Showing posts from October, 2006

What did your grandad do during the World War?

Sometimes hidden treasures can be right in front of you and you don't know it. Each of us has a history of unique personal experiences that makes us who we are.

Last Sunday, my wife and I visited her elderly uncle. It was our 15th Hari Raya visit there and other than fulfilling our duties, I guess we just went there to say hello, how are you and bye. We normally stay for about 15 minutes tops. My uncle and his wife were not much of a conversationalist and in most visits, it will be one question and one answer. I always ask him about his business (he runs a small business) and how many people that has come to his house and which of my wife's siblings had been there and which hasn't. Nothing much really.

This time when I got there, my better half said why not change where I usually sit. It struck me then that I have been sitting at the same sofa more or less in those 15 visits and the interesting bit was that the sofas too have not changed position! I decided to change my ques…

Hari Raya Cards

I promised my sister I will talk about Hari Raya cards sometime before the end of Hari Raya. Even though theoretically speaking Hari Raya is the whole of Syawal but by next weekend, it will be practically over. So I thought this is as good a time as any to talk about it.

We received two more Hari Raya cards from members of the Royal Family - this time from His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Her Royal Highness Princesss Sarah. We enjoyed receiving from both Pengiran Muda and Pengiran Anak Sarah as they took the time to personally handwrite the envelopes and sign the cards as well. Each of them will send you a separate one even though it is the same card design. Last year was the first time that they sent out separate cards and it was last year that I discovered that both personally handwrite their cards and envelopes. You can't get any more personal than that.

I was looking through the Hari Raya cards I received this year. So far I have received about 100+. Most are run of the m…

Brunei's $15.9 billion GDP: Good News and Bad News

The latest issue of Brunei Economic Bulletin (BEB, volume 4 issue 3 & 4, July 2006) issued by the Economic Planning and Development Department of the Prime Minister's Office, contains several interesting information about Brunei Darussalam’s economy. There are good news and bad news.

Let me start with good news. The BEB wrote that the GDP statistics has been revised. Well, actually this is not new, because the announcement was already made sometimes in August 2006. But it is still good news because now we learn that our GDP statistics conform to the international practice (which uses the “1993 System of National Accounts”). The GDP statistics are also more comprehensive in terms of data coverage. Another good news: finally, our GDP statistics adopt two different approaches to compiling the data (ie, the production and expenditure approaches). Done this way, both the policy maker and analysts are now able to undertake data cross check. The revised methodology allows analysts to …

Please forgive me

On the second day of Hari Raya, my family and I went to 15 houses of colleagues, relatives and friends. We started at about 8.30 in the morning and did not come back until about 9.30 in the evening. It was continuous visiting and we only stopped for prayers at my parents' and my mother-in-law's house. That number I was told, is average and I know of many other families which did a lot more visits than that.

Out of that 15 houses, guess at how many housese were we offered to partake in the usual Raya feast? If you answered 15, you are close. It was 14 and it was only the last one which didn't and simply because it was late. I am not going to write about how excessive, wasteful or whatever it is that we should not be doing. I am not an expert in that area and my partner in my other blogsite has written another beautiful piece on this on our joint effort at bruneiummah. But of course this is as good a time to remind ourselves that moderation is always good. I have learned to p…

Hari Raya Tribute to the Royal Family

The Hari Raya visit to Istana Nurul Iman is probably the only one in the world where the monarch and members of the Royal Family actually stood to wait for the public to come and greet them which numbers almost 40,000 daily for three days running. Someone emailed me whether I can scan the current photo of the Royal Family which was handed to us as a gift during the first Hari Raya. I looked at the frame and wasn't sure if I was to open the frame whether I could get it closed again as it is sealed. So I took a photograph of the photograph and posted it here (if you click on the photo, you will get a larger version). So, to His Majesty and the Royal Family, for taking the time to stand and greet more than 100,000 members of the public without complaint for three days every year, today's entry is a tribute to all of you.Photo credit: Istana Nurul Iman

Click here for more photos of First Day Hari Raya at Istana Nurul Iman with His Majesty, Her Majesty and HRH Pengiran Isteri Azrina…

In the Name of Education by Z Junaidi

One of the first thing that intrigued me when I read the entry on Monday 23rd October 2006, was not the Hari Raya the blogger had spent all his life, but rather the loneliness he had to endure all the while. All - in the name of education. I had a rather similar upbringing. I ‘left’ my KB home before my 12th birthday to live and being educated in the so-called Science School. It was 1979. We were the second intake of students who had been selected to go to such a priviledged school.

I’m not too sure if it creates the same kind of feelings to parents nowadays as compared to those in the late 70s and early 80s. This was simply because ‘good schools’ were rare then. Today, some of the best echelon of A-students come from several schools around the country, eliminating the Science School as the (only) top school to go to. But no doubt in my mind, the Science School will still continue to churn out future leaders of Brunei.

It was interesting to note that another previous entry noted the can…

Silaturrahim during Hari Raya

Sometimes we pay lip service towards one of the aims of visiting each other during Hari Raya which is to extend silaturrahim. We take that for granted as most of the time that is what we happened. We visit each other's houses and see the same family members, the same friends and so on. Nothing new in that. Very seldom do we get to see more than that. This Hari Raya, I thought the same thing will happen but this year I came across two family friends who we have not seen for eons. If if it wasn't for having open houses and having the practise of letting virtually anyone to come visit us, we will not have come across these two cases of really espousing the case of extending silaturrahim.

The first happened during first day of Hari Raya. A family friend who often dropped in for Hari Raya this time round brought his mother who was a Malaysian. It was the first time she came with this family friend. And when she saw my mother, it was the most joyous of occassion. Apparently she and m…

First Day Raya at Istana Nurul Iman

I am not going to write much at all today. Yesterday morning was the first day for what RTB described as state dignitaries and diplomats to greet His Majesty and the Royal Family at the Palace. I am pretty sure that I am not in the category of a 'state dignitary', but I was there all the same. I thought I will upload some of the more interesting food scenes during that reception (I will try to upload the entire photos at my multiply blogsite). Some of the more interesting exhibition was the house and the cannon made out of chocolate and this huge lobster (which they keep replacing) which is mostly decoration and the melted chocolate fountain for the dip. All the lobster meat was on the plate. Other interesting food also include deer meat rendang, the prawn satay and the melted chocolate dip. The others are mostly traditional Raya and Brunei food (with some dimsums thrown in) but of course decorated in the palace way.

I wanted to take a photo with His Majesty but of course was …

First Day of Hari Raya

SELAMAT HARI RAYA to all readers. I am not sure why you all are here this Pagi Raya browsing through blogs when you should be out visiting your parents, your elders, your relatives and your friends. So to discourage people from spending too much time reading blogs, I am just doing a very short entry today.

When I posted this, it is still a couple of hours before I have to go to the mosque for the Raya prayer. My body clock after one month of training waking up at 3.30 in the morning still woke me up at 3.30 this morning. For the last 30 days, sleeping at 9.30 and waking up at 3.30 has been the routine. So, no more late night shows for me. And not sleeping after sahur has also been a feature. Though yesterday's morning took its toll, I nodded off for a couple of minutes during the budget negotiation with one of the ministries. There was a couple of millions that I have to check with the secretariat as to what transpired! Seriously, it wasn't that large an amount but a couple of …

Selamat Hari Raya to Everyone!

I know Hari Raya mood is definitely on as the number of readers to this blogsite has dropped dramatically over the last couple of days. Last Saturday, the number was 449 and yesterday it was 455. The last time it was this low, I have to go back to August. Anyway, blog reading is probably pretty way down everybody's list during Hari Raya. And blogging is also way down my list judging by the unpreparedness of today's blog. So today, I think the only people reading this are those not in Brunei and not celebrating Hari Raya or even if you are celebrating it, I know the experience will not be as nice an experience compared to celebrating at home. But that's only short term, I am sure once you are done studying, you will be celebrating all the Hari Raya you want at home.

Last night for some reason, I remembered how awful my Hari Raya was in my student days. One Raya, I spent up on the plane flying back to Brunei - in the 80s, Hari Raya was around June. Another Raya, I spent for m…

Last Minute before Hari Raya

After the beautiful posting yesterday following the expert posting by our guest bloggers over the last few days, today's posting unfortunately will not be as beautifully worded. For those who wants to continue to subject raised by Abu Iman, Abu Iman and I have talked about it and we will be opening up another blogsite which will be catering to the needs of the ummah especially Bruneians very soon. We will certainly be looking for contributors to write articles for the site and I will cross post Islamic related materials on that site as well.

Today being the last day (or 2nd last day) of fasting, I thought I will go into any last minute Ramadan and Syawal needs just like many Bruneians whom I saw yesterday at the shops. I actually popped over to buy a replacement water dispenser bottle at one electrical shop in Kiulap and all the shop sales people were busy catering to the needs of everyone else wanting to buy tv sets, hifi sets, dvd sets etc. Nobody wanted to layan someone like me …

One World, One Ummah by Abu Iman

2 days to Eid - subject to the sighting of the moon this Sunday.

If it isn't sighted, we continue an extra day of fasting and abstaining ourselves from our nafs. If sighted, we will celebrate Monday as the 1st day of Syawal, the month of Victory for Muslims all over the world.

Ramadhan will be over soon. I am sad to see it go for I know not if I will ever see it again. I pray Allah accepts my prayers and Duaas during this blessed month of Ramadhan.

We have struggled for a month against our nafs, our inner demons, abstaining ourselves from eating, drinking, se*ual relations, monitoring our actions to - prevent from bad actions and promoting good. We pray every night during Terawih prayers to Allah Azza Wa Jalla, seeking Lailatul Qadr, the night that is better than a thousand months, seeking for His forgiveness for our past sins. Only Allah knows whether our sins have been pardoned. We can only pray in hope and fear for His forgiveness.

Those who have filled Ramadhan with fasting, praye…

The Month of Spending? By Kamal Muhammad

What is the first thing that come to our mind when it comes to Hari Raya?

Is it the sound and sight of firecrackers?

Or is it the green package that the youngsters get from the elders?

Or is it the cakes and the new attires which we bought especially for Raya?

Or is it the opportune time when we can check out and make our move to the person whom we have admired for so long? (This is also a hint for anyone who haven’t figure that one out yet!)

Or is it the open houses where we can eat homemade cooking of our friends, relatives and colleagues?

Or is it the morning Hari Raya Prayer and subsequently the greetings that we make to our elders, family and friends?

Or is the old fashion tradition where we all ask for forgiveness to each other and foster closer relationship especially with people whom we have not met for a very long time?

I believe everyone has a different version of Raya and it may all relate to the stages of life cycle that we all go through. It is difficult to say that everyone have…

Melayu - Origin of the Word

In the comment chatter box, I noticed that there have been a number of remarks about MIB and the citizenship, and even the relevancy of MIB in the context of the religion. If you are expecting today's topic to be about MIB, let me apologise in advance. I am not an expert to speak about the topic but I can point you to a couple of seminar papers available on the website that may be of use who wants to know more about MIB.

I was more intrigued about the origin of the word Melayu. According to the latest Pusaka Vol. 12, another Brunei History Centre publication, one Malaysian historian, Nabir Abdullah who wrote in 1978 and has been widely quoted noted that there are two schools of thoughts where the word 'Melayu' comes from. Firstly, the more widely acceptable explanation is that the word Melayu comes from Sanskrit 'Mala' which means hill/mountain and 'ur' which means town in Tamil or town/village/locality in Malayalam and hence Hilltowns or…

A La Carte or Buffet for Sungkai? By Kamal Muhammad

Hunger, tiredness, thirstiness, all add up to one thing - a desire to end one’s salvation. I do believe breaking fast times are the most look forward to times during the Ramadhan month (apart from the Lailatul Qadar of course). It is the time when we all regain our energy and end the physical and spiritual restraint exercise.

But one may wonder whether it matters how we break our fast. Do we eat lavishly and eat what our natural desire command us, or shall we eat moderately and still exercise some restraint. Buffet or a la carte is the question that ponders me when ever I dine out. To answer the question, one has to experience oneself what each means.

Option 1: A la carte – Too bad, the prices doesn’t change; I hardly come across any restaurant that give discount during Ramadhan, but most of the time the prices are cheaper than buffets (depending on what you order of course). But A la carte is usually meant for those who want a simple dish (or it can be complicated), who knows what…


How many people in Brunei have seen this? When I first saw it on the magazine shelf at Pustaka Remaja two Sundays ago, I thought, wow! A Brunei own comic book. That's a first. It was reasonably priced at about $4.90 but I thought compared to other comics from Malaysia and especially from UK or USA, $4.90 is nothing, besides talent has to be paid for and when it's Brunei own talent, we have to make our sacrifices. So I settled down as soon as I got home to read it. It has its own ISBN number 999 17-32-12-8 and it was issue no.1. It was published by Brunei Press. Then the date of the publication struck me. This comic book was printed in June 2003. Three years ago!

Where was I three years ago not to have noticed this? But to make amends I read the comic from cover to cover. The front cover has got the five cartoon characters but the back cover has the cartoon caricature of all the cartoonists. I am reproducing both the front and back covers of the comic so that you can all go out …

The Brunei Escargot and Other Discoveries

A lot of Bruneian Muslims on this second last Sunday of this Ramadhan took the time to visit the graves of their loved ones. There is of course next Friday and Sunday when the cars will overflow whatever limited spaces there are available at the carparks next to the cemetery. It happened to us last year when we visited our grandparents' graves in Kuala Belait. I remembered saying why was it that everyone was here at this time, conveniently forgetting that I was there as well adding to the traffic jam. This year we left the house at 6.30 in the morning and we reached KB at around 7.30, there was only one other car there. For those who haven't made their visits yet, there is next Friday and Sunday. Of course, you can always visit the graves at any other time of the year but do try to make it during this fasting month.

As usual I always try to make any long trip worthwhile to discover new things about Brunei. I always make a tour to both Kuala Belait and Seria to note any new thin…

A Historic Moment to Remember

About three Fridays ago, Pehin Goh launched a pictorial book entitled 'A Historic Moment to Remember’ a book that was commemorating the Chinese New Year celebrations at the ICC which was attended by His Majesty and members of the royal family earlier this year. I read in BB that I can get hold of the book for free and finally managed to get hold of it yesterday. When I looked through the photographs, I remembered blogging about the celebrations. It was in my earlier days as a new blogger and my entry on spaces.msn actually focused more on the Lion Dance and I managed to insert some information about the lions as well:

I was among the crowd at the New Year gathering held by the Brunei Chinese Chamber of Commerce at the ICC where His Majesty was the Guest of Honour. Admittedly it was a grand spectacle and one of the performances was a Lion Dance. Lion Dances are one of the things that can raise my heartbeats. When I was very young, I must have been scared and till now, even the sound…

Rimba Horticulture Centre

I was out in Rimba yesterday at the Horticulture Centre. Previously I used to go there every couple of months searching for plants and flowers to add to the collection at home. Sometimes it's just simply to buy earth, fertilizers and flower pots. Over the last year, I have been too busy to do that and I noticed lately that my plants growth seemed somewhat stunted and before being accused of plant cruelty, I thought I will have to get some fertilizer at least. At least that's my justification. My better half tells me that I am buying instant flowering plants just to make my plant collection look better for Hari Raya. Heh. Maybe.

The Horticulture Centre (check out their website) was established in 1979 though it was only in 1992 when it became the centre for horticultural business; have changed since the last time I went there. Maybe not a lot but it seemed to have improved. What used to be underused car porches have been turned into small stalls to sell related horticulture prod…

The Fiscal and Monetary Review (Again?)

I have been neglecting my main library at to the point that visitors on a daily average there has dropped lower than at this blogsite which is a first (553 for the versus 629). The as the main library used to average around 1,000+ daily. The last time I updated anything was the royal wedding pictures and helping to host the Brunei Currency Board Gallery's temporary website.

At the moment I am uploading the entire Brunei Laws which is on pdf format for which I am very, no, extremely grateful to my legal friend; the gazettes which contained the amendments to the laws, also on pdf format; and a few other interesting publications including the Fiscal and Monetary Review Annual 2005 which was released last month by the Ministry of Finance. Because I am too busy doing all this, this will be a short entry today.

I think I wrote about the Fiscal and Monetary Review already in the past. The FMR as the MOF people called it for short …

Sports Tourism in Brunei

I was at a meeting yesterday discussing the next Hassanal Bolkiah Asean Youth Football Tournament (HBT) to be held sometime next year. This tournament was initiated as part of His Majesty's efforts to bring the youths of ASEAN countries together through football and is the only one in the region to do so. It was meant to be a biennial affair and kicked off in August 2002. However the second HBT was not held in 2004 but in March 2005 instead and now the third HBT to be held sometime next year. At the last tournament the government spent some $1 million in direct and indirect costs.

Costs are one thing. It's a worthwhile effort if there are benefits, in this case there are, though very much intangible ones. Other than the usual harmonious relationship, introducing Brunei etc, there are some benefits to our local tourism industry such as hotels etc. The only problem seemed to be sustaining this so called 'sports tourism' for it to continuously bring in the benefits to our …

How prepared are we?

Yesterday morning was spent at my wife's cousin's house attending her daughter's funeral. She passed away the night before due to lungs failure. She was not even 40 yet and she left three young daughers, the youngest barely 7 years old and the eldest in Primary 5. Her husband told me the lungs failure occurred because of complication in her diabetes.

I keep on seeing the television health adverts on what things to look out for when you are suffering from diabetes - all in the line of look after your feet etc, because the feet is always the first part affected by cuts etc and untended can cause other complications later on. What struck me is not so much the advert but the existence of the advert itself. To have an advert which keeps on airing repeatedly (to those who watched RTB) means that there is a serious problem. According to the MOH website, the third leading cause of death (2001) in Brunei is Diabetes Mellitus. I am not a health or medical expert to say whether this i…

Old Age Pensions in Brunei

Last night's announcement during the Nuzul Al-Quran celebration by His Majesty of a 25% increase in old age and handicapped pensions marked the 8th time this pension has been increased since it was first introduced in 1955 by our 28th Sultan. When it was first announced in 1955, it was the first time that the government has enacted a government funded modern welfare system. Though last night's announcements equally caught the majority of people by surprise just as the announcement of the accelerated salary increments last July.

The pensions are paid under the Old Age and Handicapped Pensions Act (Chapter 18) and was first introduced in 1955 when our 28th Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien III first announced it in a Christmas Eve speech. His Majesty when announcing it stated that the pensions are to ensure that the old aged and the handicapped in this country gets sufficient care from the government. Just for the record, the amount of old age pension was $20.00…

'Nuzul Al-Quran'

Tomorrow is a public holiday for everyone of us here in Brunei regardless of race and religion, and in other Islam countries in the world a well. We will be celebrating Nuzul Al-Quran. There are some among us including those who will be going to the ICC later this evening who do not know what Nuzul Al-Quran is all about with some of our younger readers even asking 'apakan nuzul ani sebenarnya?' and why celebrate on the 17th Ramadhan?

The answer to that is this short paragraph which I quoted from BB in a 1999 article - "The 17th Ramadhan is one of the significant dates in the Islamic calendar or 'takwim' as it is the date of the Revelation of Al-Quran also known as Nuzul Al Quran, which falls today. The Revelation of Al-Quran is very meaningful to mankind as it influences the life of the people and this event can be considered as the biggest historical event in mankind's civilisation."

I read somewhere that there have been some arguments that the revelation …

Helping the Brunei Needy

A couple of years ago I was staying at my uncle's place in Batu Pahat, a town in Johor for my cousin's wedding. The one thing I discovered at his house was the amount of name cards and flyers at the bottom of his mail slot. When I looked at them, they were all about providing loans. These are not the normal bank loans. These are the illegal loans from loansharks. According to my uncle, he cleaned out the mail slot every month and even then they keep piling up. I was quite surprised that in Malaysia, these 'private' loans have become such huge businesses. A couple of months back there was this story about a street vendor who defaulted on a M$200 loan was set on fire by the loan sharks suffering some 40 percent burns. I don't know whether there are loan sharks already operating in Brunei but I am pretty sure that they are out there except that these cases are not out in the open yet.

I was speaking to one of my staff the other day and found out that in our agency, the…