Monday, July 31, 2006

Food on a Brunei Sunday

Yesterday and Friday was the first time in about 5 months that I was not on a golf course or in the gym. This is due to my bad knee and I have been undergoing physiotherapy sessions twice a week for the last 2 weeks. My physiotherapist at JPMC described the knee problem as shock absorber rosak. I vehemently blame it on my bad golf swings because if I don't blame it on that, most people will prescribe eating less to reduce my plus size figure would be a much better way to improve my knee's medical problems.

Of course yesterday being a Sunday gave me and the family time to ourselves and we didn't attend any wedding functions. There must be a couple of invitations but therein lies the typical Brunei dilemma - should we go or shouldn't we. A number of factors had to be considered - whether the invitation is from your family, friends, aquaintances, office mates, office staff, how many times you have been there, how many times they came to your families' wedding functions, how many children left do they have to marry off, when is your own children's expected wedding date (building up brownie points so that these people owe you when you hold your ceremonies) etc. It can be quite a complicated formula to decide whether to go or not to go.

We decided early on to do our own thing, so no wedding. Other than the usual chores of fetching my son from ugama school, we did a number of other things instead. However I want to describe two places that I did actually go to. The first is the Restoran Nasi Kandar Penang (Arthini Cafe & Catering Restaurant) at Kampung Bunut. The restaurant is located just behind the Bunut Filling Station. Just enter into the simpang next to the station and just a couple of hundred meters into the simpang, you will see a block of shophouses and it is there. You can't miss it.

Is it good? Ohhh, yes. It's genuine 100% Penang Nasi Kandar just like what I used to eat in Penang. I can't believe it, the dishes look so nice and appetising and the portions are big but prices are reasonable. The place is not that big but quite a large crowd was there even at 1.30 in the afternoon. Nasi Kandar got its name when hawkers in Penang would carry the rice and the dishes using poles on their shoulders, hence kandar which means to carry. But the speciality of the food is that it is very curryish and the dishes are almost all cooked in rich curry gravy and the smell yesterday was heavenly. Chef Anwar has been especially brought in to the restaurant has a 15 year experience. And the owners are Malaysians Indians who told me that their plan is to expand the recipes available to at least a hundred dishes! What's the downside to the restaurant? Only one. Don't go there too often, unless you plan to have a shorter than usual lifespan or want to meet your loved ones who has departed earlier very much sooner. If regularly consumed, the coconut oil laden dishes will create havoc in your bloodstream, that much I can tell you.

In the evening, it was another official dinner (my 8th of the month) and this time it was at Takara, a Japanese restaurant. Takara has been around for quite a while and at one stage was the only Japanese restaurant in town. But of course that has changed now but Takara remained and I gathered it is a bit competitive now. So how does Takara compares to the other Japanese restaurants in Brunei? I guess the answer to that would be - it is slightly better - having been in the game for much longer and their deco is nicer. Foodwise - I am not a fan of Japanese food, so I can't really tell the difference. If I was to describe it using the Malay jargon, lebih kuranglah when compared to the others.

Talking about restaurants, I would also like to congratulate Mr. L*, my junior colleague who finally is able to officially open the Dixy Chicken franchise at the Gadong Mall yesterday. I got an invite to attend the VIP opening session in the morning but I wasn't able to make it and therefore I wasn't able to sample the free food yesterday but I thought I will still be nice and still write something about it. Despite the blue and red American colour in the logo, Dixy Chicken interestingly enough is not American at all but is actually a halal food franchise which originated from England in 1996. The Brunei franchise is one of only 5 other overseas franchises to open (the others are in Pakistan, India, Syria and the US). I can't tell you what the food is like so I will not comment on that one yet until I get my free food critique bribe, oops, I mean payoffs, oopsie, I mean ...., you know what I mean. Anyway, enjoy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Brunei International Tattoo 2006

I was among the 10,000 crowd watching the first performance of the Brunei Darussalam International Tattoo 2006. Last night was an all invitation only and it was a record attendance. For the record, it is worthwhile watching though 3 1/2 hours was a tad too long and very discomforting. My wife and I were seated about 2 rows behind the royals, so we had to sit and bear the 4 hours that we sat in those seats.

I actually found our own forces' performance to be more entertaining that everyone else's. The most conservative (read boring) was the British. Even the Jordanians and the Pakistanis were entertaining. By 11 plus, my eyes refused to open and my wife had to nudge me several times to keep me awake. After watching umpteenth drum majors twirl their whatever it is you call it, it gets kinda repetitive after a while. Watching the heart shapes being performed again and again was another downer. I just realised heart shapes must be the easiest shape for military bands to do. I was hoping for more precision drills but only the Filipinos did it.

I remembered a couple of months back, someone asked me to write about the tattoo and how it originated. I actually did a little bit of research on it - basically visiting the Edinburgh Military Tattoo website and other related websites and found several interesting things. It was easy connecting Edinburgh to tattoos. When I was in Edinburgh four years ago, the biggest thing there was the Edinburgh Castle and the major tattoo performance that they have there.

So where and how does tattoo originate? It appears that the term Military Tattoo dated from the seventeenth and eighteenth century when the British Army were fighting in the Belgium and Holland. Drummers from the British garrison were sent out into the nearby towns at about half past nine each evening to tell the soldiers that it was time to return to barracks. The drummers would shout "Doe den tap toe" which is to encourage all the inn keepers to "turn off the taps" - stop serving beer - and send the soldiers home for the night. The drummers continued to play until the curfew at ten in the evening.

What most people don't know is what does 'doe den tap toe' means. For those interested the word 'tap toe' - it comes from the Dutch taptoe or tap-shut (closing time for taverns). So the word tattoo means tap, spigot, tap (from Middle Dutch tappe) + toe, shut (from Middle Dutch) - hence shut the taps. The word has evolved today so that 'tattoo' is now taken to mean (1) A signal sounded on a drum or bugle to summon soldiers or sailors to their quarters at night (2) A display of military exercises offered as evening entertainment (3) A continuous, even drumming or rapping.

How did the evolution come? This came from the evolving process of the tattoo. By the late 19th century, the calling out to innkeepers became more of a show. Bands and displays were included and shows were often conducted by floodlight or searchlight. Tattoos were commonplace in the late 1800’s with most military and garrison towns putting on some kind of show or entertainment during the summer months. Between the First World War and the Second World War elaborate tattoos were held in many towns in England.

According to the program book that came with last night's performance, this tattoo is the fifth that has been performed in Brunei Darussalam. The first was held in August 1965 in Seria performed by the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment (RBMR)and the QE Gurkha Rifles. The second was held in May 1970 to celebrate RBMR's 9th anniversary - why celebrate 9th with a tattoo and not 10th - I don't know. The third was held in October 1977 at Tutong wehere this was to in celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. And the fourth one was held in October 1992 for His Majesty's Silver Jubilee Acccession to the Throne.

So if you have purchase the tickets, go and enjoy and at least now you know what to say to the guy sitting next to you and show off your new found knowledge of tattoos.. By the way, come really early as the parking will be full by the time you get there late.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Mysterious Kampung Pancur Murai

I have written in the past about the origin of place names in Brunei Darussalam. Some place names are pretty straightforward and you can guess how the name originates. Though in my research, one place name takes the cake and win hands down the prize for the most interesting way how the place is named. The kampung is called Pancur Murai and if you have not come across it, it's located about 22 kilometers from the capital and is bounded by Kampung Batong and Kampung Wasan, in Mukim Pangakaln Batu.

According to the older folks, Kampung Pancor Murai was originally known as Pangkalan Imang. In those days, people especially local traders (called pengalu) come from the capital to the place via Sungai Imang. And Sungai Imang was not even a real river. It was just a watering hole and a villager named Kajimang dug a waterway and made it into a river. The waterway became known as Kajimang River and later as Imang River. The interesting bit is why does this name of Pangkalan Imang not stick?

Because the next story is more interesting. According to legends, the name Panchor Murai came about from the story of a Princess known as Puteri Bongsu Kembang Kiapu who had a guard named Samurai. The Princess was staying in a luagan - a small lake, and she wanted to take a bath from a pancur. A pancur is like a natural shower - water sprouting or squirting out from a natural source. So she asked Samurai to make it. So Samurai scouted around and found the place and built it as requested by the Princess. When it was completed, the Princess took her bath there. That place became so famous that it was named as Pancur Samurai which later became Pancur Murai.

So many people wanted to marry the Princess but she rejected all suitors. It was said that because she did not want to be married and so she fled to Mount Mulu in Sarawak.

Today, Kampung Pancur Murai still has many attractions such as Wasai Mandian Jin (apparently jin or 'genie' has been seen to take a bath there together with his 7 children); and Wasai Si Abdul named after many villagers dreamed that the wasai belonged to 'Si Abdul' (orang kebenaran or a fairy). There are also Telaga Lakau and Telaga Lubok Si Untong - water wells which used to be the main source of water for the village. Telaga Lakau is said to be the site of an old treasure burial grounds. At one time the villagers tried digging for it but thunder and lightning appeared as well as numerous snakes - the hole for the attempted dig remained till today.

Two more smaller lakes are also known as Luagan Bumbun and Luagan Kembang Kiapu. The Kampung also has a couple of hills with their own stories - Bukit Tenggilan and Bukit Si Madat; and an island called Pulau Durian Basing. All these places have interesting stories but this blog spot is just too short for the descriptions. So I have to stop there.

Definitely a tale worthy of the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

Friday, July 28, 2006

You know you are Bruneian

1. People ask where you're from and the easiest explanation is saying that it's next to Singapore.
2. People are still clueless about where Brunei is and then you mention how the Sultan of Brunei was once the richest man in the world and everyone instantly remembers.
3. You either hang out in Coffee Zone or Coffee Bean or have children that do.
4. Your closet is full of designer gear but all you wear is the same old t-shirt, shorts and 'selipar jepun' that cost $2 from the 'kedai kaling' next door.
5. You don't wear Versace because only the older Datins & high society people wear it & because you have the suspicious feeling that it was made in Brunei.
6. You travel all the way to Miri just to get bargain priced goods but spend twice as much there as you would back at the shops in Brunei.
7. Your family has at least 4 cars, almost always including a large car like a 'Land Cruiser' (for stocking up at Miri).
8. You don't drive second hand cars.
9. You don't drive a car that is less than $40,000 because it is just unheard of.
10. You complain like hell when the food is slow at a restaurant, but when you are at a 'pasar malam' you can wait hours for your gourmet satay from that Mamak stall.
11. McDonalds is halal & you can order a 'Bubur McD'
12. You don't take public transport because it's for workers.
13. You are used to the wolf whistles of deprived men when you walk past them - even when you're with your parents.
14. You are used to seeing large crowds of Indian, Indon, Filo & Bangladeshi workers hang out at shopping malls, especially on Sundays.
15. You have called someone a 'poklen' or have been called one before.
16. You buy mee-goreng by the boxes.
17. You are obsessed with imported food from England.
18. You fly to Singapore to go to the hospital because you don't trust RIPAS.
19. You go to Singapore to have a good time.
20. You go on holiday ANYWHERE with 2 empty luggage's and come back with at least 10 full ones.
21. You go to Singapore or Malaysia at least 4 times a year.
22. You own an enormous private collection of pirated VCD's, DVD's & CD's.
23. You have a few specialised number plates for your cars.
24. You go to the pasar malam with tatty clothes & slippers but a LV/Gucci bag.
25. You actually believe the roads have no speed limits.
26. When singing the national anthem, you mumble parts of it because you can't quite remember/understand what some of the words are.
27. You Believe in Bomohs & pontianaks (vampires?).
28. You have Astro satellite.
29. You don't feel bad living in your mansion across from a kampong or even in a kampong itself.
30. You change your mobile whenever a new one comes out.
31.You know that the beach is the place to go to conduct illegal activity such as drinking & fornication although you swear you've never done it yourself.
32. You know all the places that sell illegal alcohol.
33. You must send your kids overseas or else they will have no future.
34. You fly out at least 10 times a year to many different places.
35. At least one member of your family lives in England, Australia or the US.
36. You have the cash to pay for a $100k Car.
37. You complain when something goes up in price even if it is only $0.20 & try to haggle over the price even at a department store.
38. You have to wake up early to go for Sunday breakfast with your family (all 40 of them) & most probably it's Dim-Sum.
39. You know all the swear words in Malay, Tagalog & Chinese.
40. Have bad bahasa melayu even though you have been studying it for your whole life.
41. You buy your monthly groceries on or around the 26th of each month.
42. You avoid supermarkets on or around the 26th or each month.
43. You think a 7 year loan repayment plan is a reasonable way to own a car.
44. You have 5.3 kids.
45. Your younger children go out in their pyjamas (barbie for girls, spiderman for boys) with a bottle of Milo clenched between their teeth.
46. Your younger children wear massive gold chains.
47. You PAWN your children's massive gold chains in order to finance the upcoming Hari Raya.
48. You wear black trousers, a multicoloured blouse and a tudong everywhere. Younger females, just swop the black pants for jeans.
49. If you are over 40 and female, more often than not, you are overweight and 'phone box shaped'.
50. You think nothing of carrying your new born baby complete with quilted plasticky pastel changing bag, while dangling a LIT cigarette between your lips.(men)
51. You think 5 cars in front of you anywhere on the road is a traffic jam
52. You think $0.03 for an SMS is still expensive!
53. You earn only $500 a month but can still buy a new car somehow and are willing to pay up to 10 years for it for those who do not apply to point #39 & who exceed point #46
54. You complain that a $1 hike in cigarettes is way too much when it still comes up to only $4 max a pack
55. You know you can get away with buying only $2 worth of gas cos your car modifications used up all your loan money from point #56
56. You will pile your 5.3 kids in the car and brave the more than 5 car jam to the Istana for some religious ceremony in order to get $5 per kid.
57. You consider taking out a maximum loan to extend your house (leaving no space for drains on your land) just cos the neighbours are renovating too.
58. You will spend thousands on car modifications but will hang around curbs/ roadsides with friends cos got no money to pay for coffee at Coffezone or Coffeebean.
59. You ride a Harley with a bunch of friends & park in front of Coffeezone/Coffeebean but only order water or coke & think its still macho.
60. The 26th of each month is the only time you dare to buy more than $2 worth of gas cos you need to go cruising aimlessly around Gadong (a major hang-out place for Bruneians) after grocery shopping.
61. Cruising aimlessly is defined as driving round the Centrepoint & Mall (located in Gadong) strip a minimum of 4 times while revving your engine loudly for all to hear.
62. The typical male wears only Premier League team t-shirts, jeans, baseball caps & slippers as passable casual wear to pick up tudong-ed chicks in.
63. You slow down to 10km/hr whenever a car breaks down is being towedaway / has an accident just to see if you know who the driver is & to get the number of the car to buy 4D later.
64. You take out a business loan to start a business but buy a brand new Lexus immediately (refer to point #36 on cash) with the loan & then start the sloppy business with the remainder of the money.
65. You do not know or have never spoken to 80% of the people you've invited to your wedding and who take the liberty to bring their 5.3 kids
66. 4 generations stay in one house & there is 1.5 cars per person in the
household who have a driving license
67. You think leaving work at 5:30pm is ridiculously late.
68. You don't bat en eyelid in any yoga class even though the instructor is referring directly from a book.
69. The local newspaper is still readable even though the front page always has some sort of story about illegal immigrants being caught for overstaying or soliciting as in point #31

Thursday, July 27, 2006

100 Years of the Brunei National Flag

I was intrigued by someone who wrote on the cbox asking who was the creator of the Brunei's flag. After going through my resources, I found the story behind the creation of the flag of historical significance to be shared with you all. So here goes.

On 3rd December 1905, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin signed a Supplementary Agreement with the British which was significant for the relationship between the British Resident and the Sultan:

"His Highness will receive a British Officer, to be styled Resident, and will provide a suitable residence for him. The Resident will be the Agent and Representative of his Britannic Majesty's Government under the High Commissioner for the British Protectorate in Borneo, and his advice must be taken and acted upon on all questions in Brunei, other than those affecting the Mohammedan religion, in order that a similar system may be established to that existing in other Malay States now under protection."

The agreement was also co-signed by the Principal Wazirs at that time: Pengiran Bendahara Sri Maharaja Permaisuara Pangiran Anak Besar Muhammad bin Pengiran Anak Muhammad Tajuddin; and, Pengiran Pemancha Sahib ul-Rae' Wal Mushuarat Pengiran Anak Muhammad Saleh bin Pengiran Maharaja Lela Sahib ul-Kahar Pengiran Anak Abdul Kahar. In agreeing to establish a full protectorate, it allows the British to be responsible for defence and external affairs and to appoint a local Resident to advise the Sultan. This advise extended to the finer points of modern administration, the raising of revenue and fiscal control, although interference in the internal administration of the sultanate forbidden.

The signing of the 1906 agreement also brought into existence the national flag in its present form, except for the crest which was added in 1959. Prior to 1906, Brunei Darussalam did not have a national flag but personal standards were widely used which were granted by the Sultan. The standards belonging to His Majesty (yellow) and the four Wazirs (Viziers) - Pengiran Bendahara (white), Pengiran Digadong (green), Pengiran Pemancha (black) and Pengiran Temenggong (purple) - were the most important. (The title Pengiran Perdana Wazir as the head of the Wazirs was created in 1970).

The colour scheme of the Brunei Darussalam flag adopted in 1906 was therefore the colours of the principal signatories to the 1906 Agreement which were the colours of the Sultan (yellow), Pengiran Bendahara (white) and Pengiran Pemancha (black). So you know where the Brunei flag colours come from. It is not known who was the principal proponent for the Brunei flag and the use of the Brunei colours - most likely it was done by a committee. So, this year, 2006 marks 100 years that the Brunei flag had been in use.

However, the current Brunei flag together with the crest was adopted on 29th September 1959 with the promulgation of the 1959 Brunei Constitution. The mast and pedestal of the crest represent the three levels of government. The elements of the crest are the flag (Bendera) and the Royal Umbrella (Payong Ubor-Ubor) based on ancient royal regalia. The wings (Sayap), each made up of four feathers symbolize justice, tranquility, peace and prosperity. The hands (Kimhap) signify that the government preserves and promotes the welfare of the citizens. The crescent (Bulan) stands for Islam, the state religion. The state slogan, written in Arabic script on the crescent means 'Always in Service with God's guidance'. The name of the state 'Brunei Darussalam' appears on the ribbon or the scroll.

In addition to complete the picture, in 1946, the Brunei National Song was composed by Awang Besar Sagap. In 1953, the national song, Allah Peliharakan Sultan was officially declared. The national anthem can be downloaded from the main website bruneiresources.com as a singing version or instrumental version.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Brunei Schools' Houses by Hajah Yati

Each year, schools across Brunei organise annual sports meet among their students. The students and teachers are divided into four houses. These houses are assigned a colour and a name. The colours are usually red, blue, yellow and orange. So I guess that makes Jerudong Arabic School and MD (Maktab Duli Al-Muhtadee Billah) unusual, as they have colours other than the usual four. Whats really interesting is the names itself.

The houses of St. Andrew's School are Hollis (red), Cornwall (blue), Danson (yellow) and McDougall (green). I represented Hollis and am proud to have contributed a few golds and silvers for my house. *smiles*

Then in MS ie. Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, the houses are Hulubalang (yellow), Panglima (red), Pahlawan (green) and Laksamana (blue). These are the different ranks of malay warriors. I was a Hulubalang. Not to carry basket, but again, I collected a few medals for my house. If I remember correctly, Hulubalang was the champion house for two years or maybe more then.

When I left school life, I thought I had said farewell to sports competitions as well. Tsk-tsk. At the agency where I worked (note past tense), the houses were Deuchmark (yellow), Sterling (blue), Yen (red) and US Dollars (green). Coincidentally I was in the yellow house again. Did I also make my house proud? Maybe. Haha. I have since left the agency, and Deuchmark is no more. Just as the Euro dollar has replaced the european currencies, the forex houses too, has been replaced by names of fruits instead.

For your reading pleasure, after much prodding and whining, I have gathered names of houses for several schools and institutions in Brunei from the people around me (thank you all!).

Schools & Institutions

Red House

Yellow House

Blue House

Green House

BES

Berakas English School

Seri Laila

Seri Setia

Seri Ratna

Seri Utama

ITB

Institut Teknologi Brunei

Maju

Membangun

Bersatu

Mufakat

MSPSBS

Panglima

Hulubalang

Laksamana

Pahlawan

PDS

Red Dragon

Yellow Flame

Blue Eagle

Greencredible

SM Rimba

Pemuras

Sinaga

Sinipit

Tampilan

SOAS

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College

Bendahara

Maharajalela

Pemancha

Kerma Indera

St. Andrew’s School

Hollis

Danson

Cornwall

McDougall

STPRI

Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Raja Isteri

Ruby

Amber

Sapphire

Jade


P/S: As always I have managed to stray away from the topic, writing instead of anecdotes in my personal life. So I have had to delete the first three paragraphs. Boo-Hoo.

[Today's entry is written by guest blogger, Hajah Yati HMA]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Brunei's Protected Buildings and Places

Under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act, the Director of Museums can issue an Antiquities and Treasure Trove (Ancient Monuments and Historical Sites) Order to direct for certain buildings to be listed and these buildings will require special permission if ever you need to do something to them.

I don't remember if there was any Order made prior to the 3rd May 2006 Order. So under the recent 3rd May 2006 Order, the following list of buildings and places are now protected for the first time and they have been gazetted in the Order as follows:-
  • Bubungan Dua Belas - I have posted about this one before;
  • Charcoal Mine Site - I have posted about this one too before;
  • Former Lapau Lama Building - this is actually the current building used by the History Centre or rather the attachment to the History Centre - I could be wrong;
  • Government Secretariat Building - this building is at Jalan Elizabeth II and is used by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs;
  • Istana Darussalam - this is the former residence of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien before he became the 28th Sultan - it's located at Jalan Sumbiling Lama and is really a worthwhile visit - I really wished this building could be turned into a museum or something;
  • Istana Manggalela - this palace is at Jalan Maulana in Kuala Belait which I posted on bruneiresources.spaces.msn.com a few months back - the last time I stood in front of it to take a picture, a gurkha came out and told me not to do that - so it is still in use;
  • Istana Pantai - another palace on the way to Seri Kenangan Beach in Tutong;
  • Labu Estate Ruber Industrial Site - this is in Temburong;
  • Limau Manis River Site - I am trying to find out more about this, I am not sure where this is located and why it's listed, if any readers know please let me know;
  • Old Building of Tutong District Office and Court - this is the old wooden building in front of the Tutong River;
  • Old House of Belait District Officer - self explanatory, I think - he has a new official house and the old one was used for many functions including visits by His Majesty;
  • Pekan Bangar Monument - I haven't been to Bangar in ages, I am not sure what this is - again appeals to readers to provide information;
  • Perpuspaan Main Gate 1968 - this small arch is always overlooked, it was built to commemorate the Coronation of His Majesty in 1968, it was previously placed over a pavement next to the mosque going to Kampung Ayer but now has been relocated at about the same place - next to the mosque and opposite the Yayasan Building;
  • Royal Customs and Excise Building - this is the old building at the end of the Jalan Sultan - at one stage the building also houses the Marine Department and I used to work there for a few months;
  • Timepiece Stone Monument - this is the famous blue clock tower in the middle of the four junction at the Post Office - it was given by the Government of Malaysia in 1959 if I am not mistaken, it was chopped down in 1992 but was resurrected soon after.

If ever you have a free Sunday, do take a visit to all the listed places.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What I discovered on Sunday

I am seriously tired. I haven't had my rest and I have been struggling to write my blogs over the last few days. I sometimes wished I could be like this kid in the photo. Just lie face down without a thought in the world.

My apologies - the recent topics have been very contrived and not very flowing - I know, and yes, I am going through another bout of bloggers block. By the way, thank you to all for the comments and welcome to all the new readers (a record 1,080 visitors on 17th July 2006) that came my way the last few days. I do deliberately open up topics so that readers can challenge my views and come up with much better ideas and thinking. We, you and I won't be learning anything new otherwise.

Yesterday was again a very tiring day. After watching the colourful presentations on the padang, I spent the whole morning walking around our capital with my colleagues while waiting for His Majesty to complete his rounds with the rakyat. We had santap at the Lapau at about 2pm before going home at 3pm. It was a rush job and I had to run all the way to my uncle's place at the Beribi VIP housing for my cousin's besuruh ceremony. And then rush home to get ready for an official dinner at the Empire. My whole Sunday seemed to flash before my eyes.

During the Santap, I was sitting with all my colleagues and I was chatting with the DPS for Home Affairs. We came from the same kampung and I asked him how did the name Lambak originated. He did not know but he told me that the actual Lambak is just a small place and was not originally the name of the village. In those days, what is known as Kampung Lambak today was made up of a number of small clusters or communities. So each community live within walking distance of each other and actually named the places that they were staying in. So if one was to drive from the traffic light that separated traffic going straight to the Lambak Kanan Resettlement area and the traffic going to Berakas Kem, you can begin to name the previous placenames for the communities that used to stay there.

Just after the traffic light would be Sungai Tupan (where the Religious Affairs Minister's private house is), up the hill (Rumah Hj Daimon - house with yellow, white and black stripes and cars too) will be Bukit Chuping, down the hill and on the flat ground will be where the original Lambak is and then straight on to Supatir (I presumed before the Berakas Kem area). If you turn to the right (behind the old Supa Save building) that area will be called Langung-Langung. Opposite that on the left hand side of the area would be Pantai Pulang Hari, go inside will be Pulau Bahar and then going out again will be Baak. The international cemetery area is known as Bayut.

Two forests are also named as Hutan Haji Jihan (location unknown) and Hutan Badaras (near UBD). According to legends, Hutan Haji Jihan - if you passed by it, feels and one can hear as if the place is 'bejelama' or actually has people staying there - you can hear people talking but see no one. Another hill called Bukit Tegiuk which is now located in the middle of the resettlement areas has an interesting ability. If you go there, the chances of you being lost or disappearing would be very high indeed.

Brunei is such a rich place with many former communities. But unfortunately in our modernisation drive, we are losing many of these original names and the characteristics of our country. Some have argued that we have to progress and some are in favour of retaining the old. I guess we have to balance them somewhere in the middle.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The SPA Interview

One of the scariest thing that young Bruneians face is the interview at the Public Service Commission or in Brunei speak known as Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam or better known as SPA. Get through the SPA interview, fortunes in the civil service awaits you. Or at least that is what's on the mind of everyone who applies for a job in the government service.

It's been quite sometime since I last interviewed anyone at SPA. I used to do it when I was the Deputy Director about 10 years ago. The one thing I noticed is that most people who were being interviewed mostly seemed ill prepared for it - some were very prepared for the wrong thing. There is this perception that if you remember the full name of the Minister or the list of Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries or the Director of the department or the Ministry that you are trying to get into together with their full names and titles, you are going to get the job. Wrong!

Our people selection system is not the best. It is not even close to anything you would have learned in Human Resources classes. This is where you should take advantage of it. By the time you get to the interview stage, you have roughly a 1 in 20 chance of landing the job on average. The three member panel at SPA has roughly 20 minutes to assess whether you are suited both in terms of capability and character. It's not that hard to fool us. I have had my share of people whom I have interviewed and recommended and a few years down the road, very much regreted my decision.

The panel is made up of 3 members, the one at the end is the secretary who looks after the paperwork, so you can ignore him basically. The one in the middle is a representative of SPA and can be an SPA board member. His role is to see whether you are suitable and whether your appointment should be defended in the SPA meeting. The third panel member is the most important. He decides whether you have the technical capability. He is the representative of the ministry or department that has the job vacancy. The higher the post, the more senior that representative.

Out of the three, the representative will be the one who will ask you the detailed questions. Focus on answering this person's questions. Because you could be the most polite person in the whole world and with the best of behaviour but if you are ignorant and incapable of carrying out the job, then no way will you be chosen. So do be careful. Impress on him or her that you are capable, you get your foot in the door. The chairman normally ask the more mundane question - the questions are more like tie breakers. At the end of the whole interviews, the panel would have narrowed the field to about a few people, so the panel sometimes need tie breakers and this is where this comes in handy.

The SPA member questions can be a little bit unpredictable and depends on the characters. I remembered one who used to ask what MIB stands for. All he wanted was the three words. But a lot of people was so confused by the question that they rattled on about the whole philosopy of it. The next question he ask would be since the country has an Islamic philosophy, what then is the islamic date on that day. I remembered a few sessions with him, I think there was only 1 guy who managed to get the right answer. He did not get the job. Do we care if you know the Minister's title? Not really at that point in time. Knowing would be a bonus if the question was ever asked. I never did. I don't see the point.

There are many things to talk about the interviews - from the argument on which system is better to all sorts of other things such as what to wear, when to knock etc. This blog space is just too short for it. But at the end of the day, as I always say, give it your best - you have 20 minutes to convince us you should be given the job. Good Luck!

Very Late PS: My colleagues have been pointing out that I am out of date (to which I replied I never hide that fact - in fact I stated at the beginning of the blog that the last time I did an interview was 10 years ago!) - and that changes have been made. Yes, I agree. But to me the point at the blog was - at the end of the day, you still have to convince me (if I am on the panel) why we should hire you.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thankful to be in Brunei Darussalam

Someone asked me what the government actually subsidises in Brunei. Whoa. Major question that. Apparently this is as a result of two items in His Majesty's speech during the birthday when His Majesty noted the $176 million worth of fuel and gas subsidy and the continuation of government's welfare scheme especially in the areas of medical and health care.

The major subsidies include (in order of my memory and not in order of anything):-

(a) Subsidy in fuel meaning the fuel that you buy for your cars - diesel carries the higher subsidy and slightly lesser subsidies for the other types of fuel (so everytime you drive your 3000cc+ SUV with its superturbo and using diesel like water, think of how much subsidy is in your car);

(b) Subsidy in LPG - that's the gas that you use for cooking; [(a) and (b) account for the $176 million per year]

(c) Subsidy in electricity - two major forms of subsidies here, one is the cheaper than world price for the gas that is pumped and used by the generating power plant as well as the subsidised electricity rates (unchanged for about 40+ years);

(d) Subsidy in water - same thing as electricity, unchanged for some long period of time as well;

(e) Subsidy in rice - both types of rice (the plain and the fragrant) are subsidised - the government buys the rice from Thailand and sells it to the distributors and retailers at about the same price - as well as lots of subsidies to the rice farmers and other farmers in Brunei through land, fertiliser and other things;

(f) Subsidy in sugar - where the government buys and sells cheaply to the consumers;

(g) Subsidy in education - government provides free education up to university level (about $470+ million per year);

(h) Subsidy in medical and health care - government provides free medical and health care including travelling overseas for treatments if need be (about $500+ million per year);

(i) Subsidy in housing - the housing that the government built for the resettlement and national housing are all subsidised - the house itself is, the infrastructure that goes with it, the land etc;

(j) Subsidy in day to day living - no personal income taxes or any other taxes and charges levied;

(k) Subsidy in pensions - old age pensions received are completely subsidised as the receivers never put anything in the pension fund to begin with;

and the list can go on. There are many things to be thankful for in Brunei Darussalam.

PS. Check out Brunei's very own cartoonist on cuboiart! I have put up a permanent link on the side of my blogsite. I bought one of his earlier cartoon collection and I am waiting for more to come out. I really wish I can draw like him.

This blogspot is good, really good, I tell you. Check it out.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some thoughts for the young Bruneians

July is that time of the year. Some of you have to make decisions on what it is that you want to do for your future life. Some are thinking about going to UK and Ozie being the two most common destinations. Some perhaps a little bit further such as the US, Canada or New Zealand. Some nearer such as Malaysia and Singapore and some just across the borders. For some, it is finishing time - to go home or to continue. Life is already so much fun abroad. Going home? Urrgh.... The pressures. Time to get someone, you are graduated already... time to you know...

July is that time of the year. It happened to me in July about 20 years ago after attending the convocation ceremony and all that. Just for the record, I managed to get a 2nd Upper Joint Honours in Law and Economics and in July I was sitting down contemplating what to do with my life. I had by then been accepted into Lincoln's Inn to do my Bar and the Education Ministry then had already extended my scholarship for the duration of the Bar course. At that point in time for the first time I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be a lawyer. If I had gone in and come out as a Barrister, I would probably be a High Court Judge or at least an Assistant Solicitor General judging by the career path of my contemporaries. Of course, being 22 years old then, life was so much ahead of me, at least that's what I thought. I changed my mind thinking that perhaps if I wanted to be a lawyer one day I could also make it. Of course I never did change my mind and I am thankful I made that decision not to be a lawyer. Regrets? None whatsoever. I wouldn't have met my wife otherwise.

Making decisions for my young readers is certainly the hardest thing you could ever do. You are an independent person, young adult, old enough to make up your own mind yet you are mindful of your parents, your elders, your friends, your relatives, people surrounding you - to the point that you can't make up your own mind. I was alone in UK. I was lucky my parents trusted me to make up my own mind. But looking back even a few years after my career, I was always wondering whether it is the right decision. At the end of the day, I don't think it really matters. What's more important is your character. Your promotion is a function of the things you do well, your character, your working relationship and your attitude plus of course your prayers and also luck. I wasn't a lawyer and yet I have risen high enough to be equivalent to the posts that I probably would have if I had become one. Luck probably plays an important part as well. But luck can only happen if you are prepared and the opportunity arises. Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.

Having said all that, I think at the end of the day, you have to trust yourself and you have to believe in yourself. Only you can decide your own destiny. Others can only guide you. But only you can decide where it is that you want to go. The Al-Mighty will also try to give you the best no matter how bleak it looked now. So my dear younger readers, work hard, pray hard and think hard. I wish you all the best.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monopoly Brunei Version

Over the last couple of weeks, my family's evening activity had been to play Monopoly. The month before it was Scrabble. The Monopoly set we have is a Disney version which my 6 year old chose simply because he liked the characters. The Monopoly is the same but there are slight variations. Instead of land title deeds, you get title deeds to Disney movies. For railway stations, they are replaced by Disney movies transportation such as Aladdin's Flying Carpet or Cruella's Limousine. And the utilities are pixie wands and star dust. The Chance and Community Chest cards are replaced by Magic Moment and Show Times cards. And of course the money bears the face of Scrooge McDuck. Other than those, everything else is the same including the prices and the taxes. I found it useful as it teaches my son how to count money and hopefully turned his attention towards being a milionaire or something or at the very least a financial planner.

Last night, we did not play monopoly. Instead together with a couple of other thousands of Bruneians, we were at the Hua Ho Mall at Tanjung Bunut last night. It was a soft opening but the Bruneians crowd reminded us of the opening of the other Hua Ho at Manggis when we had trouble getting in there too. We must be so deprived of things to do that most of us will go to the opening of an envelope! Anyway, last night was slightly easier and the underground carpark despite the number of cars parked all over the place, was relatively empty. So if you are thinking of going there to have a look, aim for the basement parking, you might have the place to yourself. So, what about Hua Ho itself? Okaylah. Just like any other modern department stores. Nothing particularly outstanding about it, but it might turn out to be our regular haunting place simply because it's the nearest one to my house now.

Between the monopoly and the increasing real estate value around the Hua Ho Mall at Tanjung Bunut, it just sets me thinking of doing a Monopoly Brunei Version. I have been wondering Which land title deeds would the most expensive (purple coloured) and which ones would be the least expensive (brown coloured) and which ones go in the middle?

Here is my attempt and readers are most welcomed to come up with your own versions, from most expensive to least expensive:-
  • Purple - Damuan Park and Babu Raja
  • Green - Old Gadong, New Gadong and Batu Bersurat
  • Yellow - Old Kiulap, New Kiulap, Kiarong
  • Red - Telanai, Jangsak and Beribi
  • Orange - Sengkurong, Tanjung Bunut and Kilanas
  • Pink - Jalan Sultan, Jalan Pemancha and Jalan Kianggeh
  • Light Blue - Muara, Serasa and Delima Satu
  • Brown - Sungai Kabun and Kampung Ayer
  • Railway Stations - International Airport, BSB Central Bus Stands, Kianggeh Water Taxis and Old Airport Interchange
  • Utilities - Gadong Powerplant and Tasek Waterplant
  • Taxes - $100 (Road Tax) $200 (Municipality Tax)
Defintely contentious but most fun. Let's hear yours.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dirgahayu Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik

I was watching the news on RTB last night, partly because where my wife and I sat during the banquet for uniformed personnel the night before, we were smack in the direction of the camera and there was no way the camera could have missed us so I just wanted to see what I looked like on tv (not very pretty, I tell you) but partly because what I really wanted to watch was the segment where RTB news focused on a number of Bruneians giving greetings to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the occassion of His Majesty's birthday.

All the viewers that were shown on tv all wanted to wish His Majesty's a Happy Birthday. But a lot of them sounded as if they did not know what the right greeting is or are afraid of making mistakes. So you hear a number of versions and you get confused as to what is the right way of greeting His Majesty on his birthday.

So, what is the right way of greeting? I have asked that question myself and unfortunately I don't have the right answer, myself. I am sure if I was to ask the Adat Istiadat people I would get the right answer but since this blog is written in the middle of the night, I am not sure any Adat Istiadat people would welcome my midnight calls. Besides, I am sure readers would provide me the right answers.

The English greeting seemed to be the easiest "Happy Birthday Your Majesty". This phrase translated into the proper Royal Malay phrase become "Selamat Hari Puja Usia Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" or "Selamat Hari Keputeraan Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" or the slightly longer "Selamat Menyambut Hari Keputeraan Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik". Some advertisement took on the slightly third party phrasing such as "Greetings to His Majesty on the Occassion of Your Majesty's 60th Birthday" which to me is slightly off. Why greetings? But despite the slight off nature, that seemed to be used widely too.

Another long Malay phrase is "Hamba Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik menyembahkan Sembah Kesyukuran sempena Hari Puja Usia Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" which very loosely translated to be "I feel so happy during Your Majesty's Birthday". The English translation does not seemed to be so appropriate but the Malay phrasing sounded grand. Of course with an extra $200 each for the civil servants this phrasing seemed to me the most appropriate and most apt to be said. Imagine. Someone else's birthday but you get the present. It should be the other way round, shouldn't it?

Another one which is very widely used is "Dirgahayu Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik". "Dirgahayu" is an interesting word. I know the 1,000+ readers of this blog together with the hundreds of thousands of Bruneians driving past by huge banners that say "Dirgahayu Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" are taking the banners for granted. But here is the interesting bit - how many actually would know what the word "Dirgahayu" means? Do you know? I know because I checked.

"Dirgahayu" according to the Kamus Nusantara, my trusted 3,092 page dictionary with tiny little fonts that hurt my eyes, defined it as "(mudah-mudahan) lanjut usia; berumur panjang (biasanya ditujukan kpd raja, negara, atau organisasi yg sedang memperingati hari jadinya)". So, "Dirgahayu" just means "long live", thus the English equivalent of "Long Live the King". The next time you passed by one of those banners you can tell everyone in the car what that means.

So, if ever an RTB newscamera was to approach you and ask you to wish His Majesty a Happy Birthday, you know what to do. Dirgahayu Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Celebration Continues

By late morning yesterday, some are already wondering when is it that they will be getting the wonderful gift from our benevolent Sultan. All I can tell you is that Treasury Department is working flat out to ensure that every single increments will be in your pay packet by the August salary. However this also requires inputs from all the ministries and departments and because it is a computerised system the inputs must be in by the first week of August if we are to make it for the August salary. I have been told that 100% payment maybe a bit iffy, so the chances are, some payments will have to be made in September. In fact, some have also indicated that with September, the payments will be with the August and July arrears, so it may make for a better Hari Raya celebrations in October. We will cross that bridge when we get there.

Before I forget, I have been asked to clarify that the increment for July will be made up of 17 days (15th July to 31st July). So don't expect a full month's increment for July. The full increments will be made from August onwards. All July payments will be manual, so that means out of 60,000 civil servants, the chances of July payments will be late is unfortunately very high. So be forewarned.

Last night, His Majesty's birthday celebration continues with a dinner banquet for uniformed personnel. Even though we are not uniformed personnel but we still have to be there. Unfortunately this time round, where I was seated which is at the top of the table and just across to where the royals are seated, I couldn't exactly take out my camera and take photographs of the banquet. So I did the next best thing, take out my handphone and take photos as it is less obvious. But downloading the photos are a bit harder so the photos will have to wait until I have the time to sort out all my wires etc.

In the meantime, for those who are interested what is served in the banquet hall of the Istana Nurul Iman last night, the menu is made up of:-

  • Starter: Marinated Razor Clam, Sea Urchin with Pepper Herbs Vinaigrette
  • Soup: Cream of Beef Hongroise with Stuffed Onions, Leek and Shark's Fin
  • Sorbet: Chilled Mandarin Orange Jelly - Intermezzo
  • Main Course: Beef Tenderloin with Ginko Nuts, Crispy Yam and Pepper Sauce
  • Dessert: Lemon Parcel in Fillo Pastry with Mocca Sauce
  • Petit Fours: Apple Juice and Manggis Quinchy
  • Menu: Same thing as on 15th July - a box with a sliding top but with a different colour (red instead of blue) - it reminded me of superman now, red and blue
Anyway, today, we have to brief all the ministries and departments about the payment process. Hopefully they all understand and comply very quickly so that you can get your new salary. And if your payment is late, ask your bahagian gaji why, please? And don't blame us....


PS. I managed to upload the photographs from last night's banquet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Birthday Gift from His Majesty

The gift by His Majesty during His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebration is one of the most memorable and most expensive in recent history. The revised salaries that everyone currently in the civil service will get in August will raise the salaries that everyone who is in service during the announcement, in division 5 cases, equivalent to working 9 years or for officers in division 2, equivalent to doing a Master's degree (2 increments).

By the time I post this, PMO's Circulars 13/2006 and 14/2006 would have been issued and everyone by now would have known that His Majesty has granted 3 announcements during the Birthday Speech. The first is the accelerated salary increments, the second a revised pay structure for daily paid staff and the third a special increase for cost of living allowances.

The biggest number of civil servants will be affected by the increase in the increments that each division will receive as follows:-
  • Division 2 - 2 increments (on average raises between $180 to $240 per month)
  • Division 3 - 3 increments (on average raises between $180 to $210 per month)
  • Division 4 - 6 increments (on average raises between $120 to $240 per month)
  • Division 5 - 9 increments (on average raises between $90 to $180 per month)
For daily paid staff, their salary structures have been completely revised and will get an additional $4 per day which will give them about $88 to $92 salary raise per month as well as a fixed annual increment.

In addition to the above, His Majesty also announced that for those in Divisions 4 and 5 will get an additional $30 to the monthly elaun sarahidup (or cost of living allowances).

Now the FAQs. Yes your salary will now be raised by that much permanently. Your annual increment dates are unaffected. In other words, you get your whatever special number of increments and come the next annual raise even if it is 1st August, you will get another increment (providing that you still have increments left in your salary scale). If with the additional new special increments you will exceed your bar, you will automatically be moved to the EB khas or special EB. If with the additional new increments you will exceed your EB khas, then you will get additional increments beyond the EB khas making your new pay on a personal to holder basis. Increments are salaries, thus 5% will be deducted for TAP and the government will have to also pay a new high 5% thus making your contributions higher. This increase will be given to everyone who is in the civil service during the announcement on 15th July, so if you report to work on the 13th July which is the last working day before, you will be entitled to receive it. But if you report to work on 17th July and any other day beyond, you will not be entitled to it. The increments to the Civil Service are also given to members of the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. Government agencies (corporate bodies such as TELBRU etc) are not included and will depend on their own Board of Directors for whatever direction.

If there is anything else that you need to know, please contact the Accountant General's Office. The Prime Minister Office Circulars 13/2006 and 14/2006 are donwloadable as pdf files from www.bruneiresources.com.

Brunei Honours 2006

The Honours Award Ceremony by His Majesty during his 60th birthday was a solemn affair. By my calculation, this is the largest number of Datoship being awarded and I don't remember any previous group larger than this. The last one when more than 20 datoships were awarded was way back in 1987 when my father was one of the 22 DPMB recipients.

All the Cabinet Ministers datoships have now been upgraded to first class as well as 2 deputy ministers. 26 new datoships were awarded and one of the more interesting figure to receive his datoship was Pehin Kapitan China Kornia Diraja Awang Lau Ah Kok more popularly known as Mr. Hua Ho. He enjoyed the ceremony so much that he posed for photographs after receiving the datoship at the back of the queue, luckily out of sight of His Majesty who was still awarding other datoships at the dais!

On this occassion, everyone in bruneiresources.com and bruneiresources.blogspot.com would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the recent recipients of the honours bestowed by His Majesty during His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebrations as follows (and hopefully also impart knowledge to readers who the recipients are and what honours they were upgraded from or just received):-

Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia (The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei) - Darjah Pertama (1st Class) - PSNB with the title of Dato Seri Setia

  1. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Home Affairs (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
  2. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister of Health (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
  3. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Development (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
  4. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office (Datoship upgraded from SPMB - Dato Seri Paduka)
  5. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Second Minister of Finance (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
  6. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs (Datoship upgraded from SPMB - Dato Seri Paduka)
  7. Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Mohd Nawawi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Haji Awang Mohd Taha (Datoship upgraded from SPMB - Dato Seri Paduka)
Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia (The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei) - Darjah Pertama (1st Class) - SPMB with the title of Dato Seri Paduka

  1. Yang Mulia Dato Seri Paduka Haji Eusof Agaki bin Haji Ismail, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office (and Director of Internal Security) (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
  2. Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Col (L) Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Deputy Minister of Defence (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)
Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia (The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei) - Darjah Kedua (2nd Class) - DSNB with the title of Dato Setia
  1. Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Orang Kaya Ratna Setia Dato Setia Haji Awang Abd Hapidz bin Pehin Orang Kaya Laksamana Haji Awang Abdul Razak (Datoship upgraded from DPMB - Dato Paduka)

Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia (The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei) - Darjah Kedua (2nd Class) - DPMB with the title of Dato Paduka

[Note: The following are new holders of Datoships (some of the recipients are also Pehins)]

  1. Yang Berhormat Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Goh King Chin, Member of Legislative Council and Corporate Figure (Goh Hock Kee Motors)
  2. Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Kapitan China Kornia Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Lau Ah Kok, Corporate Figure (Hua Ho Department Stores)
  3. Yang Dimuliakan Begawan Pehin Khatib Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ahmad bin Abdul Razak
  4. Yang Dimuliakan Begawan Pehin Khatib Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abd Wahid bin Haji Besar
  5. Yang Mulia Penglima Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abdul Rashid bin Haji Ibrahim
  6. Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Awang Haji Idris bin Haji Abbas, Member of Legistlative Council and Corporate Figure (Arkitek Idris)
  7. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Kamis bin Haji Tamin, Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office
  8. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence
  9. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Shofry bin Haji Abdul Ghafor, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  10. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Jemat bin Haji Ampal, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
  11. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, Chairman of Brunei Economic Development Board
  12. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abd Salam bin Momin, Deputy Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
  13. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Alikhan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mohd Yussof, Private and Confidential Secretary to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince
  14. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Haji Ishaaq bin Haji Abdullah, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Religious Affairs
  15. Yang Mulia Colonel Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Rosli bin Pg Haji Chucuh, Royal Brunei Armed Forces
  16. Yang Mulia Colonel (L) Dato Paduka Haji Joharie bin Haji Metussin, Royal Brunei Armed Forces
  17. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Haji Sumadi bin Sukaimi, Senior Special Duties Officer, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
  18. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ahmad bin Dullah, Director of Prisons Department
  19. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Dr. Haji Abd Latif bin Haji Ibrahim, Office of Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty
  20. Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Muslim bin Haji Burut
  21. Yang Mulia Awang Haji Noordin bin Md Yussof
  22. Yang Mulia Datin Paduka Hajah Maimunah binti Dato Paduka Haji Elias, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  23. Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Manteri Bini Datin Paduka Dayang Hajah Aminah binti Haji Md Yassin
  24. Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Jawatan Bini Datin Paduka Dayang Hajah Siti binti Haji Mohd Yusof Khan

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brunei Code Breakers

Da Vinci Code Breakers. Break this code - div 1: 0; div 2: 2; div 3: 3; div 4: 6; div 5: 9.

The Palace Birthday Banquet

His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebrations started off with the usual parade at the Padang in the Capital. But his titah caught many people by surprise when he announced the accelerated increments for the current civil service, so come Monday when the circular officially comes out, everybody will know just how much they are getting, so I can't say anything until then. I will try to put up the official circular when it is officially released so that readers can read it.

There are so many things to talk about but I have a special request to talk about the banquet feast that was laid out inside the main banquet hall. So together with about 300+ guests inside the main banquet hall, we were served in the lavish surrounding of the palace. Since this is the anniversary of my appointment, I had the benefit of experience and came well prepared. First of all, I have to admit that the quality of the food is first class and are designed by artisans who specialised in food designs. Even the cutlery and the place settings are all first class.

However if you are used to the more Asian type of food with rice and everything, I am sorry to say that you will not be getting those. But for the 5000+ guests in the outside banquet halls, the food served is the traditional Asian style with the dome serving. I can assure you that you will not have any problem with hunger pains there. However in the more lavish surroundings, it is a slightly different story. You feast with your eyes and less with your tummy. So you have to savour everything you eat.

The menu started off with Veal Roulade, Chicken Liver with Fresh Tuna, Ginger Pickels and Cilantro Sauce. The starter wasn't too bad but you have a little bit of trouble picking out the tuna - it was sort of sprinkled on the chicken liver and not that much. I am not much of a food connosieur, so I wasn't sure what cilantro sauce is. I know it's the green bits on the plate.


Soup was Cream of Vegetables Soup with Smoked Mussels. The soup was nice but mine didn't came with any mussels, so I had to take the photo of my neighbour's dish which had more of everything. The smoked mussels is the brown bit in the middle of the soup plate. The bits floating are the mussels - these are the ones missing from my plate.



I am not sure why sorbet is always served during fancy dinners. Apparently I was told by a more experienced diplomat that sorbets are to whet one's appetite before having the main course. So our sorbet despite the fance name of Chilled Promegranate and Passion Fruit Aspic - Intermezzo is only the small cup in the middle of the big cup. The rest are just ice and lemon slices and are not supposed to be eaten.


The main course was Artic Surf Clam on Glazed Pineapple with Seaweed Prawn Roll. The surf clam is the pink bit sitting on glazed pineapple slice. There was something else in it but I wasn't sure what. The Seaweed Prawn roll was more distinguishable. It had the prawn tail sticking out. Despite the portion, the dish was nice especially the gravy.



The dessert was Soursop Parfait on Vanilla and Blueberry Sabayon. The petit fours are made up of Atlantic Mist and Fruit Punch. Of course there was the usual bread rolls throughout the course and chocolates at the end.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy 60th Birthday Your Majesty!

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, is the 29th of his line, which dates back to the fourteenth century.

Being the eldest son, he became Crown Prince in 1961 and ascended the Throne on 5th October 1967 following the voluntary abdication of his father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien.

His Majesty the Sultan was crowned on 1st August 1968 in pomp and pageantry befitting Brunei's ancient customs and traditions.

His Majesty was born on 15th July 1946 at the Istana (Palace) Darussalam in the capital, Brunei Town (now Bandar Seri Begawan). He received his early education in the form of private tuition at the Istana Darul Hana and attended top institutions in both Brunei and Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) before furthering his studies in the United Kingdom where he later qualified for admission as an officer cadet at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and was commissioned as a Captain in 1967. He left Sandhurst in October of the same year to ascend the throne.

Besides being the Sultan and the Ruler, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is concurrently the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Finance Minister, and head of the religion of Brunei Darussalam. Being a working monarch, he is involved in the conduct of the State affairs internally and internationally.

Like his illustrious father, who is fondly remembered as the Architect of Modern Brunei, His Majesty is a caring monarch and tirelessly works for the continued well-being of his people. In addition to the usual day-to-day administration of the government and receiving foreign dignitaries. His Majesty is always on the move, visiting government departments and related institutions, security forces on military maneuvers, and villages including remote parts of the State. This brings him very close to the people, who love and revere him.

The promotion and strengthening of relations with the outside world also get top priority from His Majesty. He has traveled widely in Southeast Asia, East Asia, The Middle East, Europe, and the United States. He addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Brunei Darussalam's admission to the UN in September, 1984.

His Majesty takes great interests in sports, including polo in which he has excelled in matches against international teams both locally and outside of the State.

One of His Majesty's remarkable achievements was the setting up of the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation in 1992. The foundation is a gift of His Majesty to his people and is devoted to, among other things, financing research-related works, particularly in the fields of knowledge.

Inspirational Quotes

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