Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Brunei Heritage

My third book "Our Brunei Heritage" will be available at The Best Eastern bookshops and will also be available at other bookshops very soon. This third volume comprises of articles that I wrote for my column The Golden Legacy in The Brunei Times for the year 2009. Limited copies are also available directly from my office.

The 51 articles in the book are as follows:

  • Sultanate of Sambas - Descendants from Brunei
  • The Streets of Bandar Seri Begawan
  • The British Residents of Brunei Darussalam
  • A Short History of the Immigration Department
  • The Historic Kampong Mentiri
  • The Brunei National Flag
  • The First National Day Celebrations 1984
  • Sultan Muhammad Hassan
  • The Maulidur Rasul Celebrations in Brunei
  • The Origin of Brunei's Legislative Council
  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka
  • Brunei Through Other People’s Eyes
  • A City of Many Waters
  • Kampong Burong Pingai Berakas 50 years on dry land
  • In the Aftermath of World War II
  • The 1905 Belfeld Report
  • The Post War Political Development
  • Barisan Pemuda’s Role in Brunei’s Political Development
  • Old Brunei Got Mail!
  • The Meal of a Millinieum
  • The Ancient Limau Manis
  • Foreign Coins in Brunei
  • Without Fear of Favour
  • Brunei’s 19th Century Coins
  • The Guardian of Brunei’s Treasure
  • Ancient Trading Customs of Brunei and China
  • The Brunei Time Lines
  • His Majesty’s Birthday Celebrations Then and Now
  • The Lumut Archaeological Discovery
  • A Short History of Planting Rice
  • Accounts of Early Brunei History
  • Brunei or Berunai?
  • Brunei in London News
  • Ramadhan, Yesterday and Today
  • Past and Present Brunei Malay Traditional Costume
  • Hari Raya Cakes, Yesterday and Today
  • Ramadan and Hari Raya Practises
  • The Brunei Civil Service
  • A Brief History of Brunei’s Written Constitution
  • The History of Brunei Darussalam’s Crests
  • The Origins of Brunei
  • The First Chinese Temple in Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Brunei’s Early Education System
  • The Education Legacies of Sultan Omar Ali
  • The 1909 Land Code
  • Modern Land Administration
  • The History of the Borneo Games
  • Gala Night of the School Year
  • School Holidays Past and Present
  • Circumcision Past and Present
  • The Brunei Shipwreck

I hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

History teachers are welcome to contact me via e-mail to get your free copies.

Friday, August 26, 2011

DK Johore

I found this interesting historical article recently. In the March 1960 edition of the 'Malaya - The Journal of the British Association of Malaya' there was a special article about the Sultan of Johore awarding to our Brunei Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III on the occasion of Sultan Johore's investiture as the 12th Sultan of Johore. The news read:

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On the 10th February 1960, in the historic throne room of the Istana Besar, Johore Bahru, His Highness Colonel Sir Ismail ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Ibrahim was crowned Sultan and Soverign Ruler of the Territory of Johore and all its dependencies.

His Highness Sultan Sir Ismail, 65, thus became the twelfth member of the Johore Royal Family to rule over the State since the demise of His Late Highness Sultan Aladdin Riayat Shah II, who founded Johore at Kota Tinggi in 1540.

Her Highness Ungku Tun Aminah binti Ungku Ahmad, Consort of His Highness the Sultan, was crowned Sultanah of Johore.

About 420 diplomatic representatives, Service chiefs, Datos, State Assemblymen and leading citizens of Johore and their wives were present.

Representatives of Their Excellencies the Governors of Malacca and Penang, and of Their Highnesses the Rulers of Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Perlis, Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan arrived with their wives, in that order.

They were followed by His Highness the Sultan of Brunei and the Representative of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

During the Coronation ceremony, television was used for the first time to enable guests seated in a pavillion outside the Throne Room to watch this ancient ritual.

After the ceremony, the Sultan and Sultanah went for a State Drive around Johore Bahru. A crowd of 50,000 people including schoolchildren lined the route and shouted 'Daulat Tuanku' as the royal couple passed by.

In the evening a State Banquet for 1,000 people was held at the Banqueting Hall and Pavilion of the Istana Besar. The people of Johore celebrated the evening with a procession of illuminated floats, dragon dance, and lantern procession. On Thursday, 11th February, ninety persons were honoured by His Highness the Sultan of Johore at a special investiture held at the Istana Besar. The Sultan of Brunei, Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien, received the First Class Johore Royal Family Award of Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Di-Hormati.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Foreign Brunei First Day Covers

I recently acquired two first day covers. Both from the 1980s showing Brunei. Both are issued overseas. The first is:


This is issued by the Korean postal authorities on the occasion of His Majesty's first official visit to Korea in April 1984, a few months after Brunei gained independence. It is interesting that the Koreans put up a drawn portrait of His Majesty on the cover of the first day cover. The stamp has His Majesty and the then President of Korea, Chun Doo Hwan. President Chun was President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. He was sentenced to death in 1996 for his heavy-handed response to the Gwangju Democratization Movement, but later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam with the advice of then President-elect Kim Dae-jung, whom Chun himself had sentenced to death some 20 years earlier.


The other one is this first day cover issued by United Nations in September 1989. I know this belong to a series of other first day cover but I don't have enough detail to tell readers. The stamp is that of Brunei flag. Interestingly, the first day cover described Brunei as 'this small sultanate has the highest per capita income in all of East Asia', a description which we lost years ago.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ketupat and Hari Raya

[I normally write an article during the fasting month about Hari Raya in the past but I have done a few times and decided to write about the ketupat. I was intrigued as my mother told me that when she first arrived in Brunei, there was no ketupat for Hari Raya. But nowadays ketupat is the symbol for Hari Raya. This article was published in my column The Golden Legacy in Brunei Times on 22 August 2011]

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WITH less than two weeks of the fasting month left, attention has now shifted towards the preparation of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri as Bruneians and other Malays around the region called it.

Today, the symbol for Hari Raya is the outline of the ketupat or boiled compressed rice wrapped in a pouch of palm leaves. Everywhere you go, you will see the ketupat hanging everywhere. Nowadays, the ketupat does not have to be filled with anything. They are no longer made out of palm leaves but out of colourful ribbons.

To the younger Brunei crowd, ketupat has always been there. They see the ketupat everywhere. Almost all of the open houses would be serving ketupat cut into small square cubes to be eaten together with rice or beef or chicken rendang, another local Brunei Malay food.

It is also traditionally served with satay, the barbecued skewered meat. Some even served the ketupat with Sayur Lodeh, Serunding, Sambal as well as Soto. With the extensive serving of ketupat, it is no wonder that many have even thought that the ketupat has been served during Hari Raya since time immemorial. But this is not so.

The ketupat as food has a long history. Someone in the past discovered that by boiling rice compressed and encased in leaves will allow the rice not to spoil and to keep for quite some time. This is especially important for seafarers to keep the rice from spoiling during long sea voyages.

The shape of the ketupat allowed moisture to drip away from the cooked rice while the leaves allow the rice inside it to be aerated. At the same time, pests such as insects and flies will not be able to get to the rice during those sea voyages. It is not just the sea voyages. Farmers and hunters who had to work in the farm a whole day or for a few days would also be taking the ketupat with them.

Rice cooked wrapped in leaves is a relative common dish among the races of Southeast Asia. The Chinese version is called rice dumpling and is known as "Cang" or "Chang" and in Mandarin "ZongZi". These dumplings are usually wrapped in bamboo leaves. The shape of the pouch is different, where the ketupat is generally square but the Chinese rice dumpling is tetrahedral. The Chinese version is usually glutinous rice with fillings such as meat, dried prawns, black mushrooms, chestnuts, salted eggs, and red or white beans. The Brunei kelupis is another version of wrapped rice and filled with meat or prawns.

Ketupat is also used as a religious offering for some of the indigenous races. Elderly Dusun people called it "tebuu". However the ketupat is not encased in the traditional square weaved leaves but usually in the shape of an object such as the head of a bird or an animal. These ketupats are not eaten with beef rendang but usually with bananas and eggs.

In the Philippines, ketupat or "puso" as it is known is used as a pabaon or a packed lunch. It is also called "bugnoy", "patupat" or "ta'mu" in the other languages of the Philippines. In Bali, ketupat is also used as ceremonial offerings. In Indonesia, the word ketupat or "kupat" is derived from the Javanese word "ngaku lepat", which means to admit mistake.

Ketupat had indeed been made and sold throughout the generation. One lady hailing from the Kampong Ayer remembered that even the padians, the water village peddlers, had been seen selling ketupat from their sampans.

When indeed did ketupat made the jump from everyday food to become a Hari Raya symbol in Brunei?

According to Datin Hajah Faridah, when she first arrived in Brunei in the very early 1960s as a young bride from Johor, Hari Raya food in Brunei was the traditional dry Brunei food. Unlike today's many multicoloured cakes being served are the norm but in those days the food served would be much simpler. Local and much drier food such as dried agar-agar, kueh Mumbai, kueh sapit and kueh bahulu were the flavour of the day. Drinks too were limited to black coffee with sugar. Soft drinks were not served or indeed were not yet available in the Brunei market then.

In those days, the tradition of open houses, inviting people to come in to have a meal is not practiced. If there is no meal to invite to, then there is no necessity to serve food let alone ketupat. For about three decades after the Second World War, ketupat was not yet a Hari Raya symbol in Brunei. By the 1970s, with the help of television and the radio, and the crossover of cultural practices between Brunei and the other nations around the region, only then did ketupat evolved to become the symbol of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and a new "traditional" must have for the Hari Raya festivities.

By the 1980s, open houses became the norm and the serving of food to family members, visitors and guests became the new norm. Until today, many Bruneians celebrated the achievements of the whole month of fasting by serving food to their guests which includes having ketupat as part of the main courses. Ketupat makers need to buy ketupat casings in this month of Ramadhan. Many of the ketupat casings can be seen to be made by the vendors at the tamu at Kianggeh. These casings are generally made out of "nipah" leaves or better known in Brunei as "daun puchuk". The nipah is a type of palm. The spine of the nipah leaves are first removed with a knife before the leaves pressed to flatten them to ease the weaving of the ketupat casing.

Prior to weaving, the leaves are left to dry, as the shape of the ketupat would not hold if the leaves are damp as the leaves need to hold together as the casings are filled with two thirds or three quarters of uncooked rice before being boiled.

Weaving ketupat casings is a skill learned from past generations. Haji Awang Daud remembered as a small boy helping his mother tightened the loose ketupat casings.

Generally Brunei casing maker used only one leaf rather than two. The ketupat casing in Brunei are usually made up of three different shapes. The traditional square one is called ketupat satay. The ones for Hari Raya is called ketupat raya which is usually a more diamond shaped and another is called ketupat bawang which is shaped like an onion.

There is another type of ketupat in Brunei which is made from palas leaves. These are usually triangular shaped and is not boiled. It is usually filled with glutinous rice cooked in santan or coconut paste and then steamed which Bruneians called "di dadih". In Malaysia, palas leaves would be used to make the regular diamond shaped ketupat pulut. The leaves has a green edge and the ketupat would be cream coloured with green tints thus making the palas leaves ketupat as the new symbol of Hari Raya. This is more likely due to the green colour as green is seen as the colour of the religion.

However despite the symbolism, most importantly, Hari Raya is not about ketupat. It is a day to pay tribute and a day of victory. It is a day for reaching out to the Al-Mighty and prays to express our gratitude for being bestowed prosperous blessings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Istana Majalis

Last Friday, I was going around the tamu looking for ketupat casings and also asking the few sellers that about ketupat. That was for my Golden Legacy article on the origins of the ketupat which was published yesterday on Brunei Times.

Today I am not going to talk about ketupat. While I was walking around the tamu, I came across an old man selling a lot of old stuffs including some books, old photographs, old coins, old paper money etc. I stopped to have a look and ended up buying a couple of stuffs. One of them is this photograph.

Regular readers would recognise this as I have posted this Istana in the past. However I was intrigued this time round as the photograph came from some publication. So I thought $3 was worth to have this photograph.

For those who do not know, this is Istana Majalis. Istana Majalis was used by Sultan Jamalul Alam, the father of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin and Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien. If I am not mistaken, both of them were born in this palace. The history of the palace is not much known. It was located on the site of today's General Post Office in Bandar.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Old Seria c.late 1950s


In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the shop houses in Seria were just completed. The town looks fresh and really resemble a simcity town with roads and houses nicely packaged together. This is what it looked like then. Is that AAC in the foreground in the righthand corner?

Out in the sea you can see the first offshore installation. If you look closely, you can see that it is still connected to dry land via a cable car link. That was probably the first and only cable car link in Brunei.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Books and More Books

I was pleasantly surprised to find my books, The Golden Warisan Brunei Darussalam Volume 1 and Volume 2 are now available in the United States Library of Congress.

The two books are listed under one reference number which I have liberally cut and paste as follows:

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DS650.3 .R68 2009
Rozan Yunos. The golden warisan Brunei Darussalam. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam: Haji Mohd. Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd. Yunos, 2009.

LOCATION CALL # STATUS
Suzzallo/Allen Stacks DS650.3 .R68 2009 v.1 AVAILABLE
Suzzallo/Allen Stacks DS650.3 .R68 2009 v.2 AVAILABLE

Details
Description v. : ill., map ; 22 cm.
Note A compilation of articles from The golden legacy, a weekly column on Brunei's national newspaper, The Brunei Times published for the year of 2007-2008.
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (v. 2, p. 328-332).
LC SUBJECTS Brunei.
LCCN 2009318976
ISBN 9991754172 (v. 1)
9789991754178 (v. 1)
999175427X (v. 2)
9789991754277 (v. 2)
OCLC # 495545377

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Both The Golden Warisan Brunei Darussalam Volume 1 and Volume 2 are also currently available in the British Library in London.

There are more details when I checked their catalogue. It seemed that the two books have acquired new ISBN numbers:

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Title: The golden warisan Brunei Darussalam / [written by Rozan Yunos].
Author: Rozan Yunos.
Subjects: Brunei
Publication Details: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam : Haji Mohd. Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd. Yunos, c2009-
Language: English
Identifier: ISBN 9991754172 (v. 1); ISBN 9789991754178 (v. 1); ISBN 999175427X (v. 2); ISBN 9789991754277 (v. 2); System number 015518638
Notes: A compilation of articles from The golden legacy, a weekly column on Brunei's national newspaper, The Brunei Times published for the year of 2007-2008.
Includes bibliographical references (v. 2, p. 328-332).
Copy at YD.2011.a.1416. Signed by author on both volumes on title pages.
Physical Description: 2 v. : ill., map ; 22 cm.
Shelfmark(s): Asia, Pacific & Africa YD.2011.a.1416

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My third book containing all the Golden Legacy articles for 2009 entitled THE BRUNEI HERITAGE is currently at the printing press and will be available sometime next two weeks at the usual bookshops in the country. I hope you will find the book useful for your references as well as for reading pleasure.

As usual, history teachers can email me or call my office to reserve their copies FOC. I have a limited number of copies which I give away, so the earlier you email me the better.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Ferry


Back in the days before the bridge was built across the Baram River, this would have been one of the earlier ferries being used in the 1950s. Sometime we forget how transportation ministries on both sides of Brunei and Malaysia have helped to make travel convenient for all.

We have the bridges at the Baram River, at the Belait River and also at Lawas. The final bridge would be at Pendaruan linking Limbang and Temburong. One should take photos of the ferries before they became distant memories as the bridge would be built shortly. Remember this news reported in all the local and Malaysian newspapers in April 2011:

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Malaysia and Brunei have agreed in principle to build a bridge connecting Sarawak's Limbang and Temburong across the Pandaruan river in Brunei, a plan that would bring major advantage to commuters from both sides.

Malaysian Works Minister Shaziman Mansor told the press after taking a tour at the Pandaruan pier on Monday, that both Malaysia and Brunei governments have already agreed on the bridge construction and are now finalising the technical terms, such as subcontracts and maintenance.

The construction work, which costs some 25 million ringgit (8.27 million U.S. dollars) would kick off within three to four months and complete in a year, he said.

The Pandaruan river between Limbang and Temburong is less than 100 meters' wide.

But commuters are spending more than five hours to travel across to the other side via ferry, which has a maximum load of 10 for saloon cars and is only available from 6a.m. to 10p.m. daily.

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Brunei's Favourite

Yesterday, one of my colleagues started talking about food and the subject of Brunei's food cropped up. He was talking about the recent gerai during His Majesty's Birthday and whether that particular food is still available at the many gerai remadan's currently operating almost everywhere in the country.

Pronounced by many as sutung tutuk roughly translated as hammered squids is certainly an old favourite. Not many realised that other than at the beaches, sutung tutuk is only available during the July birthday celebrations. The dried squid, heated over a barbecue, will be literally hammered by the vendor. Someone asked why must it be hammered. The only answer to that is that the red gravy sambal would not be able to penetrate into the dry squid if it has not been hammered or pummeled into smaller portions. And I doubt if anyone has a strong enough set of teeth to bite through dried squid if it has not been softened and loosened by the hammering.

The squids all taste alike. It is the sauce or the gravy which makes the sutung tutuk nice and this is the one that vendors vary. I prefer mine to be thicker and not too runny. Runny sauces are nice too. I remember when I was much younger, after I have eaten all the squids, I would then drink the sauce as well. Haa.... I should not be talking about food during this fasting month.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Brunei Darussalam: Refineries

[On 4 August 2011, the Oxford Business Group reported the following news item.]

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Brunei Darussalam: Refined investment

The downstream energy sector in Brunei Darussalam is set to get the biggest makeover in its history, with a Chinese consortium planning to invest up to $6bn to develop an oil refinery and associated chemicals plant at the Pulau Muara Besar (PMB) industrial site.

On July 3 the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) – the state agency tasked with advancing the growth and diversification of the national economy – announced an agreement had been reached between the government and Chinese textiles and raw materials supplier Zhejiang Hengyi Group to build a $2.5bn refinery at PMB, which the board has been promoting as the Sultanate’s main petrochemicals centre.

Under the deal Sinopec Engineering, the engineering arm of China’s state-owned petroleum firm Sinopec, will carry out the front-end engineering design for the project, followed by the preparation of a detailed study prior to the commencement of construction. Though largely a Chinese venture, Zhejiang has said it would offer local equity participation of up to 30% in the project.

Located on a 260-ha site, the plant will have a production capacity of around 135,000 barrels per day (bpd), with its output split between gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The plant will also turn out paraxylene and benzene, both of which are used extensively in textiles production.

The refinery will, however, be only the first part of a two-stage process, with the second tier of investment, valued at an additional $3.5bn, seeing expansion of the refinery to allow for the production of olefins, which are used as raw materials in plastics manufacturing. The first stage of the project is expected to create up to 800 jobs, with a further 1200 positions linked to the petrochemicals plant. Most of the output from the refinery and the olefins plant will be exported, with China’s industrial sector being the main market.

According to Ali Apong, the chairman of the BEDB and the deputy minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, the refinery project will be the driving force in development of PMB as an industrial centre. “The BEDB will continue to work very closely with Zhejiang Hengyi and other relevant stakeholders towards the successful implementation of this project,” he said when announcing the inking of the deal. “It is hoped that the investment by Zhejiang Hengyi will not only contribute to Brunei Darussalam’s economic growth but will also act as a catalyst to develop PMB and its surrounding areas.”

Already ratified by His Majesty the Sultan, the agreement is the culmination of months of negotiations between officials from Brunei Darussalam and China, with the deal having been flagged back in February when it was announced talks were being held over energy cooperation. However, the speed at which the project has reached the approval process is impressive, with a senior Bruneian official saying some months ago that an announcement on cooperation between energy firms from the two countries could be expected “in the next year or so”.

A few details have yet to be clarified, including the exact timetable for the construction and opening of the plant, though this is dependent on the planning process. Another is where the bulk of the oil to be processed by the refinery will come from. In announcing the agreement, the BEDB said that a portion of the feedstock will be sourced locally, though with the current production of Brunei Darussalam’s fields running at around 200,000 bpd, and most of this already committed to the export market, the new refinery’s operators will likely need to look overseas for crude.

Brunei Darussalam already has one oil refinery, operated by Brunei Shell Petroleum, the company responsible for the majority of oil extraction in the Sultanate. However the existing refinery, located at Belait, has a production capacity of just 10,000 bpd, with almost all of its output of unleaded motor gasoline, gasoil, Jet A1 and kerosene used to meet local demand.

The Chinese project is not the only such development that has been mooted in recent years. In 2008 private consortium PetroBru proposed the construction of a 200,000-bpd refinery at PMB, with the scheme carrying a price tag of $3bn-$4.3bn. However, despite extensive consultations with the government, and a detailed feasibility study that forecast work on the refinery could begin in 2013, the plan seems to have lapsed. Like the Sinopec-Zhejiang plan, most of the crude to be processed at the plant would have been sourced from overseas, with Kuwait named as the potential main provider, and output would have been exported, largely to the Asian market.

When completed, the new facility will be the largest single foreign investment in Brunei Darussalam’s economy, as well as almost immediately becoming one of its biggest employers. It will also go a long way to establishing the Sultanate’s credentials as a petrochemicals centre, which in turn could attract further investment into the sector.

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Inspirational Quotes

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