Showing posts from August, 2008

The Mirror Island and The Civil War

[My article was published in my Brunei Times column, the Golden Legacy last Sunday, 24th August 2008. This is based on two earlier blog entries which I wrote last year.]

One of the interesting islands in Brunei Bay is a small island called Pulau Cermin (cermin means mirror in Malay). Pulau Cermin as many Brunei historians know, is the site of the temporary palace of Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin, the 13th Sultan of Brunei and is the site of the only civil war in Brunei History.

Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin stayed there for a while, retreating from Brunei’s capital in Kampong Ayer. Another Sultan, Sultan Muhyiddin took up the throne in Brunei’s capital while Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mumin stayed at Pulau Cermin. It was the only time that Brunei had two Sultans.

How did the civil war come about?

The civil war between the two Sultans was described vividly in a Brunei Malay novel entitled ‘Mahkota Berdarah’ (The Bloodied Crown). It was in fact quite a bloody time in Brunei history. Yura Halim wrote the b…

Brunei Street Directory 2008

If you have never heard of Brunei having its own street directory or if the last Brunei Darussalam's Street Directory copy that you have still have the photograph of our Deputy Minister, Dato Dr Mat Suny when he was the Deputy MD of BSP, then you are really in need of a new one.

Or have you heard of Jalan Dakula, named after the son of Sultan Abdul Mubin who was taken to Sulu and came back to seek the throne, or Jalan Belangkas which is the translation of that interesting sea creature Horse Shoe Crab, or Jalan Kalamasi which I have alwayst thought meant lime orange in Tagalog after the word Kalamansi or Jalan Keshav Tamang, which I am sure many readers would love to know who he is - the point is if you want to know about where all these places are, look it up at the new Brunei Darussalam Street Directory which contains all the road maps for the urban areas of Brunei Darussalam.

This book was launched yesterday and became the country's second street directory book. The previous o…

Old Kampong Ayer 1950s

This is the other photograph of the two photographs old Brunei Town set which I mentioned last Tuesday. This one is also a privately taken photograph in the 1950s. This is taken from the minaret of SOAS Mosque. In fact many of Bandar Brunei's are taken from the vantage point of SOAS Mosque minaret.

This one is interesting as there does not seem many houses surrounding the mosque and houses are further apart than most houses of today which are close together.

APPEAL for Missing Brunei Stamps

This is an APPEAL. I thought I have all the Brunei stamps ever issued since 1895. I take pride in that. When I was updating my stamp albums, I realised I don't have the above stamps. Urrghhhhh.......

I am willing to pay good money to whoever who can sell me those stamps both mint and used sets. You know the email and let me know the price.....

Dating Old Brunei Town

I bought this photograph of old Brunei Town on ebay a few weeks ago. It was actually sent by someone called Philip to an Elsie congratulating her on being a permanent staff. It's a set of two photographs.

This photograph is that of the late 1950s. I can confirm it by the date of the note at the back of the photograph. But one way you can tell is to look at the photograph itself. Look at what I marked as A. A is the old Boon Pang Cinema. This was replaced in the 1960s with a new Boon Pang Cinema. The old Boon Pang did not face the padang but the new Boon Pang faced the Padang. Of course, the new Boon Pang gave way to the IBB Building (now BIBD) in the early 1990s. By 1992, the new IBB Building was already up and standing on the same site.

B is the old Hong Kong Bank. It was a small building in the 1950s and 1960s but it was replaced by the now 5 storey building sometime in the 1970s.

C is the site of the Royal Brunei Police Force HQ in town. The view of all the police quarters formed …

The Bloodied Crown

This is Pulau Cermin. Pulau Cermin is the site and scene of the book that I read on Friday and for the article I am publishing today.

I spent my Friday reading a book entitled 'Mahkota Berdarah' loosely translated as 'The bloodied Crown'. It took a long time for me to find this book. I read it about 35+ years ago and I remembered it contained a lot of information that I needed to write my article to be published today in Brunei Times. One of my officers helped me borrow the book through a colleague of his from the Museum Library. Thanks you guys!

Mahkota Berdarah is a novel written by Yura Halim. It is the one and only book so far that I know, written about the Brunei Civil War in the 17th century. I have written a short entry about the civil war in this blogsite more than a year ago in April 2007. The link is here if you want to know a bit more about the war and the two Sultans.

If you want to know a lot more about the Civil War, get the book. You can borrow it from the …

Transfers and Promotions

There has been so many appointments and transfers among Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries over the last few days that it is hard to keep track. But just in case you missed out, here they are:-

Cabinet Ministers
Minister of Industry & Primary Resources - Pehin Dato Haji Yahya (formerly Energy)
Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports - Pehin Dato Ahmad Jumat (formerly Industry)
Minister of Energy at PM's Office - Pehin General Muhammad (formerly Culture)

Permanent Secretaries (PS)
Prime Minister's Office - Hj Murni Mohammad (formerly Acting DPS, PMO)
Prime Minister's Office - Pg Dato Paduka Othman (formerly PS, Foreign Affairs)
Prime Minister's Office - Hj Abd Aziz Yusof (formerly DPS, PMO)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Hj Irwan Pehin Yusof (formerly DPS, Foreign Affairs)
Ministry of Health - Dato Hj Abd Salam Momin (formerly Deputy Private Secretary HM)
Ministry of Home Affairs - Dato Hj Sharbini Ali (formerly PS, Health)
Ministry of Religious Af…

The Tales of Kampong Pancur Murai

[My article on Kampung Pancur Murai was published in my Golden Legacy column in Brunei Times last Sunday, 17th August 2004. This is based on an earlier blog entry I wrote sometime last year.]

I have written in the past about the origin of place names in Brunei Darussalam. Some place names are pretty straightforward and one can guess easily how the name originated. Though in my research, one place name takes the cake and wins hands down the prize for the most interesting way how the place is named.

The village is called Kampong Pancur Murai and if you have not come across it, it is located about 22 kilometers from our capital Bandar Seri Begawan and is bounded by Kampung Batong and Kampung Wasan, in Mukim Pangakalan Batu.

According to the older village folks, Kampong Pancur Murai was originally known as Pangkalan Imang. In those days, the trading people especially local Brunei traders (called pengalu) come from the capital to the place via Sungai Imang. And Sungai Imang was not even a re…

Future Planners

I had an interesting visitor the other day. He did not make an appointment but since I had a bit of time in between my meetings and my work, I took the time to meet this guy. He was a Chinese man. I asked him why he wanted to see me.

He told me this story about him who will be retiring very soon but he does not have anywhere to go. Currently he is staying in his company's quarters but he has been told to move out as soon as he retires. He has three children, the eldest daughter had just started work, the other daughter and son is still schooling. His wife also worked. He said that he had been suffering from depression and brought along medical reports to prove it. He was depressed as he had no idea what he can do when he retires. He does not have any land and cannot build any house. He is a permanent resident and therefore does not qualify for the housing schemes. He asked for my help.

I looked at this poor man in front of me and this guy obviously expects me to provide a miracle. I…

Youthful Thinking

I thought I will elevate a comment made yesterday on Brunei youths to a proper discussion.

Mohammad, one of this blog's active commentator wrote yesterday 'It is rather absurd that the Youth Development Centre ("Pusat Pembangunan Belia) -- under the care of Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry through the Youth and Sports Department -- has for donkeys of years been running sewing or tailoring courses as well as hair-cutting or barber courses for Bruneian youths and yet not a single iota of their annual 'graduates' have succeeded in setting up shop or even in taking up jobs in their trained fields! Why?! Since aeons gone by, Bruneian consumers have to be at the mercy of Indian, Filipino, Indonesian or other foreign workers for our needs e.g. hair-cuts or tailored clothes, etc. Ah well, beggars can't be choosy...:('

Maybe that's exaggerating a bit that none has taken up jobs at their trained fields or set up shops. There has been some. From what I can see, …

Love your tailor

This is priceless! Kudos to BB and Rhymie for coming up with this cartoon. Sorry guys, I just had to filch this and show it off here. This is really really bull's eye.

We are still about, what, some 2 weeks away from the fasting month? In most cases, people will be struggling to their tailors even in the final week of the fasting month that despite all those money that you are willing to pay the Indian tailor or the Philippines seamstress, they are not going to do a special one for you as the amount of tailoring work they have to do by then. So, send your kain early. Save your stress. If you send it in now, then they have more time to do it

I remembered when one of my sister in laws used to run a tailor shop, that shop would struggle for 11 of the 12 months in the year. But the one month they would make money is the fasting month. That's when everyone in the shop sleeps at midnight just to make all the baju rayas. Everybody wants theirs done before Hari Raya. Yet, there will be…

The Beef of Agriculture

We have been having a few meetings with Agriculture Department lately and there were a number of literatures made available to us. One of the more interesting ones is this tiny book on agricultural statistics in Brunei. I was quite amazed of the statistics inside it. Used right you can even tell which agicultural sector you can venture into.

I was quite intrigued with the beef industry statistics. Between 1998 to 2002, beef imports rose from 3,519 metric ton to 5,401 metric ton. But after 2002, beef imports fell that by 2,007, we only imported 3,080 metric ton down by almost 2,400 metric tons. That's a lot of beef. You would have thought with such a drastic drop, there would be an increase in local beef production. Apparently no. In 2002, local production was 206 metric ton and by 2007, it was only 72 metric tons.

Something is not right. Bruneians have stopped eating meat? The population has increased. Weddings have increased. The economy has been more or less the same over the firs…

Houses Allocation

It was almost 4 pm yesterday when we had lunch. His Majesty must have been so tired shaking all those hands and visiting all those houses. By the time we got to sit down, I was very amazed that he still had the energy to talk to those around him. I sat about 3 seats away but he still took the time to acknowledge all of us around the table. What did we talk about?

Yesterday's ceremony was for house owners in Katok B. Katok B is actually a strange name. It is actually located in Kampong Mata-Mata. Many years ago when PWD was given funds for the original Kampong Katok, they had left over funds for earthworks and infrastructure works. Rather than leave the money unspent, they found another area and decided to call it Katok B so that they can use the funds for that. The engineers thought Katok B was near Katok A. Technically. On a map. But in reality, the two places were separated.

The houses are for STKRJ schemes and not RPN schemes. There are two housing schemes in Brunei. One is calle…

Rentak 914

It's not very often we get Brunei singers on CD. We have Hans Anuar and Maria but not much else. I remembered a couple of months back that RTB did produce a compilation of songs sung by Brunei singers. During the Halal Expo opening, I met the RTB big boss and asked him whether that compilation is still available and how was it compiled.

He said it is available for volume 2. Volume 1 has sold out. Each CD cost $15.00. RTB gets nothing for producing it and all the proceeds go to charity. It seemed that RTB gets unsolicited hundreds of songs produced and sung by Bruneians. The RTB folks go through them, choose a few which are really good and every so often will play them on air. If it is really good, then they get to stay on the air. Now RTB compiles the best ones into a CD. This one is called Rentak 914 from the Pelangi Network 91.4FM.

It is still available and I understand that Volume 1 will be made available again soon. So go to RTB and grab the both of them. You get to hear the lik…

Should Brunei join the Olympics?

With all the discussions about our Olympics non-participation, I remembered in Sydney for the Olympics 2000, there was a wildcard entry from Equatorial Guinea. He was the talk of the swimming community then as there was a part when he nearly drowned in the 100 meter freestyle. Anyway, I searched for a video of that particular swimmer and I managed to find it. If you watch it, I am pretty sure you would agree that our own Maria Grace Koh would have been much better than this guy whether she is fit or unfit. This guy only learnt to swim in January, a few months before the Olympics Games.

PS. Just for the record, Brunei competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. We had one runner Jimmy Anak Ahar who competed in the 1,500 meters. He finished 13th in his race with a time of 4:14.11. Brunei also competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. We had one runner too, Haseri Ali who competed in the 100 meteres. He finished the race with a respectable 11.11 seconds.

Time Magazine had this to say about Jim…

Lot of the Rice

I was out in Labi yesterday with my colleagues to check out a couple of real estate properties needed for a government project. I thought I will just use this space to highlight an effort which is being carried out at the moment. First is the the photograph above. This is Lot Sengkuang, an area of rice plantation already being used in Labi and will be expanded much further.

This one is a photograph of Lot Mobil, also in Labi. This will be the site of a huge rice plantation in Brunei.

Lot Sengkuang and Lot Mobil are two place names in Brunei which are not yet well known. But a few years down the road, school children would have to memorise these names as our new rice bowls in the Geography lessons.

In 2007, according to Agriculture Department, Bruneians ate 31,242 metric tons of rice. That's equivalent to every single one of us eating 80.1 kilogram each. Did you realise that? That's about 8 bags of the 10 kg sack of rice being sold at supermarkets for each one of us. And out of th…

The Brunei 'Train'

I took this photo from the bus on the way back to Bandar after the wedding on Sunday. By the time I switch on my camera, this 'train' had already crossed the 4 tee junction heading into Tutong camp.

What is it? I am not so sure. I think it's a train (on wheels) and used by the Army to entertain kids. It is the first time I have seen it. Probably there must be people out there with better photographs of this 'train'. It would be interesting to see it in action.

The Kesabit

Over the weekend, I could not live up to the Daily BR. My wife and I were just running up and down from Muara to our house. My wife's nephew was getting married and as you know Brunei's weddings can be quite hectic. The berbedak ceremony, the nikah ceremony and also the night before the wedding which was mostly for family. At ours, I noticed an interesting change. Previously there will be prizes for karaoke competition. This time there still was but there were 4 competitors only. The rest of the crowd was at the big screen competing in Winning Eleven and Guitar Hero. I did enjoy it plus the trip to see them bersanding at the bride's house in Telisai.

I also discovered a new element to the hantaran. I knew that different cultures had different ways. Even the difference between Brunei Malays and Tutong Malays can be drastic. So with this particular wedding, there were 2 items which we had to fulfill. One was a chalapa (a chalapa is place for keeping things specifically kapur…

A History of the Olympics

It's the 2008 Olympics in Beijing today. Today's illustration is the Olympics stamps issued by Australia given by a fellow collector friend, Kai from Australia. When did the Olympics start?

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE. At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade - a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards) making him the very first Olympic champion in history.

The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

It took almost 1,500 before a Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began its revival. He believed that the French lost to the Germans not because of military tactics but because they were weak. So Coubertin …

Heteronim and Homogram

I discovered this publication by Dewan Bahasa Brunei by accident. I found it in the gift bag during the launch of the Brunei Geography website the other day. I was not able to attend it but someone kindly gave me the souvenir gift bag anyway. When I opened it, it had a number of books including this one. Since this is the 7th in the series and it is produced half annually, this publication must have been first published about 3 or 4 years ago.

What's so good about it? For some, it may be dull. It's full of articles about the Malay language. But for me, that's what so good about it. The articles are just nicely sized and full of important things that I need to know or may not to know but useful to know about just the same. There are 12 articles inside this one but each article is about 500 words long which is very manageable. For instance there is this article about Heteronim and Homogram. Heteronim is the same word, spelt the same but pronounced differently. For example, &#…

The Sultan who saved Brunei

[Note: I wrote the following article for last Sunday's Brunei Times (3rd August 2008)]

In the history of modern Brunei, no one should forget what Sultan Hashim did for us. He signed the historic agreement between Brunei Darussalam and United Kingdom in 1888 which made us a British Protectorate. He also signed the other historic agreement between the two countries in 1906 which created the post of British Resident to advise Brunei.

Despite signing these important agreements, not much is known about Sultan Hashim. What we do know about Sultan Hashim is always garnered from British writings especially from British officers who served under the Brooke Administration in Sarawak. Many of those people disliked him as he thwarted Rajah Brooke’s efforts to control Brunei entirely but some admired him being able to steer and save the remnants of Brunei Darussalam.

What do we really know about Sultan Hashim?

Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin comes from a long line of Brunei Sultanate. His fat…

Belait Crocodile

A Mr. RM emailed me this crocodile photograph last night. This photograph appeared in Borneo Bulletin last Thursday and I remembered a few of us discussing it when we were in Temburong. We were not sure judging by the black and white photograph in BB whether such a crocodile could have walked up a ramp and watch it peeked into a house. Afterall photoshop experts abound.

Now that I have seen the colour photograph, I am convinced that it is real and did happen. So I thought I will share that photograph with you all out there. Now, imagine if you happen to be sitting in the house and a crocodile peeked in. How fast can you run?

Brunei's Crocodile Revisited

Last Thursday, there was this story on BB about a crocodile peeping through someone's riverine house. I remember writing about crocodiles as a blog entry about 2 years back. So it's time to recycle old blog entries:-

Do you remember the news story on BB about a couple of weeks back about someone finding a baby crocodile in one of the drains near the houses at Bengkurong? That baby crocodile most probably came from the nearby river. In fact that river is fairly well known for its crocodiles which the locals have sighted every so often. I read somewhere that these crocodiles if they live long enough probably can reach as long as 9 meters (30 feet) long.

According to the scientists, there are many types or genus of crocodiles but in Brunei, there are only two types. One is the Crocodylus Porosus or the English Salt Water Crocodile or in Brunei, known as Buaya Katak. I am not sure why it's called that especially if it can grow up to 30 feet long. The other type is the genus Tomi…

Latest Brunei Stamps

Last Friday was 1st August 2008. It was 40 years ago when His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah was coronated as the 29th Sultan of Brunei, a long line of Sultanate which started in the 14th Century.

However according to Chinese records, friendly exchanges between Brunei and China have a long history. The earliest records date back more than 2,000 years ago as early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 23 AD) when commodity trade relations existed and official exchanges between the governments during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD to 907 AD). By the time of the Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1270 AD), there were official and non-governmental commercial and cultural exchanges have been officially recorded in the history of China. I got the information from a book called 'The Collection of Historical Documents Related to Bilateral Relations Between China and Brunei Darussalam' edited by Liu Xinsheng, published by World Affairs Press China in 2006.

So if we were to take the lineage of the …

The Coronation of the Sultan of Brunei

[Note: I wrote the following article for Brunei Times as it was running a special feature on the 40th Anniversary of His Majesty's Coronation. This was published yesterday on BT under the Focus Feature page.]

In the early morning of 1st Febuary 1968, while the folks of Brunei Town (now Bandar Seri Begawan) were just starting to go and do their daily chores, two groups of men were preparing to ascend two hills to carry out centuries’ old traditions. One of the hills was in Tutong while the other was in the Brunei-Muara District.

Far from the crowds at Jalan Sultan, the two groups tackle the ascent up the hills. The Tutong crowd was led by Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Haji Awang Ahmad. Once they reached the top, they raised a big yellow flag at the summit.

The other group in the meantime was led by Pehin Seri Wangsa Haji Awang Muhammad. They too raised a big flag but this time it was red, at the summit of Bukit Sungai Kebun.

For the many Bruneians who saw the flags flying high on top of …

History Lessons

We are preparing for another 'penyerahan kunci' for those who have been given houses under the National Housing Program or the Skim Tanah Kurnia Rakyat Jati. Normally there is one dress rehearsal where everyone gets to practise greeting His Majesty. In most cases these 'penyerahan' are held at a nearby school near the area. His Majesty normally makes a visit to that school before visiting the houses, ketua kampongs and economic activities around the area.

When we took the tour around the school, I was quite curious to see that this school has a historical resources room. I quickly looked round and found that almost most photographs I have put up here and on my main website have been downloaded and printed and placed on the room's walls. The photos even have my reference website I must admit I felt a little proud having contribute something to Brunei's education even if it is only old photographs. So, if there are anymore history school t…