China seeks to put Tomb of King Boni in Nanjing on UNESCO list

CHINA is seeking the Brunei government’s help in turning the tomb of Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan in Nanjing into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yu Qing, the vice governor of Yuhuatai district in Nanjing, said China is in the process of applying for the Tomb of King Boni to become a World Heritage Site.

Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan is believed to have ruled Brunei before his passing in Nanjing in the 15th century.

“We are hoping that our Brunei counterparts can give their support and assistance for us to achieve this goal,” she said during Brunei Ambassador to China Datin Paduka Magdalene Teo’s visit to the park yesterday.

Yu said the municipal government in Nanjing in May set up a research centre and a team of experts on China and Brunei historical and cultural relations. The Chinese delegation visited Brunei earlier this month.

She added that the park has an exhibition hall illustrating China and Brunei relations. “We need more photos and materials from Brunei for us to showcase Brunei to visitors here and attract them (Chinese nationals) to visit this historical place,” she said.

After its upgrade with the latest exhibits and materials from Brunei in the next few months, the exhibition hall and the park — which is currently closed for renovation — is expected to reopen in June next year.

The exhibition will showcase Brunei-China ties through the use of “modern technology”.

The park, located at the southern foothills of Tortoise Mountain in Yuhuatai district, signifies the historical relations between China and Brunei since 1408.

The municipal government has high hopes that the site will be accepted as a World Heritage Site before marking the 610th anniversary of historical relations between Brunei and China.

“We are also hoping that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, will visit the tomb himself before the 610th anniversary to signify the milestones of the countries’ relations,” said the vice governor.

Yu said His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and HRH Princess Hjh Masna visited the tomb in 1993 and 2006 respectively.

An investment worth $23 million yuan ($4.79 million), the park covers an area of eight hectares since the tomb was discovered in 1958 with restoration and maintenance works being done throughout the years.

ASEAN-China Centre (ACC) Secretary General Yang Xiuping said efficient communication between government agencies in China and Brunei is needed to achieve the goal of making the tomb a World Heritage Site.

“We have limited time in our hands before we reach the 610th anniversary, so we need to have a clear roadmap to achieve our objectives.

“The research centre can also provide a detailed list of the materials they need from Brunei to ease the whole process,” she said.

Nanjing and Bandar Seri Begawan became sister cities in 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of Brunei and China bilateral relations.

The Brunei Times

Tue, 25 October 2016


Pictures: BT/Rozan Yunos


Brunei, the first Southeast Asian Muslim kingdom?

WHEN did Islam come to Brunei? Most western historians argued that Brunei Darussalam only began to accept Islam in the 16th century, that is, after the fall of the Malacca sultanate in 1511.

A number of historians such as K G Tregonning in his book “From Earliest Time to 1511” (1957), D G E Hall in his book “Sejarah Asia Tenggara” (1979), J F Cady in his book ‘”South East Asia: Its Historical Development” (1963) and Nicholas Tarling in his book “South East Asia: Past and Present”’ (1966) all wrote that Brunei replaced Malacca as the new centre to spread the teachings of Islam.

Robert Nicholl in his book published by the Brunei Museums entitled “European Sources for the History of the Sultanate of Brunei in the 16th century” (1975) compiled a number of European sources, which also suggested that the Brunei sultanate was still not a Muslim nation during the early 16th century.

Pg Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohammad Pg Hj Abd Rahman, the former Minister of Religious Affairs, in his book entitled “Islam di Brunei Darussalam” (1992) noted that western historians did not seem to take into account that Islam had spread widely in Southeast Asia even before the 16th century. Gravestones found in Brunei indicated that Muslims had been buried in the cemeteries with the stones dating a few centuries earlier than the 16th century.

One of the earliest known was a Chinese Muslim by the name of Pu Kung Chihmu, who died in 1276 A D. Therefore, there must be a Muslim community in Brunei which enabled him to be buried as a Muslim when he died. This, according to Pg Dato Hj Mohammad, was not impossible.

He noted that evidences in a number of places in Southeast Asia showed that Islam was already being accepted much earlier. In Leran, East Java a gravestone bearing the name of Fatimah Maimon Hibatullah was found dated 1082 AD; in Champa, Vietnam, a gravestone belonging to Abu Kamil Ahmad was dated 1039 AD; and in Pasai, it was a gravestone belonging to Sultan al-Malik al-Saleh dated 1297 AD.

An article, which recently came to light in support of this, was found in a book published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2000 entitled “The Silk Roads Highways of Culture and Commerce”, which contained a small selection of papers from the international seminars organised during UNESCO Silk Road expeditions.

One of the articles was written by a Chinese scholar by the name of Chen Da-sheng entitled ‘”A Brunei Sultan of the Early Fourteenth Century: A Study of an Arabic Gravestone”, which comprised Chapter Eight of the book.

We are very fortunate that the paper was included, as Brunei at that point in time was not a member of UNESCO. Chen Da-sheng sailed on the expedition ship, the Fulk-al-Salamah, visiting several countries including Brunei. He was from Quanzhou and was interested in the gravestone of Pu Kung Chihmu, who was also from Quanzhou. During his visit, he visited various cemeteries in Brunei.

In his research, Chen Da-sheng was attracted to an article in the Brunei Museums Journal (1987), where two former senior Museum officials, Metassim Hi Jibah and Suhaili Hj Hassan wrote about “Tomb of Maharaja Brunei”, which was found at the Dagang Cemetery at Jalan Residency. He was very surprised that the undated gravestone was very similar to the gravestones that had been found in Quanzhou.

Quanzhou was an important trading harbour during the Song Dynasty. The Ashab Mosque or the Qingjing Mosque is a mosque found in Quanzhou constructed in 1009 AD, and this remained as the oldest Arab-style mosque in China.

In the city, there is also the Yisalangjiao Sheng Mu or Islamic Holy Graves built on the Ling Shan, the mountain of spirits on the East of Quanzhou city. The Yisalangjiao Sheng Mu graves are the resting places of early Islamic missionaries of the 7th century.

Chen Da-sheng immediately recognised that the gravestone belonging to the Emperor of Brunei was similar to the Muslim gravestones that were once used in Quanzhou, and he deduced that the gravestone in Brunei was made in Quanzhou as the material for the gravestone which was ‘diabase’ was not found in Brunei. Diabase or also known as dolerite is a subvolcanic rock similar to volcanic basalt.



The front of the gravestone had Arabic inscriptions and these were translated to read:

This tomb belongs to the late martyr

Sultan, a learned and just man

a protector and conqueror. He was called

Maharaja Bruni. Forgive him

Allah with His grace and Pleasure

May Allah bless Muhammad

and all his descendants



The back of the stone had this engraving:

Every soul must taste of death,

and ye shall only be paid your hire

upon the resurrection day

But he who is forced away from the fire

This stone was not dated, and neither was the king who died identified other than as the Maharaja Brunei. As such, this king could not be cross referenced to the royal genealogy of the Sultans of Brunei; and the genealogy began with Sultan Muhammad said to reign from 1363 AD.

Chen Da-sheng noted that in Quanzhou, when excavations were made of these ancient Muslim graves, the majority of gravestones were made from diabase. In the 1920s and 1930s, a great number of these gravestones were excavated when the ancient wall of Quanzhou was demolished. The current collection of Arabic and Persian stones inscriptions of the Quanzhou Foreign Maritime Museum is the richest of all museums in China.

After studying and cross referencing with the gravestones that had been recovered in Quanzhou, Chen Da-sheng discovered that the inscriptions on the Brunei gravestone were very similar to another gravestone belonging to Fatimat Naina Ahmad, who died in Quanzhou in 1301 AD.

Chen Da-sheng believed that the two stones were inscribed by the same people as the writings were identical. No other similar stone has been found in Brunei. Upon discussion with the Brunei Museum officials, it was also confirmed that all the inscriptions for subsequent sultans were written in Jawi with the exception of this gravestone, which was written in Arabic.

With regard to the age, Chen Da-sheng explained that the Muslims in Quanzhou were massacred after they lost a war known as the Ispah Rebellion in 1366 AD, and the winning army killed all the Muslim population they could find. After 1366, it was very hard to find any Arabic inscriptions on any gravestones in Quanzhou. The few that could be found in the outlying villages are different in style, shape and paleography.

Chen Da-sheng argued that based on the facts above, this provided evidence that the Muslim kingdom established in Brunei was certainly during the late 13th and early 14th century. In Chen Da-sheng words, “the Arabic gravestone of Sultan Maharaja Brunei presented evidence that a Muslim kingdom already existed in Brunei about AH 700 (1301 AD). It sheds new light on the study of the early history of the Muslim kingdoms established in Brunei and even in Sumatra.”

If this is true, and supported with the written records of the Boxer Codex, this means that the official date of the first Brunei Muslim sultanate of 1376 AD needs to be adjusted, and that Brunei could be one of the early Malay Muslim kingdoms, or there is even the possibility that Brunei could even be the earliest in the Southeast Asian region.

Currently, Pasai in Sumatra is considered to be the earliest Muslim kingdom because a gravestone belonging to Sultan al-Malik al-Salleh dated 1297 AD was found there. Who knows when exactly did the Brunei Muslim sultanate began? It could be earlier than that of Sultan al-Malik al-Salleh.

The Brunei Times

Sun, 18 September 2016


Chinese Moslem Entrepreneurs to establish a consortium with Moslem SMEs in Indonesia


CHINESE Moslem Entrepreneurs planned to establish a consortium with Moslem businessmen in Indonesia. The organization of Chinese Moslem entrepreneurs provided opportunities for cooperation and support working capital, particularly to the Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“We focus on ASEAN because there is Asean Economic Community (AEC), especially on SMEs business,” said a member of Chinese Moslem Entrepreneurs from Ningxia Cina, Rudy Fang, in “Macthing Business Meeting”, in Tajammu/Resto & Cafe (TRC) organized by KOSAGON, a Gontor alumni cooperative, in Jakarta, Tuesday (27/10).

Rudy said, Chinese Moslem Entrepreneurs is ready to help Indonesian Moslem businessmen to get international funding. According to him, there are some things that need to be owned by cooperatives and SMEs to access international funding, one them is to have clear vision and mission.

“Vision means, there is purpose to be achieved for the next 20 years,” Rudy added.

In addition, Chinese Moslem Entrepreneurs provided opportunity for Indonesian businessmen to follow the trade mission to Xinjiang, China. Rudy stated, Indonesian Moslem businessman could see and learn how Chinese Moslem run their business.

“In China, there are about 100 million Moslems. They have a good economy and it was evidenced by the ability to build and finance their own business,” he said.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

“Assalamualaikum, Beijing!”, A new Indonesian movie with scenes of Chinese icons

beijin temat
‘Assalamualaikum, Beijing!’, is another film by Guntur Soeharjanto after ’99 Cahaya di Langit Eropa’.

The film is, produced by Maxima Pictures, based on the best seller novel with the similar title written by productive and popular young Muslimah author Asma Nadia.


Assalamualaikum Beijing! is about a woman named Ra/Asma (Revalina S Temat) who betrayed her lover, Dewa (Ibn Jamil), a month before the wedding. Dewa chooses to marry Anita but only until their baby is born. He plans to divorce for the sake of returning to Ra.

On the other hand, Asma meets Chinese youth named Zhongwen (Morgan Oey) while covering in Beijing. Zhongwen depicted as a young man with a firm jaw and intelligent eyes that glow softly. Beads of love grew between them.

Assalamualaikum Beijing tells a love story that is not cliché, Insha Allah. Also how a convert to proceed,” Asma Nadia, the novelist said.

Starred by Revalina S Temat, Morgan Oey, Ibnu Jamil and Lidya Cynthia Bella, it would be released on 30 December 2014.

Some scenes of the film were taken at the Chinese popular tourist sites like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City in Beijing and Ashima sclupture in Yunnan.

beijing postr

See its trailer:

beijing book

Spectre of 2009 riots continues to haunt Uighurs, Hans


IT HAS been five years since the July 5, 2009 ethnic riots rocked Urumqi, straining already uneasy ties between Han Chinese and Uighur locals.

Cars pass and pedestrians stroll freely through the South Gate, a roundabout in Xinjiang’s capital city Urumqi. Children play happily on the pavement while retirees chat animatedly with one another.

All seems peaceful and well

But the tranquility and gaiety belie the deeply troubled relationship between Han Chinese and the Uighur minority that has yet to heal since ethnic riots broke out on July 5, 2009, leaving 197 dead and 1,700 injured, according to official figures.

Five years on, South Gate, where the fiercest fighting in China’s worst ethnic violence in decades took place, has become an unofficial line dividing Urumqi, with Han Chinese in the north and Uighurs in the south.

These days, Han Chinese avoid venturing alone into Uighur neighbourhoods around the International Grand Bazaar, while Uighurs and their smoky lamb kebab eateries are becoming rare in Han Chinese areas.

Of the more than a dozen Han Chinese and Uighurs The Straits Times spoke to, most say ethnic ties have not improved since the 2009 riots, which erupted after two Uighurs died in a clash with their Han Chinese colleagues in Guangdong province.

“Now, it is a case of ‘lian he xin bu he’,” said a 46-year-old local civil servant who wants to be known only as Anwar, using a phrase to describe how the two ethnic groups seem to get along on the surface but are actually at loggerheads.

“Ties between Han Chinese and Uighurs here are volatile and easily inflammable,” he added.

Swept under the carpet?
Urumqi has 3.5 million people, 90 per cent of whom are Han Chinese and the rest made up of ethnic minorities such as Uighurs.

Observers say the current cauldron of ethnic tensions could easily spill over and spark fresh rioting. Already, ethnic strife has been cited as one of the factors behind a recent spate of terror attacks that the Chinese authorities have blamed on Uighur militants.

One key reason tensions have persisted has to do with the government’s handling of the aftermath of the 2009 violence.

“It was ‘bu liao liao zhi’ within a short time,” said terrorism expert Professor Yang Shu, describing how the incident was settled hastily and inconclusively.

China has defended its ethnic policies and blamed separatists for the 2009 riots, in particular exiled US-based activist Rebiya Kadeer, who denies the allegation.

But for many who witnessed the riots, pain and anger remain after all these years.

“I cannot forget the dead bodies of Han Chinese I saw in the streets the morning after,” Zhang Zhenguang, 26, told The Straits Times, about the July 5 riots when Uighurs attacked Hans.

Zhang, whose family runs a chain of convenience stores, was not hurt but one of their stores was looted, causing 100,000 yuan (US$16,200) in losses.

Such pent-up anger is why the tense atmosphere in Urumqi is heightened whenever the anniversary of the riots draws near.

As for the Uighurs, they are upset at the continued heavy-handed security and the way they are treated – such as being stopped by police and made to show their identification cards.

Many believe they have already “paid the price” because they too lost fellow Uighurs in the riots.

“Everyone remembers ‘qi wu’, but few know about ‘qi qi’,” said a local who declined to be named, referring respectively to July 5 and July 7, the latter being the date that saw Han Chinese attacking Uighurs in retaliation.

Terror attacks worsen ties
Analysts who believe that ethnic ties may have worsened point to the spate of terror attacks which began with a suicide car crash near Tiananmen Square in October last year. Beijing blames the attacks on Uighur separatists who want to set up an independent East Turkestan state in Xinjiang, and receive help from extremist groups overseas.

A noodle-shop owner surnamed Xiong, 38, remembers the shock of the May 22 attack that took place on his street in western Urumqi. Four cars ploughed into a market crowd, its occupants hurling explosives through the windows. In all, 31 people were killed and 90 others wounded.

Earlier, on April 30, assailants with knives and explosives attacked people at Urumqi’s railway station, killing one person.

Since May 22, all morning markets and night bazaars have been ordered closed across Xinjiang.

After having worked in Xinjiang for 20 years, Xiong said he is giving himself another two years before returning home in south-western Sichuan province.

“I don’t have a single Uighur friend. These people are not easy to become friends with,” he said.

Deep-seated ethnic strife
Tensions between Han Chinese and Uighurs have a long history.

Causes include Uighurs’ resentment of the influx of Han migrants into Xinjiang, erosion of the Uighur language and the Muslim religion, and employment opportunities favouring the Hans.

Uighurs accounted for 76 per cent of Xinjiang region’s population in 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party took power. Today, they make up only 46 per cent. Han Chinese now make up 40 per cent compared with 7 per cent more than six decades ago.

“If there is an Uighur and a Han Chinese with the same qualifications and skills, the employer would invariably hire the latter. How would that not make Uighurs upset?” said an Uighur tour guide named Azmat, 29.

A 67-year-old Uighur teacher, who lives on the same street as Xiong, recalls a recent incident: “A Han woman stepped on my foot intentionally in the market recently but didn’t apologise. She even berated me.”

Given the shabby treatment, some Uighurs believe their compatriots’ actions in 2009 were “justifiable”, said Prof Yang.

How to solve this?
For now, there is cautious optimism about the policy pledges that Xi made in May.

Besides boosting security and providing better education and jobs to Uighurs, Xi also promised to promote national identity and ethnic unity.

Peking University analyst Zhang Jian said the diluted focus on “leapfrog development” that then President Hu Jintao pushed in 2010 is much welcomed. Local governments had exploited that policy to meet economic targets at the expense of the environment and without bringing real benefits to the Uighurs.

Inflation has climbed since 2009, hurting especially the lower-income Uighurs.

Meanwhile, seething ethnic tensions and the recent terror attacks have prompted many young Han Chinese to leave Xinjiang for good, Chinese media reported.

Urumqi native Wang Qian, 29, an accountant, has avoided the Uighur quarters since 2009. She is looking for a job outside Xinjiang. “I am worried about my safety,” she said.

The Strait Times/The Brunei Times/ANN
Friday, July 11, 2014

Turkish and Uighur protestors pray before a protest against the violent demonstrations and casualties in China. Authorities said at least 140 people were killed and over 800 injured when Muslim Uighurs rioted in its restive Xinjiang region. Photo: EPA

Turkish and Uighur protestors pray before a protest against the violent demonstrations and casualties in China. Authorities said at least 140 people were killed and over 800 injured when Muslim Uighurs rioted in its restive Xinjiang region. Photo: EPA

China Bans Ramadan Fast In Schools, Government Offices Of Muslim Northwest

china fasting
Didi Tang

STUDENTS and civil servants in China’s Muslim northwest, where Beijing is enforcing a security crackdown following deadly unrest, have been ordered to avoid taking part in traditional fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Statements posted in the past several days on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations in the Xinjiang region said the ban was aimed at protecting students’ wellbeing and preventing use of schools and government offices to promote religion. Statements on the websites of local party organizations said members of the officially atheist ruling party also should avoid fasting.

“No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities,” said a statement on the website of the No. 3 Grade School in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang.

Similar bans have been imposed in the past on fasting for Ramadan, which began at sundown Saturday. But this year is unusually sensitive because Xinjiang is under tight security following attacks that the government blames on Muslim extremists with foreign terrorist ties.

Violence has escalated in recent years in Xinjiang. The ruling party blames violent extremists that it says want independence, while members of the region’s Uighur ethnic group complain that discrimination and restrictions on religion, such as a ban on taking children to mosques, are fueling anger at the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

An attack on May 22 in the regional capital of Urumqi by four people who threw bombs in a vegetable market killed 43 people, including the attackers. On June 22, police in Kashgar in the far west said they killed 13 assailants who drove into a police building and set off explosives, injuring three officers. Authorities have blamed two other attacks at train stations in Urumqi and in China’s southwest on Muslim extremists.

The government responded with a crackdown that resulted in more than 380 arrests in one month and public rallies to announce sentences.

The ruling party is wary of religious activities it worries might serve as a rallying point for opposition to one-party rule. Controls on worship are especially sensitive in Xinjiang and in neighboring Tibet, where religious faith plays a large role in local cultures.

On Tuesday, authorities in some communities in Xinjiang held celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and served food to test whether Muslim guests were fasting, according to Dilxat Raxit, spokesman in Germany for the rights group World Uyghur Congress.

“This will lead to more conflicts if China uses coercive measures to rule and to challenge Uighur beliefs,” said Dilxat Raxit in an email.

The ruling party says religion and education should be kept separate and students should not be subject to religious influences. That rule is rarely enforced for children of Han Chinese, who, if they have a religion, are mostly Buddhist, Daoist or Christian.

“Students shall not participate in religious activities; they shall not study scripts or read poems at script and choir classes; they shall not wear any religious emblems; and no parent or others can force students to have religious beliefs or partake in religious activities,” said the statement on the website of the grade school in Ruoqiang County.

A news portal run by the government of Yili in the northern reaches of Xinjiang said fasting is detrimental to the physical wellbeing of young students, who should eat regularly.

In the city of Bole, retired teachers from the Wutubulage Middle School were called in to stand guard at mosques and prevent students from entering, according to a statement on the municipal party committee website.

Also in Bole, the Bozhou University of Radio and Television said on its website it held a meeting with working and retired minority teachers on the first day of the Ramadan to remind them of the fasting ban.

The forestry bureau in Xinjiang’s Zhaosu county held an event the day before Ramadan at which party cadres signed a pledge they and their relatives would “firmly resist fasting,” according to a statement on the website of the local party committee.

The Moyu Weather Bureau in the Hotan area said on its website that Muslim employees, both active and retired, were required to sign a letter promising not to fast.

The commercial bureau for Turpan, an oasis town in the Taklamakan Desert, said in a statement that civil servants are “strictly forbidden” to fast or perform the Salat prayer ritual in a mosque.

Wed, 2 July 2014

Chinese Muslims attend a prayer session to mark the start of Ramadan at the Niujie mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing, China, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Muslims throughout the world start observing the holy month of Ramadan, when the observant refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Chinese Muslims attend a prayer session to mark the start of Ramadan at the Niujie mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing, China, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Muslims throughout the world start observing the holy month of Ramadan, when the observant refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)