Modern literature in Brunei Darussalam was said to have begun when Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh wrote the 'Syair Rakis' in 1846.
Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh was an educated royal family member who lived between the 18th and 19th century.
He received his early education at Betawi (Jakarta). He was sent by his father, with the help of the Dutch Governor in Betawi. Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh was also well known as an intellectual and he attracted the attention of people.
Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh, who was also known as Pengiran Indera Mahkota, became Governor of Sarawak in 1824. His talent amazed James Brooke when James arrived in Sarawak on August 1,1839.
Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh was described by James Brooke as "young, lively, intelligent and frank". His resistance along with other men against James Brooke's attempts to persuade Sultan Muda Hashim to fulfil certain proposed engagements had caused them to become enemies.
After 1842, when James Brooke was appointed as Raja of Sarawak, Pengiran Indera Mahkota retreated from Sarawak to finally settle in Mukah. Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddin II sent a messenger in 1845 to invite Pengiran Indera Mahkota to return to Brunei and he started writing the Syair Rakis.
The Syair Rakis was completed after several months and was presented to Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddin II and Pengiran Muda Abdul Momin as a souvenir.
The people of Brunei accepted the suggestions incorporated in the Syair Rakis, especially the establishment of schools. Despite the acknowledgement, there were also several parties who strongly objected Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh's suggestions.
These people then made a pact to assassinate Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Muhammad Salleh, and succeeded in sabotaging his boat and he drowned. His body was recovered and brought back to Brunei.
Al-Marhum Pengiran Shahbandar Mohd Salleh ibnu Pengiran Sharmayuda lives to this day in the Syair Rakis, which earned him the recognition as 'Pelopor Kesusasteraan Moden Brunei' or Pioneer of Modern Literature of Brunei.