Party Rakyat Brunei, Indonesia and the TNKU

This unsigned intelligence report was written just three days before the Brunei Revolt began and gives background information on Party Rakyat and the TNKU. It asserts that "there is no evidence that large scale trouble is imminent" but acknowledges that "the position in Brunei gives some cause for concern".



The Indonesian educated leader of the Partai Rakyat Brunei, AZAHARI has paid many visits over the last year to Djakarta, where he has many close contacts in political circles. He is also known to have been in contact with officials or both the Indonesian Consulate-General in Singapore and the Indonesian Consulate in Jesselton. He is known to be prepared to seek support from persons whom he either knows or suspects to be communists - e.g. LIM Chin Siong - in his campaign to win independence for Brunei and to prom­ote a pan-Bornean Federation and it is thought that he might well be in contact with the P.K.I. On the other hand, there have also been hints that AZAHARI might be in contact with the Indonesian Military Intelligence author­ities.

2. Other members of Partai Rakyat Central Committee have visited Djakarta during the last year, for periods ranging from a few weeks to three months. Some of them are known to have attended the December 1961 Congress of the PKI-penetrated Partindo. It has been assumed that the others were undertaking some form of political cadre training in Indonesia, organised either by Partindo or by the P.K.I. Very little information has reached us from Indonesia on this subject and the Partai Rakyat leaders themselves have been remarkably and surprisingly silent.

3. It has recently been learned that there are at present in Djakarta a number of Partai Rakyat members of the second rank who are undergoing some form of training. They describe this training in code language and there are indications that at least one of them may have gone to Indonesia overland from Brunei.

4. From March 1962 onwards reports have been received of parties of from 20 to 50 men from Brunei and the Lawas area of Sarawak crossing over into Kalimantan via the northernmost part of Sarawak or the southernmost part of North Borneo. These parties, some of which were led by Indonesian guides, were alleged to be going to Indonesia for military training. Reliable information has so far been received of five crossings each way. These parties have included members of both Partai Rakyat and of the dissident Sundar Branch of the Barisan Pemuda, Sarawak. Captured documents prove that AZAHARI was personally in­volved and that several other Partai Rakyat Central Comm­ittee members at least knew of these parties. It is not known whether the parties, who were apparently making for Tarakan, were to stay in Kalimantan or were to travel on to Djakarta. Similarly, it is not known which body was sponsoring the parties on the Indonesian side.

5. Research in recent weeks has shown that Partai Rakyat members mentioned in paras. 1, 2 and 3 above either stayed at, or used, the same address in Djakarta. Preliminary comments from Djakarta are that this address is much more likely to be used by the P.K.I. than by the Indonesian military Intelligence authorities. Investig­ations into this are proceeding.

6. In the last few months reports have been received that the P.K.I. Central Committee has now turned its attention to the Borneo Territories with the object of stirring up trouble and of frustrating the implementation of Malaysia. The P.K.I. is alleged to have established contact with communist elements in the three Borneo Terr­itories and to have infiltrated agents from Pontianak and Tarakan. There is a certain amount of local evidence in Sarawak and North Borneo to support these reports, but it is as yet uncorroborated.

7. American reports have indicated recently that the Indonesian Military Intelligence authorities have also become active in the Borneo Territories. Their object is said to be to frustrate Malaysia, though poss­ibly only after its formation, and to engender pro-Indo­nesian feeling. They are alleged to be working through agents infiltrated into the territories, some of whom are to be run from the Indonesian Consulate in Jesselton. The recently arrived Military Attaché there is reported to be an experienced Military Intelligence Officer and another member of the staff is thought to be an officer of the Foreign Intelligence Service, the B.P.I. The reports have suggested that SOEKARNO and SUBANDRIO are both aware of these activities by the Military Intelligence author­ities and are, indeed, supporting them.

8. CX Djakarta has stated within the last week that there is every sign now that SOEKARNO and his Govern­ment have espoused the P.K.I. line on Malaysia and that there is much talk in Government circles of "neo-colonialism" and "encirclement".


9. In September a drilling ground and twenty-three wooden rifles were found near a kampong in the Sipitang area of North Borneo. Several of the leaders of an org­anisation called Angkatan Ra'ayat Anak Sabah (ARAS) live in this kampong. This society is known to have close connections with Partai Rakyat Brunei. Documents recov­ered refer to persons "having joined the struggle", but interrogation produced no further information. It was concluded that some form of oath of secrecy had been taken. A further clearing was found in the same area of North Borneo in November, though no "arms" were recovered on this occasion. Rumours are current of other drilling grounds in the area.

10. Reports were received from both Brunei and Lawas of the buying of green material and of made up shirts and slacks in this material and of haversacks, jungle hats and knives on a fairly large scale during the last few weeks.

11. At the end of November the Sarawak authorities arrested ten persons in the Lawas area - nine Malays and one Chinese - and recovered thirty-five green uniforms with flashes and insignia of the TNKU, together with badges of rank. Certain documents were also seized, but these have not as yet been properly processed. The arrested persons are being interrogated. Information which has so far been obtained shows that:-

(a) The level of intelligence of the arrested persons was low;

(b) They were not aware of the identities of the leaders of the organisation, although the name of AZAHARI had figured in their propaganda and fund-collecting activities.

(c) Members of the organisation had sworn an oath to Allah which, in all the circumstances, would probably have been a binding one.

(d) The members of the organisation had been told that they would be invulnerable to bullets, parangs, etc., and inscriptions from the Koran were, in some cases, sewn to their uniforms.

(e) Indications are that the organisation poss­essed no arms, but were planning to use shot- guns of which there are large numbers in the area. Apparently a raid was also planned upon Lawas Police Station, presumably to obtain further arms.

(f) The figure of 500 to 2,000 is a guess arrived at from a brief perusal of the documents and from estimates of purchases of green cloth in the area.

(g) Whilst the members of the organisation are mostly Malays, there are some Muruts involved and at least one Chinese.

(h) The centre is clearly in Brunei.

(i) Photographs seized with the uniforms show groups of persons in Indonesian uniforms. On the back of some of these photographs is the word "Tarakan".

(j) Preliminary interrogation has revealed that members of the organisation have been taken over to Indonesia for training, by Indones­ian guides. No information has yet been obtained showing to which organisation these Indonesian guides belonged or who gave the training in Indonesia.

(k) There is no evidence as yet to connect the TNKU with the CCO in Sarawak.

(l) The organisation of the TNKU is such that there is clearly a central directing body. This is most likely to be members of the Central Committee of Partai Rakyat in Brunei.


12. Special Branch Brunei report that they have recently discovered four drilling grounds in the state - two just outside Brunei Town and two in the Temburong District. One of these drilling grounds had been made during the last month and none are more than two or three months old. A certain number of poles and one wooden imitation shot-gun were recovered. The Brunei authorities have seized only one uniform as yet. The flashes and insignia are generally similar to those on the uniforms seized in Lawas. They expect to arrest members of the TNKU in Brunei within the next few days. They are also planning to interrogate members of some of the parties who are known to have crossed into Indo­nesia and who have now returned to Brunei. It should be emphasised, however, that Special Branch Brunei are not receiving any information from Partai Rakyat circles. Since the recent elections their sources of information have virtually dried up. The Commissioner of Police and the Head of Special Branch have been having daily meetings with the Mentri Besar and the Assistant State Secretary. The Brunei officials have been most co-operative and the Mentri Besar has been keeping the Sultan informed. Head Special Branch Brunei repeated to me that there was no indication that the Sultan was unduly disturbed.

13. The three Police Forces are co-operating closely on this matter and have instituted a daily situation report and are proposing to have monthly intelligence meetings. Parties of the Sarawak Field Force and the North Borneo Mobile Force are in the area and there has been a proposal that a small number of British troops, who are at present stationed in North Borneo on anti-piracy duties, should be diverted to the southern border of North Borneo. In my view, the measures taken in North Borneo and Sarawak are sufficient at this stage to meet the situation, particularly as there is no evidence that large scale trouble is imminent. The position in Brunei gives some cause for concern, particularly in view of the known involvement of Partai Rakyat. I would consider it most unlikely that the Brunei Police would be able to gain information from arrested persons unless they had powers of detention. These could be brought in under the Public Order Ordinance on the authority of the Mentri Besar. You may consider that this is a point which could be raised either with the Sultan or the Mentri Besar.

14. Of all the factors, the most worrying is the now proven support for the TNKU from unidentified bodies in Indonesia and the information on the TNKU must obviously be viewed in the light of the BACKGROUND given above.

5 December 1962

[Source: TNA FCO 141/12715, transcribed by]