What happened to Bruneians?

I was really outraged when I heard from my colleague at Health. We were in Bangar, Temburong yesterday for His Majesty's Birthday Celebrations there. While waiting for lunch, we had a chat.

It seemed that someone tried to steal the copper cables at RIPAS Hospital. When he tried to do something to there power, the whole thing tripped up and caused a massive blackout at RIPAS. One of the patients affected was a baby who was in the incubator. Yesterday, the innocent baby was still fighting for his life. He was fighting for his life because of the high price of copper (around US$3.50 nowadays). This is not the first time that life may be lost because of the irresponsible act of the thieves.

Last month, I was visiting the housing estate in Katok (near Mata-Mata) where there was already built about 7 substations. The houses are to be built soon but the engineers were telling me that the substations were useless. They have all been stripped of any valuable metals. It takes about a quarter of a million to build a single one of these. Luckily the thieves only stole from the substations which did not support any houses at the moment. Though it's only a matter of time before they moved to the ones with houses.

The PWD people told me that it's not just cables and metals. There was a public work which they did in Sungai Kebun. The contractors came in to fix the windows and when they moved to the other side of the building, thieves came in and stole the ones they just fixed in broad daylight and with the contractors unable to stop them because they were threatened.

What happened? Have our society become so hard up? We have all the welfare policies in place. We have welfare allowances. We have welfare housing. If these are not the poor Bruneians then who are these people who stole our stuffs and put us in danger?

When we widened our scope and read and watch more - this is what we get. Smugglers smuggling out our subsidised petrol and subsidised rice. Bruneians selling fuel to foreigners using their 4 wheel drives. The government subsidised fuels and rice so that we Bruneians can enjoy the fruits and wealth of our own petrol. And yet this is blatanly abused. What has happened to our people? Do we not care about putting innocent lives at stake anymore?

Comments

Mohammad said…
I can really empathise with your 'Emotional Intelligence' on the 'moral dilemma' (or is it immoral?) issue you are raising in your morally-correct (and politically-correct) blog, BRo.

At the same time, I can't help sympathise with the critical mass of Bruneians (me, no exception) who are being faced with monetary issues (or the lack of it) on a daily basis. I was saddened by Rano Adidas' photo-journalistic report of how our common folks clamoured for food served during the "Bersama Rakyat" event last Sunday 'to-go' i.e. for take away or "tapau" (freebies, anyways).

What happened to us Bruneians? Where has the "Awar Galat" or common civility of Bruneian customs gone? I sincerely hope highly sophisticated and educated, wise, noble and knowledgeable Bruneians in our midst could bring up these societal issues in tomorrow's "Majlis Ilmu" at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas.

The thing is, BRo, Government Intervention in these times of need by the 'ground zero' people struggling to make ends meet has to be reviewed at the highest level. In His Majesty's Titah during the recent ceremony in the Throne Room of Istana Nurul Iman, it was amplified time and time again that millions of dollars had been allocated for 'human resource capital' but NOTHING DOING! We have hundreds of 'O' Level dropouts not knowing what to do and which direction to go to! Their parents can't afford to enrol them in any courses to prepare them for the job market!

As for self-sufficiency in rice production, I have to echo His Majesty's frustration because I remember our beloved Sultan had been emphasising that particular issue since Coronation Day way back in 1968... and 40 years on NO GO! Kaput... what has happened? What's happening now? Only God knows the best "ILMU" or knowledge (Wallahu 'Alam Bissawab).
Azmi HJR said…
I think it is sad that our people have to resort to stealing to make ends meet. To steal it from RIPAS and affecting the patients makes it even worse.

So now, we've identified the problem what do we do about it?

I agree that "Awar Galat" has been declining over the years. Especially amongst our youth. But thats what we get when we progress as a society. We don't stop to smell the roses. We take short cuts.

The Brunei Government's intervention is crucial, I agree. But their intervention can only be so much. We have to change first. Bruneians have to take action first.

With regards to Mohammad's comment about 'O' Level dropouts...what happened before they became drop outs? Are we, the parents, instilling the same message about the importance of education as our parents did with us?

And Mr.BR..'If these are not the poor Bruneians then who are these people who stole our stuffs and put us in danger?' - They are the bad side of the Bruneian community. Where there is good there is evil. Thats how we were meant to be. The sooner we come terms to it the sooner we can start taking action.
Mohammad said…
Wang Tuan azmi hjr in Down Under, like you I love to watch movies alone but unlike you now I can't even afford to watch Dark Knight @ Seri Qlap cineplex. If only to see the fantasy side of "where there is good, there is evil" and to escape from reality for an hour or so watching good old-fashioned Batman fights the Joker to death...

Joke aside, I disagree with you on 'O' Level dropouts as total failures in life. To a certain degree, I do agree parents are to blame but not all their parents are so irresponsible as to not counselling them on the importance of education. I know a few parents who have Masters' degrees behind their backs and yet their kids had to drop out in Form 5 or Form 3 even. Don't tell me these educated fathers did not bother to instil the key message of how important education is in life? Surprisingly enough, their kids may not be highly educated or not that too academically-inclined but still knowledgeable in certain things... So the huge difference between education and knowledge may come into play.

Likewise, a thief who stole those copper cables may not finish Form 1 but he is very knowledgeable about its price in the black market and capitalises on his knowledge for all the wrong reasons. His stupid action out of desperation may land him in jail but he could not care less for the chain reaction of life and death consequences e.g. causing an innocent baby to suffer gross pain unnecessarily. That is the pure logic of the domino effects.

The irony of it all is the moral or spiritual emptiness in the thief's black heart. He simply has no faith or "IMAN" to have sinned in committing such foolish crimes.

So the right education system has to take into account the 'Faith' Factor or Moral Knowledge, if you will. I hope the much-anticipated SPN21 or 21st Century National Education System will zero in on this spiritual (Islamic religious, if you like) or moral values...

His Majesty's vision in declaring Brunei Darussalam as "Negara Zikir" is the boldest declaration any Leader of an Islamic nation has ever done in the history of human civilization! I am a firm believer in His Majesty's pure, simplistic and altruistic vision.

I am an academic failure myself being an 'O' level drop-out) but I merely practise "Zikrullah" by simply saying "ALHAMDULLILLAH" (all praises be to Allah the Almighty) in spite of my miseries and extreme poverty and I am happy in my heart - "SUBHANNALLAH"! I was unemployed for some years and I say "ALLAHU AKBAR" while doing odd jobs selling door-to-door. Now I am working for much less than what I used to earn and I say "LA ILLA HA ILLALLAH" (There is no God but ALLAH) to express gratitude:)

I am a typical contented Bruneian just waiting for the D-day when the Angel of Death shall execute his Godly mission on a mortal like me. I strive to succeed further in this temporary life in order to secure a much better promised land in the Hereafter, of course. That is, provided my "IMAN" remains intact still, INSYA ALLAH!
Azmi HJR said…
Cool Mr. Mohammad...we like movies. :)

And no...I never said 'O' level drop outs are total failures and I apologize if I implied that in my words...

Besides, everyone can be a failure with disregard to what education level they hold in their pockets(sorry...lame joke).

With regards to what I said about parents instilling the importance of education, I believe we all do at some point. It's just that there is so much distraction in their daily lives compared to when we were studying back then...don't you think so?
baba said…
we hav to be self-sufficient esp in fish! heheh... ive said it many time in iconomist's blog (if he reads ths, pls respond heheh. anyway, gr8 article again and yes it's by BIG "BRo" himself! hehe

as for the tapau thingy, atu supaya nda membazir wang, biasa jua tu :P

ps:
i m no school dropout hehe
ARB said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
ARB said…
Sorry terdeletelah... but here is a re-write:

When the price of a good rises and a market exists, perception of values of that particular good also rises, hence benefits over-weigh the costs of services and lives at RIPAS. This is a perceived rational action incentivized by the growing demand of copper. Sadly, we always focus our solutions on the supply side issues and we tend to most of the time forget, without demand there would be less incentives to commit such stupid actions. This is so true also in the cases of smuggling of diesel, black market cigarettes and alcohol and so on and so forth.
But what I find more intriguing was how critical areas at RIPAS could easily be knocked down during black-outs,putting lives at risk. MOH should consider its on CBA to invest heavily on this.
BTW, I also dropped out at 'O' Levels to seek employment and never for once consider myself a failure...
Mohammad said…
Sorry Tuan tabik arb in the Fine City & azmi hrj, the Bruneian aussie! I push the e-motion for 'O' level subject to be dropped as a NON-issue in this e-forum, sirs...

The crux of the issue really is are we Bruneians all that hard-up as our intellectual blog-host, Tuan Besar BR, rhetorically questioned in his previous thought-provoking blog-story?

As a classic example, for senior officers like you 2 gentlemen -- you have a lot to thank the Almighty and His Majesty's Government for for your stable, professional career development.

On the other hand, I am sure there are times when you felt that Singaporean and Australian costs of living could be way too overboard, right? How you both wish you could just come back to home sweet home in laid-back Brunei, am I wrong to try my luck in mind-reading here?

For most ordinary Bruneians like me, we have only Allah to thank for all the kind and generous welfare that His Majesty's Government has endowed us with. But (I can think of a lot of buts) suffice to say that things don't seem to look up the way they ought to i.e. ain't a bed of roses!

Most parents are worried sick of bills to pay come 28th of July... and it's a fact of life in the Abode of Peace, am I right or am I right now?! My son just phoned me to remind me of school fees to be settled. Not to mention the ever-efficient fast-talking, sleek and smooth operators of banks' call centres are abuzz with threatening calls to Bruneian debtors for credit cards, P.Ls, car H.Ps, etc.

All these could drive 'commoner' Bruneians nuts to the extent that some of us had to resort to the Joker's witty-crazy antics of self-destruction by hook or by crook!

Well, that's life as we make it... the only comforting blogsite for me to browse is good-old BRo's!;) At least reading about the Padang Besar (now Taman Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien), I recollect the good old days when all Bruneian guys of all ages congruently kick around balls belonging to Perkasa of Saba or Youngstars of Sumbiling from where the Jaafar brothers BabaNana et al showed their skills of 'thinking' footballing moves:)
SiPugut said…
Reality is starting to set in. When population increases and the economy not diversifying or even growing at all, a time bomb is starting to tick. So when a hard-up person stole copper and caused havoc at RIPAS, it is so easy to groan and entirely blame the person. Yet we and the decision makers are also ought to be responsible. It seems that we are not short of capable people with great intelligence and ideas, able to run ministries and departments, vested with great powers and positions, but we lack real leaders amongst us to make changes, most of us are just blatant followers.

What do you do to support your family if you are jobless and don’t get unemployment benefit. What if the economy sucks and not much opportunities out there. There are so many speeches and rhetoric over the years to ask locals to go and work in the private sectors. It’s so easy to blame that people are choosy. May be before but not anymore. But the fact remains there are still so many companies having large foreign workforce, even filling the low to medium skill. So where is the incentive to employ locals? If a labour department does not change the policy and keep on letting these companies have their ways and keep saying that locals are not up to it and employing them would ruin their business, we will still have foreigners staying here for 20 years till the economy dries out.

Then there are these soft loans introduced a while back, started by our Islamic banks, of all people! Not only it encourages people to spend, spend and spend but it led to a spiral of endless debt and financial despair. What is sad these soft loans and the same can be said with credit cards are that the most vulnerable are the have-nots. Otherwise they would not take the loans in the first place.

So when there is another power failure, don’t just blame copper robber. Start to question the system. Blame ourselves if that helps. We are part of that crumbling system.
ROGUE ECONOMIST said…
Whether the Bruneians are acting out of desperation or simply being highly immoral (or inda pemalu in the case of food-clamouring) is anybody's guess.

But I believe it is high time Brunei performs a reality check, and that is through the measurement of the income gap because it seems to me that all of these are the telltale signs of a big wide gap between the high-income earners and the not so high income earners. Or possibly between those who work in the private sector vs the public sector.

With the increasing global food price and the existing eating habit of we Bruneians, we should brace ourselves for more nasty acts. Unless we find out the root of the problem (which I believe to be the income gap) and do something about it, then I agree with SiPugut, we have noone but ourselves to blame.

I pray for the baby. I hope he is well and one day becomes an economist (hehe). If that happened about 35 years ago, that baby could be me!

Salaam.
Katie-Ella said…
I think we are being too "generous" with these people stealing copper and metal from substations and other public facilities by assuming that they ust be "desperate". They are criminals, pure and simple. The problem with people stealing copper from substations has been going on for years - I left Brunei 8 years ago, and it was already a problem then. I remember a situation where cables were being laid in a certain kampung, a local man asked the supervising engineer for some "spare" cables. Tried to intimidate him, in fact. The supervising engineer, who was foreign, was a bit naive and refused, threatening to call the police. When the cables were laid, and testing was done, a fault was found somewhere in the line. The whole line through the kampung had to be dug up..when they found the fault - yep, some nails had been driven through the cables. The engineer said to me, if he had known what a hassle it would be, he would have just given the man some cables.

(To be honest I had to smile at the engineer's naivete. He was newly arrived from India and this local guy was a Bruneian, a Haji, in fact. Even if he had called the police, what is the likelihood that they would have taken his side....Sad but true in our Brunei society)

Anyway, these people are just thieves. It's no different from stealing from your neighbour's house.
stormtrooper said…
Inda lagi beperawis orang masa ani.q
Mohammad said…
The bottom line now is on average the large majority of Bruneians are penniless - needless to say:(

What is the real scenario i.e. are we coming to grips with living in an environment of growing needs and wants but ever declining or depleting resources (financially)?

His Majesty's Government is still pretty much sound, cash-flow wise. ("ALHAMDULLILLAH Syukur Nikmat Ilahi!) All thanks be to the Almighty...

I can safely say 0.01 per cent of the country's population belong to the super-duper rich wealthiest billionnaires in world class terms.

My uneducated guess says 0.19 per cent are filthy-rich landlords and maybe, just maybe, another 1.9 per cent are 'Nouveau Riche' Bruneians. So that makes a total of only about 6 thousand or perhaps 10 thousand Bruneians who are multi-millionaires and millionnaires in their own rights. If my hypothesis is correct than I have to concur with Madame Rogue Economist that there does exist a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country.

In retrospect, the rest of the more than 300k population in Brunei Darussalam are living on the edge and living dangerously.

I am certainly living in extreme poverty but I shall not look up to the upper scale of Bruneian high society because I definitely can't keep up with the Joneses! I should really look on to much poorer Bruneians than me way, way down below... and say "ASTAGHFIRULLAHUL AZHIIM - INNA LILLAHI..." (Zikir).

Ah well, today is July 28 and time to check out the long lines for ATMs and banking counters' queues!Reality Check bounces again...
baba said…
Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind

Look to those inferior to yourselves, so that you may not hold God's benefits in contempt

When you see a person, who has been given more than you in money and beauty; then look to those who have been given less

mohammad, with the way ur writing, i doubt ur in poverty but maybe jobless and frustrated... so, pls pls make urself useful instead of lazing and moping ard ur parents house, even it means getting a job which is lesser than u thought when u were in the uk (no nid to compare urself to the joneses watever) but just as honorable, e.g. department stores etc
Mohammad said…
Thank you so very much for your great advice, Big Boss baba!

I agree wholeheartedly with your first three paragraphs of good pure admirable, poignant and divine "HIKMAH" words of wisdom, sir baba!

Contrary to what you thought I am in fact doing a coolie's work in a small computer shop, boss baba;)

I am just like the Malay movie character in my one of favourite Tan Sri P Ramlee's films, "Tiga Abdul" who always asked for commissions 10 percent to 25 percent until finally he was sold! (Heheheh "Jangan marah, nanti kena jual!":) Kekadang tekidum jua sendiri-sendiri macam orang gila kitani ani oleh Allahyarham atu;)

Been to UK but only transiting in Heathrow airport, boss baba:)My writing is cut and paste from internet lah big boss baba - call it plagiarism or intellectual property rights violations of the highest order but I still get away with it cos of my 'loyar buruk'!;)

Have a nice day... babaiiii! Sekian wabillahi taufik walhidayah wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh big v.i.p boss baba.:)

p.s. Hamba Allah ani sekadar kan berkongsi pendapat saja dalam blog BIG BRo yang penuh iktibar, baba. I think I am still entitled to my own opinion as you are to yours.;)
baba said…
forget to post the 1st 3 sentences are hadith from our beloved rasulullah s.a.w.
anyway, like i m no boss, doin all the coolie jobs too... my observation is that ur writings are so good that u mustve got good education, so its a compliment. and ofc ur entitled to ur own opinions.. so if i offended u in anyway, i apologise heheh

but my point is, nobody in brunei "currently" in "extreme poverty"as u so mildly mentioned earlier, thats whats bemused me in some way, its still a long way from us being like our fellow muslims in africa,somalia etc... so we indeed have to understand those hadiths :)

ps:
who knows u might be able to go up the corporate ladder with ur kind of thinking insyallah... but the thing is us bruneians must learn to work like other ppl from overseas, "from the bottom" ... nda kan tarus2 jadi pegawai d pejabat kerajaan, jadi big boss, mentang2 ada degree (kalau dapat syukur lah lain ceta)... so thats my advice to u,tawakal :)
baba said…
and ur english is very good too... i can only assumed u studied in canada or u.s of a or even europe, inorder to transit to UK... its so tongue in cheek hehe
ARB said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
baba said…
lol, there's been 2 deleted posts just after mine's in ths issue... i really hope my comments didnt strike somebody's nerves :P
Mohammad said…
ROFL:) U r very funny, baba:) Ur smile:) n ur making BIG BRo to smile:) n da whole world to smile:) is already charity or "sedekah", baba:)

A smile is charity ("Senyum itu adalah sedekah") is also a "Sahih" Hadith or traditions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wassalam (Peace be upon him). Another Hadith (dunno Sahih or not this one) also said that when someone compliments you, you say: "ASTAGHFIRULLAH" and when people berate, humiliate, underestimate or curse you, you simply say: "ALHAMDULLILLAH"...

I am a disgrace to my English teachers for silly mistakes like, "If my hypothesis is correct than I have to concur with Madame Rogue Economist that there does exist a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country."

When it should've been: If my hypothesis was correct then I have to concur with Mrs Rogue Economist that there seems to exist a widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country.

And you're right, by the way, that only poverty exists in Brunei Darussalam but not extreme one. Even then it is merely 'self-inflicted' kind of poverty caused by spending beyond one's means as our young Dr Rogue Economist would agree (nada pandai ukur pakaian di badan sendiri, lurus kah tu Dang Hajah?)...

One most obvious typographical error I need to correct before I sign off, baba, was: "...in my one of favourite..." should read: one of my favourite movies - silly old cow me! Heheheh:)

The moral of my pathetic life story, baba, is that no human being is perfect save for Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wassalam (Peace be upon him).

The Pehin Mufti of Brunei is a strong advocate for all Muslims to always recite the "Salawat" or praises to our beloved Prophet. I suppose since tomorrow is the Remembrance or Commemmoration of the Night Journey by the Messenger of Allah, all Bruneians can take heed of learning points and lessons to be learnt from such an amazing miracle! (ALLAHUMA SALLI ALA SAYYIDINA WA MAULANA MUHAMMAD WA 'ALA 'ALIE SAYYIDINA MUHAMMAD)

Take care, baba, and be good!C ya!
Noor.Foxx said…
So indeed what happened to Bruneians?
Are we really that small, hence these kinda issues are easily highlighted? Or maybe we lack movers and shakers who are willing to go all the way for economy diversification without having to worry about themselves first? Do we simply jump to conclusion that these ppl are born to be thieves or will we go to the root of the cause and perhaps stop bragging about the welfare that the government has given the rakyats. Look brothers and sisters, the reality is out there. And the choice is yours. We may continue buy fancy handbags or even collect antiques and think of only our very own interests or we could work out a solution together. Brag about the subsidies all you want, but when issues like these are still apparent, it's high time for workable solutions to be formulated instead of simply outlining the welfares the Brunei government are giving to the rakyats.

Allah knows best. Wassalam.

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