Brunei Darussalam: The Rise of Dato Mohd Eussoff Agaki


AVM Horton

One of the more intriguing rises to prominence in Negara Brunei Darussalam (NBD) in recent years has been achieved by the technocrat, Dato Seri Paduka [cr. 2006] Awang Haji Mohd Eussoff Agaki bin Haji Ismail (b. 1949). Or perhaps it is merely that his underlying status has been made more obvious to the general public. On 24 May 2005, he was appointed a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, with responsibility as Director of the Internal Security Department. Although he has never actually been elected by popular vote to his new eminence in government, nevertheless the fact that His Majesty the Sultan himself is Prime Minister is evidence of Dato Mohd Eussoff Agaki's high standing in NBD royal circles. Further signs are the two dato titles, roughly equivalent to knighthoods, that he has been awarded in recent years, namely the DPMB (carrying the style 'Dato Paduka' in July 2003 (PB 16.7.03) followed by elevation to SPMB ('Dato Seri Paduka') exactly three years later (BBSO 16.7.06). A lesser honour, the PKL (Pingat Kerja Lama, Long Service Medal), was bestowed on 22 November 2000 (PBA 29.11.00:1).

Born on 26 March 1949, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (with honours) in South-East Asian Studies. His Master of Philosophy degree was awarded in 1991 by the University of Hull for a thesis entitled 'Brunei Darussalam: Its Re-Emergence as a Sovereign and Independent Malay-Muslim Sultanate 1959-1983'. He is also a Master of Public Administration. Married to Datin Joanna, the couple has been blessed with five children, comprising three daughters and two sons (Prime Minister's Office [PMO] website, 21.12.05).

Having joined the Brunei (and later after independence from 1984 onwards, NBD) civil service, he worked for the Royal Customs and Excise Department from 1974 until 1992 (PMO website, 21.12.05). A long-serving Deputy Controller of the said Royal Customs and Excise, an appointment which itself implies a high degree of trust among the people that matter, he became Director of Special Duties at the Ministry of Finance between 1 November 1994 and 15 November 1995 (PB 2.11.1994:4; PB 15.11.1995:14), having previously held the post on an 'acting' basis in 1993-4. He was then promoted Director of the ASEAN-European Commission Management Centre (AEMC) for three and a half years until 25 May 1999 (PB 15.11.95; PB 19.6.96; PB 5.11.97:13; PB 2.6.99). Established at Gadong in 1994, the AEMC is 'a regional institution for corporate planning and strategic management' which aims to help 'decision-makers around the globe face the economic challenges of the twenty-first century' (BB 23.2.95).

Awang (as he then still was, and which might have led observers to under-estimate his importance) Mohd Eussoff Agaki's next job was as an acting Special Duty Officer in the PMO between 25 May 1999 and 1 April 2000. He returned to the Royal Customs and Excise Department as Controller for slightly more than five years until late May 2005. It is to be noted that this office was previously filled by no less a figure than Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar (b. 1945), husband of HRH Princess Masna, and now (2000-present) Guardian of State Custom and Tradition.

Evidently a loyal servant of the current NBD regime, Dato Mohd Eussoff Agaki is an essayist, a contributor to various publications (such as the Jurnal IPA or Journal of the Public Service Institute, NBD), and a panellist at forums and seminars. He is also reported to have a seat on the Board of Directors of the Takaful Bank Pembangunan Islam Sdn Bhd or the Islamic Development Bank Takaful (syariah-compliant insurance) Limited (BBO 1.11.05). His latest activities can be followed in the official government newspaper, Pelita Brunei.

WATCHPOINT: Dato Mohd Eussoff's advancement in due course to full ministerial status and pehin rank might reasonably be anticipated on present trends.


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