Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stray Buffaloes

News from the past. 50 years ago.

Police launch campaign against stray buffaloes

NOVEMBER 20, 1965 – Photo shows a car on the Muara road giving a particularly wide berth to two bulls fighting on the road. Police have launched a campaign against stray buffaloes and cattle on Brunei’s main roads. They have told their owners to keep them in enclosures, especially at night. Over the last few years, stray cattle have caused many accidents, some of them fatal. A law was passed some years ago making it an offence to let cattle go stray.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Kianggeh Coal and US-Brunei Treaty of 1850

My article was published on my column The Golden Legacy in The Brunei Times on Sunday 22 November 2015:-


USS Constitution was in Brunei in 1845
The Kianggeh Coal and the US-Brunei Treaty of 1850

Rozan Yunos
Bandar Seri Begawan
Sunday, November 22, 2015

THE invention of the steamship had a profound effect on the world of trade, military conflict and colonialism. James McLin (2012) noted that “while not the sole cause of victory in colonial warfare, nor a guarantee of victory, the steamship was an indispensable tool in the expansion of colonialism in the 19th century. Allowing for the tactics of gunboat diplomacy, lightning fast wars, and vast improvements in logistics, the path of European colonialism was shaped by the steamship.”

Adam R Nelson writing an article entitled “Nationalist Science and International Academic Travel in the Early Nineteenth Century: Geological Surveys and Global Economics, 1800-1840” published in 2006 noted that “Britain’s demand for coal to run steam-powered vessels mounted steadily in the 1830s and became a strategic preoccupation of its geological surveys around the world. In this context, the British and the Americans frequently clashed over mineral deposits in far-flung places.”

It was in 1837 that an American vessel, the Himmaleh, sailed along the South China Sea and noted the extensive coal deposits along the northern coast of Borneo.

In 1840, three years after a naturalist on board the Himmaleh had first reported the existence of coal in Brunei, the Royal Geographical Society published a memoir on Borneo which mentioned a deposit of coal on the nearby island of Labuan.

William Buckland, a renowned geologist then noted that if there is indeed coal in Labuan, then Labuan would become a very important station used by steamships travelling between China, India, Australia and the great islands of the Malay Archipelago.

In fact, this is the main reason why the British wanted to acquire Labuan from Brunei and went to great extent in forcing the Sultan to sign a treaty surrendering Labuan with its gunboat diplomacy.

According to Shulman in his book “Coal and Empire” (2015), the American interest in coal found in Brunei had “come about entirely by accident”. It was George Tradescant Lay’s report that brought about the interest. George Tradescant Lay was a missionary from the British and Foreign Bible Society, a missionary organisation operating from Batavia and Manila which was seeking to further access to Southeast Asia.

Lay joined the ship Himmaleh which was owned by an American merchant house in Canton called Olyphant and Company. Olyphant and the Bible Society agreed to work together because Olyphant’s owner, David WC Olyphant had a strong Quaker faith. Lay also had extensive experience in natural history as he had served on HMS Blossom on its Pacific voyage where he served as a naturalist.

It was on May 10, 1837 when the ship Himmaleh reached Brunei. A day to day account of the Brunei visit was published in a periodical called the Chinese Repository which was published in Canton. The periodical was published from May 1832 to 1851 to inform Protestant missionaries working in Asia about the history and culture of China, of current events, and documents.

Lay and a member of the crew became guests of His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II and stayed at the palace. It was while staying at the palace, Lay received a sample of local coal which was brought to the palace for his perusal. He was told that the coal came from a place called the ‘Kianggi’ but no one could tell him exactly where that coal was found. It was not until 29 May 1837, about two days before he left Brunei, that Lay accidentally found the coal seam while returning from a trek outside the Brunei town.

His companion described the find, “… on our return we stopped by the side of a pleasant stream, (the Kianggi, before noticed,) under the shade of some large trees, to rest ourselves. Here Mr Lay struck his hammer upon a rock, and found it was coal. On further examination, it appeared that there was a large vein of superior bituminous coal, easily accessible, being not over a mile from the town, and capable of being transported most of the way by water.”

Lay later recalled that “… I struck my hammer upon what seemed to be a vein of sandstone but to my very great delight, I discovered that it was the very thing I had so often sought for in vain, the coal of ‘Kianggi’…”

Lay published his memoirs of the voyage in New York two years later, and knowledge of his discovery spread very quickly in both Great Britain and the United States.

The British Governor in Bengal tested the Brunei’s coal through local appointed agents and found that the coal appeared to be outstanding steamship fuel. This excited the shipping world as British steamers can now go further and this would also serve to facilitate trade with China by using coal from Brunei and Borneo.

The discovery also interested James Brooke and with his own discovery of additional coal crops identified around Brunei in 1838, Brooke concluded that the British Government need to secure the monopoly and establish a coal station nearby. Brooke eventually managed to carve out an extremely large area from Brunei to eventually build up what is today’s Sarawak.

The acting American Secretary of the Navy, David Henshaw also assigned Captain John Percival and the USS Constitution the task of gaining access for the US to support American steamers in Southeast Asia. In his secret instruction to Percival, he instructed Percival to find coal and purchase such rights if necessary for the United States.

It was in March 1845 when the Constitution arrived in Brunei. His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II warmly welcomed the ship’s expedition with a nine-gun salute. However Lieutenant Chaplin, deputising for the ill Percival, failed to negotiate an agreement with the Sultan and returned empty-handed.

The need for coal continued and in August 1849, the American Secretary of State John Clayton instructed Joseph Balestier, the US Consul in Singapore to undertake a series of diplomatic mission in Southeast Asia including Brunei. It was on June 23, 1850 when Joseph Balestier signing on behalf of the United States and His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II signed a treaty between the United States of America and Brunei called “The Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation”.

This treaty outlined the relationship of the United States and Brunei and is still in place today. It was ratified by President Millard Fillmore on January31, 1853, two months before he left office on March 4, 1853 and the treaty was subsequently proclaimed by his successor, President Franklin Pierce on July 12, 1854.

Lastly, an interesting question would be, ‘What would have happen to the history of Brunei if George Tradescant Lay did not discover that coal in Kianggeh?’

The writer of The Golden Legacy column – the longest running column in The Brunei Times – also runs a website about Brunei at bruneiresources.com.

The Brunei Times

Friday, November 20, 2015

Brunei and LNG Challenges

The Oxford Business Group posted the following news:


Brunei Darussalam Looks To Work Around LNG Challenges
17 November 2015

An upgrade to its fleet of tankers could help Brunei Darussalam’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector weather external headwinds, which appear unlikely to ease in the near to medium term.

While Brunei is taking steps to diversify its economy, the energy sector remains at its core, with hydrocarbons revenues accounting for around half of GDP.

The country’s LNG sector revolves around the partly state-owned Brunei LNG (BLNG) plant in Lumut. Originally constructed in 1972, the plant’s capacity has been upgraded over the years, and it now produces around 7.2m tonnes per annum.

BLNG continues to play a key role in both regional LNG supply and the domestic economy, shipping around 6.71m tonnes of gas to Japan and South Korea each year.
Capacity boost

The country’s capacity to ship hydrocarbons, which is the cornerstone of Brunei’s export-oriented energy sector, also received a boost in July, when the majority state-owned Brunei Gas Carriers (BGC) took delivery of a new, 154,800-cu-metre LNG transport vessel.

The Amadi is the second tanker to join BGC since November of last year, when the firm took delivery of its sister ship, the Amani. Both vessels were constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea as part of a contract worth in excess of $350m, according to local media reports.

The sale marks part of the Sultanate’s push to modernise its LNG transport fleet in anticipation of increased demand in the region.
Price pressure

In the near to medium term, however, international price pressures will likely continue to weigh on the LNG sector’s growth prospects, according to global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Spot prices have already fallen by around two-thirds since early last year, according to the company, and could remain low for years, increasing the risk of temporary plant closures.

LNG prices in Japan and Korea dropped to $6.70 per million British thermal units (Btu) for short-term deliveries in November, down from approximately $20 in early 2014, according to energy information service Platts.

Additionally, Brunei could experience further price squeezes, as emerging gas producers look to expand their global market share.

In 2013, when South Korea and Brunei were negotiating the renewal of a 10-year LNG supply contract, South Korea opted to renew for only a five-year term, citing a decision to import shale gas at lower prices from the US starting in 2017.

The announcement came after a Japanese consortium comprising Tokyo Electric Power, Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas – some of BLNG’s largest customers – chose to halve imports from 6.01m tonnes per year to 3.4m under the terms of a new 10-year contract, signed in 2013.

Regional links

Given current price dynamics, pursuing greater involvement in energy trade in the region, which consumes nearly 70% of global supply, is seen as a key long-term strategy for the Sultanate.

According to the “BP Energy Outlook 2035”, global energy consumption is expected to rise by 37% through to 2035, with the vast majority (96%) of that demand growth slated to take place in non-OECD countries. Demand in the Asia-Pacific region in particular is expected to drive growth in LNG supply, which is forecast to expand by an average of 7.8% per annum from 2013 to 2020.

Japan, which has been the dominant recipient of natural gas in the region since the early 2000s, is projected to remain the world’s largest importer in 2035, with around 13bn cu feet imported per day, according to BP. Bruneian LNG currently accounts for 15% of Japan’s gas imports.

According to consultancy KPMG, the current LNG facility construction boom is slated to double global output by 2030, up from around 250m tonnes per year in 2012.

With demand on the rise, the Asia-Pacific region presents considerable opportunities, as its energy and natural resources supply chain is still viewed as both underdeveloped and costly, KPMG noted.

In light of dwindling domestic reserves, shipping is seen as a natural entry point for Brunei to expand its presence in the regional supply chain, as reflected by recent efforts to modernise the BGC LNG transport fleet.

“If Brunei is looking at expanding its [LNG] business opportunities beyond its shores, then there’s scope [for it],” Quah Chee Yong, Shell’s general manager of shipping and maritime for Asia-Pacific and Middle East, told local media in September.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

List of Permanent Secretaries and Deputies (19 November 2015)

Latest changes included up to 19th November 2015.


Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Yahya bin Haji Idris (Corporate Affairs and Civil Service)
Dato Paduka Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi (Energy)
Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman (Research and Development, Economy and Finance)
Dato Paduka Haji Joanda HA Rashid (Law and Welfare)
Adi Shamsul bin Haji Sabli (Industry)
Pengiran Datin Shazainah bte Pg Dato Paduka Shariffudin (International)
Haji Abd Mutalib bin Pehin Dato Haji Yussof (Media and Cabinet)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Datin Paduka Hajah Suriyah binti Haji Umar

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohammad
Ahmaddin bin Haji Abd Rahman (Performance)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi
Datin Tan Bee Yong
Dato Paduka Haji Matnor bin Haji Jeludin
Sheikh Haji Fadilah bin Sheikh Haji Ahmad
Emaleen bte Abdul Rahman

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Md Abdoh bin Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Salam

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abd Rahman (Core Education)

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Md Yusof

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Md Lutfi bin Abdullah (Administration and Finance)
Eddie bin Dato Paduka Haji Sunny (Technical and Professional)

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Hajah Normah Suria Hayati Pehin Dato Haji Md Jamil

Ministry of Communications (MOC)
Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Dato Paduka Dr. Haji Affendy bin Pehin Dato Haji Abidin
Datin Paduka Dr. Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Jalil

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Haji Zakaria bin Haji Serudin


Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Muhammad Nor Shafie bin Dato Paduka Haji Jalil (IT, E-Government and Industry)
Dr. Hajah May Faezah bte Haji Ahmad Arifin (Economy and Finance)
Haji Md Azmi bin Haji Hanifah (Energy and Industry)
Md Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos (Corporate and Public Administration)

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad
Abu Suffian bin Haji Ali

Ministry of Finance (MOF)
Haji Abu Bakar bin Haji Ibrahim
Pengiran Nimala binti Pengiran Mohamed

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
Haji Sulia bin Haji Mayan
Adanan bin Haji Jaafar
Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abd Wahab
Haji Osman bin Haji Mohd Yusof

Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)
Haji Idris bin Hj Md Ali
Haji Md Sunadi bin Buntar

Ministry of Education (MOE)
Dr. Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh
Datin Dr. Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina bte Pehin Dato Haji Abd Aziz

Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA)
Haji Harun bin Haji Juned
Haji Roslan bin Tajaah

Ministry of Development (MOD)
Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT)
Khairuddin bin Abd Hamid
Wardi bin Md Ali

Ministry of Communications (MOC)

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS)
Noorjusmin bin Haji Abd Samad

Ministry of Health (MOH)
Dr. Rahmah binti Haji Said
Dr. Hazri bin Haji Kifle

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reflections of Bandar Seri Begawan

Rebecca Oi
Sunday, November 15, 2015

ATTENDING one of Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee Pg Ahmad’s inspirational talks is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many as it heightens interest and knowledge about art in its many forms.

This accomplished veteran artist aims to motivate art students with his many masterpieces and during a question and answer session, he was inquired on “why he enjoyed painting historical images and what was his goal in pursuing a career in art”.

For starters, Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee’s interest in painting began as a hobby when he was a little boy.

“Historical events transpire every second, minute, hour and day and this continues on until our very last breath,” he said during an interview with The Brunei Times. “Only through painting and photographs can chronological facts be recorded and the past or present state of affairs as well as environment can be properly portrayed.”

“Art came before everything and all forms of writing originally evolved from pictograms. By learning to record visible objects, and expressing ideas through engraving or painting on relatively flat, two-dimensional surfaces, humans produced visual aids even before speech,” he added.

Historical transformation can be seen in his panoramic painting depicting Brunei Town from the 1940s to 1950s and a 7.5-by- 2.5-feet painting of Bandar Seri Begawan during its independence in 1984, both of which describe the same location.

“There are vast differences in both paintings due to the physical changes and modernization which have taken place in the sultanate. The memories are nostalgic reminders of the past that has shaped our country while the future which is beyond our knowledge and grasp is something to look forward to,” said Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee.

The sketch of Brunei Town in the 1940s reminded the veteran artist of his earlier days as a little boy living with his family in the capital during the Japanese occupation.

“My father’s house used to be located at the current Lapau (Audience Chamber) and the Dewan Majlis site, right in the centre of town. Both of the present sites were built and constructed above the Kianggeh River which was reclaimed and filled with earth for the construction of new roads and other facilities,” he reminisced.

The river was diverted by excavating a new drainage system which starts from the junction of Chung Hwa Middle School (CHMS) to the Residency Bridge. The Tamu Kianggeh (Kianggeh market) and nearby buildings are also situated above the river, while the wooden bridge that previously joined the town and the market was reduced to barely 12 feet from its original 100 feet.

“Tall buildings did not exist and when the Allied Forces bombed the town, the townspeople were faced with complete and utter destruction. That was a moment of suffering and hardship as the population had to rebuild the municipality from scratch,” he said.

The town was then renamed as Bandar Seri Begawan during the reign of Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien who ascended the throne on June 6, 1950.

“The Architect of Modern Brunei focused on raising the country’s standard of living and when his son, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaullah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam took over the reign, an era of expansive developments began – this is Brunei as we see it today,” explained Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee.

The paintings were executed in one centimetre boxes similar to a mural and with small, distinct dots of colour called pointillism which was first developed by Georges Seurat; in this case Zikir (remembering Allah SWT) is recited as Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee applies the dots.

When asked how many dots were needed to cover the whole painting, he replied that it was uncountable due to the many layers of dotted brush strokes and a variety of colours used.

Taking six months to finish the painting and three to four hours a day reciting the Zikir, has gave the veteran artist great pleasure and satisfaction, especially when he stood back and viewed the end result.

Painting the past and present using his unique technique of Zikirism has opened his mind and vision along with a deep understanding regarding life in this world and the influences taking place – economically, politically and socially.

Pointing to a photograph which was taken of the capital from Jalan Berita recently and of the same vista as his paintings, Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee said that there has been a great development which is of vast contrast to that of 1984.

He added that Bandar Seri Begawan grew 10 times to its present size of 100.36 square kilometres and there are now buildings surrounding the capital such as the majestic Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and magnificent Legislative Council Chamber (Lapau) which are testament to the beauty of Bandar Seri Begawan.

“Whatever we are enjoying today are blessings from Allah SWT and the future looks bright. Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for the gift and artistic talent that has bestowed upon me by the Great Almighty and it has not gone to waste,” said Pg Dato Paduka Hj Asmalee.

The Brunei Times

Inspirational Quotes