Brunei's Preference for British Protection: Ontological Insecurity after the 1962 Rebellion
Abd Manan, Wafi
Cha, Victor D
Brunei has historically relied on Britain for protection from internal and external threats. Even today, there is a battalion of Gurkhas and British officers resident in Brunei. This research paper seeks to explain Brunei’s continuous preference for British protection. It finds that the 1962 Rebellion in Brunei, Indonesia’s complicity in it, and Britain’s swift and successful intervention had a huge psychological effect on Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin. The Rebellion brought to the fore the instability of the outside world. Beyond the need for simple physical security, the Rebellion required that he continue to routinize relations with Britain to reassure himself, maintain the same cognitive ordering of the world, and maintain the minimum level of his Anglophilic identity. He therefore preferred British protection without a rational deliberation of the cost and benefits of British protection, but he did so out of habit or gut instinct. This paper therefore relies on the constructivist and identity-based notion of ‘ontological security’ and the recent turn in IR towards the logic of action or habit, which deemphasizes rationality in theorizing agency. This can explain why Brunei continues to prefer British protection, despite eventually having no threats and having sufficient military capabilities on its own.
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