I feel safe

The number of meetings overseas I attended last year was in the double digits. It is ironic as I don't like to travel. I don't mind the occassional overseas meeting now and then just to keep in touch with what's going on in the international world but last year was exceptional.

A few of them were for my other hat being a member of the CSPS and some additional ones were because the meetings took place only every few years and last year happen to be the one year, most of them were held.

In most of the meetings last year, even the ones organised by the United Nations, the security was minimal. There were screenings, metal detector bars etc but none that I can not tolerate.

I especially hate it when going in and out of hotels that you have to subject yourself to all these checks. It's not just the x-ray machines but the metal detectors, the pat downs. Practically everything you have on you makes a ping. The only way not to be suspicious was to walk totally naked! Some argued it is inevitable and not having one would make you regret it. I saw it in Surabaya. I saw the same thing in Jakarta. You just can't go up the hotel driveway anymore. At one time I saw it in Singapore. There was no car whatsoever in front of the hotels.

The one that I have to undergo at Islamabad is probably among the more stringent one. Even getting into the hotel is one huge hassle. There were huge flower ports acting as barriers all over the place forcing your car to zig zag through the already tiny road going up and down the hotel entrance, metal barriers, metal gates, metal road barriers in the roads itself, guards checking the car's bonnet and hood, mirrors, you name it, we have it.

Sometimes I feel like saying to the security guards, the whatever it is you are searching there is not there, it's with me! But then I don't want to get into trouble either. I know it is for my own protection. Even the diplomats here have a joke for these checks. They would shout 'have you checked the oil?' or 'did you check the water?' I have only been here for less than two days. These people have to endure it throughout their stay.

The saddest part is that the machine gun totting guards were not on the lookout for outsiders. They were on the lookout for their own countrymen. When safety and security standards have deteriorated that the only way you can keep safe is to be a fortress means that the country is not worth living in anymore. I remembered when I did my Master at Harvard, one of my class mates was a Senator from a South American country which is well known for its violence. I often see him cycle on campus and I asked him don't you get tired? He told me that it was only then that he felt so safe that he could cycle and go out without having a lorryfull of security personnel following him around or checking under his car every single time to make sure nobody left something that can blow him to smitherins.

I enjoyed living in Brunei. It may not have the huge malls or the big tall buildings which other people wanted, there are certain things I could not find in Brunei, but it is a very safe country. I don't go through metal detectors. I don't have someone frisk my body everyday I wanted to enter into a building. I don't see metal barriers. It may not be the most advanced country in the world but I have it safe. I remembered the movie in Transporter 3, about three quarter way through the movie when the girl who was kidnapped finally told the transporter, now I feel 'safe'. I know what she meant. And I pray to the Al-Mighty, may it remain that way.

Comments

Anonymous said…
so true. i used to be ungrateful and complain why brunei dont have this and that blah.. blah.. look at KL, S'pore...blah blah..we have mall a size of jamban compare to other malls...i humbly regret saying that... i was young and foolish, immature brat. when i had my first salary, i managed to travel with couple of frens to see whats life really is in downtown KL (hot n polluted), S'pore (people are just too ignorant and 'dun care' ), thailand ( i saw people toil their sweat to earn income ), vietnam (hard life but people dont complain ), KK ( the bumiputras are sooo poor and earn meagre income just live each day ), manila ( poverty everywhere hoemeless beggars everywhere ), London (awesome but its just too cold and everyting is just too expensive..unless they have nasi katuk for 1 pound hehe)...i learnt a lot duuring these periods of travelling.it was an eye opener and turning point in my life that i will never ever complain about my life ever in brunei. EVER! whenever i catch a plane back here, its brunei that i miss most...the freedom here, less crime,just the wonderful life i live and took for granted all this year. May Allah bless Brunei. i dun want big mall, sky scrapper, or state of the art buildings..or Universal studiio..here im free...cheap food, stuff,education ..you know what i mean being a bruneian..im so happy to be born here.siuk sendiri pun ok lah jua.God, i love brunei!

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