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Showing posts from April, 2008

Brunei Football

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When I attended the ceremony for BAFA, I was quite surprised to learn about the history of BAFA. BAFA as you know is the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam. BAFA did not start off as BAFA.

BAFA was originally known as the Brunei State Amateur Football Association. It was founded in 1952 with His Highness The Sultan as the Royal Patron. BSAFA was founded in 1952 in Seria. A few employees of Dutch and English origins working with the then BMP Co Ltd (now known as BSP Co Ltd) started the association. The Association was affliated not to any regional or national body.

It was registered on 12th March 1956. On the 15th March, BSAFA was officially gazetted by the British Resident through Notification number 67/1956. BSAFA paid $10. The interesting bit was, BSAFA was affliated to The Football Association (England). I guess technically speaking BSAFA could have played in the English FA Cup sine then.

The first few Presidents were Englishmen before YAM Pg Jaya Indera Pg Hj Mohktar Puteh bec…

Brunei's New Stamps of 2008

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This post is slightly late (5 days) but so is the commemorative issue (2 years late). On Thursday, 24th April 2008, the Post Office issued the first of this year's commemorative stamps. This issue is to celebrate 100 years of moving Brunei's capital to dryland. Prior to 1906, Brunei's capital or administrative centre was always on the water. Though reading some of the older books, it may have been that the palace was not always on water, but tre rest of the administrative capital was always on the water.

Prior to that Bandar Seri Begawan or Pekan Brunei as it was then known was a city on water. Peter Blundell in his book ‘City of Many Waters’ published stated that the “town was unique, the only one in the world built almost entirely over the water, and the Bruneis were justly proud of it. They were folks who live a semi aquatic life, and their methods of living, household arrangements, family life, and town government, adapted as they had been to life over the water.”

When d…

Rubber Industry in Brunei

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At the beginning of the 20th century, many Bruneians have forgotten that it was not oil that sustained us. It was coal, rubber and cutch. I wrote about cutch in my Brunei Times' Golden Legacy column last week. Yesterday I wrote about rubber. But I couldn't get the photograph I wanted to place in the newspaper. Instead it was an old photograph about Labu Estate in Temburong.

The photographs I wanted were these ones here. Many people pass by these two places without realising what these are. This house is located at the simpang, I could not remember the name of the road but it is just off the road that one uses to go through to ISB in Berakas. This house and the rubber factory in front of it are clearly visible whenever one passed by the area.

The house belonged to the Manager of the Berakas Rubber estate. Berakas, remember, used to be a major rubber plantation. In fact, around the Lambak area, I remembered in the 1960s and 1970s many rubber trees remained.

FIFA GOAL Project in Brunei

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I was at the Brunei Football Association new headquarters at Jalan Menteri Besar. To be precise, it is at the Jalan heading towards MOF and MOH but don't turn up to Commonwealth Drive.

BAFA apparently did not pay a single cent for the building which will later consist of a main building, a training centre as well a football pitch. The building cost some US$1.4 million. FIFA gives BAFA $400,000 for the building. On top of that FIFA gives US$250,000 a year to each of its members. Brunei being more prudent did not take it and kept it at FIFA and now drawing the last four years to pay for that building. At leat BAFA will now has its own headquarters. I sure that that will help the state of our soccer. PLease......

I spoke to the FIFA regarding our FIFA rankings. He said it is not that hard to raise it. All Brunei has to do is play against higher ranking teams and beat them. Playing against lower ranking teams means winning would give us more points. Trashing Timor Leste 10-0 means we ge…

14 Things to do in Brunei

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I found the following descriptions of 14 things you can do while in Brunei from the Travellers Worldwide website. Interestingly enough, not all the things to be done are in Brunei and I am not sure about the legality of one or two of the suggestions:-

Island Getaways:
If you want to be ahead of the backpacker crowd and head out on your own there are islands around Brunei where you can veg out for a weekend or longer on a low budget. If you are truly intrepid, our organisers can arrange for you to visit a deserted island (with equipment, of course) and pick you up the next day or longer if you wish. You must demonstrate basic first aid, consideration for the environment, basic camp craft and be able to light (and put out) a fire.

Pulau Labuan is a small duty-free island about an hours' boat ride from the mainland. This island, part of Malaysian Sabah, is popular with local Brunieans who go there for tax free shopping and, if they are not Muslim, to stock up on alcoholic drink to tak…

Boss

5 days in Singapore is a tad too long without your family. I am reading my old entries when I was still using msn spaces before moving to blogspot. Just in case, you are interested, I started writing entries here in December 2005 before moving to blogspot in March 2006. It was a different kind of entry but I thought I had more fun blogging. I picked up one entry for you to enjoy:-

My 5 year old son always tells me, whenever my official car arrives, 'kereta boss datang'. Now that I am holding this position, for whatever reason, he says I am now a boss and that's why I have an official car. We would have conversations that goes like 'masa babah balum boss ...' According to my son, that means even when I was the head honcho of the retirement agency looking after $1 billion fund means I was still not a 'boss'. His definition of 'boss' apparently refers to higher value position. Interestingly, the other day, one of my institution's officers also refer…

Ease of Doing Business in Brunei

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I am attending a short course at NUS in Singapore. Yesterday was interesting. There are a few PS in the group and yesterday, the lecturers were showing us the Ease of Doing Business Report prepared by the World Bank. You can get the latest report here. I think BT and BB has highlighted it earlier. I had to look in closely and this is the interesting position we are in:-

Ease of Doing Business (Overall) = Rank 78 (out of 178)

Sectors:
Starting a Business = 117
Dealing with Licences = 66
Employing Workers = 4
Registering Properties = 178
Getting Credits = 97
Protecting Investors = 121
Paying Taxes = 28
Trading Across Border = 36
Enforcing Contracts = 158
Closing a Business = 35

Checking against our ASEAN neighbours, Singapore (1st), Thailand (15th) and Malaysia (24th) are ahead of us. We beat Vietnam, Indonesia, Philipppines, Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR.

Clearly, there are many things that my colleagues and I have to improve on.

Old Brunei Palaces (reposted)

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I posted this entry on 1st March 2007. I thought I will repost it again as someone did ask about it and could not find it.

It would be quite impossible to find anybody in Brunei who don't know where Istana Nurul Iman is. The degree of knowledge obviously tapers off as you go down the list of Istanas or palaces in Brunei. Istana Nurul Izzah in Jerudong, Istana Darul Hana in Jalan Tutong, the guest palace Istana Edinburgh in Jalan Menteri Besar, Istana Darussalam in Kampung Sumbiling, Istana Manggalela in Belait and Istana Pantai in Tutong. I have written about the latter two.

During the 100th year anniversary exhibition of Brunei's capital moving to dryland (still on at the Commercial Centre in Bandar Seri Begawan), there was a number of old photographs on other recent past Brunei's palaces. There were three in particular - Istana Mahkota, Istana Majalis and Istana Kaca. I was lucky that during the ceremony, there were enough people who happened to have gone through those era…

Kuala Belait, the Oil Capital

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[Note: I wrote about Kuala Belait in my Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times edition Sunday, November 18, 2007. I thought I had put this up on this blog but realised I have not.]

IN 1904, MSH McArthur was assigned by the British Government to assess Brunei. In his report he stated that "the principal villages and hamlets on the Belait (River) are Kuala Belait, Pengkalan Balei, Pengkalan Siong and Pengkalan Dato Bakong".

He then went on to describe Pengkalan Balei — today known as Kuala Balai — as the local centre with about 400 inhabitants. He did not say anything about Kuala Belait which we can infer not to be of significant importance in 1904.

A 1959 Borneo Bulletin article described Brunei in 1904: "In those days, Kuala Belait did not exist except as a little fishing hamlet".

Looking at Kuala Belait today, it is almost impossible to imagine that it was once a little fishing hamlet; just as in the 1900s, no one could imagine that it would become the administrative ca…

Before Oil: Cutch in Brunei

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[Note: My article below was published yesterday on the Brunei Times in the usual Golden Legacy column.]

TODAY everyone in Brunei and the world knows Brunei as an oil exporter. But Brunei has only been an oil exporter from 1929 onwards. Nobody remembered what Brunei had before oil was discovered in commercial quantity in 1929 (oil was discovered as far back as 1899 but not in commercial quantity).

At the turn of the 20th century, Brunei's main export was neither oil nor gas. There were a number of industries then contributing to Brunei's economy. Brunei then exported among other items, livestock, hides and tallow as well as some local produce such as sago which was one of the major export items produced at Kuala Balai, Belait District's capital then.

But the most important items being exported were coal, rubber and cutch.

Coal was produced in Brooketon (today's Muara) through an open cast method. During the period of 1888 to 1924, more than 650,000 tonnes were produced. Eve…

Kampong Batu Ampar

I am in Singapore for the next few days. So I will be recylcing materials that I wrote in the past mostly from the Golden Legacy blogspot.

I remembered in the DBR talking about a few place names in Brunei where the place names are a tad unusual. In fact, not many people would want to live there if the place names resemble their names. The places included Kampung Parit (ditch) and Kampung Sungai Hanching (smelly river). One particular place name which I liked was Kampung Batu Ampar. My colleague, the DPS for PMO lived there. Kampong Batu Ampar for those wondering where it is is a village on the way to Lumapas. Yes, it's on that side of Brunei.

It took a while for me to find out how Kampung Batu Ampar was named. I remembered speculating what is it about the rocks there that they become so knackered. 'Ampar' in the Brunei language in the definition of Kamus Nusantara is 'tidur nyenyak kerana terlalu letih' (sleeping too soundly because of over tiredness) which to me tra…

Bangar December 1962 Memorial

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December 1962 was a sad period of Brunei's modern history. If I can quote His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed in his book 'Remember, Remember, the 8th of December' who said "bad things happened. Very bad things." People were killed and the only memorial of that event is this memorial at Bangar, Temburong. Eight names are inscribed, those of government servants killed during the period.

In my recent visit to Bangar, I visited the memorial and it is indeed a sad testament to that period. The memorial is right by the bank of the Bangar River and is on the right hand side of the bridge crossing the river. For those wanting to visit it, once you arrived at the jetty, continue walking towards the bridge and go under it and you will be able to almost see it.

Brunei Town's Old Wharf

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I was trawling through my photographs collection in my hard disk when I came across this photograph. This photograph was taken in the 1950s showing the two buildings on the wharf facing Kampong Ayer. The one with the red circle was the first Chinese temple, which I wrote about a few days ago. The building next to it was the Government Rest House. The temple was demolished and rebuilt a few blocks away facing Sungai Kianggeh. The Rest House lasted until the 1970s. It became for a time the office for the Information Department, and later for Pelita Brunei if I am not mistaken and then was demolished. Now the sites are vacant lots and used as a carpark.

In the centre of the photograph is an empty piece of land. That was the old bus station and of course nowadays there is a multistorey carpark with the bus station there.

In Kandila, we will meet

Yesterday was a busy day but today will be busier. I will be in Mentiri, Lambak and Rimba accompanying HM visiting all three housing estates after the key giving ceremony in Mentiri. That's not too bad. On Wednesday I was in Belalong in Temburong to check on the renovations to the UBD centre there, on Thursday I was in Lumut for the Belait District Masterplan presentation and on Saturday, I was somewhere in Ulu Belait to check on the new Belait Dam and that's where I realised mobile phones became deadweight useless items in your pockets as there is no signal.

Anyway, yesterday was the rehearsal and the whole MOD entourage went round visiting the three housing estates. In the last stop at one elderly person's house, we took a rest and during that coffee break, I learnt a lot of new Brunei words from my Minister which I thought I will share today.

I would say that Brunei's sense of time is different. We have words for them. For instance for the period of infinity, the Brun…

The Brunei Law Enforcers

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Note: My article on the Royal Brunei Police Force was published on the Golden Legacy column, Brunei Times on 2nd March 2008. The accompanying photograph was that of my grandfather and his policemen friends. My grandfather retired in 1970s as a Sergeant Major.

THE Royal Brunei Police Force counts among the oldest government agencies in this country. It certainly is the oldest paramilitary organisation in Brunei.

Since its official formation in 1921, many important and significant events had taken place throughout Brunei history as well as internationally. The Royal Brunei Police Force had taken part in those important events. To look at the history of the Royal Brunei Police Force, one has to look all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1904, a British officer, one MSH McArthur who eventually became the first British Resident was asked to look at Brunei and compile a report on the country for consideration of the British Government in London.

Part of his report was a ve…

Past Maulidur Rasul

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I did an article on Maulidur Rasul in my Golden Legacy column yesterday on Brunei Times, about a month behind the actual Maulidur Rasul celebrations. This time my editor was accomodating and put up about 5 of the 6 photographs which I gave him. Normally I get only about 1 photo per article. BT does pay for each photograph and the more BT publishes the more they have to pay. Though to accomodate all those photographs, I lost about 1/4 of my article - the controversial bits. You see, Maulidur Rasul has not always been celebrated throughout the world.

Anyway, this particular photograph strike me. This is typical of the uniform that was worn in the 1950s and 1960s when taking part in Maulidul Rasul. Typical cara Melayu but with a sash. I don't know why the sash. I have a number of photographs and guess what? They all have sashes. And this photograph has that interesting background - a Workers Union shop. BSP is the only organisation nowadays which has a workers union. I don't know …

Trains in Brunei

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To the faithful readers of this blogsite who came in the last couple of days and finding nothing new can thank the providers of espeed for the absence of my postings. I don't know about your espeed but my espeed has decided that it is better off going AWOL so that I can rethink my options of continuing with espeed or go to the other provider. I didn't know that part of espeed's strategy was to go off line so that the other provider can benefit. Hmmmm.....

Anyway, I have lost my postings. But today's posting is nothing new either. Remember the old train track I keep talking about in last year's entry or is it 2006's entries? There are only two train tracks in Brunei. One is in Muara running from the old coalmine somewhere from Serai Pimping all the way to Serasa. This one hauled the coal from coalmines. The other track is in Badas linking to Seria. I have not been able to find an old photograph of the coal mines train but I have photographs of the tracks. As for …

Brunei's First Chinese Temple

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The Chinese Temple at Jalan Kianggeh attracted a lot of Brunei photobloggers during its annual Chinese New Year celebrations. It has been there for so long that not many remembered that there is an older one in the city centre.

I remembered looking at an old photograph of the wharf and seeing an old temple there. When I asked around, most elderly Kampong Ayer folks remember that until about 1960, there was a Chinese temple was there. It was demolished around then and not just the temple, a few of the government buildings around the area were also demolished to make way for the expanding port. The Brunei Port was the one in the city centre until Muara Port was operational in about 1972.

According to a research paper I came across, this first Chinese Temple was built in 1918. As the first World War raged on in Europe, apparently times were good for the Chinese towkays in Brunei. The Chinese businessmen were among the first to heed the British Resident's call to set up shops away from …

Good Brunei Blogsites

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I bought a few books when I was in Singapore. One was Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs's Commonwealth, rather a heavy read about world economics. The next two were law related, John Grisham's The Appeal which taught me a lot on the politics of the American States' Supreme Courts and the other which I completed last night after a marathon 5 hour was Lord Jeffrey Archer's A Prisoner of Birth. Lord Archer ever since his release after a stint of about two years in the British penal system has managed to acquire a lot of knowledge about how the penal system works. The last book is Eoin Colfer's The Airman. Eoin Colfer is not an adult read but I enjoyed his books.

Anyway, just as there are good books, there are also I noticed a number of very good Brunei blogsites. I recommended Local Freakonomics the last time I talked about good local blogsites and that has remained one of the premier sites that talked about Brunei economics. Another which I noticed talked about law whic…

Still Overly Dependent on Oil and Gas

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My foreign affairs colleagues on the trade side had been having a tpr (trade policy review) with the WTO sometime end of February. Both IMF and WTO hold some kind of, if I can use the word, annual interrogations, IMF calls it Article IV Consultations and WTO calls it Trade Policy Review. Of course, it has its usefulness and being a citizen of the world that needs to trade and may one day need financial assistance, Brunei cannot ignore either one.

The WTO report summarised that Brunei is a prosperous, relatively open economy still overly dependent on oil and gas.

Brunei Darussalam is a small, relatively open economy that has intensified its participation in regional trade agreements and has reduced tariffs to low levels although there is still a large gap between applied and bound MFN rates. In several trade-related areas — notably TRIPs, customs procedures, telecommunications and standards — Brunei has made significant improvements to its regulatory framework since the previous review,…

Graveyard in the City Centre

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Last year around this time, I was in Bandar trying to get a much better photograph of Raja Ayang's grave - you know the one in front of the General Post Office, next to TAIB's carpark. I was rewriting an earlier blog which I did in November entitled Grave in the Middle of the City which I rewrote as my second or third article to be published in my column Golden Legacy in Brunei Times. I rewrote the blog as a proper article entitled Mysterious Grave in the City Centre for my Brunei Times column.

I could not get a good shot as the whole grave was surrounded by blue canvas. I figured that the appropriate authorities must either be cleaning up or trying to make it less conspicuous. If you read my blog entry or article, the grave is not exactly something you find it easy to explain but it does make everything else around Bandar not as interesting. Like I said, among the words you have to explain would be incest, stoning, death sentence etc.


It was recently that during the LegCo that …

The Old Police Station

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Bandar Seri Begawan's buildings have more or less remained intact from the 1950s. Most of the major changes have been at the commercial areas along Jalan Sultan where the two storey shophouses are on their way out. However government buildings tended to last longer with the exception of this one building.

This building stood the test of time until about 1983. That was the year that to increase the space or rather the area that was needed for the independence at the end of the year, the government decided to remove this police station. This police station was situated where the current outdoor carpark for the Yayasan Building.

Seria in the 1950s

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This is Seria Town in the early days. I can make out the Marina Cinema but I am sure Serians can more than just identify Marina but also which of the buildings no longer exist.

The Anniversaries in 2008

I was having a chat yesterday regarding the program for this year's commemorative stamps. I understand it has not been finalised yet but in the works are stamps to commemorate the 100 years of moving BSB to dry land (this process was in 1906, so the stamps will be about 2 years over the 100 years), to commemorate 100 years of health, 40 years of His Majesty's Coronation and 50 years of the SOAS Mosque.

His Majesty's Coronation was in 1968 even though he ascended the throne in 1967. The last big celebration was in 1992 when His Majesty celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Ascending the Throne. Last year would have been his 40th anniversary. However the 40th Anniversary of the Coronation would be this year. Someone posted a video of the 1968 Coronation on youtube and I thought I will put up here for you to enjoy as well.

The Origin of 'Ringgit'

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Someone asked on the shoutbox when did we use Ringgit as a word? I got this information quite sometime ago and always wondered when do I have the chance to show it. Well, someone asked and finally here is the answer that I have kept all this while:-

Ringgit - The word ringgit denotes a unit of Malaysian (or Brunei) currency made up one hundred sens which displaced the respective English words dollar and cent used before. 'Ringgit' was already in the Marsden's Dictionary of the Malayan language published in 1812 which referred to it as a unit of currency. Abbot Favre's Malais-Francais Dictionnaire also contains this word, meaning a silver coin. 'Ringgit' originally meant a jagged or serrated edge or crenellation, e.g. 'beringgit-ringgit' - jagged or serrated. It is itself related to the word gerigi or rigi-rigi which means with notched or jagged edge like the teeth of a saw.

As to how coins came to be minted with serrated edges, it is necessary to go back…

Housing Projects 2007-2012

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I just remembered I promised someone a couple of weeks ago to upload the RKN housing projects. Here is the list of housing projects. Unfortunately it is not as detailed as I would like it to be. But at least it gives an indication of approximately what is being done.