Showing posts from February, 2009

The Pre-Islamic Kings of Brunei

I was reading the latest 'Pusaka' a publication from the History Centre. A lot of my materials actually came from the History Centre publications, Pusaka is an easy read. Another is Jurnal Darussalam.

One of the articles in Pusaka is about the Kings of Brunei prior to the coming of Islam. Our history tended to begin from the conversion of Sultan Muhammad, the first Brunei Sultan into Islam around 1376. We tended to forget the earlier kings of Brunei. I remembered when I was in Nanjing, the exhibits had Brunei kings or their envoys visit China much much earlier.

This particular article writting by Dato Muhammad and Haji Zainuddin outlined several kings in the pre-Islamic era:-

The Liang Dynasty (502-566) recorded the king named as Pinka and his family was known as Kaundinya. He was a Hindu-Buddha. He was said to rule over 136 districts and his throne made out of gold and his footrest silver. His crown had diamonds and was as high as 1 feet. He sent an envoy to China in 518 among o…

Views from the Rivers of Tutong

Where was this photo taken? Believe it or not, this is in Brunei and not in some other countries. Unfortunately not many can see this view as we are mostly restricted by the roads or rather we generally follow the roads and see only those views. This particular scenery is taken from Sungai Telamba and this is actually the Pasir Putih area extending all the way to the river. From afar it really reminded me of vaguely the white cliffs of Dover.

Over the last few weeks, we have been accompanying our minister visiting the waterways of Brunei. We did the rivers of Brunei and over the last week, we have been visiting the waterways of Tutong. On Thursday we were heading towards the direction of Sungai Telamba and last Wednesday we were heading towards the direction of Sungai Tutong. The latter is of utmost importance as this is the one that always cause flood havocs in that area. This river is also very important to Bruneians as this is the same waterways where the water is collected at Layon…

Lee Kuan Yew on Sultan Omar Ali

Minister Mentor Dato Laila Utama Lee Kuan Yew gave the first Sultan Omar Ali Memorial Lecture at ICC yesterday. More than 3,000 people turned up. His topic was apt enough, it was about Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Saadul Khairi Waddien, Brunei's 28th Sultan and the Architect of Modern Brunei.

Did I learn much from Minister Mentor? Not much that I did not know already. He talked about the achievements of Sultan Omar Ali and how he brought independence and the survival of Brunei. For the younger Brunei generation, this is a revelation but for old people like me, this is something we know already. In some sense, I was hoping for a lot more from LKY but then given the sensitivity of certain information, I am sure LKY did not or cannot provide them. I was really hoping for something anectdotal as LKY and HM Sultan Omar Ali were very close and knew each other very well.

I remembered when I was still at Nurul Iman a few years ago, in preparation for the HRH The Crown Prince's wedding, we…

$25 Stamp to Commemmorate 25th National Day

Yesterday, I mentioned that the Postal Service were releasing stamps to commemorate the 25th National Day. There were 8 new stamps all at 25 cents each, first day covers and miniature sheets. This is the $25 miniature sheet to commemmorate Brunei's 25th National Day. It showed both His Majesty and His Majesty's father during the Proclamation of Independence on the eve of 1st Janary 1984.

This is indeed a special stamp as the last time Brunei issued a $25 stamp, you would have to go almost 100 years ago when Brunei issued a $25 stamp in 1910. That 99 year old $25 stamp is now worth some $2,000 now if you can find one now. I managed to get one about two years ago and I was lucky I did not have to pay $2,000 to get it.

The new $25 stamp is on a miniature sheet. All the stamps are designed by Ajihis bin Haji Terawih and Abdull Rahman bin Ahmad. The stamps were printed at Thai British Security Printing Public Limited Company, Thailand.

But if you think $25 is a bit too steep to buy a …

Post National Day Day

It was enjoyable yesterday leading the Ministry of Development team during the march past for the National Day Silver Jubilee Celebrations. The team worked hard and I really appreciated all the efforts that were put in by our MOD team during the march past and the field performances. Well done everyone!

Today is the post National Day day. It is time to reflect. We have achieved so much. In fact most of our development was achieved only since the 1950s, well within the lifetime of our grandfathers and fathers. But we still have a long way to go. Our nation has achieved adulthood, have we done enough to maintain that adulthood? The words of President John F Kennedy on January 20th 1961 "... ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country ..."

On a lighter note. Many received souvenirs yesterday, even though ours came in this box, I very much prefered the plate that will be given to all the participants. If anyone is thinking of not keeping it and …

25th National Day Titah by His Majesty

Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen Wabihie Nastaeenu ‘Ala Umuriddunya Waddien, Wassalatu Wassalamu ‘Ala Asyrafil Mursaleen, Sayyidina Muhammadin Wa’ala Alihie Wasahbihie Ajmaeen. Waba’du.

Beta bersyukur kehadrat Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala kerana mengizinkan kita dapat menyambut Ulang Tahun Hari Kebangsaan ke-25 dalam suasana aman dan sejahtera. Alhamdulillah kita masih saja menjalani kehidupan yang rukun damai, bersama keluarga dan sahabat handai di Negara yang tercinta ini.

Beta mengambil maklum akan tema Hari Kebangsaan pada tahun ini: Kedewasaan Bernegara.

Sudah suku abad kita merdeka, menandakan, bertapa pantasnya masa bergerak. Dalam masa sepanjang itu, pelbagai kemajuan telah dicapai untuk menambahkan lagi kualiti hidup rakyat.

Pembangunan di negara kita adalah merupakan satu proses panjang yang akan berjalan berterusan. Ia sudah lama bermula, lebih dari 25 tahun sebelum merdeka.

Ianya, telah dan sedang berlangsung di B…

Tutong From 1960s

Photos of Tutong are not easy to find. It is difficult compared to photos about Bandar Seri Begawan or Kuala Belait. The few that I have from 1960s onwards:-

The Brunei crest with the lions

Slightly more than a week ago, I wrote a short entry about our national crest. In the side box, there was this comment:

Decendent of Dato Godam: Mr. BR, I've seen the Brunei national crest being added with Lion. But now its being replaced by that Ajai(hand). Can u elaborate on that please?

I remembered too there was something which had the lion replacing the hands and it took me a while to remember where I saw it. Then it hit me today. It was on this chair and on this throne.

This is a cropped photo of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah taken in 1968 during his coronation as the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. If you look closely, you can see the crest with the lions on both sides of the crest on top of the seat that His Majesty is sitting on.

If I go wider with this photograph, the crest too with the lions is at the centre on top of the throne. This throne is still used at the Istana in one of the halls. There is a model of it somewhere in the Royal Regalia Mus…

Mentiri comes of age

[I wrote the following article for the Golden Legacy column which was published on Brunei Times about three weeks ago.]


IF ONE was to drive along Jalan Kota Batu, one can see that Kampung Mentiri is one of the biggest villages along that road. There are many homes in the village, especially if one was to include the housing estate developed by the Housing Development Department.

The large population is served by a secondary school, primary schools and two mosques, one in the housing estate and another older one. The number of shophouses is also increasing with more being built. The Mentiri Golf Club is also there. The area's main artery is a dual carriageway allowing the populace to travel to the capital in the shortest time possible.

But not many know that Kampung Mentiri has a long history and according to archaeological findings may stretch as far back as 700 years ago.

The findings were found at one of the more modern facilities in Kampung Mentiri: the Mengkubau Dam. The…

Brunei Economic Bulletin Q2 2008

The Brunei Economic Planning and Development Department or to use its Malay acronym JPKE (Jabatan Perancangan dan Kemajuan Ekonomi)recently released our country's economic performance for the second quarter of 2008. Quarter 1 report was printed in September 2008.

What's the highlight for Quarter 2?

Well, our economic growth fell by 2.8% year on year following a 4.9% contraction in Q1. Net export contracted sharply despite increases in investment. In economics, the term recession generally describes the reduction of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) for at least two quarters. Q3 report would be something to wait for whether this contraction has been reversed.

Our monetary aggregates expanded in a slower pace in Q2 2008 compared to Q1. Fixed deposits increased. Loan growth slowed down to 7.3% compared to 29.5% in Q1.

Our fiscal balance showed a healthy revenue of B$2.7 billion all mostly due to record high oil and gas prices in Q2. Though capital expenditure contracted b…

Sailing in Brunei

The other day when I attended the briefing given by the Tourism Department of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, I remembered vividly the presentation made by the Sailing in Brunei people. If you want to read more about sailing in Brunei, you can browse through Reeda's excellent blog or David Cheok's also excellent blog on the Petima, a Danish saling boat on Brunei Bay.

What I wanted to point out though was that around 50 years ago, sailing was quite common to the Kampong Ayer people. Engines were only available around 1950s and before that, we have sailing boats used by fishermen. The first photo was taken at the turn of the 20th century and the other two are relatively new.

Old Scenes at the Bandar Brunei Wharf

When ideas run out, it is time for old photographs. This is a set of photographs all taken at the wharf in Bandar Seri Begawan in the mid 1950s, about 50 years ago. That was the time when the wharf was beginning to be used especially with Brunei's first national development plan. So enjoy.

Are you stressed?

I got this email yesterday and I thought I will share this with you all this Sunday. Afterall you do need to relax. It's a quiz.

There is this very, very tall coconut tree and there are 4 animals. King Kong, an Ape, an Orangutan and a Monkey pass by. They decide to compete to see who is the fastest to get a banana off the tree.

Who do you think will win?

Your answer will reflect your personality.

Think carefully . . . Try and answer within 30 seconds

Got your answer?

Now scroll down to see the analysis.

If your answer is:

Orangutan = you're very stressed

Ape = you're still very stressed

Monkey = worse, you're very very stressed

King Kong = you're hopeless and very very stressed


Why?! ????


Still not obvious ah? A Coconut tree doesn't have bananas lah!

Obviously you're stressed and overworked.

Take some time off and relax.

It's Sunday.

St Valentine's Day?

[Photo from Google Earth - Lovers' Island - formerly known by the less romantic name of Galesnjak, off the coast of Croatia - It is just 130,000 square yards and is uninhabited, making it an intriguing location for a romantic Valentine's Day getaway.]

In most parts of the world, today is Valentine's Day. It has been estimated that throughout the world, approximately one billion valentine cards are sent during Valentine's Day, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas; and that 85 percent of all cards are purchased by women!

Did you know that Valentine's Day began as a pagan festival? The Romans then engaged in an annual fertility rite in honour of one of their many gods named Lupercus where the names of young women were placed in a box and drawn by adolescent men. The resulting random matches became 'companions' for the following year. The Catholic Church tried to end this pagan rite and selected a martyred Saint Val…

Bruneians on the River 1920s

I first saw this postcard on a postal history book about Brunei stamps. I used it for one of my article sometime last year when I was writing about 'berjanawari'. I was really surprised and excited when it came out on ebay the other day. So I put a bid which I thought would deter people off and for a while it did. I did not see any bid coming close to it BUT I lost it this morning. The winning bid for this 80+ year old postcard of Brunei was US$105.00. Aaargh....

Anyway, I borrowed this image since I could not get hold of the original anymore. This is a scene of Kampong Ayer which is pretty obvious. I have no idea what was happening but I guessed it was berjanawari. Berjanawari was a time when there were lots of boat races and festival on water. The word comes from January and most likely it was a new year celebration of sorts. I wanted to put a link to the entry about it and when I could not find it, that's when I realised that this is one of the few articles which I did n…

The Brunei Crest

Most people know that our national flag is a recent creation. I have written about our flag's history a few times in the past as well as published articles in the papers. The last time I wrote about the flag was last year which you can read here on this link.

So our 103 year old flag was given the crest soon after the written constitution and hence the red crest appearing on our flag. I was reading more about the history of the crest and interestingly enough the red crest that is on the Brunei flag is much older than the flag itself.

According to a 1972 Brunei Museum publication about the history of the crest, the crest has its origin as far back as Sultan Sharif Ali, the third Sultan around the early 15th century. It was not known whether he brought it from his country or whether it was created here in Brunei. Some sources also indicated that the crest had Chinese influence.

However it was Sultan Hassan, the 9th Sultan who made the mast for the crest. Again not much is known about t…

Money (Not that Old) Part II

Yesterday, I was talking about the $1 Malaya Borneo note. Today is the other note - the $10. This one is relatively newer as it was issued in 1961 by the Malaya and British Borneo Board of Commissioners of Currency. So it was only 6 years old when the three countries issued their own currency notes in 1967.

Most people called this 'duit kerabau' and even the ma cik selling the note in the tamu refused to budge from $230 price when I first bought the note from her two years ago. There are two versions of this note, the difference being the alphabet accompanying the serial number on the note. The note with the larger A cost more than the little A and the difference can be twice as much sometime.

Interestingly enough on this note too, you can see that the Brunei crest has become the modern Brunei crest you see today complete with the two hands. The crest that appeared on the $1 note yesterday did not thave the two hands. Prices for this note range from about $150 upwards and can be…

Money (Not That Old)

I was asked in my other blog about money and stamps whether I have the old Malaya Borneo $1 and $10 notes. Yes I do. These two were issued in 1959 and 1961 respectively. I am only showing the $1 note.

The Board of Commissioners of Currency for Malaya and British Borneo issued currency notes and coins for Malaya, Singapore, Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak. In fact, if you look closely at the back of the note you can see one of the crests is the Brunei crest.

This note was used from 1959 to 1967. It was printed by two different companies Thomas De La Rue and Waterlow and Sons. The note printed by Waterlow and Sons is harder to find. When this note was issued in 1959, it became the first note to replace the Queen $1 note which was issued in 1953. It marked the first attempt by the 'new countries' to separate themselves from the British and come up with their own design. That's why the design was of a boat which at that point in time was widely used by all the fishermen on both sides …

Kuala Belait from the Sky

Those who have not been to Kuala Belait for a long time would be surprised to see the development. From the sky Kuala Belait looks even better. So, the next time you go to Miri, do drop by KB. This is Kuala Belait from the sky (note: all photographs taken by our Deputy Minister with his Leica C-Lux2 *thank you sir* and ask his permission if you want a copy with a high resoultion - the photos' resolutions on this blog have all been lowered):-

Mysterious Kubur Bagunjai at Mentiri

For tomorrow's Golden Legacy article to be published in Brunei Times, I will be writing about Kampung Mentiri. I found an old research done by Museum Department during the construction of the Mengkubau Dam at Mentiri when they found several graveyards. One of them is the Bagunjai Graveyard. This is an excerpt from tomorrow's article:-


The archaeologists paid close scrutiny to the two gravestones at Kubur Bagunjai. The two gravestones or batu nisan indicated the high status of the person buried. In the older days, most graves would only be placed with one gravestone. Two gravestones indicated someone respected or hold high status in the area when he died. Among old graveyards discovered in Brunei, the two gravestones for Sultan Bolkiah’s tomb was one of the few found so far.

The gravestones at Kubur Bagunjai were found to be the same design of another three gravestones found in other places in Brunei and dated around the 15th or 16th century. A similar gravestone found in J…

The Brunei Flood

MOD officials went up the helicopter to take a look at all the areas that are affected. Aerial views give a better perspective of the area and the solutions required. This one is an older photo of the flood of 21st January recently. This one photo is of the Ban areas.

Historically Ban areas are meant to be the food basket of Brunei to be used as a padi plantation area. In fact the word 'ban' comes from the English 'bunds' which are pathways built along the edges of the padi fields. These bunds over the years become roads and padi fields become housing estates. Housings developed rapidly but unfortunately infrastructures does not get built as fast and hence at the moment only canals are in the process of being built.

In most cases, the canals are supposedly according to design sufficient to handle normal heavy rainwaters. But extra heavy La Nina rainwaters like what's happening at the moment completely inundate the drainage systems. Add the extra high tide, hence the …