Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jalan Sultan

You know, not many people cycle nowadays. This postcard of Jalan Sultan in the 1960s is very interesting with these three girls cycling. These girls must be grandmothers by now. It would be interesting to know who they are. Interestingly enough, the traffic light was on. That traffic light at the corner of Jalan Sultan and Jalan Chevalier (now Jalan Pemancha) is the very first traffic light in Brunei Darussalam.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Old Brunei Pelaminan

My cousin posted this photo of my aunt and my uncle getting married .... in 1954! The family had fun commenting on the photo and one of my aunties pointed out that the date of the wedding was also painted on the pelaminan. The year is visible but unfortunately the rest of the date is not very visible.

What I was interested in was the simplicity of the pelaminan. Compared to today's pelaminan, this one is very simple. Not to mention, it is also very crowded and very narrow. I didn't realise you can get that many people on the wedding dais.

The British connection is very strong too. Look at the Union Jack flag and the Brunei flag on the wedding dias' frame. A number of old photographs showed how closed the British are considered then. You would find many old photographs where people would be holding up the two flags together.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brunei $100 Note

Someone in one of the banks gave me a call and said that he had in his hand the $100 bill Brunei second series. I told him to hold on to it and today I wanted to get it off him. That was when he told me he had four of them and the numbers are in a sequence. That probably will make them worth more in the future.

This $100 was the second series produced for Brunei. The notes were printed in 8 different years with the years clearly visible if you look at the note. The one that I have here is 1983. The notes were printed in 1972, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1988. How much are these notes actually worth? I paid $400 for the four pieces but if I have to pay commercially, these would be worth around US$300 each depending on the quality of the notes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kampong Ayer

One of my nephews emailed me and asked whether I got anything on Kampong Ayer. He needed it for his final year project. I had to scratch my head and asked whether anything much has been printed about Kampong Ayer academically. I presumed there was plenty but off hand I can't remember much. Most of what I do know is historical but my nephew needed the studies for much more than that.

Luckily I am on a two day MC. My left leg had cellulitis and is very painful. I had a shot of anti-biotics and had to rest my leg. Anyway, that gave me plenty of time to look around my study and to see whether I got anything. I found this rather old book published about 15 years ago. It's a mother lode of articles that are needed for one to cross reference anything on Kampong Ayer.

The book was published by the Brunei Studies Academy of UBD in commemoration of an international symposium on Kampong Ayer back in September 1996. The book contained every known article written and published in Brunei about Kampong Ayer from 1970 to 1996. Altogether there are 26 articles published.

The articles are indeed varied. One was entitled "The Postal Services in Brunei's Water Town" written by JA Davidson. Another "The Changing Socio-Economic Profile of Kampong Ayer and Environmental Implications" written by Chi, Cleary and Ta. Goh Kim Chuan wrote about "Garbage Production and Disposal in Kampong Ayer and Environmental Implications". Teh Pick Ching wrote about "An Experiment to discover Mathematical Talent in a Primary School in Kampong Ayer". Haji Idris (now YB Dato Paduka Haji Idris) wrote about "Evolution of the National Capital" with Kampong Ayer being part of it. Anyway, you get the picture.

Books like these can't be purchased. Tomorrow I will have to photocopy it and send it over to my nephew. Hope he can use this.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Climate Change Talks Last Day

Greetings from Bangkok. A picture is worth a 1,000 word.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Climate Change Talks Deadlocked

Greetings from Bangkok.

I came here with all the representatives of the countries in the world hoping to get something. You know what we got? So far nothing. The meeting could not even agree on the agenda! We haven't even been able to begin. When I returned on Saturday, this would be the shortest report to write.

There were supposed to be 2 meetings - one on the Kyoto Protocol (WG-KP) and the other on Long Term Cooperative Action (WG-LCA). The Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012 and that needs to be renewed soon. The December deal in Cancun included a Green Climate Fund to manage $100 billion a year in aid to poor nations by 2020 and to limit a rise in average world temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times. It also won consensus on measures to protect tropical forests and a framework to help poorer nations adapt to rising seas and greater weather extremes.

The agenda for Bangkok, the first major climate meeting since Cancun, is meant to build on the December deal by filling in the details on getting these schemes operating. But the 131-member G77 group of developing nations plus China said while Cancun was a good basis for talks, the tougher issues must be given much more focus and challenged the agenda presented by the chair of the meeting. Many rich nations counteract saying that they want a broader agreement that binds all big emitters to steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Japan, Canada and Russia are firmly opposed to the pact entering a second commitment period from 2013 while developing nations say Kyoto must be preserved.

The WG-LCA meeting was supposed to begin on Tuesday evening but with WG-KP still on-going, the WG-LCA can't or won't meet. Yesterday, an informal informal meeting was supposed to begin to settle the agenda but no agreement was reached. Today the WG-KP met and hopefully the WG-LCA will be able to meet by Friday, the last day. If not, we will all stumble to Boon in June with practically nothing in our hands and the world hurtling towards global warming! And we don't seem to care....

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Climate Change Updated

Greetings from Bangkok. For those interested in the Climate Change talks, here is the update from United Nations Bangkok on the Climate Change Convention talks.

Yesterday was the first day of the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. For those interested, the Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The Kyoto Protocol first commitments will end in 2012 and hence the negotiation to begin a new commitment is now on. USA however is not signatory to the protocol.

Yesterday in her opening address to the talks, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned that breakthroughs made at the last summit in the Mexican resort of Cancun could be jeopardised by the stalemate over the Kyoto Protocol. She said that "The full implementation of the Cancun agreements can only become an important step forward for the climate if there's a responsible and clear way ahead on the Kyoto Protocol."

There were heated discussions with one island nation even suggesting that USA should not even be in the room if they are not willing to be party to the Kyoto Protocol and the countries position look unchanged from previous positions. Japan and Russia continue to firmly opposed extending the protocol because it excludes the world's two biggest polluters, China and the United States and without these two any Kyoto Protocol would only cover about 30 percent of global emissions. Australia has also said it would only agree to a second round of commitments if all major emitters were part of the process. Developing countries, including China, did not have to commit to cutting emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol and most of them maintain this should remain the case.

If this remain unchanged in Bangkok and the next meeting in Bonn in June, there is the likelihood of the Kyoto Protocol commitments expiring with only a framework of non-legally binding pledges from most developed and developing countries to fill the void.

The meetings are now stuck in identifying the agenda of the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA. It feels like we are watching the world moving towards a disaster scenario in slow motion and there is nothing our delegation can do about it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New Kampong Ayer

This morning's announcement on the construction of houses under the Pilot Project to Upgrade Kampong Ayer, involving open areas in Mukim Peramu and Mukim Saba in Kampong Ayer, hopefully will make Kampong Ayer a better place especially as these houses that are to become model homes using environmentally-friendly material so that they are sustainable and safe for the environment.

Its implementation is scheduled to begin in April and is expected to be completed at the year's end. Two types of houses will be built - 16 'A' type conventional houses and 49 'B' type, two-storey houses. Amongst the features of the houses that will be constructed is the use of environmentally friendly building materials which will replace the timber which is usually used for the houses in Kampong Ayer. The spacing between the houses will also be taken into account to ensure further safety whilst also reducing the risk of fires in Kampong Ayer.

The pilot project will also include a network of integrated connecting walkways, with landscapes, and other facilities.

For this Pilot Project, two multi-purpose areas will also be constructed for gatherings and recreational activities. The vacuum sewerage system for this area is the government initiative to provide a raw sewage management system for Kampong Ayer that is both systematic and hygienic. This is already in used in the Kampong Bolkiah A and B.

This sewerage system, is planned to be extended in the future to all areas of Kampong Ayer to make significant impact upon the preservation of the environment and water in the Brunei River.

The Public Works Department (JKR) is responsible for the design and the carrying out of the construction but the placement of the owner/occupant is still being discussed, so stop contacting the Housing Developmet Deparment. Bear in mind that unlike other Kampong Ayer houses, another important feature of the project is the issuance of ownership titles to the house owners.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Greetings from Bangkok

Greeting from Bangkok!

I am here together with representatives of the world are meeting in Bangkok for the first 2012 round of climate change talks. This is the first meeting since the Cancun Agreements were reached in December 2010, which laid the foundation on numerous fronts towards achieving a fair, ambitious and binding global agreement to curb climate change in the future.

The UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009 have not been successful. However in Cancun in 2010, there was a fragile compromise which helped put the UN negotiations back on track. There are hopes that at this round of climate change talks in Bangkok, the meeting will ge able to build on the progress made on certain issues in Cancun and greatly increase their levels of ambition if we are to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

In Bangkok delegates will need to create the roadmap to reach it. This requires real progress on mobilizing climate finance and raising ambition by eliminating loopholes that undermine mitigation pledges. And by Durban, those headline pledges should also be increased.

To be successful, by the end of the week:

1. We agree on a work plan and timetable to establish the institutions for adaptation, finance and technology outlined in the Cancun Agreements. The institutions become capable of mobilizing and managing the financial and technical resources that developing countries need to pursue low-carbon development.

2. We negotiate innovative sources of climate financing. The Cancun Agreements established the financial institutions to support mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries, but did not agree on a process of how to generate sources of finance to fill the fund.

3. We resolve the contradiction of their less than 2 °C warming commitment, as made in the Cancun Agreements, with the actual pledges that they have put on the table. Developed countries in particular need to show leadership on this.

I am not optimistic though.... Wish us luck.

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