Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Monkey and the Apple

There once was a happy monkey wandering the jungle, eating delicious fruit when hungry, and resting when tired. One day he came upon a house, where he saw a bowl of the most beautiful apples. He took one in each hand and ran back into the forest. He sniffed the apples and smelled nothing. He tried to eat them, but hurt his teeth. They were made of wood, but they were beautiful, and when the other monkeys saw them, he held onto them even tighter.

He admired his new possessions proudly as he wandered the jungle. They glistened red in the sun, and seemed perfect to him. He became so attached to them, that he didn’t even notice his hunger at first. A fruit tree reminded him of his hunger, but he felt the apples in his hands. He couldn’t bear to set them down to reach for the fruit. In fact, he couldn’t relax, either, if he was to defend his apples. A proud, but less happy monkey continued to walk along the forest trails.

The apples felt heavy, and at one point the poor little monkey thought about leaving them behind. He was tired, hungry, and he couldn’t climb trees or collect fruit with his hands full. What if he just let go? Letting go of such valuable things seemed crazy, but what else could he do? He was so tired. Seeing the next fruit tree, and smelling its fruit was enough. He dropped the wooden apples and reached up for his meal. He was happy again.

Like that little monkey, we sometimes carry things that seem too valuable to let go. Shiny wooden apples leave us tired and hungry for a better life. Still, letting go seems crazy. Even our worries are sacred apples - they prove we are “doing everything we can.” We hold onto them compulsively.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Called Her Mama

Tun Teja wrote in the comment box about the origin of the word 'Babu' which are used by some of our Bruneians for 'mother'. The perception is that the word 'babu' is used by family of Pengirans but of course that are also non-Pengiran families who used the word as well. In Brunei, our usage for the word mother ranged from the English Mummy or Mum to the Arabic Umi to the Brunei Mama or Babu. Seldom surprisingly I have heard Brunei children used Emak or Ibu even though these are standard Malay. We do use Abah or Bapa.

Why Babu? I don't know and I haven't had the time to do a research on how babu came about. I would suggest however that we go back in time. In English, for the meat, we have cows when the animal was still alive but we used beef to call its meat. I read somewhere this is due that in the old days, the common English people spoke English whereas the royalty or those high up spoke in French. So in French, boeuf means the meat of a cow and hence beef was used. As time passes by, cows and beef became English words.

Babu, from what I have read, I would guess would most likely come from the word, 'va pruh' which is a Sanskrit word. Like the English/French, our word origin would likely be Sanskrit/Malay. There are many Sanskrit words which became Malay words without us realising it. 'Va pruh' means leader or father, grandfather etc. It is quite spectacular though for it to become 'mother' in Brunei's context. But if we were to follow the English commoner/French royalty theory and apply it to the Brunei commoner/Sanskrit royalty (Pengirans), we may be on the right track.

Anyway, I may be very very wrong. If someone out there has a better theory, I and the readers of this blog would love to hear about it. 'Va pruh' became 'Baba' or 'Aba' in Persian and Arabic and also in Urdu and Hindi.

A quick check on Wikipedia, looking up Wiktionary, you get the following definition:-

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The term babu, also spelled baboo, is used in modern-day South Asia as a sign of respect towards men. It is a derivation of bapu which means father. The honorific "ji" is sometimes added as a suffix to create the double honorific Babuji. In northern and eastern parts of India, "babuji" is a term of respect for one's father. It can also be used as a term of respect for any respected elder or man. In some Indian states, "babu" is also used as a generic word of respect to address men, especially unknown ones, e.g., "Babu, can you help me ?" In Bengali, "babu" is used as suffix to a person's name to show respect while calling him by name, e.g., "Sudarshan-babu, could you please come here!"

In British India, "Babu" was a term used to describe a native Indian clerk. The word was originally used as a term of respect attached to a proper name, but later, especially when used alone and not as a suffix, was a derogatory word signifying a semi-literate native, with a mere veneer of modern education.[1] In the early 20th century the term Babu was frequently used to refer to bureaucrats and other government officials, especially by the Indian media; in this sense the word hints at corrupt or lazy work practices. It can also mean the pimp or client of a sex worker. The term babu has thus fallen out of favour in polite society, since it may be taken as an insult.

In Indian languages, the term "babu" may be suffixed to a person's name, but the term "babuji" is always used by itself.

"Babu" also means grandfather in Swahili.

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Like I said, it would really be interesting how 'babu' became 'mother' in Brunei.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anthropophagous Thoughts

I was at Borders last night and managed to get a couple of books. One very interesting one which I read through last night was this book about hard words. Words have always interested me and the other day when my minister asked whether he should buy the full blown Oxford English dictionary, I said he should. The full blown Oxford English dictionary comes in 20 volumes and each volume is about four inches thick. That my dear, is a lot of words. There are only a handful of people I in Brunei who have the 20 volume dictionary. This dictionary cost some US$800. I am not confabulating this story. You see, knowing words will make one belles-lettres.

What I like about our neighbouring country, other than being able to eat Big Macs in the middle of the night, is the bookshop especially Borders. I was there with my colleague and he was busy buying books for his daughter. I was busy with history books. I am very frustrated and it is quite discombobulating without having access to very good bookshops in our own country.

Unfortunately I will miss the rice planting function at Wasan. I did visit the place and the Imang Dam which provided the water on Saturday. I am sure that we can do that rice planting thing. I have seen the mathematics. Now is the time to translate it into action. There are the sceptics who consider this as floccinaucinihipilification but I don't think so. This is the most important thing we can do.

I leave you with those words. I have to go down to the dining room to have my breakfast. I am so hungry that it's giving me anthropophagous thoughts. And my apologies for being too sesquipedalian.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Struggling Your Way Through

Last week, our ministry's ladies netball team lost the final to MOE. Congratulations to both teams for making the final. I was happy that our ministry's team had reached the final and I know they practised hard.

But I was not expecting our team to win, not because they are not capable or I was not supportive. I realised earlier on that they had a psychological problem. From the outset, they were praying that the last team they wanted to meet was MOE. That team had already beaten them in their minds even before they had physically beaten them in the court. For the record, the ministry's team beat the MOE team in the qualifying round but even that was not enough to assuage them that they could win.

Conquering this fear is the most difficult. This is what I called trying to beat the inner demons inside you. I am not trying to be a psychologist, which I am not, but over the years I have seen enough of this attitude, of this behaviour, of this thinking, whatever you called it. I suffered from it too now and then.

You always get the feeling that you can't do something because it has already been decided. The whole world is against you and that there is nothing you can do and you just lie there and let the world beat you to death or something. But you need to get up and fight it.

My friend who regularly posted noted on facebook had this story about struggles.

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared.

He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Allah’s(God’s) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If Allah allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

We could never fly!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Giant Quran

How many people remember this scene?

I was trawling through my hard disk and found this photograph. This was taken about three years ago when His Majesty received the Giant Quran as a birthday gift. I wrote about the whole event and also the history behind it. I am hoping that it will be on display one of these days, if it has not already been done so.

It is not the world's largest Quran, even though it is big. It is not even the most unique, being the 5th Quran to be handwritten by the group that was commissioned to do it. But it is certainly big. The other big one which people can see is the one placed at the Jame' Asr in a glass cabinet.

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Friday

This is one of the hardest entry to type. Its not a sad entry or anything like that. I am doing this from the comfortable by the sea yacht club, my cousin's son is having his birthday here. But I am using my tiny handphone. I am a trained typist and being forced to use two thumbs really slows me down. A tweeter would be better. Where is the return key? Cant even do a new paragraph!

Found the return key. Today was hectic. When I sent my son to school this morning, my car stalled at a junction. We found a kitten jumping out and another one snapping the two beltings in the engine after the car was towed. What is it about cars and cats?

I remembered when I was learning to drive, we were advised to check the car before driving off. I guess not many do it. In my case, the cats were not even ours. I didnt even know there were kittens at the house. But I guess thats no excuse.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fifth Day of Fifth Month Festival

My secretary came in and said that anakbrunei was outside. She could not or did not know Reeda's name but anakbunei she remembered. So anakbrunei trademark is well and truly established. Anyway anakbrunei's Reeda dropped in my office the other day with a nice surprise - homemade Bakchang. My better half and I tried it for our dinner on the same day. I took a few photos of the bakchang with my phone but I can't find the cabling at the moment to upload the photos here. So I borrowed the photo from Reed's blogsite.

This Chinese origin meat dumpling is prepared around this time of the year which is the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar if I am not mistaken for what Reeda called the Ko Chung festival. I read on the internet it is for the Duan Wu festival which is to honour a wiseman in China. The people in China like him so much that when he drowned in a river, the people threw dumplings into the river so that the fish would not his body. The festival nowadays are in the form of dragon boat races and these dumplings are eaten while watching the race.

Anyway, Reeda's mum is making the dumplings with different fillings such as Chicken, chinese mushroom, water chestnut and dried prawn sold at $1 each, Beef and bamboo shoot at $1 each and with 5 types of nuts at $0.50 each. Please text 8779930 to place an order.

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HELP WANTED. I also received an email from Adam Haji Jait, a Brunei PhD student at Loughborough University. He is currently undertaking a research study on “E-Government Initiatives in Brunei Darussalam: Enhancing Citizen Participation for the use of Online Government Information and Services Delivery”. The purpose of this study is to enhance citizens’ participation by providing better online government information and service characteristics.

The study also aims to evaluate which is the most frequently used online government information and services in government agencies’ websites. It is intended that this study will contribute to the creation of guidelines and recommended improvements that will apply broadly to citizen participation towards the efficiency of public services in implementation of Brunei Darussalam e-Government initiatives.

He would be grateful if you can assist him with this study by responding to this questionnaire. It is divided into 6 parts (Part A, B, C, D, E and F). Please answer all parts. The questionnaire is not intended to take more than 30 minutes of your valuable time. The confidentiality of information and your anonymity will be maintained. Your responses will be used only for the purpose of this study and will not be used for any other purpose. If you need further information regarding this questionnaire, please contact him at adamjait@gmail.com or adamjait@inbox.com or tel. No. 8636946 (sms to Brunei mobile) / 0044-7596447759 (sms to UK mobile)

The link for the questionaire is http://mail2.unimas.my/limesurvey

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Cup of Coffee

One of my friends posted this on facebook about a couple of weeks back. I know quite a number of readers out there have seen this but I am sharing this with those who have not. For you to ponder:-

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A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."

God brews the coffee, not the cups.......... Enjoy your coffee!

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything."

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Author unknown

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pay for Services?

There was someone who wrote either in Brudirect or somewhere that I read over the last few days about the need to clean up the housing estates and to charge people for the clean up. At the moment, the Housing Development Department is responsible for the common areas of the housing estates. There is also no charges for the work. Getting people to pay is always one of the biggest issues in providing government agency. Everyone is used to not paying. But where necessary people will pay. The toll charges at Rasau are the cases in point. But then there are also complaints about the Municipal new road parking coupons.

I was reading Jewelle Tan's old blog entry on the national day celebrations. She mentioned the $20 her father donated towards building the National Stadium. When I wrote my Golden Legacy article for Brunei Times in October last year, I was quite surprised to find out that we Bruneians actually contributed towards the building of that stadium. The stadium completed in 1983 was partly contributed by the public. Here is an excerpt of that article:

"... The construction of the stadium, then considered the most modern in the region was one of the most memorable events for the people of Brunei Darussalam.

Everyone was excited about having a national stadium that a fund was set up to allow Bruneians to contribute towards the cost of building the stadium.

Unusually for a public building in Brunei Darussalam, members of the public donated and contributed towards the building of the stadium. Although the final collection of $1,102,761.57 accounted for a little more than 1.1 per cent of the total building cost ($100 million), the public participation showed the Bruneians’ great interest and support for this project ..."

We can and have paid for this kind of project in the past. Maybe we should encourage this in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bangar Jetty and the 1962 Memorial

Exactly one year ago, I wrote about the above 1962 monument. Yesterday, I read in the papers about the Minister of Communications laying the foundation stone for the new Bangar Jetty and Terminal Building in Temburong. What is the connection?

At present, if you arrive or depart from Bangar, you would arrive in an open air small roofed structure. There is no other facility there. This $1.4 million structure is at last bringing better comfort to the travellers between Bandar and Bangar. Work started in June last year and expected to be completed by end of this year. For those who knows Bangar but have not been there recently, the terminal has moved to the other side of the bridge. The current terminal is before the bridge but the new terminal is after the bridge. So from next year onwards, everyone would have to go under the bridge before they alight.

According to the press, the new building site is located adjacent to the Memorial Monument. That to me is slightly wrong. The building is site is ON the Memorial Monument. In fact, one of the things which worried me every time I go to Bangar was the precarious condition of the memorial. Prior to construction, the memorial was in a park by itself. But with the new jetty and terminal, the memorial is smack centre in the building works. And that is where it will end up.

According to the architect, that memorial will be left intact and will be in the building when the building is constructed. It will form an interesting monument as that will be the one structure that people arriving and leaving Bangar will see.

So in a way it is good to have the monument in the building. That way, people will be more aware of its existence and the memory of the 1962 event.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A City of Many Waters

[This article was published two weeks ago in my Golden Legacy column in Brunei Times]

About fifteen years ago, there was an article about a book which the UBD Library had just purchased. It was described as the only book that was written about Brunei around the end of the nineteenth century. The article was written by C.H. Gallop, who was an expatriate teacher in Brunei writing under the pseudonym of Penggembara.

The book entitled “A City of Many Waters” was written by Peter Blundell and published by J W Arrowsmith and Co in 1923. There is also an American edition published by Robert M McBride and Company of New York in 1924 with a slightly different title “On the Fringe of Eastern Seas: The City of Many Waters”. Other than the title, the contents of the two books are similar.

The book described the writer’s life in Brunei around the end of the nineteenth century and the narration ended just as when Mr. M.S.H. McArthur became the first British Resident in Brunei in 1906.

The book described how the writer got his job in Brunei. He almost did not get the job as the letter inviting him for an interview arrived one day later as the letter went to Kennington instead of Kensington.

However the trained engineer was accepted despite being late for the interview and a few days later saw him leave Southampton. And from then on, we managed to get his story about Brunei. Paradoxically, had he not the job, we would certainly have lost a big piece of our history.

Peter Blundell or his real name Frank Nestle Butterworth, came to Brunei as an engineer working for the Island Trading Company which had sole rights to the production and export of cutch from Brunei.

He described his arrival through Brooketon (Muara). Muara at that time was run by Rajah Brooke in his capacity as the holder of the coalmine concession. However Rajah Brooke treated Muara as an extension of Sarawak and Muara was not ‘returned’ to Brunei control until 1921.

He described the picture of Brunei as he saw it then which he described has remained with him as follows – “the town itself built almost entirely over the water, stood in the middle of a large, shallow lake. Its huts shone brown and yellow in the heavy sunlight. It seemed asleep. On every side, cuplike, rose gently from the quiet gleaming water ranges of low, graceful, wooded hills”.

He worked with two Europeans at the cutch factory. The cutch factory was located at the now Jalan Residency very near to where the current Handicraft Centre is located. Cutch made from boiling barks from mangrove trees are used for tanning leather and dying cloth khaki colour.

Blundell learnt Malay which he said is the easiest of languages to pick up, ‘an average man can learn enough to rub along with in three months.’ As a result, Blundell was able to learn more about Brunei as he narrated about Brunei as he saw it.

Brunei was described as a country with no roads. From the factory, to go everywhere else was by canoe. Blundell bought a dug-out canoe and learnt how to paddle. He spent much of his spare time in paddling about the surrounding creeks and waters and getting to know the Brunei Malays and their homes. This was totally against the expectations of the other expatriates who deemed that by paddling his own canoe, will ‘lessen the white man’s privilege’.

One day, Sultan Hashim commanded for him to come to the palace. He described the Sultan as an old man with a face full of character, broad shouldered of middle height.

His first job was to help him read letters in English to the Sultan. The first letter was addressed to the Chief of the Fire Brigade from America. Other letters include one wanting a monopoly of gin in Brunei and were prepared to pay a most inadequate sum for it. Blundell also gave the Sultan a telescope for which he received a kris. After that Blundell got invited quite often to the palace. Blundell’s description sounded as if both him and the Sultan got on quite well and enjoyed each other’s company.

Blundell also wrote a short history of Brunei in his book. He also described the tension at that time with Sir Charles Brooke trying to acquire all of Brunei. Sir Charles Brooke already had acquired territories all around Brunei and Blundell was pessimistically thinking that it would be ‘difficult to see what could keep him out.’

Blundell’s description of life in Brunei then is the most valuable part of the book. He described the Hari Raya celebrations. His description of the feasts sounded just like the Hari Raya Open Houses of today. ‘Feasts are held in every house, the hospitable invite all their friends to share the good thing.’ Weddings too were described and sounded exactly like that of today.

He also described Brunei’s every day to day life. The descriptions of the padians trading in and around the water villages of Brunei. Other trades were described which included silversmiths, boat builders, weaving and potters. He talked about the brass foundries in the Kampong Ayer. The silversmiths made their silver work out of old dollars melted down. The one dollar coin was issued by the Straits Settlement government based in Malaya.

He spent an entire chapter on describing Brunei women. Though his too honest descriptions of the women would have made him very unpopular with the women had they known about the descriptions. But it gave us a good insight of social life as it was then.

Towards the end of the book, Blundell assisted McArthur when he came to make a report on Brunei. That report on Brunei in 1904 proved to be a life saver for Brunei. He reported that Brunei was a proud nation despite its diminishing size and that should be protected from Rajah Brooke. It was McArthur’s report that led to the arrival of the British Resident in Brunei to ‘advise’ the Sultan.

Blundell was a visionary. He foretold the existence of many bureaucrats with the coming of the modern government brought by the British Resident.

The book is indeed fascinating. Gallop described it “as a quirky and intensely personal ‘orang putih’ account of Brunei” but despite the quirkiness and the personal statement, the book provided the one and only account of Brunei as it was at then and without it, we would never know about what happened to our own Brunei people more than a hundred years ago.

At its height, the company produced some 3,000 tonnes per year and employed more than 1,000 Bruneians. The cutch factory closed down in 1938. By then, all the mangrove barks were obtained from North Borneo. The company concentrated on its new factory in Rajang and thus ended Brunei’s export of cutch.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brunei 1989 Paper Money

Yesterday I was talking about the Begawan money. Today I am talking about more money but more recent ones. My sister-in-law's husband (my biras) called me up the other day and said that he had discovered an old piggy box where he has been stashing his coins and dollar notes and he found about 15 pieces of the above and 1 piece of a $5 note. He asked me whether I wanted them. Of course, I told him. I asked him whether he got other tabungs that he could look through.

The notes were all used and the valuation would not be very high. About the best one is the one above. The worst has even its corner missing. But give or take another 20 years, even that missing corner note would be worth a fortune. A brand new uncirculated note is currently worth around US$5 but I noticed the prices have been rising. About two years ago, I could still get this for around US$3 but I don't see this price anymore.

The interesting bit is that this paper note first introduced in 1989 and was even reprinted until 1995. These notes are still in circulation albeit in very small numbers. It was in 1996 before the polymer notes were printed to replace this paper note. I bought the $10 note of this series in Singapore for $20 last January. I was given an almost brand new $5 note change by a video store in Yayasan sometime last year.

So every now and then I would come across this paper notes. If you happen to see this note, I would suggest keep it. Otherwise in the future you will not be able to see it anymore unless you are willing to buy one from a money dealer. I was told that there is an interesting story about this paper note series especially the $50 and $100 notes. It seemed that the $50 and $100 notes were very popular with the folks who printed their own unauthorised versions and the $50 and $100 notes were therefore replaced with newer $50 and $100 designs by the authorities. So the $50 and $100 notes are rather difficult to find. And that is also why the entire 1989 series are now replaced with the polymer series.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Begawan Money $50

Yesterday, I managed to get two of the above notes. The Begawan Series or the 1967 Brunei First Modern Series is still a favourite among collectors. Issued in 1967, it marked the first time that Brunei issued its own currency by its own Currency Board. Prior to that, Brunei currency notes were issued by the Straits Settlements Government and the Malaya-Borneo Board of Currencies.

The $50 Begawan Series are rarely available in the numismatic shops. In Kuala Lumpur, an uncirculated note is being sold for around MYR800 and in Singapore for around S$400 and on eBay for around US$300. A used note depending on the condition would be slightly cheaper but not that much cheaper if it is very fine or very good.

I chanced upon these notes accidentally. One of our local food blogger recently emailed me telling me that she has recently came into possession of these notes. She asked whether she should deposit it into a bank. Anyway, I gave some pointers including the value of the notes and asked if she is selling some of the notes, can I also buy them. That was how I managed to acquire two of these notes to add to my collection.

So I would suggest for those of you who has older aunties etc who you think might be hoarding notes, to ask them nicely. They might think they are just sitting on notes worth the face value but not realising the value of those notes have indeed risen beyond their expectation.

One of my colleagues at the office was telling me this story when he asked one of his aunties. His auntie told him that she had plenty of paper notes but has deposited them in the local bank. She said that why don't they all go to the bank and take the notes out again. My friend laughed and told her that the bank will surely give back the amount of money she put in but she will never see the same paper notes that she had deposited in the bank. She certainly missed out on the increased valuation of those notes. Well, tell your auntie this story and tell me if you have any Brunei paper notes for sale.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Modern Conveniences

Do you know what this guy does for a living?

He does not know do it anymore. His trade died out in the 1960s. But when he was doing his trade, he did not have much competition or any competition. Nobody else wanted his job. But if he did not do his job, the whole Brunei Town would suffer. That's how important his job was.

I was quite surprised to see this photograph sometime last year during an exhibition on World Water Day organised by our Public Works Department. When I was compiling volume 2 of my book, there was an article about the subject matter and I remembered this particular photograph and asked the Water Department whether I could have a copy of this photo to go with my book. Yesterday I received this photograph and a few others.

So, what did he do for a living?

He collected human wastes from toilets. Prior to the 1960s, toilets in the town were mostly bucket toilets. Toilets would be built on raised platform with a bucket underneath it. Someone unfortunately has to go round emptying these buckets. This is the guy who has to do it.

One of my good friends who read this, sent his comments via sms which I reproduced here, "... people called him Si Tok Seng. May be that was his name or mean something else. He used to pick up the thing from houses around SOAS at 5 pm at the time we finished sekolah ugama. He had a tanker. We had to pass the tanker on the way home, the smell was terrible. We used to tease and make fun of him. When he got angry he dipped a brush in his bucket and splashed it at us. We would run like hell to avoid droplets of the bucket content falling on us dirtying our pakaian. Sometimes we got caught had hell to explain at home ..."

According to my minister, the wastes were thrown into the river. At the Rangas Bridge (that's the small old bridge which you can still see on the left hand side by the Edinburgh Bridge when you are heading into BSB) there used to be a copper tube. The copper tube leads directly into the river. So kids who don't know the purpose of the tube used to shout into it.

By 1968, the PWD has installed a sewer line and all the toilets in town were finally connected to the sewer line. And his job finally disappeared.

There are many modern conveniences which the government has built over the years which we take for granted. Sometimes we forget that not long ago, life was not as easy as today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why can't we have a specialist phlebotomist?

By the time you read this, both my left and my right arms would be like bruised pincushion. I have to undergo the 'ambil darah' procedure.

No disrespect to the nurses or the medical staff doing the procedures but apparently I am born with a delicate very deep vein which no one can find in one go. This bruised pincushion is something I undergo everytime I go to either our general hospital or the private hospital. I am the only one I think who had been passed to all the 'ambil darah' staff at the hospital as each one tries their luck at finding that vein. There was one time I had all of them and then I got sent down to the lab for the lab technician there to try his luck. At first I thought it was our general hospital staff who I thought are inexperienced but for the last few years when I go to the private hospital, it was a similar problem. Since then, I have learned to live with this problem.

So I do envy people with nice big vein where the nurses can find that vein in one poke. Me? My blood has been taken from everywhere they can get blood, from my fingers (using the so called bl**dy painful butterfly technique) or from the normal place where everyone gets their blood taken that is assuming they can find it.

There used to be one medical staff at RIPAS who has now retired who could take my blood sample without much problem. I can't remember his name but it was Haji Salim I think. I am really wondering when he can do it why can't anyone by now acquire such skill. I would gladly pay to have him undertake my blood sample.

But I also remember the one time I had to have my blood sample taken in Singapore by a young but trained specialist phlebotomist, she had no problem. She told me that phlebotomists should have the uncanny ability to find a vein hidden beneath the skin, introduce a needle into the vein, and extract blood with little or no discomfort to the patient. So I am guessing that such skill can still be acquired. I am really hoping that one day, in Brunei, we would have that specialist phlebotomist.

In the meantime, today at that private hospital, I am going to sit in that chair for at least 30 minutes while the two nurses and their supervisor apologising all the time go from left arm to right arm to left fingers to right fingers in the hope of finding that elusive vein.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Who is a Pebalat?

I guess many have read that the Eskimo had many words for snow. The idea is that the language we speak both affected and reflected our own views of the world and since the Eskimos lived in a snowy world, they should have more words for snow.

Though there is some argument how many words the Eskimos actually have for snow. In a popular 1940 article on the subject, the writer referred to Eskimo languages having seven distinct words for snow. Later writers inflated the figure: by 1978, the number quoted had reached 50, and on February 9, 1984, an editorial in The New York Times gave the number as one hundred.

I have not studied neither do I have the time to do it - I would love to know how many Brunei words are there for fishing. Bruneians until the early 20th century were fishermen and seafarers. We used to have many fishing and sailing traditions but they seemed to have disappeared completely. Perhaps someone from the Brunei Studies Academy can look into this.

Why do I ask? Last Friday, I was in a bit of a panic. I was trying to complete my article for Sunday's BT. Normally I submit my article by Friday and the latest by early Saturday morning so that it allows BT's editorial board to go through the article and get it ready for printing by Saturday evening. My article was about Burong Pingai which is the kampong in Kampong Ayer and also in Perpindahan Berakas. The origin of the kampong was a bird whose sound was Pingai. The bird belonged to a Johor Princess who became the wife of Brunei's first Sultan, Sultan Muhammad Shah. The bird actually landed on a balat and a pebalat caught it before bringing it to the palace.

What is a Balat? Who is a Pebalat?

I have read about this somewhere but on that Friday morning, I just could not get my brain word recognition software to work. So I sent out a whole bunch of sms and all my friends responded and I got more than I need. A balat is a fish catching instrument. It is actually long strips of bamboo woven together to form a catchment. So the pebalat (the fishcatcher) would place it somewhere in the river and wait for the fish to swim in and he would then scoop the fish out of the catchment. The bigger version of the balat would be the lintau and the kilong. The latter two are big and permanent whereas the balat is mobile and can be taken anywhere.

To make a balat, it would have to be woven or dijalin. Hence Sungai Menjalin gets its name because that is the place where the balats were woven together or dijalin together.

There is a whole bunch of Brunei vocabulary out there waiting to be discovered.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ambassador to Brunei

Last week Dilbert had a short series about the 'temp'. In today's corporate America where there are lots of unemployment, many people find jobs by 'temping' which is to work for companies temporarily while hoping to find full time employment.

Scott Adams, the founder of Dilbert, last week had a short series of these 'temps'. Dilbert's boss' secretary went away for a short holiday and the temps came in. The first cartoon about the temps was this particular one about a former Ambassador to Brunei. I know Adams wanted to emphasise the point about the temp being overly qualified by being an Ambassador but I am quite surprised to see Brunei being mentioned. He normally used a county called Albonia or something similar.

I remembered my time in USA. The travel agents I spoke to either did not know Brunei at all or if they knew it, they had no idea where it is. In the end I chose a travel agent which had an Asian staff as she was about the only one who knew where Brunei was. So I am presuming that Scott Adams knew not a lot of Americans would be even aware that Brunei was a country when he drew this cartoon.

Anyway, you can comment on this particular cartoon via this link here. There is already someone in Brunei making his comments there.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The World According to Stercus Accidit

One of my friends keeps a blog entitled 'the world according to stercus accidit'. I won't put up the link just yet until he says okay. It took me quite a while but the other night I was wondering to myself what 'stercus accidit' was. You see, I took up Latin as a supplementary subsidiary subject when I did my Law and Economics degree. When you study law, knowing Latin is quite useful as many Latin phrases abound in law.

For instance, 'ignorantia legatia non exusat' which literally means ignorance of the law is no excuse. In criminal law, we had 'mens rea' (literally guilty minds) and 'actus reus' (literally guilty act). So for a crime to have taken place, the two must exist - mens rea and actus reus. There was a famous saying by a 16th century judge, Sir Edward Coke who said 'actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea' which means "an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty"; hence, both actus reus and mens rea must exist. This is why insanity etc is a defence because by being insane, you do not have mens rea, no guilty mind.

Since I have already fulfilled the subsidiary requirements, I took up Latin more as a fun thing during my university days. I learnt more than I wanted to know. My tutor at that time was a blind man. So a group of us would wait in his office somewhere in the basement of Keele Hall until he comes. He would ask someone to switch on the light but he does not the need light himself. I got a grand total of 14 marks for my exam and he asked me to take a re-sit. I did but I should have studied a bit which I didn't. The re-sit exam was easy had I been a Bible reader which obviously I am not. The first question was a translation of the beginning of the bible which says something along the line of 'let there be light' etc. If I had been able to quote the whole paragraph even without knowing Latin, I would have passed. Anyway, despite that, I double my marks to 28 but still failed miserably.

One of my alma mater, Harvard University has 'Veritas' as its motto which means 'truth'. What many people did not know is that the early motto was longer. Harvard was founded in 1638 but its origin was to train puritan ministers. So many of its early graduates became clergymen in puritan churches. The early motto was actually 'Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae" which means "Truth for Christ and the Church." But today only 'veritas' remains which means 'truth'.

Anyway, knowing a bit of Latin helps as many words in English was originally Latin and it becomes quite easy even with difficult words, I would know instinctively what it is just by knowing what the 'root' word was. And knowing Latin can help you with many things like curse in Latin and nobody would know it other than Latin speakers. And this is what my friend did.

So back to my friend's blog. What does 'stercus accidit' means? Hahaha, it means .... .... .... .... drum roll .... .... .... .... believe it or not - 'shit happens'. 'Stercus' is the Latin word for dung or feces or shit if you want to be vulgar. 'Accidit' means 'fall on' or 'befall, happened'. So add the two, it becomes 'shit happens'. Kas, after all this while, I just realised what an interesting name your website is!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CLEX 2009

Her Royal Highness Princess Majeedah officially launched CLEX 2009, the Expo on Construction and Life Expo and Conference, last Thursday at the Plenary Hall of the ICC.

If you are like going "uhhhh?", CLEX 2009 is Brunei's largest showcase for the construction and lifestyle related industries under one roof. The Expo featured both local and international exhibitors. There are many things for you to see at the expo and special offers too. If you have not been, come. You have until tomorrow.





Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm Yours

Over the last few months, I have heard this song with this opening lyrics:-

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks, now I'm trying to get back

Before the cool done run out I'll be giving it my bestest
And nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it's again my turn to win some or learn some

But I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

(Chorus)
Oh, I'm yours
Oh, I'm yours
Oh, whoa, baby you believe I'm yours
You best believe, best believe I'm yours

You probably know what this song is and even the singer but you know, I have been trying like crazy to find out who the singer was. You can tell that I am not a music expert or listen much to the hits of today. But I liked this particular song and everytime I heard it either on radio or even been played in the shopping centres, I tried and wait for the announcer or the DJ to tell me who the singer was and what was this song called. For some reason, either the announcement came before the song or there was no announcement at all. I tried asking people but then I am not a singer and whoever it was that I asked will look at me blankly.

Yesterday morning, I heard it on tv and I rushed out and sat down and listen and watch the entire video and finally at the end of the video, it had the name of the singer - Jason Mraz and the name of the song - I'm Yours. I am ever so relieved. At last I know who this is and what the song is. Now, I can find the CD and upload it to my son's iPod.

It's very frustrating not to know something. When I checked up the singer and the song, I should have not been surprised to read about something which probably 99.9% of the world had known that this song was a huge international success.

Where am I going with this entry? I guess nowhere. Just to remind us all that in our haste to do our day to day life, there are many things out there which we will never know.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Family

I have always watched Yasmin Ahmad's short clips for Petronas especially during Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. She has a unique talent in turning 3 minutes into something really meaningful. Yesterday I read about her doing a clip for Singapore's Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports about the family. I had to see it for myself. In fact I found two videos. The first one is about a story between a daughter and her father. The other is about the love of a wife, interestingly enough the setting was a funeral. The second one is very moving. I hope these videos can remind us of our own families, the love of our families going through the good and bad times.





Just in case you can't see the video, you can watch it yourself directly on youtube. The link is here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our Future Port

I was searching for something in my office when I came across this. This picture of Muara Port came from a BEDB presentation about the Pulau Muara Besar project (PMB is that island opposite the Port). For some reason when I saw the photo of the port, it really reminded me of my time when I was a Ports Officer. Many many years ago, my then Permanent Secretary had a policy that whenever a Division II or I officer goes on leave from one of the departments under the Ministry of Communications, he would try to put one of the Ministry's officers acting in that department. So during my stint at MOC, I ended up working for a few weeks at various departments and one of them was as a Ports Officer at the Ports Department.

In the late 1980s, our Ports were starting to have competition from various ports around the region, there is Miri Port, Baram Port or Port Baram if you want to save yourself some embarrasment by saying the wrong thing. Ports competitiveness is the services and the prices that they charge for their services. Cheap enough charges, even Brunei companies would import through Miri and move their goods inland via trucks. Our port unfortunately have a hard time against these other ports.

The Pulau Muara Besar project was a project which had been long in the pipeworks. The PMB is supposed to be a saviour. Bring our port's competitiveness to a higher level and provide all sorts of services. Even by the time when I was working at the Economic Council Secretariat in 2000, the project must have been at least 10 years by then. There was a book produced about Brunei by Cable and Evans for the APEC in 1999 and even that book had photos of what PMB was supposed to look like.

Anyway, BEDB last year launched the PMB Project which you can read for yourself from BEDB's website here. In a nutshell, (copied from the website) the BEDB has appointed International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) from the Philippines as the port operator for the container port to be developed at PMB. ICTSI is a major international port operator with market capitalization of USD 1.5 billion and with operations in 11 countries including China, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Brazil and Philippines.

The BEDB has also appointed a consortium led by Surbana from Singapore to develop an integrated master plan for PMB. The Surbana led consortium has 40 years experience in planning, designing, developing and managing infrastructure projects in 41 cities in 20 countries including Suzhou Industrial Park in China and King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia. The BEDB is reviewing a number of investment proposals for PMB including a proposal from Alcoa from the USA to develop a USD 1.8 billion Aluminum Smelter at PMB.

One of the problems that Brunei has is that our Port's water is not as deep as it can be. I was told that today's Super Container Ship barely has clearance to come to Brunei Port. So there is a need for the channel to be deepened. What is also not said but widely known is that the current port is already sharing areas with many other services including the navy, police and other industries. So the PMB is needed if we do want to expand our port's services.

Under the PMB project, the existing channel will be deepened and the dredged sand will be used to enlarge Pulau Muara Besar. The new port at PMB will be developed in phases, with the first phase creating a straight line quay of 660m. And a bridge will also be built to link PMB Island to the mainland. Over time, many facilities are expected to be built on the island. The PMB will take time to develope. According to the mastersheet that was given to me, it will be October this year when the master plan options are completed and it will be June next year before the invitation to tender will be opened for bidding. So it will be quite sometime yet before we can see this future PMB:-

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The 'lost' camera

They found my camera! I got an SMS yesterday and hopefully when someone comes up from Ulu-Ulu sometime today, the camera will come along as well. The strange thing was that the camera was found at a place where I never did go on Sunday. So either someone found it and brought it there or it 'moved' by itself or 'assisted' by someone or something, that's what some of my officers were telling me yesterday. Me? I have had my fair share of the supernatural. I wrote about my experience two years ago which you can still read here.

The question is - is there something there? I personally believe that there is another dimension which we humans cannot see. But there are times when they cross over. Going deep into the jungle such as Ulu-Ulu probably increases the chances of 'crossing over' activities. Let me tell you a couple of stories which we accumulated over our stay and I leave it up to you to believe or not to believe. I cannot vouch for the truth other than it does make interesting reading. Anyway I have no intention of scaring you of going to Ulu-Ulu, so don't read further if you don't want to. You have been warned.

On the first night, one of our fairer officers told us that she had to move her bed closer to her room mate. She said that her bed was shaken in the middle of the night. Another reported that she felt very cold air on her feet. But other than these two, I did not hear anyone else felt anything or seen anything. There was a whole bunch of people going out at night for a night nature trail and they experienced nothing out of the ordinary.

Our DPS told us a story about a couple of Imams who were invited to 'remove' something. They reported that the 'people' talked to them and assured them that they will not and do not 'disturb' humans who came over to stay. But they said that their children are sometimes playful and they might occasionally play pranks on the humans.

One interesting story I heard was from my boss who went there when he was still a senior officer. He went there with his minister. He was out swimming in the river and did not realise something happened to his minister. Apparently his minister were having tea with some of his officers and all of a sudden the whole place went quiet. You know how it is, you have this conversation and then everybody went quiet all of a sudden and people say ada malaikat melintas or something. Anyway, there was an Ustaz with the group and he was definitely staring at something. Suddenly everyone started talking again. According to that ustaz, someone extremely tall came over to where they were sitting and then he went away.

Not that scary. Believe whatever you want. I hope you enjoyed the stories.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ulu-Ulu Resort

The last three days have been interesting for our Strategic Planning, Public Speaking and Team Building session at the Ulu-Ulu Resort in Temburong. I was going to write about it with lots and lots of photographs but unfortunately my camera did not make the trip back. I have no idea where it is. So if there is anyone out there who saw my Olympus, please let me know. In the meantime, if you want to know more about Ulu-Ulu Resort, please go to Ulu-Ulu Resort at this website.

If you do want to go there, make sure that you love water, plenty of water as a lot of what you will see is lots and lots of water and rapids, the temuai ride and lots of sweat as if your sweat glands are on steroids. It is very very humid out there.

Other than the actual public speaking session on Friday night and the strategic planning session whole of Saturday, I did not do any of the activities at the resort as they are just way too strenuous for me - I can't climb to the tree tops to do the canopy walk or trek miles to see the Sungai Apan waterfalls. So I spent my Sunday morning editing my second book holed up in my room. For those who are interested in my first book, the book is entitled The Golden Warisan, it is already at the printers. It will hopefully be ready by next week to make its debut. Can't wait for it too.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Through Other People's Eyes

I am away to Ulu Temburong for the next 3 days and there will not be any telephone or internet connections for the next 3 days. I leave last Sunday's article in the Brunei Times on the history of Brunei through other people's eyes:-

+++++

BRUNEI’S recent history from the 18th century onwards is well documented. We can go to the British records and use those records. But as we go further into the past, historians have to rely on many sources. Some of them are not entirely accurate especially those that was passed down the generation or word of mouth or oral tradition. However, other sources are hard to find and not as easily available as one would have like. Brunei’s ancient history in most cases is written by somebody else.

Luckily for anyone interested in the Brunei history, compilation of all known materials relating to one source have been done. Two of the most widely available are the “European Sources for The History of The Sultanate of Brunei in the Sixteenth Century” edited by Robert Nicholl and published by Brunei Museums and the other is “The Collection of Historical Documents Related to Bilateral Relation between China and Brunei Darussalam” edited by Liu Xinshe and published by World Affairs Press of China.

The latter was published and launched fairly recently (2006) but the former was first published in 1975 and reprinted relatively recently in 1990. However taken together, from both volumes, we can actually piece Brunei’s history right from ancient times to the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Chinese book recorded the long relationship that Brunei has with China. The bilingual book kept the actual texts of those written records. The earliest records suggested that China and Brunei had friendly relationship going back as far as 2,000 years ago.

According to the records of Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 23 AD), commodity trade relations existed between Brunei and China. It was in 669 AD in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) that official exchanges between the governments of both countries existed.

Brunei described as ‘Poli’ was some 50 days travel from China. Brunei exports among others were gambello (camphor) and produced two rice crops per year. The King’s family name was Kaundinya. The King said that Prince Suddhodana’s wife was a native of his country. It is said that Prince Suddhodana was the father of Sakyamuni or Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

Another book of the Tang Dynasty noted that the Poli King is surnamed Shaliyejia and Hulannapo is his first name. His first rank officials are called Duhexiena and the second rank officials are called Duhehiqie. The Brunei customs are comparable to Chenla (Cambodia).

With the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), official and non-governmental commercial and cultural exchanges became more frequent and with the development of navigation, exchanges of envoys started.

During the Ming Dynasty, Brunei was listed a country among those countries exempted from China’s military actions. In August 1370, high-ranking official Zhang Jingzhi visited Brunei.

It was in November 1405 when the King of Brunei, Maharaja Karna (Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan) sent people to pay tribute to China. Brunei around that time had just thrown off being under the Majapahit rule.

It was in 1408, when the Sultan decided to visit China for himself together with a delegation of 150 people including his wife, brothers, sons and accompanying officials. Unfortunately he died and he was buried in Nanjing. His burial site is now one of Nanjing’s parks and is well looked after.

Brunei continued to send tributes to China in 1412, 1415 and1421. The tributes continued until 1530.

In the sixteenth century, the rise of the western powers in the region affected the Brunei-China relationship as both became preoccupied with these new powers.

The story of Brunei’s history can be picked up in the other book written by Robert Nicholl. The texts during that period were not in English but entries from Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch sources. However they are presented in English translations in the book.

One entry dated 1505 by Ludovico Varthema of Bologna, an Italian who arrived at the island of Bornei described that justice is well administered in the country. The Portuguese too made contact with the Brunei people. In one letter from Rui de Brito Patalim, Captain-General of Malacca to King Manuel I, described three ships from Brunei arriving in Malacca bringing seed, pearls and provisions. The Brunei traders were said to be ‘good people and clever merchants’.

In 1514, Jorge Alvares, a Portuguese reported that the King of Brunei had sent presents to the King of Portugal made of three cates (kati), seventeen taes (tahil) and one half of good camphor and three arrobas (23 pounds) of wax.

In 1521, it was Antonio Pigafetta, another Italian, who arrived with the Magellan Expedition described Brunei. It was his description that many historians quoted quite extensively. His description is very comprehensive and covered many areas including the first description the city entirely built in salt water.

Brunei forces apparently fought in other places and not just in Brunei. In one battle, when the Achinese fought against the King of Aru (in Sumatra), one Portuguese writer described that among the fighting men were 2,000 men including Turks, Abyssinians, Malabaris, Gujeratis and Lucoes (Bruneians). Bruneians also feature in the war between the Emperor of Java and King of Passarvao (Pasaruan) where they formed the ninety lancharas.

The Sultan of Brunei was also said to own parts of the Moluccas Islands. One text stated that in many parts they are owned by the King of Borneo.

There are many documents involving the Spanish. The Spanish were in Manila at that time and they were trying to stop the Bruneians from preaching Islam to the outlying Philippines islands. The attack on Brunei generated many reports and documents as well as letters.

Brunei was also involved in the attack on Manila in 1572 but was unable to reach Manila because of severe storms. But despite that the Spanish recorded that the Moros (Muslims) of Manila was instigated by Borneans, took occasion to revolt at this time (1574).

The Spanish however attacked Brunei in 1578 and occupied the city in April 1578. The Spanish were driven out later.

It was not until 1599 that the Spanish sought to have peace between Brunei and Manila.

The Dutch too arrived in Brunei at the end of the 1600. Admiral Olivier Van Noort arrived in Brunei.

In the 17th century, more visits were described by the various western powers including visits by princes of Borneu to Malacca. Other documents described Brunei colonizing Luzon as well as tales of missionary activities in north Borneo before finally describing that the Brunei had sent an envoy to Manila in 1684.

These two books more or less described many of the important information that a historian could look at. Their descriptions about Brunei are quite vivid that we can tell what Brunei look like in the ancient times up to the 17th century.

+++++

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What is the Sustainability Fund?

During the opening of the recent Legislative Council, His Majesty announced the formation of the Sustainability Fund. I have been asked a number of times what it is. I was still in MOF when the project started and the concept took quite a while to gel and after that the legal part took quite sometime as well because it affects the Constitution.

Since there is still some interest, I thought I will spend a bit of time writing about it. But if you don't want to read my entry, you can actually read the law for yourself as it is now on pdf from AG Chamber's website. To make life easy for you, here is the LINK.

If you read from the Sustainability Fund Order, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is required to ensure the sustainability of the government finances and clearly identifies the financing required for government spending as non-oil and oil revenues. The main function of the fund will be to function as collection accounting and channelling funds to 3 trust sub-funds where it can be withdrawn and applied solely for the purpose of funding one or more of the trust funds.

The 3 trust sub-funds are (i) the Fiscal Stabilisation Reserve Funds (FSR Funds), (ii) the Retirement Funds (RF) and (iii) the Strategic Development Funds (SDF).

The FSR is the most important as this is the fund which will fund the government finances should there be any shortfall in government's revenues. Without the FSR, in the past, for any shortfall of revenues, the government has to liquidate investments kept at BIA.

The RF is to fund liabilities caused by paying benefits on pensions, allowances and also to cover contributions by the government under the Employees Trust Funds (TAP) and any pension schemes introduced by the government. Currently the government pays out of all these payments out of the general expenditure. This RP will ensure that these payments will be self funding out of the investments of the fund.

The SDF is to is to provide risk capital for strategic local development which contributes to economic growth and diversification of government revenue.

In the speech, His Majesty mentioned that the fund is the accrued surpluses in our oil and gas revenue during the price upsurge over the last few years and the Sustainability Fund was created to handle the surpluses. So with the expected shortfall in the oil revenue with the lower oil prices and the current economic crisis, this Fund will be able to come to the rescue.

The Government Gazette Part II No.20 dated 26th March 2008 not only gazetted the Sustainability Fund Order but also gazetted several other notifications namely the amendments to the Pensions Act and the Old Age and Disability Pensions Act (the funding of these pensions is now out of the Retirement Fund instead of general government revenues) and also the amount of money that goes into the Sustainability Fund which is $9,445,886,491.96 (approximately $9.4 billion). You can get the Gazette from the Attorney General's Chamber or the Printing Department for $5.

So in terms of sustainability of the government finances for the future generation, we have the long term investments kept at BIA and now the shorter term Sustainability Fund. And with the recent signing of the Brunei-Malaysia boundary issue, we will at last have access to the oil and gas in the deep waters and hopefully with revenues from there, plus all the funds, it certainly augurs well for the country of Brunei Darussalam. Alhamdulillah...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Buku Adat Istiadat

Yesterday was the launch of this book by HRH The Crown Prince. This book has been in the making since 1958 reading the write up in the program book yesterday. I wanted to show the contents of the book but unfortunately I don't have the time to show them.

Basically the book is full of things that you may want to know all there is about the Adat Istiadat of Brunei including where you should be sitting, what flag you should be waving etc. It is a massive document just by looking at it but the wealth of information inside it is immense. I am not sure where the books will be sold but for yesterday and today, the book is available at the ICC for a cost of $40 each. You get a nice bag as well as a VCD when you get the book.

You also get the chance to be in a lucky draw. For every single book that you buy, you can get a ticket. The lucky draw prize I have been told is an umrah ticket. Most of us filled in the lucky draw ticket yesterday including my colleagues here.

At the same time, if you drop in to the ICC today, you can see for yourself a mini exhibition about the Adat Istiadat of Brunei. Most of these exhibits, you can actually see them at the Royal Regalia Building but the ones being exhibited here are up to date.

And you can also see videos as well. The ones I saw yesterday was the Royal Wedding of the Crown Prince of 2004 and also the Coronation of His Majesty in 1968.

Inspirational Quotes

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