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Showing posts from May, 2010

Early History of Royal Brunei Malay Regiment

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[Today is the annual anniversary of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. Nobody knew why it is always on 31st May every year. That is the date of the announcement of the formation of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment, even though it was technically formed much later when everyone had undergone training. I wrote this article for today's Brunei Times.]


During the Second World War, when Brunei was already an important oil producer in the entire British Commonwealth, there was no local army to defend Brunei. The British left only a handful of people – not to defend the oil fields but to sabotage the oil fields in a tactic known as oil denial tactic. That trick did not work and the invading Japanese army managed to get some of the wells operational soon after the invasion. This no doubt helped to contribute to the thinking that there was a need to have a full time army to help protect the country.

The first notice came out on the 21st April 1961 edition of the Borneo Bulletin. It asked for candi…

Brunei's new Cabinet Ministers Pictures

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Courtesy of Brunei Times

Brunei's new Cabinet Ministers

The Cabinet as announced on 29th May 2010:

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
PRIME MINISTER, MINISTER OF DEFENCE, MINISTER OF FINANCE

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince
SENIOR MINISTER AT THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong
MINISTER OF EDUCATION

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Adanan
MINISTER OF HEALTH

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi
MINISTER OF DEVELOPMENT

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah
MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya
MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND PRIMARY RESOURCES

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman
MINISTER OF FINANCE II AT THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Set…

Capitol Cinema, Kuala Belait?

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Today I need the help of people who lived in Kuala Belait in the 1950s and I really do need your help as this postcard if it is not showing The Capitol cinema of the 1950s in Kuala Belait means that this postcard is worth nothing to me.

According to most people I talked to, the cinema in Kuala Belait was called the Capital. But when I checked Shaw's Website, this is what it says

"In Sabah and Sarawak, the Shaws ran the Capitol (previously Renee's Hall) and Grand cinemas in Miri; Kings, Liberty, Capitol and Tai Koon theatre in Sandakan, New Gaiety in Papar, Beaufort Hall in Beaufort and Labuan Hall in Labuan. In Brunei, the Shaws operated the Capitol in Kuala Belait."

So can I please ask all the blog readers whose parents were originally from Kuala Belait to ask them, is this the photograph of the Capitol in Kuala Belait all those years ago?

Muara Wharf 1920

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This is another of the 'Brooketon' postcard. This one shows the old wharf at Muara Beach. Most people have forgotten that before the current port at Muara, the road in front of the shops are actually goes to the water edge. But because of the Muara Port, the road stops near the walled portion of the Muara Port.

In those days, Muara exported coals. So the coals will be brought down to the wharf using a train! The coals will be uploaded to the ships waiting at the wharf.

Muara 1920

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This is the other postcards I mentioned the other day. This is a postcard of Muara in the 1920s. Muara as you know was known as Brooketon until the 1920s. Up to the 1920s, the British treated Muara as if it is a different administration. Rajah Brooke managed to buy the concession to mine the coal at Muara in the late 19th century. Rajah Brooke even though was only a concession holder administered Muara as part of his Sarawak administration. So Muara had its own police, its own post office etc and Brooke even renamed it Brooketon.

When the British came to Brunei in 1906, Rajah Brooke was still treated with reverence even by the British. It was only in 1920s that when the lease ran out that the government decided to take back Muara from Rajah Brooke

When this photograph was taken for this postcard, the name Brooketon obviously still in use. I was lucky too because not many people linked Brooketon to Muara and even though there were still bids, I was able to get it a relatively low US$34.

Diangdangan Bujang Sigandam

[I wrote this about two weeks ago and submitted it to be published last Monday on Brunei Times. Something happened, they did not receive the story and my article was not published last week. I resubmitted and got it published yesterday. Many people my age would recollect the radio drama we had in those days when we had no television sets whatsoever.]

There are times when events while being organised and in the chaos and madness of the moment, someone would come along and say, ‘Macam Bujang Sigandam’ (just like Bujang Sigandam). He or she is not giving a compliment. All he or she is saying is that with better planning and management, the event could have been better organised. In Brunei, ‘macam Bujang Sigandam’ came to be referred to as can do, no planning, all ad hoc, and always last minute.

That begs a few questions. Who is or was Bujang Sigandam? Did he actually do things that way? Does he deserve to be derided?

The name ‘Bujang Sigandam’ came into the Brunei's public attention du…

SOS

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1.
(S)witch (O)ff Unnecessary Lights

2.
(S)witch (O)ff Water Heater
When Not in Use

3.
(S)et Your Air Conditioner Temperature
to 24 degrees Celsius or at least
1 degree Celsius Higher than Usual

Cipkalak

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Yesterday, I was sitting in the National Housing Committee. We were going through the appeals of quite a number of applicants who had earlier been rejected because they had a piece of land under their names. The rules of the housing program is that no one who is given a house under the program should have no land of their own. Of course, that does not stop many people who technically had no land but will have their land handed down to them after they got a house under the housing program. I am not going to go through all that. That deserved an entire blog to itself. Those discovered owning land can appeal especially if their piece of land cannot be developed like being in the middle of the jungle with no facilities etc.

What I wanted to do is to bring a light relief. Yesterday, when we went through this inches thick documents, I saw this interesting occupation written by the applicant.

Cipkalak? What kind of job is Cipkalak? It took quite a while to dawn on us that he meant Chief Clerk.

Natives on Buffalo

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The other day I talked about 4 of Brunei postcards from the 1920 era. I won another two on ebay but getting these two were the hardest. I got a rival who wanted these two postcards as much as I wanted to and he pushed me all the way to about US$800+ for one and US$400+ for the other. I will save showing these two postcards until last.

What I wanted to show was this postcard which I purchased earlier for about US$18.45. When I bought this, I am not sure whether this is a scene in Sabah or Brunei. I assumed it is in Brunei but I could be wrong. If this was indeed Brunei, we will never see this scene anymore.

This postcard is similar to other one that I showed about the Sungai Kedayan. The postcard is a monochrome with splashes of colour added to it in subsequent printing. The accuracy is amazing but at the same time if you see carefully, you can see where the discrepancies where the new colours did not overlay the old monochrome picture right on the spot.

Probocis versus Human

One of the difficulties working at the Ministry of Development is that we are constantly faced with issues of trying to meet the expectations of everyone. Interestingly enough we looked after infrastructure and physical development but at the same time we are also responsible for the environmental issues.

Lately, a growing concern voiced on the internet over a project at Damuan River. A number of photographs have been placed and I have enough tags to make me more than aware of what the problem was. Apparently an area which has been used as a sanctuary for Proboscis monkeys is no longer available for the monkeys because of development works.

First of all, the development work was to deepen and widen the Damuan River because if this was not done, there will be floods to the houses further up the river especially around the Mulaut areas. Secondly, the consultants did take into account the proboscis monkeys. There are two sites for the proboscis monkeys, one is where the site has been clear…

The Cabinet 2010

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The talk of the town has focused on what the next cabinet will look like and for most of us at ministries, guessing who our next bosses will be if he is not retained. Let's look back at previous cabinet changes. (Apologies, I simplified the names and titles and they are not listed in correct order of protocol)

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1984

The first cabinet in 1984 was quite small.

Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Home Affairs: His Majesty
Minister of Defence: Al-Marhum Begawan Sultan Haji Omar Ali
Minister of Foreign Affairs: HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports: HRH Prince Jefri Bolkiah
Minister of Education and Health: Pehin Abd Aziz Umar
Minister of Development: Pehin Abd Rahman Taib
Minister of Law and Communications: Pengiran Laila Kanun Pg Hj Bahrin

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1986

After the death of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali in 1986, the cabinet looked like this:

Prime Minister and Minister of Defence: His Majesty
Minister of Foreign Affairs: HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah
Minister…

Sungai Kedayan circa 1920

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This postcard, believe it or not is close to 100 years old!

This postcard issued around the 1910s/1920s of Sungai Kedayan in Brunei around the same period. I first saw this at one of Brunei's antique dealers who specialises in books and maps. He was selling it for around B$600.00. That postcard has been there with him for so long and I knew it quite well. Anyway, it finally popped up in ebay and I won it not as expensive as B$600 but at around US$122 which is not so bad.

This is actually not a colour postcard. The ability to do colour postcards were only available around 1940s. What this is, is actually a monochrome (black and white) photograph and colour spots were later added on to give it the effect of full colour. However you can't get any coloured photograph one way or another and this indeed is a very rare collection.

This currently can be considered the most valuable of all of my deltiologist collection. I have a series of three other postcards from the same era. One is a …

T'kidum (Recycled)

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Someone asked in the box about Brunei cartoonists. I remembered I wrote about Brunei cartoonists way back in 2006 and so I thought I will repost it. Of course, everyone knows that my favourite is Cuboiart and you can go to his website at here. Here is my old 2006 post:-

How many people in Brunei have seen this? When I first saw it on the magazine shelf at Pustaka Remaja two Sundays ago, I thought, wow! A Brunei own comic book. That's a first. It was reasonably priced at about $4.90 but I thought compared to other comics from Malaysia and especially from UK or USA, $4.90 is nothing, besides talent has to be paid for and when it's Brunei own talent, we have to make our sacrifices. So I settled down as soon as I got home to read it. It has its own ISBN number 999 17-32-12-8 and it was issue no.1. It was published by Brunei Press. Then the date of the publication struck me. This comic book was printed in June 2003. Three years ago!

Where was I three years ago not to have noticed thi…

Commenting on the Comments

I have not been keeping up with the comments on the CBox. So I thought I will spend time answering some of the latest comments.

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10 May 10, 21:01
Din: Mr BR, how much did it cost to 'print' a Bruneian coin with a face value of 1 cent during the reign of Sultan Hashim?

BR: I wish I knew. No, I have not gone that deep into researching about it but it is certainly a subject that I may visit one day.

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10 May 10, 11:22
Jogger: Do you happen to have a map of Taman Rekreasi Menteri Besar?

BR: I will check with the JASTRE people and see if I can post it here.

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9 May 10, 21:48
AwgB: *BEDB housing
9 May 10, 21:47
AwgB: Salam Mr BR, would like to knw d diff betwn MOD & BDEB housiing projects.? Why Brunei has two hsing prjks?

BR: There is only one government housing project, the National Housing Program or in Malay, Rancangan Perumahan Negara. Housing Development Department is responsible for building and distributing the houses and because of the demands, BEDB has been tasked to hel…

This is Radio Brunei

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[The Managing Editor at BT asked me whether I could do an article on Radio Brunei as they just celebrated their 53rd Anniversary. It brought back memories. In the early 1990s I used to be a part time English newscaster on the English Channel or what the RTB now called Rangkaian Pilihan. In those days, there were only 3 of us, Charan Kumar, Ideris Ali or me. If anyone was ill, then one of us has to do a lot of reading. There were 3 slots, 6.45 am, 12.30 pm or 9.15 pm. I was always in the studio about 30 minutes before to mark the scripts and all the places to stop etc. Most importantly I had to edit the English, it was mostly passable as direct translations but in most cases not very flowing. There were times I had to rewrite entire paragraphs just to get it flowing. I was not supposed to do that but I did it anyway. After about 3 years, I just could not cope with my regular work and all that. The pay by the way was $20 per news session. Anyway, this article on Radio Brunei was publish…

Houses at Meragang and Tanah Jambu

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Last Saturday, we had three different ceremonies to lay the foundation at the huge Meragang/Tanah housing project. Many people got lost searching for the areas but it is not that difficult to find. You can enter to access the sites via the Muara-Tutong highway or via Jalan Bunga Kebun near Kampong Kapok.

The first one was the project to build 361 basic housing at Meragang to be done by Thong and Thong Sdn Bhd. The cost is almost $27 million and is expected to be completed by July 2011. The houses will look like this:

These houses are similar to the 372 which are already under construction done by Alim Bena and Galfar.

The second one was the project to build 300 houses at Meragang to be done by Haqqah (B) Sdn Bhd. The cost is about $22 million and is expected to be completed by December 2011. The semi-detached houses will look like this:



The third one was the project to build 358 houses and dual carriageways at Meragang to be done by TSL Construction. The cost is around $40 million and is…

Cinemas and Movie Memories of Brunei

[I wrote the following article for last Monday's Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times. Regular readers of this blog would realised that this article is a combination of my recent (about 2 months back) entry on the one and only Brunei movie and an old entry (about 3 years back) entry on cinema memories. I have incorporated some of the comments on those entries as part of the article as well.]

HOW many people in Brunei remembered when our nation produced its first and so far only movie?

Yet we did, although you have to go a long way back to remember this movie. In fact you have to go back more than one generation ago — you have to go back more than 42 years back in time and you would at least have to be in your 50s now to even recall that movie.

Those who remembered would know that the movie was called “Gema Dari Menara” (Voices or Echoes from the Minaret). The making of the movie was sponsored by the Religious Affairs Department (now the Ministry of Religious Affairs).

The movie was fi…

Measured Expansion

Oxford Business Group reported on 30th April 2010 the following news:-

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Brunei Darussalam: Measured Expansion

30 April 2010

Brunei Darussalam is rapidly gaining an international profile as a major Islamic financial services centre, with foreign partners showing an interest in joining forces with the Sultanate in order to tap into the increasingly lucrative sector.

In late March, Japanese financial services firm SBI Holdings (SBIH) announced it was entering into a partnership with Brunei Darussalam's Ministry of Finance to set up a fund management company expected to handle private equity funds, including sharia-compliant vehicles.

According to a statement issued by SBIH on March 25, Brunei Darussalam is the centre and gateway to the Islamic world in South-east Asia, and is surrounded by various opportunities to expand and diversify the economy.

The company will manage private equity funds, and look to make sharia-compliant investments into various companies mainly in Asia, which…