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Showing posts from April, 2012

Description of Brunei in 1700

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I was looking up something on The Brunei Museum Journal (1978) when I came across this map showing the Island of Borneo drawn way back in 1700s more than 300 years ago. The island is this unfamiliar shape but has some rudimentary look of how the actual Borneo Island is shaped. The cartographer who did this probably has more data on the southern part of the island as that is more developed and less knowledge on the top half of the island. I had a hard time searching where Brunei was located. I found it and circled it red.

The actual book was written by Rev Dr Francis Valentyn who was with the Dutch Reformed Church and was a missionary to the Indies in the late 1600s and early 1700s. He collected a lot of material and published in eight volumes entitled Oud en Niew Oust Indien (The Old and New East Indies) sometimes between 1724 and 1726. He also wrote a bit about Brunei including this short passage about us Bruneians in the past:

"... Further north or rather NNW, resides the King …

Tracing the History of Brunei-China Relationships

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Recently the Information Department launched the above book. The book is very interesting as it contained not just lots of stories about Brunei and China but also with photographs. I will not say much about it and here is the news release during the launching of the book by my colleague, the PS at PMO:

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Bandar Seri Begawan, 29th March 2012 - The publication of a commemorative book 'Menjejaki Sejarah Hubungan Brunei-China' or tracing the history of Brunei-China Relations is important from a historical perspective and also from cultural, diplomatic, economic, social and trade aspects of both countries. Disclosing historical facts based on ancient Chinese documents has uncovered evidence of Brunei's glorious past. The Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office underscored the matter at the official launch of the commemorative book on Tracing the History of Brunei-China Relations.

Pengiran Haji Abdul Haris said that the publication of the book emphasises the l…

Speeding Can Kill

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It was 7.20 this morning when my wife was queuing up in her black Honda CRV waiting for her turn at the Rimba Highway traffic light junction to enter into the Royal Brunei Airforce HQ. She was just transferred there last week to be the Airforce Commander's PA. Suddenly she saw in her rear view mirror this grey car suddenly looming into view and even though she can hear the screeching sound of the car braking, she knew her car will be hit. The driver in the white KIA Cerrato in front of her also heard the sound. He knew someone was going to get hit. The crash came. The grey Hyundai Accent hatchback slammed into my wife's Honda CRV and bounced back. She in turn felt the Honda being pushed into the white KIA Cerrato also queueing up in front of her. The Cerrato was only a month old. Her Honda was three years old.

When I went there, I saw the long thread marks of the Hyundai's tyres on the road. There was no two ways about it. He was travelling really really fast and by the ti…

Preparations for National Family Day 2012

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Bandar Seri Begawan, 24 April 2012 - The National Committee for the National Family Day celebration held their second meeting on the proposed celebration yesterday morning at the Digadong Hall, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

The meeting was chaired by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. Also in attendance were Pehin Datu Lailaraja Mejar Jeneral (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohammad Yusof, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Datin Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman, the Deputy Minister, Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar and Haji Mohd Rozan Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, the Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and senior officers and officials from the ministry.

The importance of family institution was recognised after His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's titah at the official opening cerem…

Sultan Hassan's Canons: Islamic Law in Brunei from the 16th Century

[I wrote the following article for my Golden Legacy column on The Brunei Times. It was published on 23rd April 2012].

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Sultan Hassan's Canons: Islamic Law in Brunei from the 16th Century

In a news article in The Brunei Times Last year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during a meeting with members of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) proposed the introduction of an Islamic Criminal Act to deal with crimes while maintaining the implementation of existing civil and religious legislations.

His Majesty noted that Brunei does not have an enactment that specifically handles criminal offences under Islam. His Majesty noted that despite the establishment of the Syariah Court, it was only influential in the area of Family Law. He stated that the establishment of the Syariah High Court authority was to fully manage the Islamic Criminal Act, as ordained by the All Mighty.

His Majesty also noted that Brunei has been implementing Islamic Law since th…

Brunei Stamps 1906

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In 1895, Sultan Hashim issued the first Brunei stamps under a PPP under the guy who got the franchise went round selling those Brunei stamps as fast as he could. In those days, that was considered unfair and many stamp catalogues refused to acknowledge that as Brunei's first stamps. Even in today's Scotts Stamp Catalogue, you will not find the 1895 stamps listed.

The stamps many cataloguers consider as the first official Brunei stamps is the set above widely known as the Labuan Overprint. Brunei had its first British Resident administering the country in early January 1906. He set up the first Post Officce and ordered new stamps to be used. However those stamps for the new postal service. But those stamps did not arrive until 1907. Luckily for him, the Labuan Island's administration was moved under the jurisidction of the Federal Government and will not be using their stamps anymore. So the first Brunei stamps were those left over Labuan stamps and stamped with the word B…

National Family Day

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HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim yesterday suggested that people refrain from using their mobile phones on May 6 and spend quality time with their families to make the inaugural National Family Day more meaningful.

Highlighting the importance of better communication among family members, HRH said this was one of the ways for making family bonds stronger.

As many people spend more time on their phones in this digital age, HRH said having fun with family members like having dinner together will go a long way in strengthening the family institution.

HRH was present at a dialogue between the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and about 200 youth aged between 15 and 30, individuals representing special needs, youth and parent associations, students and former National Service Scheme (PKBN) participants, among others, aimed at bridging the gap between parents and children.

The MCYS said parents are spending less time with their children due to factors such as f…

Brunei's First Stamps of 1895

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In 1895, Sultan Hashim signed an agreement that allowed a company to produce Brunei stamps and sell them on behalf of the government while at the same time running the postal service from the proceeds which made this the first public private partnership in Brunei Darussalam. The post office was opened by the company, it is believed, on 22 July 1895 and a set of 10 stamps, which had been printed in Glasgow by the firm Maclure Macdonald, was placed on sale. These stamps were printed on unwatermarked paper with 14 gauge line perforations, with the values in British Trade dollars (then in circulation in Brunei).

The stamps are not that difficult to obtain as the stamps were then deliberately sold in quantity by the company to raise the proceeds. However used stamps are relatively rare and even ones with the postal cancellations were quite difficult to find. I was first offered the complete set with CTO (cancelled to order) about five years ago and the asking price was B$800 which I tho…

Humanitarian Fund for Philippines Washi Typhoon Victims

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Last Thursday, I chaired the meeting to close the humanitarian fund for Philippines' Washi Typhoon Victims. Before that we had all the organisations who had collected funds to present their collection to my Minister, Pehin Hazair and to the Acting Religious Affairs Minister, Pengiran Dato Bahrom. This is the 21st or 22nd fund that Brunei had established since the first one for the Ache Tsunami victims. Despite the many number of funds, Bruneians were still contributing. The total collection for the Washi Fund is B$202,491.35. Here is the news article I borrowed from Borneo Bulletin.

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Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) yesterday received a total of B$202,491.35 in donations from several government and non-government agencies at a ceremony held at the ministry's building.

The donations were collected for three months from January 4 to April 3 for the victims of the Philippines Typhoon Washi.

Present as guest of honour and to receive the …

Celebrating 40 Years of MABBIM

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[I wrote the following article for my column, The Golden Legacy on The Brunei Times 9 April 2012]

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Celebrating 40 Years of MABBIM
by Rozan Yunos


THE Language Council of Brunei Indonesia Malaysia (MABBIM) recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary in Bandar Seri Begawan. Many in the Malay literary world know that MABBIM (Majlis Bahasa Brunei Indonesia Malaysia) is responsible for the coordination of the Malay/Indonesian Language but not many know how it was formed, the history of the organisation and its effect on the Malay language.

It was His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah himself in September 2011 during the 50th Anniversary of the Language and Literature Bureau, who pointed out that in the 7th to 13th centuries, the Malay Language was so important that it was the "lingua franca" throughout the Malay Archipelago. From 1603 to 1708 at least twelve Malay dictionaries were known to be published by non-Malays so that Europeans could learn the language while trading in the…

International Chess Tournament in Brunei

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There is currently one international tournament currently taking place in Brunei which not many people in Brunei know about. I thought I will highlight that The Brunei Campomanes Memorial Grandmaster Chess Open 2012 is currently taking place at The Orchid Garden Hotel in Berakas.

The Chess Open is organised by the Brunei Chess Federation and I was lucky enough to have the honour to launch the tournament yesterday afternoon. The tournament is held in honour of Florencio Compamanes who was the former President of FIDE (1982 to 1995) and Honorary President (1995 to 2010), has passed away at age 83 in May 2010. Campomanes was often present at significant international competitions such as zonal and continental championships, chess olympiads and world chess championships including a few times here in Brunei Darussalam. For those who are curious FIDE stands for Fédération Internationale des Échecs or in English, World Chess Federation or more accurately International Chess Federation.

The …