Tuesday, July 05, 2016

US TIP Report: Brunei Retained Tier 2

BRUNEI has retained its Tier 2 status in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report published on Thursday.

The report, issued by the United States Department of State in Washington assessed 188 countries including Brunei in terms of the prevention, prosecution and protection aspects.

The Brunei Government has made significant efforts to meet the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for the elimination of trafficking in persons, the Embassy of the United States of America in Brunei Darussalam said in a media statement yesterday.

The report has provided a number of recommendations for the Brunei government to increase its efforts to combat human trafficking.

“Protecting the most vulnerable among us from human trafficking is difficult work that all governments, and all people, are responsible for. I commend the Brunei Government for its efforts to not only protect the welfare of victims, but also make sure human traffickers are brought to justice under Brunei law,” said US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Craig Allen.

The TIP Report is a call to action for governments to increase the efforts that go into preventing human trafficking, while continuing to maintain programmes and activities that contribute to the adequate protection of victims and effective prosecution of traffickers.

In its elaboration, the report said the Government of Brunei Darussalam does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, authorities charged three foreign nationals for child sex trafficking and one individual for forced labour under the anti-trafficking law, compared to the previous two years in which it did not initiate any prosecutions.

The report has provided a number of recommendations for the Brunei government to increase its efforts to combat trafficking in persons such as to increase protective services to provide incentives for victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions, including by allowing adult victims in government shelters to move freely and by issuing work permits to all victims; cease arrest, deportation, and punishment of trafficking victims for crimes committed as a direct result of their being subjected to trafficking.

It also suggested Brunei to train officials on implementation of proactive procedures to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, with a focus on psychological coercion as a technique used by traffickers; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offences and convict and punish both sex and labour traffickers, including complicit government officials.

Brunei should also train judges on how to accurately and effectively implement Brunei’s anti-trafficking laws; allocate government resources to the fund established by the 2004 law, and allow this to be paid directly to victims as restitution; enforce laws prohibiting acts that facilitate trafficking, such as retention or confiscation of migrant workers’ identity documents; offer foreign victims long-term alternatives to removal from the country; expand comprehensive and visible anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at employers of foreign workers and clients of the sex trade; provide anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel; approve and implement the national action plan; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, the TIP Report said.

The report also said the government demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts. It screened for suspected trafficking offences among 66 cases involving labour complaints or prostitution, a slight decrease from 81 cases the previous year. After three years without initiating any trafficking prosecutions, the government charged three foreign nationals for child sex trafficking under the 2004 anti-trafficking law; it also charged one individual – a case pending trial since 2012 – under the anti-trafficking law for allegedly recruiting and subjecting a domestic worker to forced labour. One alleged sex trafficking case from 2014 and the four cases charged during the reporting period remain pending.

According to the report, Brunei made uneven efforts to prevent trafficking. The government reported transforming its ad hoc anti-trafficking working group to a permanent inter-agency committee to coordinate implementation of its national action plan to combat trafficking; however, it did not formally approve this plan for the second consecutive year. Brunei’s first anti-trafficking NGO was formed during the year and held a series of awareness-raising workshops, film screenings, and art exhibitions, despite lacking official recognition from the government.

Police authorities and labour and immigration officials conducted 10 nationwide roadshows to raise awareness of human trafficking, which specifically targeted employers, human resource managers, students, migrant workers, and the general public, and reached over 1,200 companies and employees across the country, the report noted.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Brunei History Thongh Spanish Eyes

Illustrations of the ethnic group in the Phiilippines in The Boxer Codex.
A Spanish galleon from the Boxer Codex. The manuscript now known as the Boxer Codex contains vivid historical descriptions of many parts of Asia including Brunei. Picture: Agencies

Rozan Yunos
Bandar Seri Begawan
Sunday, May 29, 2016

TO students studying history in primary and secondary schools, history can be a very dry subject. To them every fact, every date, and every opinion have already been locked in place. Their task seemed to be to memorise and regurgitate them during examinations.

But history is not like that. Even though it gives the appearance and the impression that everything is already known, it is not so. Below the surface, everything is still moving and in some cases fast flowing. The facts of history can change anytime. Some facts changed through some documents which have only been unearthed recently, or through some artifacts which have just been discovered. There is constant movement in establishing historical facts.

This is so much so that even historical ‘facts’ such as the Brunei Royal Genealogy Table which more or less was settled by the 18th century through the written ‘Salasilah Brunei’ faced changes when an unlisted Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan’s tomb was discovered in Nanjing, China in 1958. Brunei is such an old kingdom that there are probably more facts that needed to be discovered before the history of Brunei can actually be finalised.

Professor BA Hussainmiya, a former historian at UBD once wrote that “to write a history of the ancient past one requires a variety of primary sources ranging from archaeology, epigraphy, inscriptions, travellers’ tales, chronicles, numismatic etc”.

Unfortunately for Brunei, most of our documentations are lacking as we lack the suitable materials to keep long lasting records. We are very much relying on archaeology and tales such as Syair Awang Semaun but for documentation, we are relying on documents generally written by non-Bruneians thus far. So these documents are the only ones through which we have been establishing our Brunei ‘history’.

While many documents have been found but many more could lie lurking in libraries around the world which may have a profound effect on our history. One such document discovered in 1947 is only beginning to make its impact.

A historian by the name of CR Boxer came across an anonymous, undated manuscript with a missing title page that an auction catalogue has described as a curious 18th century work on Asia. The manuscript belong to Lord Ilchester. The manuscript was among what remained in his collection when his estate, Holland House in London was bombed by direct German shelling on September 27, 1940 during the Blitz at the height of the Second World War.

Professor Charles Ralph Boxer, a historian and an authority on the Far East, thought the document looked interesting and placed a nominal bid for the document. He actually won the auction with that nominal bid. It was several weeks later before that document arrived at his house.

When Professor Boxer received and opened the mail, he realised that he had a late 16th century work which was so beautiful that it could easily have been owned by someone who are important enough to receive such beautiful and colourful work. In 1965, the Professor sold this manuscript to Indiana University's Lilly Library.

Rebecca Cape and Stephen Cape writing in ‘The Friends of the Lilly Library Newsletter 23’ (Fall 1994) described the manuscript dating from the late 16th century and containing about 270 pages of text, written probably by a Spanish and possibly by a Filipino clerk, and drawn from a variety of sources.

There are also seventy-five coloured drawings of the inhabitants of China, the Philippines, Java, the Moluccas, the Ladrones, and Siam; eighty-eight smaller drawings of birds and fantastic animals; and a double-fold drawing depicting a Spanish ship off one of the Ladrone islands surrounded by the small canoes of the natives of the island. The text of the volume consists of contemporary accounts describing these places, their people and customs, and the European contact with them.

What is interesting to us Bruneians, is that, there is one standalone chapter on Brunei. According to Alfredo R Roces writing in the ‘Boxer Codex’ (1977), it is believed that the original owner of the manuscript was Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, son of Governor General Gomez Perez Dasmarinas, who was killed in 1593 by Sangleys or Chinese living in the Philippines. Luis succeeded his father in office as Governor-General of the Philippines. Since Spanish colonial governors were required to submit written reports on the territories they governed, it is likely that the manuscript was written under the orders of the governor.

Professor Hussainmiya (2013) wrote that the authors of the Codex have not been identified. It is attributed to various persons including Gomez Perez Dasmarinas, Governor of the Spanish colony in the Philippines 1590-1593, or his son Luis. Both of them sailed from Acapulco in Maxico on a Manila Galleon in 1590.

Since the manuscript explains Islam without condemning it, Professor Hussainmiya theorised that the author perhaps was a high-ranking Spanish secular official who had no apprehension about the Holy Inquisition. According to Carlos Quirino and Mauro Garcia (1958) who translated the parts about the Philippines, the manuscript was the work of Antonio de Padua, a soldier-turned priest, but the calligraphy seems to match that of Juan de Cuellar, a soldier who became the secretary to Perez Dasmarinas.

The Brunei sections were written around 1588 and 1589. This is about 10 years after the Castille War in Brunei when the Spanish Forces came to Brunei and burnt down Brunei’s magnificent five-storey mosque situated close to Kota Batu.

The manuscript now known as the Boxer Codex was in fact a Spanish language manuscript containing vivid historical descriptions of many parts of Asia including Japan, China, Formosa, Luzon, Panay, Cebu, Mindanao, Sulu, New Guinea, Java, Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and other places and not the least on Brunei. Boxer translated part of it about China in 1953. But the writers probably would not have been able to witness all the things so realistically described in the Codex. It is likely, therefore, that the Brunei part was written by someone who had actually lived in Brunei for a longer period of time.

Tom Harrisson, the former Curator of the Brunei and later Sarawak Museum in 1960 took a special interest on the Brunei section in the folios from 71-86 of the manuscript and asked John S Carroll to translate and publish it in English which was done in 1982 when it was published in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Society (JMBRAS).

John S Carroll noted that to his knowledge, no other extant document tells so much about Berunai (sic) in the late 16th century. He theorised that the Brunei component is the work of a Malay-speaking Tagalog residing in Manila, a trader who had visited Brunei as recently as 1589. It was known that as early as 1578, Governor de Sande interrogated Muslim Tagalogs from Balayan to Luzon who had been in Brunei. Like the imperialist Sande, Governor Dasmarinas also would have wanted current information about trade and the potential enemies and allies of Spain, and perhaps the Boxer Codex was a notebook compiled for him by Cuellar for that purpose.

The entire Boxer Codex including the Brunei chapter has also now been translated and published in a book form entitled ‘The Boxer Codex: Transcription and Translation of an Illustrated Late Sixteenth Century Spanish Manuscript Concerning the Geography, Ethnography and History of the Pacific, South-East Asia and East Asia’ by Jeffrey S Turley and edited by George Bryan Souza and Jeffrey S Turley and published this year (2016).

Professor Hussainmiya (2013) noted that despite the English translation being available, not much attention has been given by local scholars to the contents of this published manuscript despite its invaluable insights into the old Brunei kingdom. The codex highlighted among other things geography, history, law, religion, government, protocol, commerce, weapons and calendar of Brunei.

This is the first of a two-part article. Part two will be published next Sunday.

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

The Brunei Times


Friday, June 03, 2016

New Babu Raja Flyover

The new flyover at Jalan Babu Raja-Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha junction. BT/Fazizul Haqimie

 Abdul Aziz Ismail
Friday, June 3, 2016

A NEW flyover at Jalan Babu Raja and Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha is now open for motorists.

According to the Public Works Department (JKR) at the Ministry of Development (MoD), the flyover is one of the projects under the 10th National Development Plan (RKN 10).

The $20.2 million flyover, which began construction on June 20, 2012, was contracted to Tobishima.

According to JKR, the project is aimed at accommodating the increase in traffic, and at the same time, ensure safety of road users.

The new road development is also aimed to enhance the road networks where motorists are able to have more access. Traffic light systems have also been installed to ensure road safety.

JKR said the flyover could also reduce traffic congestion at Jalan Raja Isteri Pg Anak Saleha.

Present at the launching yesterday was the Acting Minister of Development Dato Paduka Hj Suhaimi Hj Gapar.

In an interview, he said that the project is aimed to ensure the traffic at the area runs smoothly.

“Before there were problems because there was a lot of traffic here. So this is to ease the traffic for motorists,” said the acting minister.

Dato Hj Suhaimi went on to say that more projects are in the pipelines, adding that the ministry will continue its efforts to make Brunei roads safer and more convenient.

JKR also reminded motorists to drive with caution and follow the provided road signs to ensure all road users’ safety.

Also present during the launching yesterday was the Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) of MoD Hj Md Lutfi Abdullah, along with the deputy permanent secretary, head of departments and senior officers.

The Brunei Times

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Very Rare 'Stink Lily' Found Growing in Brunei

The stink lily or ‘Amorphpophallus paeoniifoluis’ on the Murah Namit's lawn. Picture: BT/Khai Zem Mat Sani

Khai Zem Mat Sani
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A PECULIAR-LOOKING plant growing naturally on the lawn of a 66-year-old woman in Kg Lumapas was identified by Heart of Borneo Centre Chief Executive as the ‘Amorphpophallus paeoniifoluis’ or stink lily.

“If it grows naturally the plant’s recent discovery would be the first recorded case of it ever growing in the sultanate,” said the chief executive of Brunei HoB Centre Mahmud Hj Mohd Yussof.

The plant, according to information on the ASEAN centre of Biodiversity’s website, is one of two of the largest flowers in the world found native to Borneo Island.

The 66-year-old senior citizen who made the discovery, Murah Namit, initially described her find as “A leafless flower stalk growing directly from the ground” which has started growing progressively since Thursday.

“At first, I thought it was just a wild plant but it started to grow differently after few days. The ‘leaf’ seems leathery and varies in colour. There were times I saw flies around the flower,” she said.

She added that residents from the village who flocked to her place to witness the unusual plant growth kept on saying the flower might be a ‘corpse flower’ or ‘Bunga Bangkai’ and it supposedly has rotting smell. But for the past few days I didn’t smell anything rotten coming from the flower,” she said. The plant was described to be measuring approximately 70cm wide and 50cm tall with maroon and purple coloured flowers.

The Brunei Times

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

HM Sultan Brunei: Greater Synergy Vital To Transnational Threats

Greater Synergy Vital To Transnational Threats

Rabiatul Kamit
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, has called for greater multi-agency cooperation in tackling the emergence of transnational security threats.

The Defence Minister and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) yesterday said the world is facing a multitude of security challenges across international boundaries.

In a titah at the 55th RBAF anniversary celebration, the monarch said the sultanate is “not exempted from the possibility of encountering” traditional and non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, maritime and cyber security as well as natural disasters.

His Majesty further underscored the need for cooperation not only among security agencies in the country, but also at the international level.

“It is, therefore, imperative to review the procedures and best practices as well as sharing of knowledge and skills through bilateral and multilateral exercises to ensure its relevance at all times,” said the Sultan during the event at the Defence Academy in Tanah Jambu.

As one of the hallmarks of the RBAF, His Majesty explained the new infrastructure is tasked with producing young officers equipped with fundamental leadership and military knowledge.

“The academy must continue to plan and broaden the scope of its teaching towards developing quality military officers at tactical, operational and strategic levels. All these are vital in facing the challenging and uncertain contemporary operating environment,” said the monarch.

His Majesty also cautioned against complacency following RBAF’s procurement of “sophisticated and state-of-the-art” military equipment.

“This should not stop us from making further improvements... The Ministry of Defence will need to continue to adjust the direction of development planning and research according to requirements and priorities,” added the Sultan.

The Brunei Times

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