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Showing posts from April, 2010

Cabut Babut

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Last night I was at the Semi-Final of the National Quran Recital Competition. Yes! There is a Semi-Final for those wondering and asking. 15 Male and 11 Female competed for 8 places in the Final. It was at Pusat Dakwah. From these, 8 were chosen, 4 for each gender.

After the competition, we were sitting together for a late supper with my Minister who is the guest of honour and the deputy minister for religious affairs, both veterans of living in Kampong Ayer. The conversation around the table soon turn to words used in Kampong Ayer and in the past by Bruneians and not used very much by today's Bruneians. The three words for today's lessons are as follows:-

The first word is Babut. Babut is almost similar to Cabut. Cabut means to pull out but Babut is pulling out something but struggling hard to pull whatever it is out. For instance if you want to pull out the Tongkat Ali plant, you do not cabut. You have to turn your back to it, grab the plant and then wiggle it out while pulling…

ASEAN+3 Youths Environment Forum 2010

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More than 140 youths from all the ASEAN countries plus ASEAN's three partners, China, Korea and Japan are here in Brunei attending AYEF 2010. BRUNEI will be hosting the "Asean Plus Three Youth Environment Forum 2010 (Ayef)" later this month to promote and exchange environmental ideas among the region's youths. I had the opportunity to host dinner for them last night at Tarindak Restaurant at Jalan Residency. All the youths are staying at the plush resort Empire Hotel. The forum is sponsored by the Brunei Government together with JAIF - Japan ASEAN Integration Fund.

The Forum began on Thursday and will end on Sunday, has the theme "Creating a Climate for Change" are attended by some 140 participants aged 14 to 23, including 80 from Brunei. The forum aims to inculcate a sense of ownership of the environment among the young population of the Asean Plus Three countries, while placing emphasis that their well being and the environment lie in their hands.

In additi…

Windows 7 and TelBru's Zoom Modem

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Regular readers would know that I lost the use of my desktop machine in December. My HP computer broke down for the second time. This time after a major thunderstorm. The motherboard fried up despite the presence of a power surge and HP agents here in Brunei asked me to cough up about $500 for a new motherboard. I did pay $30 for the diagnosis but not the $500 a suggestion which I thought I could shove up to you know where. To be fair HP did replace the first motherboard as it was under warranty but not the second. Though it is funny that HP keep having fried motherboards.

And for the last four or five months, I have been doing my work on this tiny little VAIO, a very nice light computer but try doing your article and other long pieces of work, your eyes slowly will become like that animal on Madagascar with huge eyes - trying to get every single light into your eyes. That VAIO with the Windows Vista was certainly a testing computer, crashing every day and sometimes more than a few tim…

Earth Day 2010

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Happy Earth Day!

Animals in Brunei Place Names

[I wrote this for my column, THE GOLDEN LEGACY on Brunei Times yesterday. There were a couple of errors. My Dusun friend made a mistake by telling me that Kout Mondow stood for Tiger's Well when it should be a more scarier Lion's Well.]

Brunei Place Names and the Animal World

In a previous column, trees or the plant world dominated a number of Brunei place names. This column will look at a number of place names in Brunei which based their place name origins from the animal world – both on land and at sea, small or big and even those from the insect world.

Judging by names alone, a number of place names in Brunei can be said to originate from the animal kingdom. One of the more famous place names is Bukit Beruang which means Hill of Bears. Currently Bukit Beruang area houses the largest national housing program in the Tutong District.

One legend said that the origin of the place name was because there were bears which used to be in the area. A stream in Tutong is also called Sunga…

Houses Galore!

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Last Thursday, I was accompanying my Minister for the doa selamat ceremony for the start of 490 detached houses at the Kampong Lumut/Sungai Liang National Housing Program. Syarikat Kejuruteraan Sistematik Sdn Bhd was awarded the contract worth around $60 million to complete the infrastructure and housing project. The expected completion will be around 22nd January 2012.

There are two more areas where another 824 units and 180 units are expected to be built. I was told today that the company to build 824 units had been approved by the Tender Board and the other 180 units are expected to be tendered out in June this year.

Altogether close to 1,500 houses will be built in this area. Another 300 houses for the Skim Tanah Kurnia Rakyat Jati will also be built in Lorong Tengah in Seria itself.

Combined this 1,800 houses with the 2,000 built by BEDB in Pandan, there will be around 3,800 houses in the Belait District. The approved waiting list is only around 2,900, so there will be an excess of …

Origin of Kampong Dato Gandi

The other day someone asked in the comment box how the name of Kampong Dato Gandi came about?

This is what I got. Kampong Dato Gandi is named after a person called Dato Gandi who died many years ago. Apparently Dato Gandi was a Muslim preacher and he came to the village and the surrounding areas to preach. He died in the village and his grave, still tended to these days, is still there. Some said that the grave is visible and near the Queen's Jetty but I cannot verify that just yet.

The village is a normal Brunei village but it has one important feature. It has the Queens Jetty and Queen Elizabeth II in 1970 landed here. At that time, she was using the ship Queen Elizabeth II (if I am not mistaken) and that ship could not go into Brunei Wharf as it was not deep enough. Why not Muara Port you asked? Muara Port was just being completed and so she could not berth there. (Correction: Faiq Rani pointed out it should be the Brittania which is correct and Haji Awang pointed out that the sh…

Yachts in Brunei Bay

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I came across this photograph in a book which was published around mid 1980s. This was a scene of yachts in Brunei Bay. I don't remember this event and I am hoping that there are people who remembered when this was taken and what the occasion was?

Roads and Traffic

I was in Mungkom yesterday. Where? I hear many people asking. Mungkom is somewhere in Ulu Tutong. You drive all the way to Lamunin and turn towards Kiudang and then a small side road which takes you to Mungkom. That road ended somewhere near a wasai, again another hidden treasure of Brunei. Anyway, I was there to give away a house built by us and paid for by the Majlis Ugama Islam for the fakir miskin. The family of 13 (or 17, I am not sure) were living in a dilapidated house before this. At least now they have a house to stay. This is part of the 60 odd houses that we are building for the poor. The first phase was easy. The second phase looked much harder as we are looking at about 600 applicants now.

What I wanted to focus on was the time. Despite being in really deep inside Tutong, it took us about 45 minutes to get there. Technically speaking 45 minutes is not far. I remembered in Rio when we wanted to go visit another part of Rio in Barra (pronunced Baha), our guide said it will t…

35th Anniversary RBA's First Flight

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[Tomorrow is RBA's 35th Anniversary of its first official flight. I wrote this article and it was published yesterday in my column, The Golden Legacy, in Brunei Times]


Royal Brunei Airlines in Brunei Aviation History

In two days time, Brunei’s own national airlines, the Royal Brunei Airlines will be celebrating its 35th Anniversary of its first historic flight. Royal Brunei Airlines was officially established on 18 November 1974. However its first maiden flight was on 14 April 1975 flying from the new Brunei International Airport in Berakas to Singapore.

On that same day, there were also flights to Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. The following year, RBA expanded its flight to Manila, Philippines and the year after to Bangkok, Thailand. RBA had only two Boeing 737s then. With a third Boeing 737 bought in 1980, RBA flew to Kuala Lumpur in 1981 and in 1983, to Darwin, Australia.

The 1975 RBA’s first official flight marked a chapter in the history of Brunei’s flight. It was about 50…

Echoes from the Minaret

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Sometime in October 1968, if you have been a regular reader of Borneo Bullein, you would have come aross this page 19. An interesting page as it listed all the movies playing in the cinemas in Brunei Town then:-


Interesting movies. There are even auctions and lucky draw numbers etc. But look closely to the movie on the top right hand of the page... It's an advertisement for the first and one and only movie ever produced by our own local production.

The movie is called Gema Dari Menara and the making of it is sponsored by the Religious Affairs Department (now the Ministry of Religious Affairs). From the various sms text notes I received yesterday regarding this movie and from whatever I could get from the Internet, this is what I was able to piece out, and one caveat, I am unable to substantiate the correctness of all the information and so subject to corrections:-


The movie was filmed on location at the house of YAM Pengiran Indera Mahkota, now the Speaker of the Legislative Council…

Malacca's Serkam Pantai Mosque

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[I read this on a forum I subscribed to called the Sunna-Principles and thought this was worthwhile sharing.]

When Melaka fell into the hand of the Portuguese in 1511, it became the first city in South East Asia to have a cross, erected on top of the Melaka Hill. Christianization of the city took place afterwards, with European forts and churches being built as old Malay graveyards, palaces and forts were ransacked and destroyed. The destruction was extensive and systematic. For example, none of the graves of the Sultans of such a great Sultanate survived. Missionaries such as St Xavier and Father Pidanto came to Melaka. The extent of the Christianization of Melaka during Portuguese time could be gleaned from what the latter wrote: "Melaka is a Christian city, with each street and hill lined with churches."

The presence of Christianity in Melaka remains strong today, although it is limited to ethnic Chinese and Indian and a small Serani (Portuguese- descendants) community. We …

Fantastic Services

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I have been going back to RIPAS Hospital lately. I was supposed to undergo this minor operation ... let me digress ... I am always worried when doctors say minor and it involves cutting me up, since when is that minor ... anyway, I am supposed to go for this minor procedure and the doctor said I cannot have it done until I sort out my coughs.

In February, I had this really crazy non stop coughs. You know the kind that make you feel as if you want to rip your throat out. Anyway couple with my asthma, that cough was really bad. The worse was during the key presentation ceremony at Lumut. I could suppress my coughs during the key presentation ceremony while handing the keys over to the Minister and then to His Majesty. Unfortunately during the luncheon, I had a coughing fit and it was really difficult to suppress and I was just two seats away from His Majesty. That was the worse.

Anyway, I was referred to this specialist clinic called DORM. No, it's not short for dormitory but actually…

Once Upon A Time

You learn new things all the time. Yesterday, I was at UBD listening to my minister deliver a paper entitled MIB in Development. He delivered a paper almost similar last year MIB in Environment. It was a difficult topic but as usual my minister with his many anecdotes along the way was able to deliver it in his easy manner.

I knew most of the the things he wanted to say. Though during the Q&A, interestingly enough, one lady student brought up the issue of the possibility that water level usage is high in Brunei is due to the amount we use for 'berkaut' or for 'mandi wajib' and other religious factors.

Certainly our water usage is around 450 litres a day. Most other countries use around the 300+ mark. To me personally, there are ways we can bring the usage down by just doing little things like turning off the tap when washing your teeth etc.

However I learnt or rather relearnt three new words last Tuesday. Two during the talk and one when I was chairing the Mini Tende…

Converse, the Nike brand

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A few years ago, I was attending a seminar in Jakarta, something on the legal aspects of accountancy or something similar. Anyway, I was there with one of our young lawyers. In the evening, while going out for dinner with him, we stopped at a shoe shop and he was eyeing this shoes made out of canvas and rubber. At that time, I was ignorant to know that what he was buying was probably one of the better known products known to young people but not to old fogeys like me.

The shoes looked like this. To most people my age and older, this kind of shoes, you buy at any kadai Cina for about $5 a pair or maybe $10 if it looks lasting enough. People who played sepak takraw (what do you mean you don't know sepak takraw), loved to use this shoes because it protects their ankles. Some calls it stupor Labuan.

I remember the shorter version because every weekend I was forced to brush and wash the canvas and apply a white chalk to make the shoes looked white. In short, everyone wears this not becau…

Trees the Origin of Brunei's Place Names

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[I wrote the following article for publication in my Golden Legacy column on The Brunei Times, 5th April 2010. I did not write any article during my trip to England and Brazil over the last two weeks before this.]

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In Brunei, any toponym hobbyists would have plenty to do. Toponymists are people who study place names. According to Wikipedia, toponymy is the scientific study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word ‘toponymy’ is derived from the Greek words tópos (τόπος) (which means ‘place’) and ónoma (ὄνομα) (which means ‘name’). Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds.

In Brunei, the origins of the place name are often shrouded in the mists of times. Even the name of the country has many origins. The one famous legend passed down the generations through Syair Awang Semaun (Awang Semaun Epic Poem) about how the exclamation ‘Baru Nah’ upon discovering the Brunei River to be used as a new settlement for their fa…

Brunei Darussalam: Industrial Stimulus

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The Oxford Business Group on 2nd April 2010 reported the following:

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Brunei Darussalam: Industrial Stimulus

2 April 2010

One of Brunei Darussalam's largest industrial projects to date is set to commence operations in April, with officials hoping the investment of $450m in the showcase methanol production facility will act as a springboard to new industries.

In late February, the Brunei Methanol Company (BMC) issued a statement saying its production centre at the Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK), a 271-ha hub that focuses on the petrochemicals sector being developed by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), was scheduled to go on-line within two months, ramping up towards its full capacity of 850,000 tonnes of methanol annually.

BMC, a joint venture between Brunei National Petroleum Company, Japan's Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company and the Itochu Corporation, was established in late-2005 to capitalise on the Sultanate's significant stocks of natural gas.

While al…

Riding the Tide

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When I got back to the office on Tuesday morning, jet lag and all, there were a number of things in my in-tray. One of them I saw was a letter from the Director of Information Department with the above book attached to it. I kept the book aside and didn't look at it until much later.

When I finally opened the book by the end of the day, I saw the full title of the book which is "Riding the Tide: Commemorates 100 years (1906-2006) of Brunei of Brunei Darussalam's Capital City Development on the Land 1906-20006". I thought it was just a collection of photographs by Information Department photographs through the years. However it was much more than that.

It was a history book too. We had old photographs like this. This one shows His Royal Highness Sultan Omar Ali with the Duchess of Kent when she visited Brunei in 1952. Look at the half completed shopouses in Brunei Town then.

And old photographs of life in Kampong Ayer.

There are also many modern photographs like this. But…

Meracana Stadium, Brazil

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One of the sights of Rio that nobody wants to miss is the home shrine of the famous Brazil National Football team which is the Meracana Stadium. The stadium has a much longer name. It is actually called the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho but shortened to Estádio do Maracanã ("Maracanã Stadium").

The stadium is owned by the Rio de Janeiro State Government and it is named after the Maracanã neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. It was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup.

Since then, it has mainly been used for football matches between the major football clubs in Rio de Janeiro, including Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama. Although the paid attendance at the final game of the 1950 FIFA World Cup was 199,854, the stadium currently seats only 82,238 spectators. Despite that it is the largest stadium in South America.

It is due to host the World Cup Final in the 2014 World Cup, becoming the second stadium to host football's most important match twice after the Es…