Showing posts from August, 2010

Brunei Clock Tower

This black and white photo is currently being sold for about US$775 together with two other photographs and two other postcards on ebay. I am not sure whether this is worth that amount of money but you are most welcome to bid on them.

This photograph shows the clock tower and I would presume the photo was taken in the early 1960s. You can still see the old police station and the old police officers barrack in the background. By 1980, the old police station had been demolished, the barracks were demolised earlier.

There was no traffic light yet but there is a light on top of the junction. This served to remind road users that there is a junction.

Old Borneo Map

I was spring cleaning my study yesterday and in one of the envelopes that I nearly threw away was this map of Borneo. I must have ordered this quite a while ago and have never got round to framing this. I don't know how old this map is but judging by the data should be around 100 years old at least.

The boundaries are not marked so that means Rajah Brooke have not arrived yet to take over Sarawak and Sarawak is only marked with a little dot where Kuching is today. Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei is marked 'Roy Borneo' which I take to mean 'Proper Borneo' as most other Anglicised map would show for this period. Proper Borneo is to distinguish it from the Island of Borneo and Brunei was referred to as Proper Borneo in those days.

Borneo is also marked where Bandar Seri Begawan is today with an italic lettering of Bruni to denote its other name, as far as the map is concerned.

What I like most about this map is that the Limbang River is marked as Borneo River. In those days, d…

Smallest Frogs in the World

[photo from National Geographic website]

The scientists found this somewhere on Borneo Island. I can only say, WOW. According to National Geographic:

One of the smallest frogs in the world, the species was spotted inside and around pitcher plants in Malaysian rain forests on the island of Borneo (map), which is divided among Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The new species was announced Wednesday, but the frogs have been hiding in plain view for more than a century.

"I saw some specimens in museum collections that are over a hundred years old," co-discoverer Indraneil Das said in a statement.

"Scientists presumably thought they were juveniles of other species," said Das, a herpetologist at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Malaysia. "But it turns out they are adults of this newly discovered microspecies."


Seeking Forgiveness

[This was my article published last Monday on Brunei Times.]

Seeking Forgiveness During Eid Fitr

Ramadan is the Muslims’ month of fasting. It is a time for Muslims to learn to be patient, to be humble and to understand more about spirituality. Ramadan is also an auspicious month. It is during Ramadan that the Al-Mighty first revealed the first verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). It is also the month where everyone asks forgiveness for past sins and past misdeeds. The practice of asking for forgiveness from misdeeds continue not just during Ramadan but also during the Eid month of Syawal more commonly known as Hari Raya in Brunei.

A common practice in Brunei and elsewhere in the world is to seek forgiveness from relatives and friends as well as to send Hari Raya greetings. These can be done in person when one meets them but can also be done by sending out Hari Raya greetings in whatever form. In today’s technological world, Hari Raya greetings including seek…

Kampong Ayer 1970s

For most Bruneians, Kampong Ayer is something which has always been there. We do not realise how time passes by.

This is a postcard of Kampong Ayer produced by a Singapore company and sold here about 40 years ago. Compare this scene with those of today, you can't see much difference. The boats are already fast as you can see.

For those living or who once lived there, can your recognise where this was taken? The only clue is the bakut as there can't be too many of those in the Kampong Ayer. Let me know.

Seria 1980s

Sometime last year, I wanted to buy this postcard but I lost it on ebay. I didn't realise there was another buyer equally determined trying to get this postcard. When it came again recently, I was determined to get it. However, it was quite a painless task as I managed to acquire it for a song.

This is Seria or rather this was Seria in the 1980s. This is taken from the angle of the coastal area. The houses on the foreground are no longer there and these has been replaced by the OGDC. The shophouses in the background too have changed. The general layout remain similar and some of the shophouses remained unchanged.

First Malay Secondary School

While going through the old Hari Raya cards, I found a couple of cards with reference to SMMP and the school's motto EXCELSIOR.

The card above with the school badge, I found very familiar. I remembered seeing this school badge and the school motto. It took me quite a while when I realised it belong to today's Maktab Sains. I did not go to Maktab Sains, so the badge was not as familiar as I am sure it should be to my brother and sister who went there. So SMMP must be percusor to today's Maktab Sains.

It took quite a while before realising SMMP actually stands for Sekolah Menengah Melayu Pertama (First Malay Secondary School) which in itself was interesting as a school name. It began in Brunei Town in 1966. Form 4 was first introduced in the school in 1967 while Sixth Form classes were introduced in 1969. In that same year the school moved from Brunei Town to Jalan Muara at Maktab Sains present site.

On 23 September 1971, Sekolah Menengah Melayu Pertama was officially renamed a…

Old Brunei Hari Raya Cards

My article today published in The Brunei Times is about old Hari Raya cards used by Bruneians in the 1960s and early 1970s. If you want to read the article, you can buy the paper today. I will publish it in this blog sometime this week.

In the meantime, the old Hari Raya cards in Brunei looked like these:

SOAS Mosque on Vietnam stamps

I managed to acquire these stamps recently from a Vietnamese stamp dealer. I did not get these when I was in Vietnam but I saw the stamps on ebay and I was quite intrigued. I have a number of stamps issued by other countries which depicted Brunei's scenes but I have never seen this one before.

The stamps were supposedly issued in 1993 and with a face value of 8000 dong which is roughly equal to about 67 cents. Other than seeing what is already on the stamps, I have no other information about it. I would love to hear from others who know more about this issue.

Sarawak Museum Journal

One of the visits I had to visit was the Sarawak Museum when I was in Kuching. I have to admit despite my aversion to things Brooke, the Sarawak Museum is a must visit. I did not have the time to go into the museum but only to see if I can buy the Sarawak Museum Journal.

For those who are interested, the Sarawak Museum Old Building was built in 1891 and was extended to its present form in 1911. The building was especially built to permanently house and display local native arts and crafts and collections of local animals as mainly encouraged by the famous naturalist, Alfred Wallace, who was then collecting specimens in the country. The Sarawak Museums comprised of a number of museums. If you have a few days in Kuching and has a penchant for things past, you will not be bored.

Me, I was only interested in the Museum's publication, the Sarawak Museum Journal. The Sarawak Museum Journal has been publishing since 1920s, unlike our own Brunei Museum Journal which started only in 1969. So…

Sungkai Buffet

Only Cuboiart can come up with the appropriate cartoon this time of the year. I have not been keeping up with his genius drawing lately and I was happy to see a few new cartoons which he has just drawn and published in the Borneo Bulletin lately.

This one is a killer. Every Ramadan, comes the Sungkai Buffet. I was told at certain places, there are so many people that the food had to be topped up. I much prefer to sungkai at home. There are just so many temptation if I do pop into one of these sungkai buffet. But the other day, my better half, my little one and me did go to the buffet at Holiday Lodge in Jerudong.

That was the third day of fasting. We were quite surprised when we went there, we were asked to choose a main course. The main course was a Western dish and in my case, I chose Sirloin Steak, the other choices included tiger prawns, chicken, fish and one other I cannot remember. This main course comes on top of the usual buffet that you can choose which included Roti Kosong and…

Kuching, First Impressions

According to my father, I had been to Kuching once. At least to Kuching Airport. In the 1960s, my mother and I used to go 'balik kampong' every year or so. My mother is from Johor, so balik kampong was back to her hometown in Batu Pahat. I am the eldest son, so I am the one who frequently went back with her. In those days, the only way to go to Singapore (then take the taxi to go to Johor) was to fly via one of those propeller aeroplane to Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) before taking the jet flight to Singapore. Sometimes, one had to fly to Kuching instead.

But that trip to me does not count. So the first time, I actually went to Kuching was three weeks ago to attend the haze meeting. The meeting was at the Pullman Hotel which is the newest hotel in Kuching. The lobby was especially huge and being a new hotel does make it look much brighter and bigger than anyone else in Kuching. Plus it is placed on a hill and so can overlook practically everything else in Kuching.

The hotel loo…

Sultan Tengah, the first and only Sarawak Sultan

Someone asked me why have I not blogged for quite a while. The easy answer is it is the fasting month - terawih prayers and all that plus the need to go to sleep early to wake up early for sahur. In addition to that over the last two weeks I was away in Kuching to accompany my minister to attend the 10th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution and then I was in Hanoi to attend the 21st ASEAN Senior Officials Meetings on Environment. It has indeed been quite busy for me.

I had some spare time in Kuching, namely at 7 o'clock in the morning on the day we were flying back to Brunei, to rush to Santubong to visit the Sultan Tengah grave. Santubong is about an hour's drive from Kuching. But the visit was worth it. One of MOD's architect helped design the mausoleum. With the space frame technology, the in thing when it was first built looks a bit dated now.

Sultan Tengah was the first and only Sultan of Sarawak. I actually wrote a…

The Early Brunei Conquests

[Note: I wrote this when I was attending the ASEAN Senior Environmental Officials Meeting in Hanoi last week. I brought one book with me as a reference but luckily there was enough references on the net. It was published in The Brunei Times on 9th August 2010.]

The Early Brunei Conquests

A.E. Lawrence writing in the first edition of the Sarawak Museum Journal of 1911 in an article entitled “The First Brunei Conquests on the Sarawak Coast” stated that Awang Alak Betatar enlarged the newly founded Brunei territory by first defeating the Melanau hero Tugau, thus advancing his frontiers from the Tutong River to the Rejang delta.

According to Brunei’s own epic poems, Syair Awang Semaun, this happened during the rule of Brunei’s first ruler, Awang Alak Betatar, who was later renamed as Sultan Muhammad Shah when Brunei battled against the Melanau Government. When Melanau lost, Brunei conquered all its territories stretching from Mukah to Tutong.

This short article will illustrat…