The law on archaeology in Brunei

The Brunei Museums Department conduct a roadshow to explain the different laws that relate to archaeology under its purview.

Getting the facts straight on Antiques, Treasures Trove Act
Borneo Bulletin, 4 July 2008

Under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act implemented in 1967, members of the public who discover archaeological remains and fail to surrender it to the Museums Department can face a fine of up to $3,000 or one year imprisonment or both.

All archaeological remains or antiques discovered on land or buried under the river, lake or sea are absolute property of Museums Department and a special unit has been formed by the department to enforce the act.

This was said by Senior Archaeology Research Assistant Awg Hanapi bin Haji Maidin, when delivering a briefing at a roadshow in OGDC by the Brunei Museums Department to raise awareness on the various acts under the department.

He said that the act is allocated to protect and preserve old and historical monuments, archaeological sites as well as antique remains to have legal control of the historic artefacts and other matters related to it.

Under the act, no one is also allowed to export the archaeological remains from the country as well as sell it without export permit and proper business licence or consent.

Individuals are also refrained from excavating archaeological sites without proper licence and His Majesty’s government has the right to proclaim which monuments, historical and archaeological sites are to be gazetted.

The monuments, historical and archaeological remains must also be over 50 years of age with historical values; unique structure, educational and economical values in order meet such requirements, Awg Hanapi added.

Among gazetted historical sites include the Kota Batu ancient capital of Brunei; Sungai Limau Manis Pre-Islamic site; Muara coal mine which was the first mining field in Brunei and the Labu Estate, which is the industrial archaeological site in the early 20th century.

This was followed by a briefing on the Wild Life Protection Act, 1978.

The roadshow, which comprises talks and an exhibition, will end this Sunday.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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