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Showing posts from 2009

On hiatus

Apologies to regular visitors. My PC has died on me (suspected motherboard problem), so I can't update from home. And I don't have time and I should not update during office hours. Besides all my photos and notes are on that PC, so I don't have much reference material. So, I am going on forced hiatus until I can sort something out. In the meantime keep on checking, maybe by then my PC would have been cured!

Jerudong Park v.2?

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I thought I was an avid newspaper reader and I was quite surprised to have missed this one. Anyway, I found this news on www.earthtimes.org about our Jerudong Park:-


Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's famed 644-million-dollar amusement park - Jerudong Park Playground - will relaunch this weekend after being "virtually dead" for years, park officials said Friday. Opened in 1994, the Playground was once billed at the largest amusement park in South-East Asia, boasting lavish rides, entertainment venues and a free admission policy.

The government hoped the multi-million-dollar extravaganza would attract thousands of foreign tourists to the tiny oil-rich nation, but the response proved disappointing.

To cope with the smaller-than-expected foreign market, the Playground's administration started charging admission fees and started a ride ticketing system a few years ago, which turned off Brunei visitors.

"Despite the charge, almost all rides were closed back then. So we re…

Jame Asr Stained Glass

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The Guardian UK had this story on 8th December 2009 about John Lawson. Who? I bet that you would ask. I asked that too until I saw this photograph:-

[Stained Glass at Jame Asr Mosque in Kiarong]

And it was this guy who made that:-



John Lawson, who has died of cancer aged 77, was one of the leading stained-glass artists of his generation. He designed glorious windows not only in Westminster Abbey and many other British cathedrals and churches, but also in mosques, palaces and hotels as far afield as Dubai, Oman and Brunei. For the last three decades of the 20th century he was chief artist for the internationally renowned Goddard & Gibbs Studios.

When the 20-year restoration of Westminster Abbey was nearing completion in 1992, Donald Buttress, the Surveyor of the Fabric, or cathedral architect, suggested that the work should be commemorated with a replacement stained-glass window for the plain clear-glass one on the west wall of the abbey's early-16th-century Henry VII chapel. Lawso…

Remember, Remember, The 8th of December

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Exactly 47 years ago today, some people thought they heard fireworks. They were wondering why fireworks? Thy did not know that it was not fireworks that they heard. It was the sound of small arms fire. A group of people decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands. I was a two month old fetus in those days. My mother told me that she and my father had to sleep on the floor in case any stray bullet went through their wooden government quarters in Kuala Belait. One uncle told me that he was almost shot at by another uncle when he as members of the armed guards of BSP went to the Panaga Police Station to take refuge. The police shot at them because they thought the guards wanted to attack the police station. What I know about what happened 47 years ago was what I heard and read. A number of books had been written about it. Today my entry is about those books which you can go to the bookshops and buy them for yourselves.

Remember, Remember, The 8th of December. Our own HRH…

Karnival Daerah Tutong

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The people in Tutong District are really working hard to make their Tutong District Carnival a success. For those who do not know what to do today have the following options at Tutong:-

* Pesta dan Pertunjukan Kereta @ Kompleks Dewan Kemasyarakatan (from 9 am to 10 pm), today is the last day. It started on Friday.

* Pesta Pengguna @ Petani Mall (from 10 am to 10 pm), it started yesterday and will go on until the 13th December.

* Pesta Produk Mukim dan Kampung @ Kompleks Pasarneka dan Tamu Tutong (from 7 am to 5 pm), this one too started yesterday and will end on the 9th December.

* Cabaran 4x4 @ Kawasan Lapang Berdekatan Mahad Islam (from 10 am to 5 pm), watch the 4x4 SUVs compete, started yesterday and will end today.

* Kebudayaan dan Kesenian @ Kompleks Pasarneka dan Tamu (from 9 am), this is a two day event with a number of shows from various groups, today is the second and last day.

* Walkaton Amal @ Padang Kompleks Dewan Kemasyarakatan (from 6.30 am), I guess by the time you read this,…

Bruneian in Atomic Bomb Hiroshima

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I remembered when I was in Darjah 4 way back in the very early 1970s, one of the fahaman article or comprehension I was reading had a story about a Brunei man during the aftermath of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Apparently he had been a student there and the bomb fell over the city. Luckily he survived the bombing. After that I searched high and low for the book but to no avail. At that time I didn't know who the author was let alone from which book was the excerpt taken from.

About three years ago, I was in Mega Book Store. That's a free plug for the bookshop. I found this book written by Pengiran Yusof. I am 46 years old now and of course by now I know who he is and that he was the one who was in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped by the Americans. I glanced through the book and lo and behold, that narrative was in the book. I quickly bought it, it was only $9.60.

I was rather surprised to discover that the book was only published in 2002 by Dewan Bahasa Malaysia. So I…

Our Pantangs

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Someone asked in the comment box whether I could write something about pantang larang of Bruneians. I could. But then why would I do that? There is a book that you can actually buy and read all about it.

This book published by our Dewan Bahasa in 2006 contained all there is to know about the do's and dont's of our society or rather the dont's of our society. All the pantangs are listed in alphabetical order and altogether there are 115 of them (I counted). They range from 'Anak perempuan dilarang bermain permainan lelaki kelak sigau' to 'Tidur atau baring di atas batang besar ditakuti ditolak hantu kagui'.

For each pantang, there is a reason given and what lesson the pantang was supposed to teach. And there are also illustrations for a number of them.

If you read through them, most of readers will recognise a few but to be honest I am sure you will not recognise or even realise that there are pantangs which nobody has told you about. Some are slightly out of d…

Old Tutong Photo

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I was looking through my father's old album searching for photographs to illustrate my third book when I came across this photograph. I thought this will go nicely with the maulud article in that book.

My father was an Assistant District Officer in Tutong in the 1960s. You can see him in the middle of the photograph in white with his interesting long shoes. That shoe we used to call as kasut pembunuhan. I don't know why. I thought it has gone out of fashion until I saw someone wearing it recently.

Anyway, the photograph is not so much about maulud but it is more about Tutong. If you look at the background, you can see old shops. That shophouse building has been torn down, someone told me burnt down, whatever it is, it has been replaced. The interesting information is that Kedai Haji Hasbullah, the famous maker of pulut panggang is still there.

What's more interesting is that the shop labels. All the Chinese labels are in Jawi. Nowadays labels are both in rumi and jawi. In jaw…

The History of the Borneo Games

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I was asked to research on the history of the Borneo Games by Brunei Times. The 3rd Borneo Games is currently on at various venues throughout Brunei at the moment. I found out many things including the fact that one of my uncles was the first Brunei Borneo Games athletes. My article was published yesterday on Brunei Times:-

Remember these names? Sinin Metali, Aloysius Sibidol, Zainab Kadir, Junaidi Hamdan, George Chong, Abdullah Mustafa, Sanah Tamit, Pengiran Md Zain, Katherine Teo and Marina Metali? If these names do not jog your memory, then what about Latif Olen, Kuda Dita or Dilbaugh Sinkler?

Bruneians in the 1950s and 1960s interested in sports would remember that these were Brunei’s and some of our neighbouring states’ best athletes competing in the Borneo Games. Borneo Games was the most prestigious athletics competition that we had at that time.

Not many people remembered the first few Borneo Games nor did people remember the first Brunei athlete who took part in the first Borne…

Brunei Statistics 2008

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What is the GDP of Brunei Darussalam? What is the amount of rainfall in Brunei? What is the maximum and minimum degrees over the last five years? How many teachers are there in Brunei? What is the value of our exports? Or our imports? How many Dewan Bahasa book members are there? How many criminal cases were handled by the police? What is our road casualties? How many dentists are there? Or Doctors? Or Nurses? How about pharmacists? What is the leading cause of death in Brunei? How about the top 10 leading causes?

This green book produced by the Statistics Department of the Economic Planning and Development Department can tell you all those statistics and many more other stats that you ever want to know or not want to know. This is the most useful book if you ever need to do a time series analysis of any data.

The latest book is the 2008 edition and I got mine a couple of weeks ago courtesy of my colleague at the PMO. It costs a miserly $8 for the amount of wealth that you can get from …

Selamat Hari Raya Haji

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Two of the most important Islamic holidays of the year are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Brunei as the rest of the world is celebrating Hari Raya Haji or Hari Raya Korban or Eid ul Adha. Do you know the history behind it?

We know Hari Raya Eid ul Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri as we say in Brunei marks the end of the long fasting month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Adha marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city Mecca. Also popularly known as the Festival of Sacrifice, this Muslim holiday Eid-ul-Adha commemorates Nabi Ibrahim’s unselfish act of sacrificing his own son Nabi Ismail to Allah.

The history behind Eid-ul-Adha follows the story of the faithful Nabi Ibrahim, who was instructed by Allah in a dream to raise the foundations of Kaabah, a black stone, the most sacred Muslim shrine in Mecca. Immediately responding to Allah's command, Nabi Ibrahim set off for Mecca along with his wife and son, Nabi Ismail. At that time, Mecca was a desolate and barren desert and Nabi Ibrahi…

Expensive Brunei Stamps

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Not many things can make me go gaga. But the sight of this stamp on ebay certainly does the trick. This $5 stamp overprinted by the Japanese during the Second World War is worth a fortune. I tell you it's a fortune. At the moment, the opening bid for it is US$1,099.95 and so far no one has bid. But if I know the ebayers, wait till the last minute, someone will snap this up.

This is the other one also on at the same time. This 6 cent red overprinted Japanese occupation is currently open for bidding from US$699.95. The last time I tried to bid for this, it disappeared at around US$700+. But that figure is now the starting pay.

If you don't want to buy any other Brunei stamps, then get these two. You will not regret them.

Bruneians Winning Golf!

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Yesterday, our football veterans won. Today, I found another winning Brunei entry, this time at Golf. This is a report from Malaysian Mirror also dated 23rd November 2009:-

JOHOR BAHRU: Brunei team, Lapor Po Tiger blazed the course on a very wet week at Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort to emerge as winners in the grand final of the World Amateur Inter Team Golf Championship (WAITGC), from November 3-5.

Powered by the sultanate’s best known amateur golfer, Seruji Haji Setia (0) and backed up by Pg Adam Pg Hatan (0), Dennis Koh Kheng Siang (8) and youngster Sanjok Moktan (3), Lapor Po Tiger combined for a three-day total of 55-over-par 703 at the 6,454-metre, par-72 championship course, winning the gross title by six strokes.


“It was a team effort. The course was tough and the weather condition was challenging (round three was delayed by more than four hours due to thunderstorm) but we managed to pull through,” said Seruji who was the team captain. “We are absolutely delighted with this win as …

Brunei Football Veteran Wins!

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The New Sabah Times yesterday (23rd November 2009) reported this headline "Spectacular Bothwell goal seals Brunei Veterans’ victory" and had this story (good to know we can still win it):

KOTA KINABALU: Mohd Brian Iman Abdullah Bothwell scored a spectacular goal in sudden-death extra time to help Brunei Veterans retain the Borneo 7s crown for the second successive year.


Brunei Veterans, made up of Brunei ex-national players, defeated MX10, virtually the same side that lost the final last year, albeit that last time out they played under the Lecoq FC banner.

Yesterday, it was a closely contested affair with Brunei Veterans drawing first blood through Mohd Brian Iman’s opener as early as the third minute.

But MX10, who were strengthened by almost all ex-Rhinos with the likes of Bobby Chua, Harun Laban, Andrew Laban and Suharmin Yusof, found the equaliser when ex-Rhinos’ skipper Jelius Ating nodded home in the ninth minute.

Then Harun helped MX10 to take the lead by slotting home in…

Rice Industry Statistics

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During the launch of the agrifood by His Majesty, all the guests received several books as gifts. One of the books is a small booklet containing the Agriculture statistics of 2008. I was quite intrigued with the statistics on rice which looks like this:-


Throughout the last 10 years from 1999 to 2008, our local production has increased. The Agriculture Department has been slowly making local rice production efforts meeting the target of if I am not mistaken 20% of self sufficiency or something like that. That was not good enough and though the efforts of 2009 has been much more and has led to the new target of total self sufficiency in rice. Even from 1999 to 2008, we can see the local production increased from about 200 metric tons to about 900+ metric tons.

What's interesting is that the increase in rice production did not cause any dent in the rice imports. There was a sudden fall in 2000 but between 2001 to 2007, rice imports remained at around 30,000 metric tons and even increa…

Brunei's Finest Veterans

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My spare time this week has been taken up calling up some of Brunei's athletes in order to complete my article on Borneo Games. I asked a number of people for names and my Minister gave me this name - Cikgu Haji Abdul Razak bin Bongsu. Finding his contact number was one of the easiest. Two of his children are engineers with the Public Works Department.

When we finally talked to each other, I discovered another whole world. When I was a student in Singapore in the 1970s, anything about Brunei always excited us. The lowest hill in the world then, which was a tiny bump somewhere in Shell's golf course. That got a mention in the Guiness Big of World Records. And the biggest story (to us students in Singapore) was an athlete Aloysius Sibidol winning world records for discus and javelin throwing. You probably are saying to yourself, huh??? Yes Sibidol established world records - in his age group. He was a veteran athlete.

I knew the world of veteran athletes was there but I didn't…

Borneo Games

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The Managing Editor of Brunei Times asked me to write an article about the upcoming Borneo Games. This is not an easy subject to write. You see, for most of the articles I have written, I have practically all the reference books and other reference articles somewhere in my library. So I generally am able to write most things about Brunei but give me a topic on sports, my mind will be unable to function.

Anyway after a few quick checks on the internet which yielded very little but sufficient to go on, the first one was actually held in Brunei in 1954. It was at SRC in Seria. 1954 is not a good year. Borneo Bulletin has yet to go live then and practically everything was in Seria because that's where the British government really is. Not much was in Town. The first 5 year RKN was just kicking off.

However Seria is where I was born and my family more or less were in Seria then. I phoned my dad and he said why don't I ask my uncle as he remembered that my uncle took part in the Games…

Old Chinese Temple in Muara

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Muara Chinese would remember this. This was the old chinese Temple in Muara. This was eventually demolised in the mid 1980s to make way for the expansion of the Muara Port.

Brunei Otters

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A couple of months back, one of my junior colleagues took this photograph from his office. He has a nice office on the sixth floor of the MOD Building. That office overlooked the Highway and the airport as well as the huge canal flowing next to the highway. We have actually taken a boatride along that canal all the way from Kampong Ayer. When he first showed me this photograph, I was not sure what I was seeing. But when I cropped up the photograph. See, if you can recognise the animals.


Caught me by surprise too. I did not realise that there are otters living in our rivers. That means that the Brunei wildlife is more varied than I thought and to see a family of otters which honestly I have not seen in Brunei other than watching them on television even surprised me till now.

That really means we have to take care of our environment. We don't know what else is there that we inadvertently destroy in our haste to modernise.

Labuhan Kapal and Sungai Tekuyung

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Yesterday during the 100 Years of Modern Land Administration Symposium, also held on the sidelines was a small exhibition of previous land related items. These are the cadastral equipment used to measure the size of land etc and also related old documents.

[The forerunner to today's electronic calculator]

[Really old land document]

[Minister looking at old land documents]

What we found interesting is that the first land title was at Labuhan Kapal. Labuhan Kapal is where the wharf is currently. Though yesterday someone argued that it is where the food stalls are rather than at the wharf. If you searched for an old photo of the Labuhan Kapal somewhere in this blogsite, you will find it. What I found interesting was the boundaries of that particular land. The boundary was Sungai Tekuyung. Sungai Tekuyung is somewhere where I live which is in Kilanas. That can't be right. If that is right, that would be a really huge piece of land. So, somewhere along the wharf, there used to be a sma…

100 Years of Modern Land Administration

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Today will be held a special symposium to mark 100 years of modern land administration in Brunei. It will be held at the Kiulap Plaza Hotel.

Land Department itself is not 100 years old. It was formed in the early 1960s. Prior to that, it was the District Offices with special District Land Officers working in the district offices that determined whether or not you could have your land application approved. So the symposium is not celebrating 100 years of Land Department but 100 years of modern land administration - or rather the Land Code which was enforced in 1909. Before the land code of 1909, all land was either Crown Land (Kerajaan) or appanage land (held by high ranking nobles who were awarded "sacred" titles by the sultan) (Tulin), or private-heirloom land (held primarily by high-ranking nobles) (Kuripan). Today any land not under private title is state land. Only citizens are allowed to own land.

Rather than invent the wheel, here is what the Commissioner of Land said ab…

BEDB's 2000 Housing Project

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Yesterday morning, I accompanied my minister to visit the housing project conducted by BEDB at Pandan 10 in Kuala Belait. It was a working visit to see if there is anything new that our own Housing Development Department (HDD) can learn from it as well as keeping an eye on the project as the houses will form part of our housing stock soon.

[Getting ready for the group photograph]

I remembered and tracked down an old BEDB press release about the cost of the houses. This is what it says in February "According to the BEDB’s infrastructure division, the cost per house in Bina Puri’s tender price is lower than for previous contracts awarded under the National Housing Scheme as a result of greater efficiency and economies of scale. “There will be savings for the government in terms of both time and money” said Mr Geoffrey Shim, Senior Executive Engineer with the BEDB."

Despite Mr Shim's claims, we were much disappointed to learn that the cost is not any lower than that built by t…

Brunei $100 1988

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How many people remember this $100 note? Not many I am sure.

All these while, all my other notes collection was growing, I only had two pieces of this $100 note. On the internet too, especially on ebay, this is rarely available. On the current ebay, there is one currently available note with a price of about US$260. I was quite surprised the other day when my nephew said someone deposited a few pieces. I rushed to see him and saw 6 of these notes in varying condition. The worst was badly folded but the best was in the EF category. If you managed to get hold of one, keep it. It may not be worth as much as the Begawan note but I am sure that will change. You just can't find these notes.

This is one of the least remembered paper money that Brunei had ever produced. It was produced around 1988 to 1990. Many people remembered the older $100 of Sultan Omar Ali and of the earlier Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Those two were the large notes. Those two were replaced by this $100 notes.

However thi…

A Growing Industry in Brunei

The Oxford Business Group on 3rd November 2009 published the following article:

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Brunei Darussalam: A Growing Industry

3 November 2009

Ensuring domestic food security and developing a viable export sector are at the heart of Brunei's efforts to establish a strong commercial food processing industry, though the country has to balance its staunch commitment to environmental protection with the need to achieve self-sufficiency in basic staples.

At present, Brunei Darussalam's agriculture only partially meets the country's food needs, with a small contribution to both employment and the economy, something that may well change in the near future.

Last year, the total output of Brunei Darussalam's domestic food sector was just $158m, though under a new strategy developed by the Department of Agriculture this is to increase to $430m in 2013 and $1.9bn by 2023. While the strategy aims to improve yields from farms, the emphasis is on growing the agri-industry.

Speaking at the …

High Pay with Minimal Schooling

I was intrigued by one article on finance.yahoo.com entitled "10 Jobs With High Pay and Minimal Schooling Required!" The article was written by Michael Kling and published on yahoo finance on Tuesday, November 3, 2009. It read as follows:

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You don't have to go to college earn a decent living. Some professions pay good salaries without requiring post-secondary schooling.

Your New Career
Here's a list of top-paying jobs requiring little schooling, and their median annual earnings as of 2006, using the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep in mind that these jobs have their own challenges and often require some type of specialized schooling - sometimes on-the-job training.

1.Air Traffic Controllers: $117,200

These workers make sure airplanes land and take off safely, and they typically top lists of this nature. The median 50% earned between $86,860-142,210, with good benefits. Air traffic controllers are eligible to retire at age 50 with 20 yea…

Rebellion in Brunei

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Tun Teja commented in the Comment Box a few days ago about how he just came across this book. In fact this is not a new book, this book has been around since the third quarter of 2007. I bought it in Singapore last year for a would you believe it price of S$193.81. I checked on the internet this morning, the price is much lower now. Barnes and Nobel is selling it for US$56.21 (S$78.86), Amazon USA is selling it for US$79.00 (S$110.84) and Amazon UK is selling it for GBP43.12 (S$98.96). Shipping and packing is of course extra.

This book is written by Datuk Harun Abdul Majid, one of our local businessmen. This book arises out of his dissertation when he was doing his Masters at King's College in London and he carried out his research at the Department of War Studies there.

Some people commented that no one has written about the 1962 incident. In fact, there are a number of other books written about Brunei Rebellion which you can still find in the market. Topmost obviously is HRH Princ…

Graduating Today?

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This morning, lots of people will be coming out of ICC with brand new degrees and diplomas. I was going to do a short piece about the History of UBD and found that UBD has already publicised it in its website, but just in case, you have not read or seen it yourself, here it is with some additional notes.

The idea of establishing a university of Brunei Darussalam was first raised during a comprehensive review of the country's higher education facilities in 1976. Subsequent discussions led to the appointment of a steering committee which, with the assistance of the British Council, proceeded to engage a group of experts to study and advise on the matter. However, active planning for a university did not commence until 1984-5, at which time academic links were discussed with a number of universities in the United Kingdom and Malaysia.

On 23 April 1985 came an announcement from His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brune…

The Story of Two Books

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I bought two books this week. One is a normal price or rather, locally Brunei priced best seller book and the other is an old almost antique book which cost five times more than the other one. When I look at Amazon, the price of that best seller was almost half but I guess with postage etc, it would probably cost close to what our local bookstores are selling. Anyway, I am talking about Dan Brown's Lost Symbol which retailed for $50.80.

I don't know about you. But after having watched National Treasure movies and reading other books and watching all those National Geographic and other channels, I didn't find the Lost Symbol that mysterious anymore. I guess that's me. Though I did lose some sleep trying to read the 500+ pages in just two days. Would I recommend it? Well... I would say buy it but wait for the paperback.

The other book which I bought was this. This plain green book is entitled simply 'The Royal Brunei Malay Regiment' which tells the history of the b…

RBA's Boeing 777?

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According to The Washington Post compiling news from Indian newspapers on 26th October 2009, amongst them The Indian Express, Royal Brunei Airlines will finally be acquiring her Boeing 777.

Remember the continuing saga about Boeing 777? About 2 years ago, RBA was supposed to have leased a couple of Boeing 777. Brunei Times in its 18th June 2007 news wrote that "... reports on the internet (airlinersgallery.com) have stated that the airline has already acquired its first Boeing 777-200 last month. According to the report, a Boeing 777 has been repainted in full RBA livery from American flag carrier United Airlines, which is awaiting delivery at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas. Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is also looking into expanding its fleet, with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner touted as one of the possible future choices ..." The photograph of that Boeing was this:-


Anyway, despite the training and retraining of pilots, the planes still did not appear. Now The Indian Ex…

Brunei - now a big fish!

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The Oxford Business Group reported the following on 26th October 2009:

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Brunei Darussalam: Diving In at the Deep End

26 October 2009

Brunei Darussalam is steadily building on its reputation as an Islamic financial services hub, making up for lost time and developing a credible sharia-compliant banking and financial sector.

Though the Sultanate has long offered Islamic financial services, operating in tandem with conventional banks and institutions, the lack of a broad-based regulatory environment meant that until recently the sector struggled to gain the recognition it deserved.

However, over the past few years there has been a rapid shift, thanks in part to reforms that established rigid guidelines to ensure banks offering Islamic products were fully compliant with sharia financial law requirements. As a result of these and other measures, Islamic banking sector has been equipped with a regulatory platform equal to or in advance of most of others operating in the industry.

These dev…