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Recounting the Memories of the Past
I browsed through an old textbook A History of Brunei Lower Secondary Schools and found there were several reasons (5 to be exact) why the British traders (namely Alexander Dalrymple) chose Balambangan Island as the trading centre which are as follow:
1. The problem of sailing in the East Indies would be overcome. At that time sailing ships trading in the East Indies had to wait for the monsoons before they could sail home. A trading centre would enable ships to anchor while awaiting the change of winds.
2. Two good harbours at Balambangan Island, protected by hills. The island is situated in the middle of an area which produces good likes gold, pearls, tortoise shells, camphor, gum, birds’ nest, pelantin cloth, civet-cat furs, spices and sugar. Apart from the products mentioned, Balambangan also has products for everyday use like wood, cocoa, peanut oil, padi, honey and ropes.
3. A trading centre at Balambangan Island would facilitate East India Company’s ships sailing to and from East Indies and China.
4. Attract foreign traders especially from China who usually made long voyages to Batavia (Java). If Balambangan were made the trading centre, Chinese traders would not have to go to Batavia. They would go direct to Balambangan through Palawan and Luzon.
5. Attract Bugis traders and these traders came from Passir (i.e. Eastern part of Borneo Island).