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Showing posts from June, 2009

Brunei Stamp $5 Japanese Occupation 1942

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Yesterday I mentioned one of the 4 Brunei stamps which I don't own and by the looks of it can never afford to own. The other Brunei stamp which I don't own include this Brunei $5 stamp overprinted during the Japanese Occupation.

This stamp is very rare and only appears every now and then. But whenever it comes it, the price tag is scary. This one is currently out on ebay at the starting price of US$1,199.95. I don't know how much this one is worth by the end of the auction. The catalogue value of this stamp is around B$4,000, so technically speaking anything less than US$2,700 is a bargain. Anyway as yesterday's I will just enjoy the graphic.

Brunei 6 cents stamp 1942

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There are 4 stamps of Brunei which I have not owned. I owned every single stamp which has appeared in Brunei since 1895 with the exception of 4 stamps. The above is one of them.

The highest value stamps of Brunei are all during the Japanese occupation of Brunei. When the Japanese arrived in Brunei, they took over all the left over stamps and overprinted them. Some of the overprints were on stamps which were not many in quantity and hence the scarcity of the stamps.

This particular 6 cents stamp is quite rare. At the moment it is being auctioned on ebay with a starting price of US$729.25. I would like to own it but I am not at the moment in the mood of paying a $1000 for this stamp by the end of the acution. So I will just enjoy this graphic.

Sungai Kianggeh 1960s

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With this postcard, we have left Jalan Chevalier. We are now on Sungai Kianggeh. But we can still see Brunei Hotel in the center of the postcard which marked the beginning of Jalan Chevalier. That landmark hotel is still visible as a modern hotel now in Brunei's capital city.

In this postcard, Sungai Kianggeh and Jalan Kianggeh has yet to be modernised. There is no grand footpath of today neither is there any sign of the tamu yet.

Jalan Chevalier 1960s

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This is another of the old postcards which I recently acquired. This one is of Jalan Chevalier which is now renamed Jalan Pemancha. This actually is an extension of yesterday's postcard.

If you look closely, you can still see the two buildings which I mentioned yesterday but now they are towards the horizon. What you can is see now on the extreme left is the Brunei Hotel. Though the building is not as nice as it is now. But the famous Rex Bookstore is still there.

This small bookshop I remembered very well. When I was around 10 years old, I was caught by the Enid Blyton bug. This author writes many short novels about children like The Secret Seven or The Famous Five. Whenever my mum brings me here, I would buy like five to ten books, or whatever number of books I could get away with. The thing was there was no toy store when I was small. So I guess my parents allowed me to buy books as I did not remember buying any toys. So this postcard brings lots of memories flooding back to me.

Jalan Pemancha 1960s

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I was going to continue my series on old Brunei money but yesterday the postman delivered a few surprises. It was a bunch of postcards which I bought a couple of weeks earlier of Brunei in the 1960s and 1970s.

This particular one is a little bit unrecognisable to our young Bruneians. This is Jalan Pemancha in the 1960s. It was not until the 1970s that this sight began changing. The building on the extreme left now housed the Coffee something bean shop and that building has converted from a two storey shophouse to a five storey building.

That colourful building in the middle or the one with the colourful wall design is the Boon Pang cinema. This is the second cinema built on that spot. The earlier one was built slightly further to the right. Of course that cinema is now gone and on it is now the current BIBD building.

The Forbidden Track

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Yesterday was the scariest ride I have ever been on in my life in Brunei. We were accompanying our Acting Minister to visit two works currently being undertaken by the Public Works Department for the Forestry Department which was to build a helipad and a suspended bridge and for the Youth and Sports Department which was to repair the Outward Bound facilities, both at Belalong.

Normally one will use a temuai, which is the very shallow perahu to get there. The temuai is scary enough as the boat sits very close hugging the river. There is not much room between you and the water and if everyone decided to turn to the right or to the left at the same time, you know the consequences. Cold water.

Anyway, in order to bring in the equipment to do the heavywork, the contractor had two options. One is to fly everything in which is expensive and not so easy to do given the narrowness of the river and the place to land everything. The other option is to bring everything overland. This is what he did…

Brunei $1 1935

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In 1935, King George V was in reign. In fact in 1935, King George celebrated his Silver Jubilee. He was crowned King in 1910 when his father King Edward VII died.

This is the first Straits Settlement dollar which had the portrait of the King. Since the money was used throughout the Straits Settlements, it was also used in Brunei as part of the 1906 law. The most interesting thing about this $1 note is the colour. It is blue. It is from this colour that the blue $1 for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei was derived from. Our $1 blue was derived from a 1935 decision by the Straits Settlement government.

Brunei $1 1925

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People sometimes ask me whether I can do the old money series. I said why not? So, this week is the week beginning with the money that was used in Brunei after the First World War.

Brunei by 1906 stopped producing its own money. It relied extensively on the Straits Settlement Dollar which was issued through the SS Office in Singapore. So if you were living in Brunei then, and if you rich enough, then you will come across this $1 note. Mind you this $1 note was worth a lot then. Bruneians were still using 1/4 cent coins. So $1 must have been equivalent to a month wage to labourer.

Yayyyyyyyyyyy!

We don't often win much in football but not this time around. From Channelnewsasia.com:-

Football: Bruneians become first foreign side to win silverware in S'pore
By A S Dwight, TODAY | Posted: 20 June 2009 0630 hrs

SINGAPORE : DPMM made history on Friday night, becoming the first foreign club to win silverware in Singapore football when they beat SAFFC 4-3 on penalties in the 2009 League Cup Final in front of 5,320 fans at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Brunei club's feat is even more remarkable considering this is only their first year in the S-League.

SAFFC, Singapore's most successful club with seven league titles in 13 seasons, took the lead in the sixth minute through captain Aleksandar Duric, who headed in an inch-perfect cross from Hafiz Osman.

Determined DPMM didn't let their heads drop and they stunned the Warriors just three minutes later when Croatian defender Rene Komar scored arguably the goal of the tournament.

Receiving the ball on the halfway line, Komar j…

eXpensive Wedding!

I was intrigued to read of one letter to Brudirect on the cost of a wedding. The letter was written by a friend of a clerk who is getting married. His friend was worried that his parents wanted a normal wedding, all he wanted was a simple nikah ceremony. He could not afford the wedding as he is already paying for a car loan plus other loans.

This one is certainly a dilemma. My sister just got married recently, My better half and I decided to work out how much a wedding like that would have cost us if our son was to get married (hopefully not soon as I realised just how much you need to save up).

This is not complete nor accurate, I am just typing this off the top of my head. The ceremonies and estimate cost from the day you start to merisik to the muleh tiga hari:-

Merisik : $200 for the buka mulut ring. No cost for the ceremony as it is mostly between parents.

Bersuruh : $200 for the ring, if there is cincin tunang. About $200 for the ceremony as normally a medium size group would have g…

US Report on Human Trafficking in Brunei

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On June 16th, USA's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the annual publication of Trafficking in Persons Report. The U.S. Department of State is required by law to submit each year to the Congress a report on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. The report, the most comprehensive of its kind, this year assesses 175 countries. Countries are assigned ranks, based on standards set by the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). Here is what the USA report says about Brunei:-

Brunei is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Brunei is mainly a destination country for men and women recruited from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Thailand for domestic or low-skilled labor. A limited number of the 88,000 foreign workers in Brunei face poor labor conditions th…

Graying Hair

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The other day, while waiting for my turn to speak in a meeting, I was looking round the room to my colleagues. Although most are on average about 45 above, I realised that most are showing graying hair or in our language memutih. At this age, not surprising really.

Then I came across this article on psychocentral about graying hair. According to this article, graying hair is not showing signs of age. It is showing signs of stress. According to the article, researchers have discovered that the kind of “genotoxic stress” that does damage to DNA depletes the melanocyte stem cells (MSCs) within hair follicles that are responsible for making those pigment-producing cells. Rather than dying off, when the going gets tough, those precious stem cells differentiate, forming fully mature melanocytes themselves. Anything that can limit the stress might stop the graying from happening, the researchers said.

Wah.... I guess if are showing signs of grey hair, you know what to do. Stop worrying or str…

The IMF Report

My apologies for the regular readers for not posting anything lately. My sister got married over the weekend and as you know there were many functions which our family had to tend to and hence the lack of postings.

My colleague at MOF informed me that the International Monetary Fund had posted a PIN (Public Information Notice) about the recent Article IV consultation with Brunei. As a member of the IMF, the IMF will send a team to every member country to assess the soundness of the economy. The IMF called it the Article IV consultation as it is under Article IV of the IMF Agreement. Consultation is the nicer word for it. What IMF does is ask for relevant documents, statistics etc as well as interviews. They have their own set of data which they prepared in Washington and checked those against what you give them. Anyway, their assessment of the Brunei economy in my own summary is:

The IMF Executive Directors commended the government for our sound macroeconomic policies and prudent manage…

Brunei's Anti Corruption Bureau

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I am looking through the Transparency International publication entitled the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer given to my by my colleague at Anti corruption Bureau. The report was recently highlighted in the local press about Brunei's position in the fight against corruption.

The interesting bit about this report is how the report was derived. For Brunei's case, 820 Bruneians were interviewed by phone. It was conducted by a Malaysian company called Merdeka Center. For statisticians, 820 is a significant number. Anything more than 30 and approaching about a 1,000 is always statistically significant and can be relied upon as long as the people chosen are chosen at random.

The interview was conducted between 20 to 25 February this year. The telephone interview is not uncommon. I looked through the entire list, there wee a few other countries which this method was used. Bosnia, Colombia, Greece, Israel, Malaysia (done by same company), Portugal, Spain and Thailand. Most others were …

Back to Business

My thanks to the espeed team yesterday. They came round for the second time, brought my new modem but unfortunately could not test it as it is not the modem but the line. Anyway, the espeed team contacted the line people and the line people came and fixed the line which apparently was broken. That got fixed and when I got home at 6, the modem and finally espeed worked. I was just wondering this would have been very wonderful almost eight weeks ago but I should not complain. I got my espeed. Thanks to Reeda for the intervention.

I am in a happy mood today and let me share with you one of the many things some of my friends have been sending me:-

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One day, while a woodcutter was cutting a branch of a tree above a river, his axe fell into the river. When he cried out, the Lord appeared and asked, "Why are you crying?"

The woodcutter replied that his axe has fallen into water, and he needed the axe to make his living.

The Lord went down into the water and reappeared with a golden…

Work Smarter

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Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant, and he got it.

The pay was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason,the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

"Congratulations," the boss said. "Go on that way!"

Very motivated for the boss' words, the woodcutter try harder the next day, but he only could bring 15 trees. The third day he try even harder, but he only could bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

"I must be losing my strength", the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

"When was the last time you sharpened your axe?" the boss asked.

"Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees."

Our lives are like that. We som…

British Coin in Brunei

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This is the British Trade Dollar coin. It is made out of pure silver and widely circulated in the region.

BUT, this is the most interesting 'but'. Did you know that this was also used in Brunei at the beginning of the 20th century? But did you know that it was banned in 1906 when the British Resident was first placed in Brunei? Did you also know that the Straits Settlement Government (the forerunner to today's Malaysia) also banned this coin even much earlier in 1903?

Interesting questions, right? Why in the world would the British Resident in Brunei banned this trade dollar coin isssued by the British? And for that matter why would the British government banned the coin from its colony at the Straits Settlements? This coin was minted by the British until 1937. So who was it that was using this coin if it was banned from Brunei and the Straits Settlements?

I wrote about this coin and many other foreign coins in Brunei in today's Brunei Times. Get the newspaper if you wan…

The Environment Day

Yesterday was Environment Day. The Friday sermon at the mosque yesterday was on environment, remember? Anyway, the Ministry is celebrating the World Environment Day today. What is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day (WED) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day's agenda is to:

1. Give a human face to environmental issues;
2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;
4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

The theme for WED 2009 is 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Comba…

e-speed? e-slow! e-notworking!

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When I first started blogging 4 years ago, I promised myself I will not use the freedom to write anything that I wouldn't have like to read myself - I will not rant. I broke that rule once when I was so angry with the espeed sometime in September 2006 when I posted this.

About six weeks ago, my once reliable espeed went on the blink. Nothing I would do would stop that blinking light on the modem. I left it for a couple of days thinking it would right itself which it has from time to time. After about a week nothing happened. I called up the espeed people and they came after about a week. They told me that they can't check the modem because the phone line is not working. So I asked whether I should complain about the phone line, they say they'll do it. That was the last I heard from TelBru. So I do hope that someone from TelBru is reading this as I am getting a little bit fed up of trying to call you guys. I don't want to write another post like this.

President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

I received an email this morning from Shova Thapa, Cultural Affairs/Press/Webmaster of the Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy in Brunei with the following content:-

On June 4, President Obama will travel to Egypt for a historic speech in which he will seek to strengthen U.S. relations with the Arab world and the larger Muslim world. President Obama chose Egypt as the venue for the long-promised speech because the country "in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

President Obama's speech will be an important part of his engagement with the Muslim world, which began in his inaugural and has continued through venues such as his interview with Al Arabiya, his Nowruz message, and his speech and town hall in Turkey.

The speech will outline his personal commitment to engagement, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. He will discuss how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge s…

How to be seen

I found these ten tips from employers to employees on how to avoid getting laid off on Businessweek. The tips are not all relevant to the many Bruneians who are civil servants but they do provide tips on how to improve ourselves and how to be 'seen' or be more visible.

1. Remember: It's Not About You Right Now

Force yourself to focus with laser accuracy on your company's success, not your own. In challenging times, the last thing your employer wants is to cater to you and your fears. They want you to be a selfless, highly collaborative team player who meets and exceeds your commitments. Your presence can't be an energy drain or create work.

2. Become a Black Belt at Change

The most important skill to develop right now is finesse at navigating change. That means flexibility and open-mindedness. Accept whatever management throws your way. If they change direction (again), shuffle the product mix, add new goals, or refine strategy on the fly, say yes to all of it. Resisti…

Cheer Up!

I know after a long weekend, it's a drag to get out of bed and to work this morning. Anyway, I spent the whole morning yesterday babysitting my little boy doing his homework. While he was doing it, I spent my time surfing the net. I found a couple of funny stories which I thought I will 'borrow' and placed here. They are good reads to cheer you up for this coming back to work day:-

+++++ STORY 1 +++++

The following letters are taken from an actual incident between a London hotel and one of its guests. The Hotel ended up submitting the letters to the London Sunday Times!

Dear Maid,

Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way.

Thank you,
S. Berman

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Dear Room 635,

I am not your regular maid. She will be…

Australian Scholarships Endeavour Awards

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I received an email from the Australian High Commission which will be holding a briefing tomorrow about the Endeavour Awards, an Australian Government Scholarship Programme.

The Scholarships are a great opportunity for anyone wishing to study or gain professional experience abroad. The Australian High Commission is trying to reach students, young professionals, and government employees who are considering in service training, about these awards.

The briefing which will take place tommorrow, 2 June at 10am in the Mutiara Ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel.

If you need more information, contact Sarah Gallagher, the Public Affairs Officer of the Australian High Commission on telephone number 2229435 ext 221.