Showing posts from September, 2011

Food Security in Brunei Darussalam

[The Oxford Business Group reported the following news about Brunei on 27 September 2011.]
Food Security in Brunei Darussalam
Brunei Darussalam is ramping up efforts to increase its rice harvest – seen as core to its policy of strengthening food security – turning to newly developed high-yield grains and improved technology to raise production, though it will be some years before the Sultanate comes close to its goal of meeting most of its domestic needs with home-grown crops.

Rice is one of the staples of the local cuisine, though it is challenging to supply. Between Brunei Darussalam’s rising population, an increasing number of rural workers seeking employment in urban areas and limited suitable land available for rice growing, the gap between production and demand has been widening. To meet local demand, the Sultanate relies on imports, with well over 95% of rice consumed being shipped in from overseas. In early September, in fact, Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawat…

Save Electricity

The Department of Electrical Services (DES) has published a new pamphlet with regard to the new tariffs that will be in place from the beginning of 2012. The tariffs will provide and help the poor and will penalise the heavy user. Hopefully with the new tariff, users will be more careful with their electricity and not waste it.

The new electricity tariff structure is:

0001 kWh to 0500 kWh = B$0.01 cents
0501 kWh to 1500 kWh = B$0.10 cents
1501 kWh Above = B$0.15 cents

The DES has also prepared comparison monthly charges between current usage with new tariffs:

Previously $30 = New $5.00 (500 kWh)
Previously $50 = New $40.00 (833 kWh)
Previously $100 = New $120.00 (1667 kWh)
Previously $150 = New $255.00 (2500 kWh)
Previously $200 = New $380.00 (3333 kWh)
Previously $250 = New $500.00 (4167 kWh)
Previously $300 = New $630.00 (5000 kWh)

Some facts:

Currently we have the highest energy intensity in ASEAN and is ranked 12th out of 198 countries.The actual cost of energy in 2010 is B$2 billi…

Sungai Kargu Dam

Not many people in Brunei know where this is or what this is.

This is the site of the Kargu Dam, the latest reservoir for Brunei Darussalam, before it is totally submerged in water in the next few months leaving just that red canopy and that walkway above water. Everything else up to the treeline will all be under water. It will take between one to two year for the dam to fill up completely depending on how much rainfall over the next year.

It is located near Kampung Kargu somewhere on the way to Labi. Sungai Kargu was a relatively unknown stream until one day when it was discovered to have sufficient water flow and the right geography and geology for it to be converted into a dam. Yesterday was the ceremony to plug the final hole to stop water coming out and the dam finally became a dam.

This $35 million dam is currently being built by TSL Construction Sdn Bhd and had been undergoing construction since October 2007. Its sole purpose is to secure water available to Belait District fr…

The Guardian of the Malay Language

[My article below was published on 19th September 2011 in my regular column, The Golden Legacy on The Brunei Times. This is an update of an earlier article I wrote in 2009 which is currently in my third book 'Our Brunei Heritage' which can be found in Best Eastern bookshops.]


Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka -- Guardian of the Malay Language --

It is not known when the Malay Language was first used in Brunei. In 644 AD, the definition Malay appeared in Chinese writings as ‘Mo-Le-Yeu’ when Chinese history recorded that the Malays had sent a tribute to the Emperor of China. Historians agree that ‘old Malay’ or ancient Malay was used extensively with Sanskrit before the mid-15th century when Malay became more widespread and used to spread Islam.

In Brunei, the Malay language was used extensively during the early days of the Sultanate. But it was not until 1906 when Brunei Darussalam started to use Malay officially in the education system. It was 50 years later that the usage of the…

Golden Anniversary of Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Brunei

Dewan Bahasa celebrated its 50th anniversary very recently. His Majesty himself graced the ocassion and noted the role of Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka as the guardian of our Malay Language. The Minister of Home Affairs also gave a talk on the sustainability of the Malay language, the language with the fourth largest group in the world. He said that there were more than 30,000 languages but now only around 5,000 had survived and by the end of the century, about half would have disappeared. And according to Pehin, one of the factors which determine longetivity of the language is the number of speakers. That being the case the Malay Language will be able to survive for quite sometime yet.
The postal authorities also issued stamps to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dewan Bahasa.

Technical Details about the stamps:

Name of Issue
The Golden Jubiless of the Establishment of Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka

Date of Issue
17 September 2011

Stamp Denomination
$1.00, 50 cents and 20 cents

Price of Minia…

Brunei School Lunches

This is an additional photograph of those students at Sekolah Lela Mencanai enjoying their free school lunches. Notice that one or two are not wearing their school uniforms. In the 1950s, Brunei were still recovering from the Second World War and there were still people facing hardships. The main reason why the feeding scheme started was to help feed the Brunei school children. This program continued only in certain areas now.

The more interesting question as who are these people in the photos? They must be grandfathers by now. If there is any of their grandchildren reading this, I would love to know how their grandfather fared.

Brunei School Lunches

There have been many government policies in the past. However one of the best to me is the school feeding scheme. Today's students may not know it but in the 1950s when the Brunei Government introduced the school feeding scheme, it was a life saver to many poor school children living in the rural areas.

In the late 1960s and 1970s when I first went to school, the feeding scheme was much better. We went into the school's hall lining up and getting a plate each filled with rice and other food such as chicken and interesting vegetables. I acquired the taste for cooked bean sprouts and pumpkins during this school lunches.

This photograph from Sekolah Lela Mencanai brought memories of my old school in Bangar. A few of us students would go to the kitchen which was in another block and brought the food in metal buckets like the ones in the photographs. We would then pile the food using our own metal plates.

Sultan visits School

I recently acquired this photograph from the internet. This one shows our 28th Sultan, Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Saadul Khairi Waddien during a visit to one of the rural school somewhere in Brunei. This was probably around 1960s.

Two things to note.

One is the baju melayu worn by His Majesty. This is the Brunei style Baju Melayu with the handkerchief attached to the front of the shirt. The colour is also interesting as the design of the baju melayu is completely unusual.

The second thing to note is the stage used by His Majesty. The stage is made up of several wooden tables used by the students. I find that amazing.

Brunei Construction on the Fast Track

The Oxford Business Group reported the following news on 7th September 2011.

Brunei Darussalam: Construction on the fast track

Brunei Darussalam has moved to further streamline the approval process for construction and land development projects to boost foreign investment and encourage local builders. However, government initiatives to improve workplace conditions and regulations will require construction firms to comply with tighter environmental protection requirements.

The Ministry of Development (MoD) has set the ambitious target of slashing the time it takes to get approval for the two stages of construction – land development and building – from around 50 days to 24. The ultimate goal is two weeks or less, with a recently established agency tasked with streamlining bureaucratic procedures. The Authority for Building Control and Construction Industry division (ABCi), a unit of the MoD, now has the lead role in coordinating and processing applications for building and land …

Visit by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to Brunei 1961

In Malaya August 1961 issue, the Journal for the British Association of Malaya, it had this news entry about the visit by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya to Brunei from 1st to 4th July 1961. The news read as follows:-


... and Praise with Happy Hearts his Beautiful Queen 

 Brunei people opened their hearts to the King and Queen of Malaya during their five-day visit from the 1st to 4th July. In sincerity and friendship they made it a Royal welcome indeed. They viewed the regal bearing of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong with somen regard and, when they saw the Queen, exclaimed, "Isn't she beautiful!"

One hundred Brunei police in smart white jackets and black trousers formed a Guard of Honour to welcome the Royal visitors on their arrival at Brunei airport. Thousands of Government officials, school children, and other well wishers turned out to show their warm affection for the Sultan's friend from Malaya. The Sultan of Brunei and th…

The Daily BR on Wikileaks

I was checking out the wikileaks and found a couple of diplomatic reports from the American Embassy here in Brunei which had me in it.

The first was during the 2009 Letter of Exchange between Brunei and Malaysia with regard to the boundary between Brunei and Malaysia which brought the Limbang claims issue.


-------------- --------
¶7. (SBU) Rozan Yunos, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Development, wrote on his blog; "I am not that much worried about the land boundary or the issue of claims...the bigger issue is economics". Rozan would rather focus on the maritime agreement because there is great potential in the maritime area. Another popular local blogger, 'anakbrunei' concurred with Rozan's statement and agreed that "we should be focusing on the potential economic gains rather than getting all hot and bothered over the border".


The second was also in 2009 during the TIP (Trafficking in Person) Re…

Origin of Baju Melayu

Someone asked in the comment box - "Spartan Rookie: Salam, wondering where we got started with our traditional pakaian melayu."

I don't really know. I know that in ancient Chinese history, there was a description of what Bruneians wore about 700 to 800 years ago. It was not the traditional pakaian melayu which we wore today. Incidentally Dr Siti Norkhalbi, the Director of Brunei Studies Academy did a study on this. It's published in her book entitled "Textiles and Identity in Brunei Darussalam" but this is focused more on the kain tenunan.

I checked the internet and has kindly prepared the answer to the above as follows:-



What is Baju Melayu?

Baju Melayu is the general reference to the traditional Malay costume for men and it is said that the style has been in existence since the 15th Century. Actually it has two specific style names, the Baju Kurung Cekak Musang and the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga. [BR note: The…