mohd. Yusof bin Abdul Rahim.[citation needed]
  • Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Education Award, introduced on 23 September 2012.[citation needed]

Further Historical dates

  • His date of birth, 23 September was declared as Teachers Day Celebration.[citation needed]
  • The date he was installed as the 28th Sultan of Brunei, 31 May has been declared as Establishment Anniversary of Royal Brunei Armed Forces.[citation needed]
  • The date 29 September 1959, when the Proclamation Written Constitution for Brunei Darussalam took place, has been declared as Public Service Day.[citation needed]

Places named after Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III

Appearance in currency

His portrait is depicted on the obverse. The reverse of these coins, and all subsequent series, was designed by Christopher Ironside OBE. The coins issued were 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 sen.[13]

His portrait also depicted in Brunei's $500 note. On the $25 note depicting the picture of him crowning his son as his successor to Sultan.

Titles, styles and honours


  • 1914–1947: Yang Teramat Mulia Pengiran Muda
  • 1947–1950: Yang Teramat Mulia Pengiran Bendahara
  • 1950–1967: Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan
  • 1967–1984: Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan
  • 1984–1986: Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan

National Honours

  • BRU Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei.svg Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei – Darjah Kerabat Mahkota Brunei – D.K.M.B. (received after foundation in 1982 by his son)
  • BRU Family Order of Brunei 1st Class.svg Grand Master & 1st Class of the Royal Family Order of Brunei – Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati – D.K. (Laila Utama) – founded on 1 March 1954
  • BRU Order of the Hero of the State of Brunei.svg Grand Master & 1st Class of the Order of the Hero of the State of Brunei – Darjah Pahlawan Negara Brunei Yang Amat Perkasa Darjah Pertama – P.S.P.N.B. – founded on 28 November 1959
  • BRU Order of Loyalty to the State of Brunei.svg Grand Master of the Order of Loyalty to the State of Brunei – Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia – P.S.N.B. – founded on 28 November 1959
  • BRU Order of Merit of Brunei.svg Grand Master of the Order of Merit of Brunei – Darjah Paduka Seri Laila Jasa Yang Amat Berjasa – P.S.L.J. – founded in February 1964
  • BRU Order of the Crown of Brunei.svg Grand Master of the Order of the Crown of Brunei – Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia – S.P.M.B. – founded on 1 March 1954
  • BRU Order of Gallantry of Brunei 1st class.svg Grand Master & 1st Class of the Order of Gallantry of the State of Brunei – Darjah Perwira Agong Negara Brunei Yang Amat Setia Darjah Pertama – P.A.N.B. – founded on 28 November 1959
  • Pingat Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien., P.O.A.S.
  • Pingat Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1943).
  • Pingat Pertalaban Omar Ali Saiffudin.gif Pingat Puspa Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien (Coronation Medal – 1951).
  • Pingat Pertalaban Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.gif Pingat Puspa Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah (Coronation Medal – 1968).

Foreign Honours

Military Honours

  • Silver Jubilee Medal of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
  • Royal Brunei Police Medal.
  • Gurkha Reserve Medal.
  • Became the first defence minister and bestowed the rank of General in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
  • Chief of Military Medal.
  • Warrior Soldiers Medal.

The Stars Insignia and Medals of Honour

  • Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara, D.M.N.
  • Darjah Kerabat Yang Utama, D.K. – Johor.
  • Darjah Kerabat Yang Utama, D.K. – Selangor.
  • Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Dihormati (Al-Yunusi), D.K. – Kelantan.
  • Sultan Idris Iskandar Shah Coronation Medal, on 26 October 1953.
  • Sultan's Coronation Medal, on 10 February 1960.
  • Coronation Medal of Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, on 17 April 1961.
  • Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Coronation Medal, on 28 June 1961.
  • Yang Di Pertuan Agong's Coronation Medal, on 10 July 1980.
  • Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Silver Jubilee Medal.


  1. ^ a b Pelita Brunei (9 October 2011). "The Architect of Modern Brunei, A King with a Citizen Soul (Malay version)". Department of Publications, Prime Minister's Office, Brunei Darussalam. Retrieved 25 October 2011. ,
  2. ^ a b c Hussainmiya (1995). Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Britain "The Making of Brunei Darussalam". Oxford University Press. ISBN 967-65-3106-5. 
  3. ^ Royal Ark
  4. ^ History for Brunei 2009, pp. 98
  5. ^ History for Brunei 2009, pp. 59
  6. ^ History for Brunei 2009, pp. 100
  7. ^ History for Brunei 2009, pp. 92
  8. ^ a b c History for Brunei 2009, pp. 129
  9. ^ a b History for Brunei 2009, pp. 21
  10. ^ a b History for Brunei 2009, pp. 96
  11. ^ a b c A History of Brunei (2002). A History of Brunei. Routledge. p. 130. ISBN 0-7007-1698-X. 
  12. ^ Brunei Darussalam: The Road to Independence, Mohd. Jamil Al-Sufri (Pehin Orang Kaya Amar Diraja Dato Seri Utama Haji Awang.), Mohd. Amin Hassan, Brunei History Centre, Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, 1998 – Brunei – 308 pages
  13. ^ Brunei Currency and Monetary Board (25 April 2008). "Brunei Currency Board – Coins Specifications". Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  14. ^ "Sultan Sir Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien – Biography". Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958" (PDF). 

Further reading

  • Hussainmiya (1995). Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Britain "The Making of Brunei Darussalam". Oxford University Press. ISBN 967-65-3106-5. 
  • Pehin Jamil Al-Sufri (2010), The Biography of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III (Malay version) (PDF), Brunei Historical Centre, retrieved 27 October 2011 
Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Born: 23 September 1914
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ahmad Tajuddin
Sultan of Brunei
Succeeded by
Hassanal Bolkiah
Political offices
New title
Position established
Minister of Defence of Brunei
1 January 1984 – 7 September 1986
Succeeded by
Hassanal Bolkiah
Retrieved from ""
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