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Showing posts from July, 2009

A Time to Reflect

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Apologies to the few faithful readers that I have left of this blog. I have not been able to update this blogspot and thoughts of closing it down completely have crossed my mind. Work as usual is very hectic but at the same time family commitment too.

We lost a young junior colleague a couple of months back. Last week my aunty Hajah Maimunah too was called. The last I saw of her was during my sister's wedding when she came over to my parents' house despite being on wheel chair. Mudah-mudahan roh mereka di cucuri rahmat dan diampunkan dosa-dosa.

I heard yesterday too, my uncle Dato Chua Pheng Siong had passed away. He was a good man. I worked under him for a few years when I was at MOF and I learnt a lot from him. I remembered attending an IMF and World Bank Governors Board meeting with him in Washington DC. We also stopped over in London on the way back together and nobody waited for us at London Heathrow because everyone thought that our flight was delayed. A time for sadness.

Quote of the Week

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"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

John Calvin Coolidge

What is SCP? Part 2

I remembered when I helped launched TAP in 1993, one wisecracker came up to me and asked me 'do you know what TAP stands for?' So I asked him and he said that 'TAP' stands for Tidak Ada Pencen. I thought to myself when I heard that SCP was announced by His Majesty that it won't be long before someone comes up with something interesting. I heard it today, the Brunei wisecracker has done it again, SCP stands for Simpanan Cara Paksaan. I rest my case.

BUT, whether secara paksaan or not, it is good for everyone's future. In fact, everyone's future rely on the SCP. The SCP marked a return to a monthly paid pension after retirement for government civil servants but not only that everyone including those in the private sector also gets the benefit of having monthly paid pensions. What is important to remember is that, when you retire, you get the TAP savings as a lump sum and the SCP savings as your monthly pensions.

I know that there were still a number of question…

What is Strata Title?

[The following entry is extracted from the Press Release issued by Ministry of Development on Thursday, 16th July 2009]

Pada menjunjung titah perkenan Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam, Kementerian Pembangunan sukacita memaklumkan bahawa Baginda telah memperkenankan supaya Kanun Tanah Strata (Penggal 189), Negara Brunei Darussalam dikuatkuasakan bermula 1hb. Julai 2009 bersamaan 8hb. Rejab 1430 Hijrah.

2. Sehubungan dengan penguatkuasaan ini, Baginda juga telah memperkenankan supaya pemilikan hak milik strata ini adalah tertakluk jua kepada peraturan-peraturan mengenainya.

3. Adapun antaralain tujuan perlaksanaan Akta Kanun Tanah Strata (Penggal 189) ini digubal adalah bagi:

* Memberikan dorongan dan galakan kepada Rakyat dan Penduduk Tetap Negara Brunei Darussalam untuk memiliki rumah kediaman dan tempat tinggal di negara ini dengan selesa;

* Memberikan galakan kepada pemilik-pemilik tanah bagi mengoptimakan penggunaan tan…

What is the SCP?

The details of the Supplemental Contributory Pension (SCP) announced by His Majesty during His Birthday's Titah was released by Ministry of Finance yesterday. I have made available the 5 pages document scanned as jpg files in the last posting. You can click on each one and print that page out. It is not as clear as I would have liked, the original scans are clear, but this one is reduced resolution otherwise it will take you sometime to download. But it is legible and readable.

Based on the circular, this is what I understand SCP is all about.

What is SCP?
The SCP is supplemental to the current TAP scheme. The main objective is to ensure that everyone will be able to retire at the compulsory age of 60 with a minimum pension of $150 a month. This added to the $250 Old Age Pension will mean that everyone has $400 a month to live on for the rest of their life. The SCP also has a 'survivorship' component which means that your wife and children can benefit even after your death.

W…

What is SCP?

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On 15th July 2009, His Majesty says

Alhamdulillah, syukur kehadhrat Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala, diatas limpah rahmat-Nya mengizinkan kita sama-sama menyambut Hari Keputeraan Beta yang Ke-63 tahun.

Walaupun semua majlis, kecuali Majlis Membaca Do'a Kesyukuran Di Masjid-Masjid, telah ditangguhkan, namun Beta dapat merasakan, semangat 15 Julai adalah tetap hangat dan segar, sebagaimana juga biasanya pada setiap tahun.

Beta tidaklah lupa menghargai semangat ini dan mengucapkan rasa penghargaan yang amat tinggi kepada semua lapisan rakyat dan penduduk diatas dokongan mereka itu, Beta juga dengan sukacita merakamkan penghargaan yang sama kepada semua pihak yang telah menghantar perutusan ucap selamat mereka kepada Beta dan keluarga bersempena dengan sambutan ini.

Kita di Brunei, sayugia bersyukur, kerana negara terus menikmati suasana aman dan tenteram.

lni hendaknya menjadikan kita lebih beriltizam lagi untuk meningkatkan usaha memelihara kesejahteraan dan keselamatan yang berterusan dengan izin Allah.

Walaupun kesan dari k…

His Majesty's Speech and Strata Title

As always His Majesty's Birthday Speech contained enough to satisfy everyone. His touch in knowing what the issues are and how to solve them is something which we have always admired in him.

Some have asked me to comment on His Majesty's speech but I think that would be better be left to the people out there. Of the issues which concern the public the most is always financial. By the comments I read in the newspapers, in Facebook and even in Twitter, many are happy that there will be a monthly pension to both the public and private sectors, many are also happy that the retirement age has been increased. If I was still in MOF, I would have been happy to include all the details here as I did before but in this particular case, we have to wait for MOF to give us all the details today.

Of the many issues that His Majesty touched on, one in particular is something we in MOD is responsible for. That is the enforcement of the strata title. The Strata Title legislation is a law which h…

Geocentric Datum Brunei Darussalam 2009

I launched the Brunei Darussalam Geocentric Datum 2009 yesterday. My speech was about how useful it would be etc. The Surveyor General's speech outlined what Geocentric Datum Brunei Darussalam is all about (if you still don't understand it, then go down to the very last paragraph for my very short non-technical summary):-

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The continuing development of global communication and information technologies makes the emergence of global geographic data infrastructure inevitable. Brunei Darussalam is moving towards this global infrastructure by introducing a geocentric datum. This is a new era in geodesy for Brunei Darussalam.

A global geocentric datum is supported and adopted by a growing number of international organizations like the International Federation of Surveyors FIG and the International Hydrographic Organisation IHO.

In many countries, the use of common geocentric datum will facilitate reliable joint survey commission of Land demarcation of neighboring countries and al…

Tale of an Envelope

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These stamps on this cover were the first truly official Brunei stamps. In 1895, Brunei had the first private but officially sanctioned stamps. In 1906 when the British Resident first appeared in Brunei, there was a postal service but the stamps were Labuan stamps overprinted Brunei. So these stamps were the first officially used stamps in Brunei to be used by the Postal Authorities. In fact these designs stayed on until 1951, 47 years later.

The stamps on this envelope and this envelope tells an interesting story. This letter was addressed to someone in Moudon, Switzerland. We don't who it is in Brunei who wanted to send a letter to Switzerland way back in 1907.

The stamps in front of the envelope was postmarked 25th July 1907 and this was the 516th letter to be registered in Brunei. But the postmarks at the back tell an interesting story.

The letter did not leave Brunei until 29 July 2009. It arrived in Labuan on 30 July 1907. Labuan, the year before was absorbed as part of the Str…

H1N1

Yesterday, Reuters reported the following:-

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who are obese but otherwise healthy may be at special risk of severe complications and death from the new H1N1 swine flu virus, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.

They described the cases of 10 patients at a Michigan hospital who were so ill they had to be put on ventilators. Three died. Nine of the 10 were obese, seven were severely obese, including two of the three who died.

The study, published in advance in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on death and disease, also suggests doctors can safely double the usual dose of oseltamivir, Roche AG's antiviral drug sold under the Tamiflu brand name.

"What this suggests is that there can be severe complications associated with this virus infection, especially in severely obese patients," said CDC virus expert Dr. Tim Uyeki.

"And five of these patients had ... evidence of blood clots in the lungs. This has not been prev…

Brunei $25 stamp 1910

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Yesterday, I was off to Gadong during lunchtime and drop into my friend who deals with antique books. I was not expecting to buy anything but normally just have a quick look around at whatever new that he has got. Maybe I shouldn't say new. Whatever old things that he managed to acquire recently.

When I was there he showed me these 4 stamps:-


These stamps were issued for the Brunei Postal Authorities in 1910, almost 100 years ago. They are part of the 1908 series.

$25 was a lot of money in those days. In those days even 1/4 cents can still purchase something, so what more $25. It could be a senior executive's monthly salary. Nobody can afford to buy those stamps. But these stamps are not just used for postage but they are also used for revenues that is stamp duties etc.

But here's the thing. I managed to get a single $25 stamp about two years ago, in much less perfect condition and I had to pay good money for it:-


These four are perfect. They are worth more than what I paid for…

Brunei $5 note

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Every now and then you get to see the previous paper note of Brunei's currency. This $5 paper note surprisingly is still circulated. I was quite intrigued to see Brunei's $100 notes the other day being used at HH. So there are still some old notes. But this $5 note is interesting. You look at the back and you will see this:-



This water village photograph being used for the note is unusual. It is not the usual photo of Kampong Ayer. When I first studied the $5 note in detail. It took me quite by surprise to realise it is not Kampong Ayer.

About two years back, I found this old postcard:-



Familiar? This is not a village in Kampong Ayer. It is in Brunei but not Kampong Ayer as you know it.

Ancient Trading Customs of Brunei and China

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[I wrote the following article for my Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times two Sundays ago:-]

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The history of friendly exchanges of envoys and trade between China and Brunei went back a long way. According to Chinese records, the earliest recorded contact date back to more than 2,000 years. Relationship was established as early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 23 AD). By 669 AD during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), official exchanges between Brunei and China had begun.

Shen Yu (441 – 513), holding the post equivalent to Prime Minister wrote in a book ‘Song Shu’ (the book of Song Dynasty) that on the third month of the first year of Yuanhui Reign (May 2, 473), an envoy from Poli (Brunei) came to contribute their native products.

Liu Xu writing in Jiu Tang Shu (Old Tang History) described that in the fourth year of the Zhenguan Reign (630), the Brunei King sent an envoy following the envoy sent by the country Linyi to China to contribute their native products. The king was describe…

UK 20 pence Coin Error 2008

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Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. As a civil servant, I have seen obviously my fair share of errors in policies and actions. Most are unintentional but the mistakes or the shortcomings are seen only when those policies or actions have been put into place. As a collector of things, obviously I loved it when errors or mistakes happen. This morning one of my friends holidaying in London alerted me about the 20 pence UK coin error.

A quick check on ebay has shown that this error if you find it can make you more than a 100 pound richer. So for those coming from London and not allowed to go out because of the current H1N1 can fill your time by going through your British coins and search for this 20 pence.

UK produced the first 20 pence in 1982 about a year earlier before I studied there. So by the time I arrived the 20 pence was already part of the coins that I had to use.



Over the years, new coins were issued and the latest is the 2008 and 2009 coins as follows:



However th…