Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

"Wijaya": Winner of the South-East Asia Writers' Award 2010

Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

"Wijaya": Winner of the South-East Asia Writers' Award 2010

Article excerpt

"Wijaya" was the writer selected from Negara Brunei Darussalam to receive the "South-East Asia Write [sic] Award" (1) for 2010, in recognition particularly of his collection of poetry entitled Renungan, published by the Language and Literature Bureau. (2)

According to the Borneo Bulletin, the Award was established to promote the talents of ASEAN creative authors and to inculcate "a wider understanding and awareness" of the literary wealth of the region. (3)

"Wijaya" [pen-name] had already won several other prizes. He received the ASEAN Award for Services to Literature in 1990; (4) on 1 August 1993 he became one of seven NBD writers to be recognized as a Penulis Berjasa by ASTERAWANI in cooperation with the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company; (5) on 31 May he was bestowed ASTERAWANI's Pemikir Budaya title; (6) and he became a Tokoh Berjasa DBP in 2001. (7) "Wijaya" now belatedly takes his rightful place alongside the giants of NBD literature who have been similarly recognized with the South-East Asia Award, such as (to name a few) "Muslim Burmat" (8) in 1986; Awang Mohd Salleh bin Abdul Latif in 1990, (9) "Shukri Zain" (10) in 1991; "Yura Halim" (of whom, more anon) in 1993; and "Zairis MS" (11) in 2008.

Besides his poetry, "Wijaya" is prominent locally in education, culture, history, and religion; and, indeed, he has been active in these fields for seventy years and more. For "Wijaya" is the pen-name concealing the identity of none other than Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja [cr. 1992] Dato Seri Utama Dr. Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Seri Paduka Haji Awang Umar DK DSLJ DPMB POAS PHBS PJK PJP PP PBLI Litt.D., founder and Director of the Brunei History Centre since 1982. He is almost certainly the most influential living historian of the sultanate. (12) On 24 September 2000, for example, Pehin Hussain, then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, proposed that all textbooks should be submitted to the Pusat Sejarah for approval before they could be printed or used in NBD schools; (13) in other words, YD Pehin Jamil is officially responsible for the sultanate's historical memory.

A member of a highly distinguished family, Inche Jamil bin Omar started life on l0 December 1921 at Kampong Sungai Kedayan. His father was a prominent religious official, rising to become YB Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib [cr. 1957] Dato Seri Paduka [cr. 1970] Awang Haji Umar bin Awang Rendah by the time of his death in 1977. His brother, YB POK Laila Wijaya DSS HA Sir Abdul Aziz GBE (b. 1936), was a cabinet minister for nearly twenty-two years from the start of 1984 until his retirement in May 2005. His sister, Dayang Hajjah Kadariah, was a specialist weaving teacher who received a Special Award for retired teachers on Hari Guru in 2005. (14) His spouse, Datin Dayang Hajjah Siti Hara, is the daughter of a Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar (15) (namely, AH Mohd Taha); together they have two sons, three daughters, and one adopted daughter. (16) One of his daughters, DH Normah Suria Hayati (b. 1960), is currently (2010) Director of Agriculture in the sultanate. (17)

Inche Mohd Jamil was educated at Brunei Town Malay School (1928-35), the Sultan Idris Training College (1939-41 and 1948-9), Kanri Yosezyo Training Centre, Kuching (1944-5), Serdang College of Agriculture, Selangor (1950-1), and the City of Worcester Teacher-Training College, UK (1956-7). He became fluent in Arabic, English, and Japanese, besides his mother tongue (Malay).

His interest in politics was aroused at a young age. On 12 April 1946, for example, he was elected General Secretary of the Barisan Pemuda Brunei (BARIP), or Brunei Youth Front. (18)

A teacher from 1939 until 1947, Inche Mohd Jamil Umar was an assistant headmaster between 1948 and 1950. He was Organiser of School Gardening (1951-6), Adviser on Teaching Methods (1957-60), and Chief Inspector of the School Feeding Programme (1960). …

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