Omar Ali Saifuddien III

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

Omar Ali Saifuddien III
Omar Ali Saifuddien III.jpg
28th Sultan of Brunei
Reign4 June 1950 – 5 October 1967
PredecessorAhmad Tajuddin
SuccessorHassanal Bolkiah
Minister of Defence and Commander in Chief of Royal Brunei Armed Forces
Tenure1 January 1984 – 7 September 1986
Predecessorpost created
SuccessorHassanal Bolkiah
MonarchHassanal Bolkiah
BornPengiran Muda Tengah Omar 'Ali Saifuddien
(1914-09-23)23 September 1914
Brunei Town, Brunei
Died7 September 1986(1986-09-07) (aged 71)
Istana Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Burial8 September 1986
  • 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)
Issue10 children (4 sons and 6 daughters),
FatherSultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II
MotherRaja Isteri Pengiran Anak Siti Fatimah

Early lifeEdit

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

Career experiencesEdit

Omar Ali Saifuddien, under the behest of his British mentor and father-figure Sir Roland Evelyn Turnbull, studied at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in Perak, British Malaya from 1932 to 1936. As a result, he was the first of the Brunei sultans to receive formal education in a foreign institution.[3]

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, Tsuyoshi Kimura(木村強).

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 lifeEdit


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 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 (born 1946):
    • 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 (died on 24 October 2020)
    • 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).
    • Pengiran Anak Joanna Jefri Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Samantha Richelle Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Karraminah Clarisse Bulqiah.
    • Pengiran Muda Kiko Jefri Bolkiah(born 1995).
    • Pengiran Muda Faiq Bolkiah(born 1998)
    • Pengiran Anak Haqidah Bolkiah
    • Pengiran Anak Qianah Bolkiah
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah 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)Hajah 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)Hajah Amal 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) Hajah Amal Rakiah:
    • Pengiran Anak Hajah Mujaabah Safaaul Bolqiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Mun'im.
  • By his daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess)Hajah Amal Nasibah:
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Badee'.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Rashid.
  • By his youngest daughter, Pengiran Anak Puteri (Princess) Hajah 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 Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil, grandson of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
    • Pengiran Anak Raihaanah Hanaa-Ul Bolqiah binti Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil, daughter of Princess Majeedah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Za'eem bin Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muhammad Aamir bin Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Abdul Hakeem bin Pengiran Anak Haji Muhammad Ruzaimi, son of Princess Hafizah.
    • Pengiran Anak Muthee'ah Raayatul Bolqiah 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.
    • Pengiran Anak Khaalishah Mishbaahul Bolqiah binti Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Muda Abdul Malik, granddaughter of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Became Pengiran BendaharaEdit

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

Succession to the throneEdit

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 Saifuddien was crowned as the Sultan Dan Yang Di-Pertuan 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 Omar Ali Saifuddien'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.

He promoted the use of English extensively among his people. He was instrumental in setting up the first English government school in 1953 namely SOAS College followed by STIPRI girls school and Anthony Abell College. He introduced the scholarship scheme and sent his people to study in the UK to prepare his people to lead the country’s administration. Even though the first Bruneian only got a degree in 1959, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III was quickly able to educate and train enough local people to manage the state affairs.

His other contribution 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 EducationEdit

Upon his ascension to the throne, Omar Ali Saiffudien 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. He was also pragmatic in ensuring that the brand of Islam promoted in the country would not conflict in the secular development of the state. He was especially keen to modify and modernise Islam in fears that Wahabism may become a threat to the monarchical structure, noting that the ideology does not recognise Kingship given the egalitarian nature of the religion.

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,

The purpose of the Shariah Council is to develop policies and teachings of Islam and to promote and defend the sovereignty of the holy religion of Islam. With the purposes of which are embedded in the minds of all of us, God-willing, Islam will be stepped-up, developed, keel and wide.

— Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III

He 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.

He was also concerned about the insufficient time allocated for religious instruction in government schools, and authorized the government to request for assistance from Johore. In 1954, two religious officers from Johore were sent to Brunei. They were Haji Othman Mohammad Said and Haji Ismail Omar Abdul Aziz. (The latter, also known as Pehin Dato Seri Maharaja, was appointed as the State Mufti in 1962, and from 1967 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 contributionsEdit

Omar Ali Saifuddien 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, 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 reignEdit

Creation of the ConstitutionEdit

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 ConstitutionEdit

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 Brunei Town. 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]

...The success which we had get in this year (1959) had attract and made us happy, especially as a victory which our people had dreamed of, that is the Written Constitution for Brunei. With this Constitution, our country now faced one great change. With the enforcement of this Written Constitution, which, hopefully, can be enforced, this mean Brunei will had its internal self government.

— Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III, on his Titah on his 43rd Birthday celebration on 23 September 1959

Administration under the 1959 ConstitutionEdit

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 Ibrahim Mohammed Jaafar, Marsal Maun, and Pengiran Mohd Yusof Pengiran Abdul Rahim.

The National Development PlansEdit

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

The First National Development PlanEdit

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. He 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 totaled 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 PlanEdit

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. A deepwater port at Muara 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 Organization, 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]

State Election 1962Edit

Brunei's first state election was held in 1962. This was to elect members to sit in the Brunei Legislative Council. 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), Barisan Nasional Organisation (BNO), and 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 MalaysiaEdit

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, 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. This view was also shared by Lee Kuan Yew, the then-Prime Minister of Singapore.

Brunei RevoltEdit

The PRB, including its leader, A.M. Azahari was against the merger. According to them, if Brunei was to join the Federation, Brunei would not have achieve full independence. Instead, it was only transfer of power from Britain to Malaya. This was called as neo-colonisation. On 8 December 1962, the PRB led a rebellion against the government. With British military aid deployed from Singapore, the rebellion was later crushed and PRB were defeated.

During the rebellion, Azahari was at the Philippines during his way to the United Nations to propose another federation called North Borneo Federation, which would consist Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak, with Brunei Town as its de facto capital.

Brunei's Stand on the issue of joining MalaysiaEdit

After the rebellion, the discussion continued. Omar Ali Saifuddien sent a delegation to attend meetings of the Malaysian Solidarity Consolidation Committee (MSCC). The views of the people were sought by the committee, which was chaired by Marsal Maun, 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-YDPA of Malaysia at that time was waiting to finish his term.

Even the initial date for the federation (which was 31 August 1963) was postponed to 16 September, no agreement reached between the two sides. Finally, the Federation of Malaysia was formed 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.

Whereas I am happy to tell from the feelings of my word in declaring to the Government and all the citizens and residents of Brunei is that I will abdicate the Throne on 4 October 1967 is fixed and final and irrevocable.

— Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III announced his abdication on 4 October 1967

The President of the Council declared that on 4 October 1967, His Royal Highness Maulana Al Sultan Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien has, pursuant to Chapter 19 of the Proclamation of the Coronation of King and Regent in 1950, declared that his intention cannot be withdrawn, to retire from the throne. The National Assembly, in its conference session on 4 October 1967 confirms the installation of His Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Muda Mahkota Hassanal Bolkiah, the Crown Prince as the rightful heir under the law to His greatness as the Sultan of Brunei.

— Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Muhammad Yusof bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim, on 5 October 1967

After his abdication from the throne at the age of 53, he took the title of Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan (referred to the former sultan after the abdication), 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 BolkiahEdit

After his abdication, his eldest son, Crown Prince Hassanal Bolkiah ascended the throne to become the 29th 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 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 Malay Regiment.

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.

Like his father before him, 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 customs and traditions.

After the crowning ceremony, the new Sultan proceeded in procession through the capital, passing lines of school children cheering Daulat Tuanku (Long live my King).

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 IndependenceEdit

Although he had abdicated and all his responsibilities to his country had been handed over to his son, Hassanal Bolkiah, he became his son's personal adviser. 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 in preparation for the time Brunei would eventually become an independent and sovereign country.

  • He witnessed the signing of the amendment and revision of the 1959 Agreement at the Lapau, Bandar Seri Begawan on 23 November 1971.
  • He accompanied his son, Hassanal Bolkiah to London to initial the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation on 29 September 1978.
  • He 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. He became one of the signatories of the treaty which was held at the Lapau, Bandar Seri Begawan on 7 January 1979.
  • He also attended the opening ceremony of Brunei's own national stadium, which named as Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium at Berakas on 23 September 1983. It was one of the most modern stadiums in Southeast Asia during that time.


At the stroke of midnight on 31 December 1983 at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien, Hassanal Bolkiah in his speech proclaimed that Brunei Darussalam had achieved its independence and sovereignty after 97 years of British protection. Soon after the speech, Omar Ali Saifuddien was honoured by the Sultan to lead the masses of people chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) three times. This was followed by the singing of the national anthem, the 21-gun salute and a prayer was read by the State Mufti to give God's blessings to the newly independent nation. Although it was raining that night, the people's spirit and determination did not fail them to attend the celebration.

Although he had abdicated 17 years ago and Brunei had achieved its independence, he did not retire completely from all duties in his country, instead continued to play an important role both as a mentor to the sultan, and as a loving father to his son. He was appointed by the Sultan as Minister of Defence in Brunei's first cabinet ministers and consequently conferred the rank of Field Marshal in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. He attended the first celebration of Independence Day on 23 February that year at the national stadium. He would continue to attend the celebrations until his death in 1986.

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

Yasser Arafat, the-then chairman of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

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 funeralEdit

Omar Ali Saifuddien 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 such as Ahmad Shah of Pahang, Tuanku Jaafar of Negeri Sembilan, Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah of Terengganu, Tuanku Syed Putra of Perlis, Abdul Halim of Kedah, Salahuddin of Selangor and Azlan Shah of Perak. Also in attendance were US Vice President George H. W. Bush (representing Ronald Reagan), Corazon Aquino of the Philippines, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Suharto of Indonesia, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, 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 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, Muhammad Jamalul Alam II, his grandfather, Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin and his eldest brother and predecessor Ahmad Tajuddin.[citation needed]

... As a son of a dear father, I still feel the feelings of sadness and grief, and will always be felt, which is not limited to a period of time. Because his death is a great loss for me and my family. Moreover, he is not only a father who always pour a friendly affection to his children, he always gave me advice up to the end of his life.

— Hassanal Bolkiah, in his speech broadcast by Radio and Television Brunei, October 20, 1986

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

I know the Paduka Seri (Sir Omar) since 1959. My late father was so close to him. I also highly respect him because to me he was a brilliant man

— Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, in an interview with Utusan Malaysia journalist, 25 April 1984

I highly respect Al Marhum because of his heartfelt character which becomes memories which will not easily be forgotten. I consider him as my own father ...

— Sultan Iskandar of Johor, then reigning 9th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia

[citation needed]

The Late Highness had a vision, for sightedness and wise leadership coupled with his outstanding services to his people

— President Hussain Muhammad Ershad of Bangladesh praising His Highness on his speech

[citation needed]

The Late Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien III is a honourable special friend to Britain. His death were deeply felt by the United Kingdom.

— Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain


The Late Highness had a unique position in the history of Brunei and in the hearts of all who knew him in Britain.

— British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher

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

The Churchill Memorial in BruneiEdit

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. In 1992, in conjunction with Silver Jubilee of His Majesty's Ascension to the Throne celebrations, the memorial had become the Royal Brunei Regalia Building. Also in 2017, the building was renamed to Royal Regalia Museum in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee.

Personal interestsEdit

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 clothes, 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 poetEdit

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.


  • 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 held in 2005, in memory of Omar Ali Saifuddien. The exhibition was held on 27 July to 6 August 2005.[citation needed]
  • By the consent of his son, Hassanal Bolkiah, 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 datesEdit

  • 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 IIIEdit

  • The capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor, on 5 October 1970, by his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah. "Begawan" was Omar Ali Saifuddien's title after he abdicated.
  • Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque was named after the sultan, completed in 1958.
  • Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien at the capital.
  • Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien College.
  • The Seri Begawan Religious Teaching University.
  • The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Institute of Islamic studies of Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
  • The Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College.
  • The Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Kampong Katimahar.
  • The longest bridge in Southeast Asia, the Temburong Bridge, 30-kilometre (19-mile) long which connects Brunei-Muara District with Temburong District was named Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Bridge in recognition to his role as the Architect of Modern Brunei on 14 July 2020.[13]

Appearance in currencyEdit

His portrait is depicted on the obverse of the 1967 issue of coins. 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.[14]

His portrait appears on all the first issue notes (dated 1967) in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 ringgit/dollar.

His portrait is also depicted on Brunei's current issue 500 ringgit/dollar notes dated 2006 and 2013.

An image of him crowning his son as his successor appears on the reverse of the commemorative 25 ringgit/dollar note dated 1992.

Titles, styles and honoursEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 1914–1947: YTM Pengiran Muda
  • 1947–1950: YTM Pengiran Bendahara
  • 1950–1967: DYMM Sultan
  • 1967–1984: YTM Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan
  • 1984–1986: DYTM Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan

National honoursEdit

  •   Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei – Darjah Kerabat Mahkota Brunei – D.K.M.B. (received after foundation in 1982 by his son)
  •   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
  •   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
  •   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
  •   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
  •   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
  •   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 Puspa Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien (Coronation Medal – 1951).
  •   Pingat Puspa Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah (Coronation Medal – 1968).

Foreign honoursEdit

Military honoursEdit

  • 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.


  • 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 on 27 April 1959.
  • 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. ^ Hussainmiya, B. A. (1995). Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain: The Making of Brunei Darussalam. Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 98.
  5. ^ History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 59.
  6. ^ History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 100.
  7. ^ History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 92.
  8. ^ a b c History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 129.
  9. ^ a b History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 21.
  10. ^ a b History for Brunei Darussalam 2009, p. 96.
  11. ^ a b c Saunders, Graham E. (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. ^ Othman, Azlan (14 July 2020). "Sultan urges ministries to work together in face of pandemic". Borneo Bulletin. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958" (PDF).
  • History for Brunei Darussalam: Sharing our Past. Curriculum Development Department, Ministry of Education. 2009. ISBN 978-99917-2-372-3.

Further readingEdit

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