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Showing posts from June, 2007

The Story of Brunei's Oil Discovery

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Note: An edited version of the following article was published in The Golden Legacy column in Brunei's national newspaper, The Brunei Times dated 12th May 2007.

The story of the discovery of oil in Brunei’s oil town, Seria has often been told even in school text books but no body remembers how difficult it was to find oil in Brunei Darussalam at the beginning.

When we look at the approximately 200,000 barrels of oil that our nation produced daily and the billions of revenues that we get from the sale of oil and gas, it is a wonder that it was ever found in the first place.

By the early 20th century, Brunei, once a powerful regional thalassocracy (maritime power) had become a poor country. Brunei had lost almost all of its territories and was confined to the current tiny area in the vast Borneo Island. It needed something of a miracle and it found it when oil was discovered in Brunei and in particular in abundance where Brunei is currently.

Oil has been more or less expected to be…

The Mosque in the Capital City

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Wherever we are in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei's capital city, we can't help noticing the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque dominating the skyline of the city centre of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Mosques have long dominated the skyline in Brunei. In 1578 during the reign of Sultan Saiful Rizal, a Spanish traveler, Alonso Beltran described the main mosque as one made up of five layers.

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is said to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the Southeast Asian region. It symbolised the country’s official religion of Islam.

However not many people realised that prior to its completion in 1958, there was no proper mosque in the capital city, then known as Pekan Brunei.

Before the Second World War, even though there were a number of other mosques built in the countryside, the only mosque that was built in the capital city was called Masjid Marbut Pak Tunggal (also known as Masjid Pekan Brunei) which was built during the era of Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam I…

2 Brunei Bay Legends

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[Note: An edited version of the following article was published in The Golden Legacy column in Brunei's national newspaper, The Brunei Times dated 28th April 2007.]

There are two islands on Brunei Bay which are more interesting than all the others. One is called Pulau Pilong-Piolongan and the other very much smaller, more like a raised sandbank called Lumut Lunting.


Lumut Lunting is situated in between Pulau Sibungur and Pulau Berambang and is located at the mouth of the Brunei River whereas Pulau Pilong-Pilongan is out in the sea nearer to Muara.


Both islands - Lumut Lunting and Pulau Pilong-Pilongan have been associated with an old legend that stretched back in time to more than 500 years ago.

The origin of both islands have been chronicled in the Syair Awang Semaun, which is equivalent to the local folklores or in English known as the oral tradition of Awang Semaun’s epic poems. The story was said to have taken place in the early days of the first sultanate of Awang Alak Beta…

A History of Brunei Flight

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Note: An edited version of the following article was published in The Golden Legacy column in the Brunei national newspaper, The Brunei Times dated 21st April 2007.

When did Bruneians first fly? According to local civil aviation historians, the first airplane to fly over Brunei was a seaplane spotted over Tutong in 1922. Nobody knew whose plane that was.

Despite the current modern international airport in Berakas, not many people knew that sixty years ago, prior to the Second World War, let alone an airport, there was no airfield whatsoever at all in the entire country of Brunei Darussalam.

The first runaway was constructed during the Japanese occupation in the Second World War at the current Old Airport Government Buildings Complex. This was then used by the Japanese fighter planes coming to defend their occupied territory.

After the end of the war, despite being heavily shelled by the Allied Forces, that runaway was repaired and improved by the same forces and a proper airport was plann…