Sunday, August 31, 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 book in the mid 1960s and the book was quite popular during its hey days and is considered a classic today.

The bloody episode was sparked off by a cock fight between the son of the Sultan, Pengiran Muda Alam and the son of the Bendahara. The Bendahara was Abdul Hakkul Mubin. The Bendahara, in the old days, is always the Sultan’s right hand man. He can be considered as the Deputy Sultan or in these days, the equivalent of the Prime Minister. For Brunei, the Bendahara was the most senior of all the viziers (wazir) until the appointment of the Perdana Wazir in 1970.

During the cockfight, the cock belonging to the son of the Bendahara Abdul Hakkul Mubin won. It defeated the cock belonging to the son of the Sultan, Pengiran Muda Alam. Pengiran Muda Alam was so enraged by the loss that he took out his keris and plunged it into the chest of the son of the Bendahara. The son of the Bendahara died from the fatal stabbing.

Bendahara Abdul Hakkul Mubin was said to have loved that son so much that he too was enraged when he was informed of his son’s death. He marched to the palace to confront the Sultan. The Sultan at that time was Sultan Muhammad Ali. The Bendahara asked for his son’s death to be avenged.

According to some, he was denied by Sultan Muhammad Ali. Though in the book, ‘Mahkota Berdarah’, the Sultan allowed him to enter into the palace to search for himself, Pengiran Muda Alam. By the time he went in, Pengiran Muda Alam had escaped from the palace.

The Bendahara was so enraged when he could not find Pengiran Muda Alam. He lost his temper and went amok and started killing the people inside the palace including the Sultan’s family. The Sultan who waited in the hall was shocked to see that the Bendahara had been on a killing spree. He tried to stop the Bendahara but the Bendahara will no longer listen to reason.

The Bendahara and his men took the Sultan and killed him by garroting him to death. His body was left lying on the grass lawn and up to now he is known as ‘Marhum Tumbang Dirumput’. This death was to have taken place in November 1661.

The Bendahara took the throne for himself. He crowned himself the Sultan of Brunei as Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin, Brunei’s 13th Sultan.

As Sultan, Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin tried to foster peace between him and the followers of Sultan Muhammad Ali by installing the latter's grandson Pengiran Muhyiddin as the new Bendahara.

At first there was peace in the country. But underneath the peace, there was still simmering hatred for Sultan Hakul Abdul Mubin. Many of Sultan Muhammad Ali’s followers implored to Bendahara Muhyidin to rebel against Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin.

At first Bendahara Muhyiddin felt that it was not the right thing to do. But over time, he agreed and plan for the removal of Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin. The first thing he and his men did was to create a disturbance for the palace as well as the houses in the area. They did the disturbances by poking their spears into the palace and houses. This was called ‘mengarok’. Since many of these rebels were also working at the palace, it was not difficult for them to carry out the attacks.

When Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin asked for Bendahara Muhyidin’s advice, he was duly advised that it would be better if he went off to Pulau Cermin while waiting for the attacks to dissipate. The Sultan immediately ordered for a new palace to be built there and move as soon as it was ready.

Bendahara Muhyiddin in the meantime was installed as the new Sultan in the capital. When Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin’s men came ashore to seek out why the Bendahara has not taken up his residence at the island, they were shocked to see that the Bendahara had raised the Sultan’s yellow flag for himself.

There was no way that Brunei can have two Sultans. A battle ensued between the two Sultans and at first Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin retreated to Kinarut in Sabah.
While in Kinarut, Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin built a fort about 10 miles away from Kota Kinabalu. From here with the assistance of the local Bajaus and Dusuns he managed to repel attacks from Sultan Muhiyiddin even killing a few of Sultan Muhiyiddin's Cheterias.

The fort was strategically placed on top of a hill with two rivers flowing beside it and a view that can oversee a few small island in the South China Sea. The fort was so good that according to legends Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin stayed for about 10 years becoming the Sultan in Kinarut where he among others also managed to curtail piracy activities in that area.

There were several attacks carried out by Sultan Muhyddin. In a final attack at Kinarut, Sultan Muhyddin’s forces failed to defeat Sultan Hakkul Abdul Mubin. The two went back to Brunei with Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin going back to Pulau Cermin.

Pulau Cermin itself is fairly unremarkable but what makes it a very strong fortress is that it is in the middle of the entry into the Brunei river. Control the island means you control access to the food supply coming in from the sea. In those days, Bruneians were also fishermen and they could not go out to fish during the civil war.

Sultan Muhyiddin worried that the war was going to drag on and created more difficulties for the citizens of Brunei, called for the assistance of Sultan Suluk to help defeat Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin promising them independence as well as the territory of Sabah to be given to Sultan Suluk.

The Suluks came and took up places at Pulau Keingaran to help bombard the island but according to legends did not do much fighting and only took up the fight towards the very end. While Sultan Muhyiddin’s men bombarded Pulau Cermin from Tanjung Kindana before launching a final assault on the island.

During the battle, Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin knew that he was going to be defeated and be killed. Rather than surrender the crown and the throne, Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin shot the crown and other royal regalias from Pulau Chermin across the sea. Though some say that these were all still buried somewhere on the island.

Pulau Cermin is now protected by the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act and is now inaccessible to visitors unless they have permission to visit the island.

Friday, August 29, 2008

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 one was published by Brunei Shell twelve years ago. This current edition is published by Brunei Press with the cooperation of Survey Department and Universiti Brunei Darussalam. The cartographer for this directory is actually an Australian-Polish cartographer who is a Senior Lecturer at the Geograpy Department at UBD by the name of Dr. Kazimierz Becek. He actually went through every single simpang in Brunei with a GPS to certify the existence and location of them.

The publication I have been told by Brunei Press people during the launch yesterday cost twice more than the selling price. They made enough from the adverts and that's why the directory is being sold for $14.90 from today onwards (we got it for a 10% discount yesterday). I really would go out there and get a copy. In fact, get several copies and put them in your many cars. That way when you and the wife or the husband go out to Kampong Mentiri for a wedding, you would know where Jalan A or B or C or D is, or if you go to Rimba or Lambak Kanan, you would know that Jalan 99 can be found in both settlements.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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.....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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 foreground of this photograph. You can just make out the side of the old Police HQ building. This was all removed by 1983 so that the whole site was vacant in time for the Independence celebration at the end of 1983.

Old Brunei town photographs are interesting but relatively easy to date once you know your history.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

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 Dewan Bahasa. I checked, it is there. The book is not easily read as it is written in Brunei Malay and old spelling. It is not that the new Malay spelling is any easier, it is easier to read as you get used to it already. But the book does provide much more than you would ever get from a history book. I have to thank Yura Halim for his imagination in making that episode of Brunei's history that much more alive.

But ify ou want to know just enough about the civil war, the article is out today on Brunei Times. So if you are reading this and wanting to know more about the Civil War, get today's Brunei Times.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

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 Affairs - Hj Mahadi Pehin Rahman (formerly PS, Home Affairs)

Deputy Permanent Secretaries (DPS)
Prime Minister's Office - Dr Affendy Pehin Abidin (formerly Director General Medical)
Ministry of Communications - Hj Mutalib Pehin Yusof (formerly Act Director EGovt)

Auditor General - Hj Mahadi Ibrahim (formerly Deputy Accountant General)

Congratulations to everyone.

Friday, August 22, 2008

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 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?

(Photo of Sungai Imang as it is today.)

Because the next story is more interesting. According to legends, the name Pancur 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 swampy 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, Kampong Pancur Murai still has many attractions such as Wasai Mandian Jin (apparently a 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 sources 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 the treasure but stopped when the sky was filled with thunder and lightning as well as numerous snakes appearing. It is said that the hole for the attempted dig remained till today. Telaga Lubok Si Untong also played a very important in the village. The well dug by someone called si Untong was used as a place to fetch water.

Two more smaller lakes are also known as Luagan Bumbun and Luagan Kembang Kiapu. Luagan Bumbun is called that because someone called Ahmad Tunggang Tunggal threw a gold canon named ‘bumbun’ into the swampy lake. About 30 years after that, a villager while fishing snagged on the golden canon but the canon was too heavy to be lifted and fell back into the water. The villagers used the story as a way to verify that there still exists a small golden canon in the lake. Luagan Kembang Kiapu is believed to be the residence of the Princess – Puteri Kembang Kiapu.

The village also has a couple of hills with their own stories - Bukit Tenggilan and Bukit Si Madat; and an orchard (in Malay known as pulau buah or fruits island) called Pulau Durian Basing.

Bukit Si Madat was used by a villager named Si Madat. He loved to visit up the hill and meditate there. Bukit Tenggilan is named after a tall Tengilan tree. The tree was so tall that people used to used it as an icon or direction finder even as far away as Limbang. Pulau Durian Basing is an area full of matured local fruit trees such as durians. During the durian season, squirrels, known in Brunei Malay as ‘basing’ will occupy the place and hence the place is call Pulau Durian Basing.

In the village, there are two Muslim cemeteries. One is called Perkuburan Luagan Lamidi and the other Perkuburan Bukit Nanas. The Luagan Lamidi cemetery is named after the Luagan and the Luagan is in turn named after someone called Lamidi. It was said that while fishing in the luagan, he fell and drowned. When his body was eventually discovered, he was buried and where he was buried is now called Luagan Lamidi Cemetery. Bukit Nanas was named because there are so many pineapples (nenas in Malay) being planted in the area.

Pancur is not an unusual name. In Tutong, two villages using the word ‘pancur’ are Kampong Pancur Papan and Kampong Pancur Dulit. Both are naturally named after sources of water – spouting from a hill or any water source.

Pancur Papan gets its name from the way the villagers who stayed in the area obtained their water. In Pancur Papan, they used wooden planks (or called papan in Malay) to divert the water from the source to their houses. And hence the name of the village, Pancur Papan.

Whereas Pancur Dulit also gets its name from the way the villagers get the water into the village. In their case, they did not use wooden planks but used the bark of trees (or called kulit kayu in Malay). Hence over time, the place name became Pancur Dulit. In fact the amount of water which came from Pancur Dulit was so plentiful that the authorities in the 1950s decided to use it as the source of water for Tutong Town. It was used until the 1970s and stopped being use as a water source when Layong came into full operation.

In Brunei, there are many places with interesting tales. One has to open one’s ears and one’s eyes in order to see the wonder in our country of unexpected treasures.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

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 felt like shaking him and yelling at him - what's wrong with you? You had 55 years to plan your life! How dare you have a family when you can't provide for them! What were you thinking? Expect the government to provide for you?! But that would not have helped. He already knew it. The helplessness and the sense of foreboding and doom.

He does not qualify for housing under the citizens' housing schemes. Even if he did, he would not automaticaly get a house. It would depend on which year was his waiting list. We have a number of charities but mostly catered towards the rakyats. Some do help cases like him but not to the extent of providing a house. The most we can help would be to provide him with a small plot of land for him to build a house. But even this is dependent on a number of factors and whether he can actually afford to build one.

There are a number of Bruneieans like him out there. Some I have met. Some are lucky to be born to the right race and to the right parents and hence qualify for all sort of things. But regardless of that, there are Bruneians out there, living from month to month, wondering whether their pay will stretch to the end of the month. Ironically, among these would be people with nice big houses, nice big cars, nice mobile phones, nice everything except for a nice wallet. They can't be poor not by any world standards. The biggest error they have made in their entire life is that they forgot to plan for the future.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

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, those taking up jobs tended to be at more established restaurants such as at the RBC restaurants. There are quite a large number working for the palaces. Setting up shops - quite a few. I know of a few who actually went back to school and graduated with higher qualifications. Hence Mohammad is right - with all those graduating, there should be more in the market. It would be interesting if a proper study was conducted to see the effectiveness of the education provided to the youths in these areas.

One of my PS colleagues believed strongly that Brunei youths are willing to work in all sorts of areas. But they want to work with Bruneians only that is not having a Filipino or Indian etc as his or her superior. So far, I have seen that work with the Youths Cooperatives. You will be quite surprised how this cooperative have been doing well. So there is a myth that Brunei youths are not willing to work in menial work.

Another interesting aspect is that it is most parents that do not want their offsprings to work in menial condition or even in any non-government job. This mentality goes all the way regardless of how high the status of the job is. I remembered when I was the MD at TAP, in the one year I was there, TAP lost around 7 Assisstant Managers Posts. These are highly trained and everytime one goes away, we had to find another one. In most cases, they went to the 'government' and that TAP was not 'government' enough. TAP employs their employees directly and not through SPA. Can we blame the youths then?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

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 a few who will not turn up to collect their baju raya. There are always someone who wants a certain kind of cut costing a bomb and yet their clothing material only cost a fraction of the workmanship price. I never understand that.

And by the way, the same goes for Hari Raya cards. Don't forget to sent them off early so you can get the Raya wishes to to you don't have time to greet personally.

Monday, August 18, 2008

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 first decade of the new millennium. So what gives? The supplies must come from somewhere and I guess that's why our preventive officers at the Customs Department had been working extra hard. Interesting what statistics can tell you...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

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 called the Skim Tanah Kurnia Rakyat Jati and Rancangan Perumahan Negara. The latter is for every citizens but the first is limited to rakyat jati. Which is better? They are both the same. It used to be that STKRJ was run by the Land Department and RPN by the Housing Development Department (HDD). Nowadays STKRJ houses are built by PWD but allocation is handled by HDD. The better solution would be to merge the two but since most projects are on-going, these have been left to carry on the dual ways. STKRJ's houses are all Class D whereas RPN houses ranges from the bigger ones to the smaller ones.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

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 likes of the best of young Brunei singers - Zul F, Ecah, Ak Amilin, Putri Norizah, D Fyn Boyz, Hans Anwar, Maria, Avantgarde, Juju, Adi, Lo Rider, Milin, Dk Salbiah, Hikari 8, Bombay, Faisal and Posesssif 79.

Friday, August 15, 2008

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 Jimmy "...One of the most poignant final-place finishes, though, came from Brunei's Jimmy Anak Ahar, the Southeast Asian nation's sole Olympic athlete, who straggled far behind the pack in the 1,500 m, erasing his country's dreams of Olympic respectability. Still sucking wind after his 4:14.11 time, 40 seconds slower than gold medalist El Guerrouj, Ahar swept past reporters, his head downcast. Yet the Bruneian's performance was surely more honorable than that of Uzbekistan's Olga Shchukina, who not only finished last in her qualifying group in the shot put but later tested positive for an anabolic steroid..."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

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 that 31,242 metric tons of rice, how much of them are Brunei rice, grown and produced in our soil?

Our Brunei farmers produced only 983 metric tons per year which is a far cry from the 31,242 metric tons which we consumed. That means we imported nearly 30,000 metric tons every year from somewhere else. Even to produce that 983 metric tons, the government pays the farmers $1.60 per kilogram and not to mention a host of other subsisdies besides.

The first stage of the plan is to increase our production beyond this 3.15% self sufficiency to something higher. Of course, there are many things that need to be done - irrigation, drainage, water, roads, electricity for the pumps and the millers just to name the infrastructure needed which is part of what my ministry does. The rest will be done by the agriculture people. It is something interesting for us to look forward to.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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 sireh and the likes). The other was a kesabit. This is some kind of gift in the form of money to be given to the uncles of both the bride's father and mother. This is a more formal gift of something which I knew as informal. I remembered when I went to my cousin's wedding in Johor a few years ago, the groom had to bring lots of envelopes with small amount of money inside them. Every so often, he would get stopped by the bride's relatives and be asked for 'tax' to allow him to proceed to the bride. Though in Malaysia, that was more for fun. Well, you learn something everyday.

Friday, August 08, 2008

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 decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person. It took him a while to get France interested. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA).

After one failure, four years later, Coubertin organized another meeting. This time with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium that was decorated by neoclassical murals and similar additional points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.

The very first modern Olympic Games opened in the first week of April 1896. Since the Greek government had been unable to fund construction of a stadium, a wealthy Greek architect, Georgios Averoff, donated one million drachmas (over $100,000) to restore the Panathenaic Stadium, originally built in 330 BCE, with white marble for the Olympic Games.

Since the Games were not well publicized internationally, contestants were not nationally chosen but rather came individually and at their own expense. Some contestants were tourists who happened to be in the area during the Games. Athletes wore their athletic club uniform rather than a national team one.

Since then, the Olympic Games have been held at:
1896 - Athens
1900 - Paris
1904 - St. Louis
1906 - Athens ("Unoffficial")
1908 - London
1912 - Stockholm
1916 - Not held
1920 - Antwerp
1924 - Paris
1928 - Amsterdam
1932 - Los Angeles
1936 - Berlin
1940 - Not held
1944 - Not held
1948 - London
1952 - Helsinki
1956 - Melbourne
1960 - Rome
1964 - Tokyo
1968 - Mexico City
1972 - Munich
1976 - Montreal
1980 - Moscow
1984 - Los Angeles
1988 - Seoul
1992 - Barcelona
1996 - Atlanta
2000 - Sydney
2004 - Athens

Thursday, August 07, 2008

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, 'semak', (1) Sila semak kerja awak; (II) Rumah kosong itu dipenuhi semak. What this homogram means? Homogram are for words which are different but meaning the same. See, you learn something everyday.

I do hope DBP is able continue this sytle of publication as well as this particular publication.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

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 father and his genealogical lineage were as follows:-

Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin ibni Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II ibni Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam I ibni Sultan Muhammad Tajuddin ibni Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin I ibni Sultan Muhammad Alauddin ibni Pengiran Di-Gadong Shah Mubin ibni Sultan Muhyiddin ibni Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar ibni Sultan Muhammad Hassan ibni Sultan Saiful Rijal ibni Sultan Abdul Kahar ibni Sultan Bolkiah ibni Sultan Sulaiman ibni Sultan Sharif Ali.

He was born in 1825. He ascended the throne as the 25th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam in 1885 when he was 60 years old. He died shortly after signing the 1906 Treaty with United Kingdom which allowed for a British Resident to be here in Brunei.
Before he became the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Sultan Hashim was titled Pengiran Temenggong, one of the four chief wazirs in the Brunei Royal Court.

Sultan Hashim married the daughter of Pengiran Yusof. Pengiran Yusof did not agree with the policy to surrender Sarawak to James Brooke and openly disagreed with James Brooke’s efforts to meddle in Brunei’s internal affairs. Sultan Hashim also held the same position with his father in law.

The three Rajah Brookes continued their efforts to capture and conquer more and more Brunei territories beginning with Kuching and its immediate surroundings in 1841. By 1853, areas as far as Sibu were under Rajah Brooke’s control. By 1861, Rajah Brooke controlled as far as Bintulu when Sultan Abdul Momin was forced to surrender that area as far as Tanjong Kidurong. By 1882 Baram. By 1884, Trusan and 1905 Lawas.

In 1885 when Sultan Hashim ascended the throne, he was supported by many of Brunei’s dignitaries. In fact the British agreed that he was the best choice to become Sultan. But that period which he ascended the throne is among the darkest in Brunei history.

He was one of the strong supporters of the 1885 Oath of Amanat. Sultan Abdul Momin and his supporters realized that the expansionist activities of Rajah Brooke and also that of North Borneo Company continued much further, there will no longer exist a country in Brunei. The Oath of Amanat 1885 was called by Sultan Abdul Momin whereby every chief in Brunei agreed that there should not be any more ceding or leasing of any of the remaining territories of Brunei to foreign power.

When Sultan Hashim took the throne, he took steps to preserve the rest of Brunei’s territory. He tried to recover Limbang when Charles Brooke occupied it. Nevertheless, he was not able to do so and he did not manage to prevent further loss of Brunei’s territories. Sultan Hashim did not have the military power to enforce the amanat.

During those early years of his reign, Sultan Hashim faced the greatest difficulties. He faced pressure from Rajah Brooke and North Borneo Company. In 1887, Sultan Hashim wrote to seek help from Queen Victoria imploring the British Government not to carry out the British plan’s to subdivide Brunei further until the Sultan only govern the area of what is currently Brunei District.

When Sir Frederic Weld visited Brunei in 1887, Sultan Hashim called upon him to help protect Brunei. Sir Frederic Weld, the Governor of Stratis Settlement, pointed out the best way the British can help was to have a British Resident advising Brunei. This led to the Protectorate Agreement between Brunei and United Kingdom in 1888.
Sultan Hashim agreed to sign the Agreement because he wanted to prevent further erosion of Brunei’s territory. However, despite this historic agreement, the British Government failed to take any action against Charles Brooke for seizing Limbang in 1890.

It was in 1889 when Charles Brooke insisted that Limbang be annexed to Sarawak. However, Sultan Hashim strongly opposed his demand. The British Government also refused to approve the ceding of Limbang. But Charles Brooke seized Limbang by force on 17th March 1890. The British Government did send Noel Trevenan to lead a mission to investigate the actual situation. Trevenan accompanied by Brooke’s officials met with 15 local chiefs and reported that 12 of them were in favour. But later it was realized that another 18 chiefs were not present at the meeting and those that were present were Brooke’s supporters and they therefore did not represent all the people of Limbang. Sultan Hashim rejected their findings.

Sultan Hashim was greatly disappointed and he continued his protests. He even wrote to the Sultan of Turkey imploring for help but the letter was seized by the British.

Sultan Hashim tried to do many things when he was the Sultan. Peter Blundell in his book ‘The City of Many Waters’ wrote about the Sultan. He described the Sultan as someone who was ‘heavily in debt and almost certainly without means of support. If he had been given a fair chance, he certainly would have been a great King.’

Sultan Hashim was concerned about Brunei’s economy. At that time, Brunei was heavily dependent on cutch for its foreign income. He even visited the cutch factory where he expressed hopes that the factory will continue to be successful and to continue providing employment to locals.

Sultan Hashim tried to issue the first modern coinage for Brunei in 1886. Prior to that, the various Brunei Sultans had issued their own coinage. But none lasted. Then the coins produced were mostly the tin pitis and produced locally. The Sultan Hashim’s coin was a modern coin produced in Birmingham. However the British discouraged that coin to be used so much so that among the first laws the British Resident enacted was to ban that coin and all other currencies from being used in Brunei except the Straits Settlements currencies.

Sultan Hashim also tried to introduce a postal service in 1895. Unfortunately the man he gave the concessions to produce the stamps and run the postal services had other ideas and did not fulfill his contract fully. Sultan Hashim’s efforts to get the private sector to run the postal services would be recognizable now as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative.

Poultney Bigelow writing for Harper Magazine in the early 1900s entitled his article ‘The Last of a Great Sultan’ when he wrote about Sultan Hashim then. The Sultan’s face was described as very kindly and his manner dignified. Peter Blundell wrote of Sultan Hashim as having ‘a first-class brain, albeit illiterate, might have proved an outstanding ruler.’

Sultan Hashim died on 10th May 1906. He did enough to save Brunei from extinction.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

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?

Monday, August 04, 2008

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 Tomistoma Schegelii or known as Buaya Penjulung. The obvious difference between the two is the snout of the crocodiles. Buaya Katak's snout is more rounded whereas Buaya Penjulung's snout is narrower. But so far there is insufficient evidence that there still exists Buaya Penjulung in Brunei even though some fishermen claimed that they have seen and caught it in the past.

Interestingly enough, there is a little known debate among crocodile experts which spilled over to the internet about the possibility of a third genus of crocodile in Brunei known as Crocodylus Raninus. It was once thought that in Borneo up to 4 types of crocodiles existed, the Crocodylus Porosus, Crocodylus Raninus, Tomistoma Schegelii and Crocodylus Siamensis. Crocodylus Raninus is a freshwater crocodile and was said to have been seen about 100 years ago in Sarawak but now considered more or less extinct. However a Raninus skull was found in Tasek Merimbun not that long ago and many biologists harbour the thought that there are two types of crocodiles living in Tasek Merimbun instead of one.

I am not sure whether I like the idea of even one type of crocodile living anywhere, let alone two types. If you really want to see crocodiles without having to be surprised by finding one in your drain, Louis Mini Zoo in Tutong has a big collection of them in any size you want. Let's just hope they stay there. hur

Sunday, August 03, 2008

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 rulers of Brunei beyond the 13th century, then our rulers have been in existent and we as a country has certainly been in existence for a really really long time.

Anyway, I digress. To mark His Majesty's 40th Coronation Anniversary, the Postal Services Department issued a special set of commemorative stamps. These stamps depict events from the coronation in itself. This is the 4th set of Coronation Anniversary Stamps. The previous ones were to celebrate the 10th Anniversary in 1978, the 20th Anniversary in 1988 and the 30th Anniversary in 1998.

This year's stamps are also available on first day covers as well as on miniature sheets. When I went to the Philatelic Counter yesterday to get my order, I was told that there are two types of miniature sheets. One is the one that you can see here and the other is a $40 miniature sheet which the Postal Services had to return back because due to colour differences. That one will be released as soon as the printers come back with the corrected colours.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

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 the two hills, the flags can only mean one thing – a new Sultan will be coronated soon. Some shouted ‘Daulat Tuanku’ knowing that it is very seldom that a Coronation for a new Sultan can be witnessed by everyone during his or her lifetime.

The flag raising ceremonies marked the beginning of the six months’ preparation for the Coronation proper. The Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), YAM Pengiran Dato Seri Utama Haji Mohd Yusuf has announced on radio, about 2 months before the raising of the flags ceremonies, that the Coronation will take place on 1st August 1968.

For the citizens and residents living in Brunei Darussalam, a country steeped in tradition, the announcement was something that they had been waiting for. His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah ascended the throne when his father, His Majesty Sultan Omar Ali abdicated in October 1967.

Since then Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has been the ‘Sultan of Brunei Darussalam’ but not as the ‘Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’. According to the laws then, a Sultan cannot be the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, until he has been coronated twelve months after he ascended the throne.

The flag raising ceremonies were to inform everyone in Brunei that the Coronation was about to begin. The red flag was to inform the foreigners in Brunei and the yellow at Bukit Panngal was to inform the citizens of Brunei.

Forty days before the coronation was supposed to take place, the ‘gendang jaga-jaga’ was opened at the lapau. All the lights and decorations at the Lapau and the Istana are fixed and lighted up. The ‘jaga-jaga’ ceremony lasted for seven days. In that time, His Majesty would have invited everyone to a special banquet which will be held seven days after the coronation.

On the day of the Coronation, His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah waited at the Palace wearing his government dress and a keris named ‘Si-Naga’. According to traditions, he would be waited upon by Pengiran Bendahara, Pengiran Pemancha, Pengiran Shahbandar, Orang Kaya Digadong, Jawatan Dalam, Jawatan Luar, Orang Kaya Lasamana, Orang Kaya Shahbandar, Dato Perdana Menteri dan Kadhi Besar. They will be accompanied by bearers of royal regalias and candles. There was a 21 cannon salute.

The Sultan was then carried to the Lapau on top of the ‘usongan’ or chariot accompanied by all the Wazirs and the bearers of the Royal Regalias. According to traditions, along the road to the lapau, there should have been a white puadai (piece of cloth).

On his arrival at the Lapau, His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah inspected a guard of honour outside the Lapau before going into the Lapau.

The nobat was sounded when His Majesty entered Lapau and all was quiet. Upon his arrival, His Majesty was proclaimed by Pengiran Maharaja Lela. Four candles were lighted up and at the same time, all the Wazirs stood at their allotted places together with all the bearers of the Royal Regalia. His Majesty then sat to the Peterana (Throne).

His Majesty Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Saadul Khairi Waddien as the abdicating Sultan placed the crown upon His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah’s head. Then His Majesty Sultan Omar Ali unsheathed his sword followed by the other wazirs. Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong announced to the audience that they should pay allegiance and respect to His Majesty by calling out ‘sembah’. Everyone present then would present their respects in unison to His Majesty.

All the wazirs then would also unsheathed their swords and declare their allegiance to His Majesty before the doa selamat read by Pehin Dato Seri Maharaja.

According to the book ‘Adat Istiadat Diraja’ written by M. Jamil (now Pehin Dato Jamil), the words to be said during the coronation of His Majesty should be the following:-

1. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi Rajaa dalam Negeri Brunei ini;

2. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi junjongan rakyat Negeri Brunei ini;

3. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi pemimpin kepada rakyat Negeri Brunei ini;

4. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi penaong kepada rakyat Negeri Brunei ini;

5. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi turus tunggak Negeri Brunei ini;

6. Sudah dengan kehendak Allah Tuanku menjadi Yang Di-Pertuan bagi Negeri Brunei ini;

7. Mudah-mudahan Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuan Patek kekal karal di atas Singgahsana Kerajaan Brunei turun temurun memerintah dan memimpin rakyat Negeri Brunei Darussalam Amin Ya-Rabbal Alamin.

The ceremony did not end there. Simultaneously at the palace, Her Majesty the Raja Isteri underwent the same coronation traditions with the exception of the words of ‘Yang Di-Pertuan’ to be replaced by ‘Raja Isteri’.

After the end of the Coronation rites at the Lapau, His Majesty was paraded back to the Palace on his Usongan.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaullah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the 29th of a long line of Islamic Brunei Sultanate, in his maiden speech as the Sultan, has declared that he will continue his father’s footsteps to ‘raise the quality of life of the rakyats through development projects’ and ‘to protect the Islamic Religion and the traditions of the country’. Looking at the development in the country and the peace and tranquility of Brunei Darussalam, clearly His Majesty has been able to achieve those goals. Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patek!

Friday, August 01, 2008

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 teachers reading this blog, you don't need my permission to download those photographs - take them as long as you use them for your history lessons. And do let me know, what else do you want to see? Or read?

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