Recounting the Memories of the Past

Brunei’s past wealth – Pepper!

It is quite interesting to know that Brunei’s past wealth was pepper. I read that from this general info relating to Brunei’s history that Brunei’s past wealth was not only gold and camphor (commonly cited in many texts and even textbook) but also PEPPER. Here is the link http://www.marimari.com/content/brunei/general_info/history.html .

In the textbook page 45 it mentioned the reason why John Jesse came to Brunei in 1774 was because of pepper. His job was to buy pepper from the Chinese gardeners along the Brunei River. According to Graham Saunders in his book A History of Brunei, John Jesse was sent to Brunei to make a treaty in which the East India Company’s protection was promised in return for a monopoly of the pepper cultivated in Brunei. This shows that pepper was seen as a valuable goods for the European, Brunei was still a commercial centre even though loss its territories in the north Borneo and that the cultivation of pepper in Brunei (grown by the Chinese garderners who also supplied junk trade) was probably favourable, accessible and in ‘huge’ quantities. This could have been true that historically, pepper was not only used for flavour in food or even medicine in Brunei but also as a mark of territories controlled by Brunei (as practised by Sultan Bolkiah).

Nowadays the cultivation pepper can hardly be seen in Brunei especially along the Brunei River. Possibly the abandonment of growing this crop was due to the problems associated with pests, diseases and drought.

Suffice to say that pepper is not a major contribution of wealth nowadays unlike in the past golden era’s of Sultan Bolkiah. While oil is now our king contributor of wealth, hopefully it will last long and other alternatives of generating wealth will come to surface in this modern and yet unpredictable times.


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