BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - One of the world’s
longest-reigning monarchs, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is well
loved and highly respected by his people in the state known
as the “Abode of Peace”.
The 71-year-old monarch takes a direct hand in
state affairs. He is the country’s prime minister, minister of
defence, finance and foreign affairs and trade, and the supreme
commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
Bruneian student Ali Molhakim Awang Piut, 19,
said everyone he knows, from urban dwellers to villagers, are grateful
to have a strong and committed leader like him.
“His heart is with the people and he has a strong
sense of duty. Whenever there’s a natural disaster, His Majesty will
see to it that all the aid that’s needed is provided,” he told The
“He is also hands on. I’ve never seen a Sultan who
will make time to take part in public recreational activities like
cycling,” he added.
During his 50-year reign, Sultan Bolkiah has
led Brunei to independence and transformed it into one of South-east
Asia’s most developed nation with enviable standards of living,
thanks to abundant oil and gas reserves. Bruneians enjoy free
healthcare and education, and pay no taxes.
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei sits
with Asean leaders.
Mr Ahmad Anwar Rosly, 32, a marketing and event
manager for a shopping mall, said the Sultan has advanced Islamic
teachings such as the implementing of the sharia law and building
more mosques without sacrificing the country’s progress.
“Most, if not all, of the graduates' aim is to
work for the government, but His Majesty encourages people to
diversify which is why I felt encouraged to pursue other jobs
in the private sector such as oil and gas and retail industry
where I am now,” he said.
“His late father was known as the modern architect
of Brunei, His Majesty is definitely continuing his late father’s
The Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and his late father
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien
playing tug of war on Feb 22, 1973.
The Sultan is an avid polo player, just like
other members of the royal family. Two of his children, Prince
Abdul Mateen, 26, and Princess Azemah Ni’matul, 33, had represented
the country in equestrian polo events at the South-east Asian Games
in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Prince Abdul Mateem Bolkiah is an avid polo player.
The ruler of the 654-year monarchy also enjoys
playing squash and badminton and is a qualified pilot.
Sultan Bolkiah was listed by Forbes in 1997
as the world’s richest man with US$38 billion (S$52 billion) wealth,
and he reportedly owns a collection of cars and polo ponies.
The Sultan has 12 children, and his eldest son is
Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah.
July 15, 1946: Born in Bandar Seri Begawan.
The Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah (far left)
taking private tuition
at the mosque at Darul Hana palace in the 1950s.
Aug 14, 1961: Became Crown Prince at the age of 15.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah while still studying at the
Victoria Institution, a
secondary school and one of the oldest
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1961.
1966-67: Trained as an officer at the Royal
Military Academy, Sandhurst, in the United Kingdom.
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah while studying at the
Royal Military Academy, in Sandhurst, UK, in 1966.
Oct 4, 1967: His late father Sultan Omar Ali
Saifuddien voluntarily abdicated.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and his father in a photo
taken on Sept 10, 1986.
Oct 5, 1967: Ascended the throne at the age of 21.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien crowns Hassanal Bolkiah.
Sultan Hassanal ascended the throne on Oct 5, 1967.
Aug 1, 1968: Coronated as Brunei’s 29th Sultan
and held a royal procession around the capital.
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah was crowned
as Brunei's 29th ruler on Aug 1, 1968.
1978: Led a mission to London to change status
of Brunei to that of a sovereign state. The outcome was the Treaty
of Friendship and Cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and
Jan 7, 1979: Brunei Darussalam signed the
Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Great Britain.
Jan 1, 1984: Gained independence from the
British and he became prime minister.
A picture of the Sultan taken on Apr 29, 1986.
1984: Established formal diplomatic relations
with several countries, including Singapore.
Mr Goh Chok Tong's first visit to the Sultanate of Brunei
as First Deputy Prime Minister.
Sept 21, 1984: Brunei officially became the
159th country to join the United Nations.
Feb 12-14, 1990: Made his first state visit
to Singapore where he called on then President Wee Kim Wee
and then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei (left) and President Wee Kim Wee
in a photo taken on Feb 12, 1990.
Sept, 1992: Brunei joined the Non Aligned
Oct 5, 1992: Celebrated his Silver Jubilee.
Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who was then deputy prime minister of Singapore,
was among the guests.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is seen in a picture
July 15, 1996: Celebrated his 50th birthday
when he played polo with Prince Charles and flew in Michael
Jackson to perform at a concert.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei (right) scores a goal in a
friendly polo match at the Singapore Polo Club.
Aug 10, 1998: Installed his first son
Al-Muhtadee Billah as Crown Prince.
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah's eldest heir Crown Prince
Feb 27-Mar 1, 2003: Made his second state
visit to Singapore, and called on then President SR Nathan.
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Singapore President SR Nathan
during a State Banquet at the Istana.
April, 2014: Introduced sharia law which,
among other rules, bans alcohol sales and sex between unmarried
April 21 - 23, 2014: Made his third state
visit to Singapore, and was hosted to lunch by DPM Teo Chee Hean.
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Prime Minister Lee
Hsien Loong water
a sapling that they just planted at the Gardens
by the Bay on Apr 23, 2014.
Aug 2016: Singapore and Brunei celebrated the 40th
anniversary of bilateral defence relations.
July 5-6, 2017: Made his fourth state visit to
Singapore, during which both countries celebrated 50 years of the
Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA). He and PM Lee Hsien Loong
launched commemorative $50 notes. He was also hosted to a state
banquet by former President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (left) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
launch of a special set of
commemorative notes marking the golden jubilee of the Currency Interchangeability
between Brunei and Singapore at the Istana on July 5, 2017.