Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Masjid Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit

Masjid Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit, Mukim Kilanas
Picture Credit: Information Department, Prime Minister's Office
Residents in Kilanas was very lucky to have another mosque in the village. Though technically speaking the new mosque located at Bebatik Kilanas is a mosque for the Mukim and not for the village, but it does not matter, there are now two mosques in the village. Both are within 5 minutes drive from my house. Now I can hear the azan from both mosques but the new one is louder.

It is not as grand as the Ash-Sallehin Mosque opened the week before but it is still very nice. His Majesty consented to pray at the mosque last Friday. Here is The Brunei Times news report about it:

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday joined hundreds of congregants in the first Friday prayers at a newly-completed mosque, named after the monarch's late mother, in Mukim Kilanas.

Accompanying the Sultan at the Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit Mosque were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik.

Welcoming the monarch and his sons was Religious Affairs Minister Yang Berhormat Pg Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Muhammad Pg Hj Abdul Rahman, who also led the customary takbir of Allahu Akhbar (Allah is Great) three times, and repeated by the mosque-goers, once His Majesty signed a plaque to inaugurate the new mosque.

With the congregants, young and old, eagerly lining up to greet the monarch, who recently celebrated his 66th birthday, and the royal family members, His Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses made their way to the front of the congregation.

Alongside cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and other senior government officials, His Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses performed Sunat prayers before the azan was sounded. Chief Syar'ie Judge Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Yahya Hj Ibrahim read out a special Friday sermon, highlighting the significance of opening a new mosque.

Picture Credit: The Brunei Times
Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Yahya said that the establishment of the mosque constituted as yet another sign of Syiar Islam or the propogation of Islam in this country as well as ketaqwaan (piety and being conscious of) Allah SWT and a means to bring oneself closer to The Almighty.

The construction of the mosque commenced on April 14, 2010 and was completed on July 9, 2012, the Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement yesterday.

The mosque was a project under the ninth National Development Plan 2007-2012, the press release said, adding that it has the capacity to accommodate 1,000 worshippers. Among the facilities of the mosque include a main prayer hall (for male congregants), and a smaller prayer hall for female congregants. It also has a room for mosque officers and imam, a room for special visitors and VIPs, an IT and resource room, a lecture room, a room for funeral preparations and respective female and male ablution facilities, among others.

The Friday prayers were led by Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Abdul Hamid Bakal.

The week before, His Majesty and several royal family members also joined the inaugural Friday prayers at the new Ash-Shaliheen Mosque of the Prime Minister's Office complex, which is still under construction.

-- courtesty of The Brunei Times --

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Masjid Ash-Shaliheen, Brunei's Newest Mosque



Brunei's newest mosque, Masjid Ash-Shaliheen is now open for use by the public. His Majesty consented to attend the first Friday prayer at the mosque on 13th July 2012 and signed a plaque. The mosque is located at Jalan Kumbang Pasang and is very near to the government's ministries and departments in the Jalan Menteri Besar area. The new Prime Minister's Office Building is very near the mosque.

From what can be seen during the televised telecast of the Friday prayer at the mosque, the design of the mosque is different compared to other mosque in Brunei Darussalam. It is based on the Moorish Andalusia architecture. It is the first mosque to have a retractable roof. Siti Hajar of Borneo Bulletin wrote a very eloquent piece of the mosque, and I am attaching it here. All the photos are sourced from Borneo Bulletin and Information Department.

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Ash-Shaliheen Mosque - A Sight to Behold
by Siti Hajar, Borneo Bulletin

Bandar Seri Begawan, 14th July 2012 - Amid the many awe-inspiring Islamic infrastructures the Abode of Peace boasts, the newly constructed Ash-Shaliheen Mosque will have its own unique place in the heart of Bruneians.

With its low-ceiling and relaxed ambiance, visitors to the modestly designed building will be heavily drawn to the mosque's intricate interior detailing where, at a glance, one can ascertain the significant amount of time that has been invested to give a feeling of ease that resonates throughout the mosque.

The Ash-Shaliheen Mosque is unique when compared to the other equally magnificent mosques in the Sultanate.

Worshippers are greeted by an open courtyard decorated with a marble fountain in the heart of the mosque that lets in copious amount of sunlight. The one-of-a-kind transparent retractable roof brings nature right into the mosque, day or night.


Built around the Moroccan Moorish and Andalusian architectural concept, the main prayer hall features a wall made of hand-cut mosaic flown in from Morocco. The hand-chiselled mosaic from afar looks precise but up-close details the imperfections that actually highlight the exclusivity of an ancient form of architectural design known as Zelliege, further adding to the tasteful artistry behind each tile.

To further add to the Islamic ideals, Arabic calligraphy, also hand-chiselled and drawn with black ink, borders the beautifully stretched mosaic piece further emphasising the profoundness of Brunei Darussalam's main religion.

Stepping into the two prayer halls for both men and women, one will notice that even the colour scheme is different from the conventional Bruneian taste.

Influenced by the idea to balance the stunning mosaic whose paint comes in three primary colours as well as white and red, designers have opted to carpet the smooth Italian marble floor with the colour of burgundy, which also perfectly gels with the white-red arches, enhancing the sense of actually experiencing a significant part of Moroccan history.

The handicap-friendly mosque built with a ramp covers an area of 2,100 square metres with a parking space for approximately 130 vehicles.

The mosque is divided into different sections for the public including a multipurpose hall that can be subdivided into three separate rooms equipped with a projector for educational purposes and separate ablution rooms that segregate the two genders as well as shower rooms should the need arise.

With labels printed in Jawi and English above and on every door, there are plans, it is made to understand, to promote the edifice as a tourist destination and this particular endeavour will bode well with another building that is currently being constructed next to the Ash-Shaliheen Mosque, which will one day become a museum where a cascading water feature will connect to the mosque's forecourt fountain just beyond one of the Ash-Shaliheen's entrances.

Two young imams have been specially picked to lead the Muslim congregation during prayers and apart from shouldering the religious responsibility, they have also been tasked to inspire the younger generation whom is known to easily relate to those who are closer to their generation.

As His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam joined his subjects in the inaugural Friday prayers at the Ash-Shaliheen Mosque, yesterday's sermon that was delivered at the mosque itself highlighted that Brunei Darussalam now has another place for people to pray to be heard by Allah the Almighty.

"Brunei Darussalam is blessed under the rule of a pious king whereby the country now has another platform where from here, Insyallah, (the people's prayers) will rise to the sky every day," said the State Mufti.

The mosque has started receiving worshippers since Thursday, July 12, for Maghrib prayers and members of the public are encouraged to visit the mosque, which is located in Kg Melabau along Jalan Kumbang Pasang heading towards Berakas.

From the brass lightings that were flown in from the Arab-Berber country located in North Africa, a country known in Arabic as al-Maghrib, to the custom-made pottery made in Brunei inspired by the Arabs and the custom-made grandfather clock that commits to keeping time, the latest addition to beautify the country is certainly a sight to behold.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin --

Saturday, July 21, 2012

National Tragedy - The RBAF Helicopter Crash

Picture Credit: Pelita Brunei, Information Department
Picture Credit: The Brunei Times
  
The Bell 212. Picture Credit: Royal Brunei Air Force

Yesterday afternoon, one of Royal Brunei Air Force helicopters, a Bell 212 crashed somewhere near Labi. By this morning, it was reported that 10 of the crew and passengers had died, two are injured and two still unaccounted for. In Facebook, a list of the names had been circulated but at that point in time, about half were still unaccounted for. His Majesty said it was a National Tragedy following close to last year's Bus Crash in Sabah which also killed several of our people. His Majesty had personally visited the hospital as well as the Royal Brunei Air Force base in Rimba.

The Bell helicopters are from the No 1 Squadron which is equipped with both Bell 212 and Bell 214ST. The primary roles of No 1 Squadron are trooplift, casualty evacuation, medical evacuation, fire suppression, VVIP lift, search and rescue. The Bell helicopters had also dealt with bushfires in the past.

Given that the helicopters had been in service for about three decades, it was not the first accident. Sometime in February, another RBAF helicopter Bell 212 was involved in an accident while landing in the vicinity of Bukit Belalong, Temburong District. The aircraft was doing a routine task. At that time there were no passengers and only one crew who sustained minor injuries.

The Bell helicopters are slated to be replaced very soon. Last November, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces had awarded the contract to replace the helicopters to Sikorsky International Operations Incorporated, USA with 12 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters.

Our deepest condolences to the families of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces helicopter crash, prayers for the souls departed, for those still yet to be found, and for those fighting for their lives. Al-Fatihah dan didoakan semoga roh mereka dicucuri rahmat dan ditempatkan bersama-sama para Sallehin.

Friday, July 20, 2012

His Majesty's Birthday Program Book - 4th set of photographs

This is the 4th in the series of photographs from His Majesty's Birthday Program book. This set contained all His Majesty's sisters:






Thursday, July 19, 2012

CSPS Newest Journal


This is the latest journal from Brunei's Thinktank, Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS). I am a member of the Board and I have been lucky enough to get this third volume. This volume contained 4 articles:

The Dutch Disease Hypothesis: Evidence from the Gulf Cooperation Council written by Yazid Mahadi, an officer with the Ministry of Finance with a master's degree in economics from Cambridge;

Assessment of Forest Resources in Brunei Darussalam: A Remote Sensing Solution written by Dr Kazimierz Becek, currently teaching at University Brunei Darussalam, and holds two Doctorate degrees from Germany;

An Evaluation of Labour Market Policy Measures for Brunei Darussalam written by Koh Wee Chian, an Associate Researcher at CSPS with a master's degree in finance and economics from LSE;

Brunei Darussalam's Labour Market: Issues and Challenges written by Lufti Abdul Razak, a PhD in economics candidate at Warwick University.

If you want to know more about the journal or any of the articles above, please contact CSPS at journals@csps.org.bn.

His Majesty's Sons and Daughters

This is the third set of photographs of members of the Brunei Royal Family as obtained from His Majesty's 66th Birthday Program Book. This one contained all the photographs of His Majesty's sons and daughters with the exception of the Crown Prince. The photos are as follows:











Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This is the second set of photographs from His Majesty's 66th Birthday program book. This one contains the six photographs of His Majesty's three brothers, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Jefri Bolkiah and their wives.







Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Voice of America: Brunei is an Arabic Country

I saw the following news digest by Voice of America:

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Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei to Send Women to Olympics

Voice of America, Jul 13, 2012 - Move marks new chapter for three Arab countries which traditionally have been represented by male athletes only.

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I didn't know Brunei is an Arab country! When did we move? And when did our mostly Malay people suddenly became Arabic?

To be fair, I did read the full article and in the article there was no mention of Brunei being an Arab state. So where did the news digest get 'the three Arab countries'? Someone obviously have not done their homework.

At this point, it would be typical to bring in many other examples of American ignorance. From my experience of staying in America for a year, if you watch the news, there would hardly be any foreign news. There are so many things happening in America, be it politic, sports etc, that it would have to be something extraordinary happening elsewhere outside America would it make the news. In some sense, the Americans do not know what goes in in other parts of the world.

Anyway, when it was almost time for me to go home after a year of studying in America, I wanted to book a ticket back to Brunei and went to a travel agent in Boston. After spending a year in America, I don't expect the typical American to know whether Brunei existed, let alone where it is located. But I expected something better from a travel agent as that is their business. Apparently not. Their ignorance is just as bliss. I finally found one travel agent who knew where Brunei was, and that was simply because she was an Asian American. Compared to my experience in Moscow a few years ago. I went to a crafts market and one of the sellers was very curious as to where I came from. When I told him, I was from Brunei, that Russian knew exactly where Brunei was.

That wrong news digest was from the Voice of America, the equivalent of the BBC. Had it been the Daily Bugle or Krypton Mail or something, it would not have been as bad. But The Voice of America? And especially when the VOA Charter specifically states: "VOA news will be accurate, objective and comprehensive." Ooops...

His Majesty Birthday Honours

My congratulations to all the people who were awarded State Orders by His Majesty on the occasion of His Majesty's birthday on 15th July 2012 especially to my fellow Permanent Secretaries as follows:

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Darjah Pahlawan Negara Brunei Yang Amat Perkasa Darjah Pertama (PSPNB) which carries the title of Dato Seri Pahlawan to:

Awang Bahrin bin Mohd Noor (Deputy Commissioner of Police);

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Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Yang Amat Mulia Darjah Pertama (SPMB) which carries the title of Dato Seri Paduka to:

Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Musa bin Haji Aman, (Chief Minister of Sabah)

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Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia Darjah Kedua (DSNB) which carries the title of Dato Setia to:

Dato Paduka Samuel Yapp Kai San (Chairman of the Clinical Service Committee for RIPAS Hospital)

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Darjah Seri Laila Jasa Yang Amat Berjasa Darjah Kedua (DSLJ) which carries the title of Dato Seri Laila Jasa to:

Mr Kozo Watanabe (Brunei-Japan Friendship Association);
Mr Toshihiro Nikai (Brunei-Japan Friendship Association);
Mr Ken Kobayashi (CEO Mitsubishi Corporation);
Tan Sri Dato' Sri Haji Arshad Ayob (Pro-Chancellor University Technology MARA);
Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas (President and CEO PETRONAS);
Dato' Wee Yiaw Hin (Vice President PETRONAS);
Dr Paul Oldershaw (Consultant Cardiologist);
Dr Maliakel John Alexander (Gastroenterology Specialist);
Dr Nwe Nwe Thien (Gynacologist Specialist).

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Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia Darjah Kedua (DPMB) which carries the title of Dato Paduka to:

Awang Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar (Permanent Secretary Prime Minister's Office and Director of Internal Security Department);
Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar (Permanent Secretary (Technical), Ministry of Development);
Dr Awang Haji Affendy bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Awang Hail Abidin (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs);
Awang Haji Hamiddon bin Haji Ibrahim (Deputy Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty)
Pehin Orang Kaya Maharaja Salia Awang Haji Mohd Tarif bin Pehin Orang Kaya Perdana Wangsa Haji Muhammad;
Pehin Khatib Haji Awang Mustafa bin Haji Murat (Religious Official);
Awang Haji Mohd Rosli bin Haji Sabtu (Managing Director Brunei Darussalam Monetary Authority);
286 Colonel Pengiran Aminan bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud (Commander Royal Brunei Land Forces)
Awang Haji Mohd Shahminan bin Haji Abdul Hamid (Office of Private Secretary to His Majesty)
Dayang Magdalene Teo Chee Siong (Ambassador)
Pengiran Hajah Basmillah binti Pengiran Haji Abbas (Ambassador)

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Darjah Seri Ugama Islam Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bersinar Darjah Ketiga (SSUB) to:

Awang Haji Abd Rajid bin Haji Mohd Salleh (Acting Director of Haj Management Department, Ministry of Religious Affairs)
Dayang Hajah Rusita binti Haji Yahya (Acting Assistant Director of Islamic Studies, Ministry of Religious Affairs)
Dayang Hajah Surbiah binti Haji Tengah (Acting Assistant Director of Corporate Services, Ministry of Religious Affairs)

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Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia Darjah Ketiga (SNB) to:

Pengiran Haji Abd Harris bin Pengiran Haji Shabudin (Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office)
Awang Haji Mohd Abdoh bin Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Salam (Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office)
Awang Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi (Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office)
Awang Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya (Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office)
Dr Awang Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abdul Rahman (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education)
Dr Awang Haji Serbini bin Haji Matahir @ Md Tahir (Rector Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali)
Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji A Rashid (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office);
Awang Haji Suhaila bin Haji Abd Karim (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education);
240 Colonel (Laut) Awang Abd Rahman bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar (Director of Intelligence, MINDEF)
272 Colonel (Laut) Awang Muzri bin Haji Mokhsin (Director of Centre of Science and Technology Research and Development, MINDEF)
264 Colonel (Laut) Awang Nooradin bin Haji Yaakob (Director National Maritime Coordination Centre, PMO)
Pengiran Abd Wahab bin Pengiran Hassan (Commissioner of Land);
Dr Awang Haji Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong (Director of Information Department);
Awang Haji Khalid bin Haji Mustafa (Director of Land Transport Department)
Pengiran Haji Zainal Abidin bin Pengiran Seri Wijaya Pengiran Haji Ahmad (Director of Printing Department);
Senior Supt Awang Haji Abd Wahid bin Haji Yahya (Director of Operations, Royal Brunei Police Force)
Awang Haji Zainal bin Haji Ismail (Acting Director of Prisons Department)
Awang Haji Tarip bin Mat Yassin (Registrar Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali)
Awang Haji Sulaiman bin Haji Latip (Treasurer Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali)
Awang Haji Yahkup bin Haji Menudin (CEO, Authority for Info Communications Technology Industry)
Awang Haji Adnin bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Ibrahim (Chairman, Adinin Group of Companies)
Dayang Hajah Ning-Lela binti Dato Paduka Haji Mohamad (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance);
Hajah Dayang Aisah binti Haji Abd Majid (Deputy Director of Housing Development Department);
Dayang Hajah Noraini binti Haji Abd Manap (Assistant Director, Ministry of Health);
Dr Dayang Hajah Hairuni binti Haji Mohamed Ali Maricar (Senior Lecturer Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Universiti Brunei Darussalam);
Dayang Zaharah binti Haji Kamis (Confidential Secretary, Minister of Communications).

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His Majesty's Birthday Program Book

Every year during His Majesty's Birthday, there will be two program books. One will be filled with all the activities that will be carried out from the morning of the birthday. The other one, a very much thicker volume and weighs around 2 kilograms (my best guess) is filled with photographs of the royal family and all the events in pictures and texts of everything that happened which involved His Majesty from the end of his previous birthday.


This book is very popular as many people want to see the latest photographs of the members of the Royal Family. For the 2012 edition, there are 41 members and I thought that I will scan the photos and put them up here. I have been wanting to do this many times previously but I just never got round to scanning the various photographs.

The first 4 of the 41 photographs are His Majesty, Her Majesty, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and his wife:




Monday, July 16, 2012

66th Birthday Gifts from His Majesty

(Picture Credit: Ahim Rani)
When you attend someone's birthday party, it is customary to bring a birthday gift. However there is someone's birthday party that you do not have to bring a gift. In fact you will get one or in this case several gifts.

The 66th Birthday celebration of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is one such birthday party that you will receive gifts. His Majesty in his Birthday speech announced several gifts:

(1) The government will not impose land premium for the renewal of land lease not exceeding one acre where on such land stands a house of the owner or one to be built - this means that if your land is a leased land (usually 55 years ownership) and when the lease expired and you want to renew the lease, you do not have to pay for the renewal as long as the land has your house on it and the land is less than an acre, this will save you from around $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the location, condition and size of the land;

(2) The government will establish a voluntary Housing Funding Scheme for TAP members.  Whoever takes part in this fund will get a guaranteed return. For the low income earners (combined household salary of less than $4,000 a month), they will also be eligible to receive government assistance of not more than $25,000;

(3) The government will provide a housing loan to civil servants of equal to 60 months salary (previously it was 48 months) - this will allow civil servants to purchase bigger houses;

(4) The government will also extend that housing loan for civil servant to be used to purchase land for the construction of houses using a maximum of 24 months salary.

(5) The government will finally build a bridge to link to Temburong - this bridge will cost at least $1 billion;

(6) The government will allocate $230 million for fibre-to-home project - Yes! we can finally get a very fast internet connection, hopefully soon;

(7) The government will establish a fast track system for the promotion of public servants - high flyers will now be able to be promoted faster.

That list, is a lot of gifts!

His Majesty also announced several other initiatives including the implementation of the Syariah Criminal Penal Code Order, the continuation of the demerit system for errant drivers and the need to impose penalties on the subsidised fuel smugglers.

Thank you Your Majesty. Happy 66th Birthday. Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brunei's Orders and Decorations

On Sunday, 15th July 2012, His Majesty will be awarding a number of deserving people with Orders and Decorations. I have written about this in the past, here is one which I did in 2010 about Brunei's Orders and Decorations.

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THE GOLDEN LEGACY

Brunei’s Orders and Decorations

There are still many people who do not know how the titles of Pengiran Cheterias or Pehin Menteris are awarded. Some even confusing them with the awards of Orders and Decorations handed out annually by His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during his Birthday Celebrations. Many confused them with the Malaysian system.

In Malaysia, an award made by the Federal Government, may entitled one to be called a Tun or a Tan Sri. For instance, an award of the Order of Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara, First Class will entitled one to be called a Tun and carry the designation of SMN behind one’s name. An award of the Second Class of the same Order allows one to carry the title Tan Sri and a PMN. An award of the Order of Seri Setia Malaysia, First Class also carries a Tun and an SSM; a Second Class carries a Tan Sri and a PSM. For the ladies, the titles they carry would be Tun and Tan Sri if the awards are to themselves but Toh Puan and Puan Sri, if their husbands are the recipients.

Malaysian states also award their own Orders and Decorations. However most of these would only allow the recipients the title Dato, Datuk or the various Datukships. Sarawak has an award which is the Order of the Satria Bintang Sarawak (SBS) which allows one to carry the title Pehin Sri.

In Brunei, the titles of any Pengiran Cheterias or Pehin Manteris are not awarded through the annual award. The titles are conferred to the recipients in special ceremonies and usually these ceremonies are carried out once every several years. The awards are very special and only those fully deserving to serve His Majesty will be awarded a title.

Indeed, in a few days time, His Majesty will indeed by awarding Orders and Decorations of which a lucky few will be entitled to carry the title of Datoship with some of them.

The Brunei Birthday Honours is similar to the British Birthday Honours given by the Queen. The honours system is a means of rewarding the citizens and other individuals for their personal bravery, achievement, or service to the country. The system consists of three types of award: honours, decorations and medals:

• Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service;

• Decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds;

• Medals are used to recognise bravery, long and / or valuable service and / or good conduct.

Historically, it is not known when the first honours and titles were awarded. But certainly by the 14th century, when the Brunei Sultans were already reigning in Brunei, titles and presumably honours were already in place. The Sultan was at the top of a pyramid of officials with wazirs and cheterias as well as pehin manteris assisting him. Titles must have been given to lower officials who assisted them including the title of Dato.

Honours awarded by His Majesty are given at separate occasions depending on the level of award. The ‘Bintang Kebesaran’ or Decoration Orders are awarded during His Majesty's Birthday by His Majesty himself. If there are too many recipients to be awarded on a single morning, some will be awarded by His Majesty at another smaller ceremony after the birthday.

In the past, the honours were also awarded during His Majesty’s visit to that particular district. Honours can also be awarded during visits by foreign dignitaries to Brunei. Sometimes it can also be awarded to the foreign dignitary when His Majesty is visiting those countries.

Each category has several classes. It is the first (Grand Commander) and second class (Knight Commander) of each category which will give the title Dato.

However for being awarded the decoration or bintang kebesaran, the recipients in addition to the title in front of their names, if any, will also get to keep the letters behind their names. The list of different categories of Orders, the classes in each Order, the letters to be used at the end of one’s name and the titles, if any (to be used in front of the recipients’ names), associated with that class:-

• Darjah Kerabat Mahkota Brunei (The Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei) - 1st. Class only: DKMB

• Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati (The Most Esteemed Family Order Laila Utama) – 1st. Class only: DK – carries the title of Dato Laila Utama

• Darjah Kerabat Seri Utama Yang Amat Dihormati (The Most Esteemed Family Order Seri Utama) - 1st. Class only: DK – carries the title of Dato Seri Utama

• Darjah Seri Ugama Islam Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bersinar (The Most Eminent Order of Islam Brunei) - 1st. Class: PSSUB – carries the title of Dato Paduka Seri Setia; 2nd. Class: DSSUB – carries the title of Dato Seri Setia; 3rd. Class: SSUB – carries no title; 4th. Class: SUB – carries no title; and 5th. Class: PUB – carries no title

• Darjah Paduka Seri Laila Jasa Keberanian Gemilang Yang Amat Cemerlang (The Most Illustrious Order of Paduka Laila Jasa Keberanian Gemilang) - 1st. Class: DPKG – carries the title of Dato Paduka Seri; 2nd. Class: DKLG – carries the title of Dato Laila; 3rd. Class: DKG – carries no title

• Darjah Paduka Keberanian Laila Terbilang Yang Amat Gemilang (The Most Exalted Order of Paduka Keberanian Laila Terbilang) - 1st. Class: DPKT – carries the title of Dato Paduka Seri; 2nd. Class: DKLT – carries the title of Dato Laila; 3rd. Class: DKT – carries no title

• Darjah Pahlawan Negara Brunei Yang Amat Perkasa (The Most Gallant Order of Pahlawan Negara Brunei) - 1st. Class: PSPNB – carries the title of Dato Seri Pahlawan; 2nd. Class: DHPNB – carries the title of Dato Hamzah Pahlawan; 3rd. Class: PNB – carries no title; 4th. Class: PJB – carries no title

• Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia (The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei) - 1st. Class: PSNB – carries the title of Dato Seri Setia; 2nd. Class: DSNB – carries the title of Dato Setia; 3rd. Class: SNB – carries no title; 4th. Class: PSB – carries no title

• Darjah Paduka Seri Laila Jasa Yang Amat Berjasa (The Most Distinguished Order of Paduka Seri Laila Jasa) - 1st. Class: PSLJ – carries the title of Dato Paduka Seri Laila Jasa; 2nd. Class: DSLJ – carries the title of Dato Seri Laila Jasa; 3rd. Class: SLJ – carries no title

• Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia (The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei) – 1st. Class: SPMB – carries the title of Dato Seri Paduka; 2nd. Class: DPMB – carries the title of Dato Paduka; 3rd. Class: SMB – carries no title

It is possible to get even higher and higher orders. The title that will be used will be the highest one that the recipient received. Normally the lowest decoration order government officers get will be the PSB and for religious officers the PUB.

So, hopefully in a few days time, if you are watching on television or reading the news of His Majesty handing out the awards, this writer hopes that this article can be used as a guide and offers his heartiest congratulations to those receiving an award.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Brunei Women's Pay 3rd Highest in World?

Someone asked me the other day that how come our Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in her statement at the recent APEC Forum on Women in St Petersburg, Russia stated that Brunei women ranked 3rd highest in the world in terms of pay. He said that he thought there will be other countries earning more and that women in Brunei may not be earning that high as there is not enough of them in the top echelon either in government or private sector. He asked me to clarify as I was at the Forum too.

What the Deputy Minister said in St Petersburg was this: "In terms of female receiving equal pay, the global gender report, Brunei Darussalam ranks twenty-ninth (29th) and in Estimated Earned Income we rank third (3rd) in the world."

The Brunei Times headlined the news "Brunei women third highest paid in the world" on 4th July 2012. The last I checked the internet, this headline went round the world.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 which you can get from The World Economic Forum website listed Brunei as 3rd in Estimated earned income (PPP US$) with women making an estimated income of about US$38,656 per annum which is indeed the third highest with only women in Luxembourg earning US$59,570 and Norway US$49,498 beating Brunei.

Even though Brunei women's pay was 3rd highest, the calculation for 3rd placing was not based on the amount of US$38,656. What the Report did was to rank the female pay to male pay ratio, and the Report also capped the pay at US$40,000 if the pay exceeded US$40,000 for either male or female. Thus we can see that Brunei women to men pay ratio was 0.97 and this was ranked 3rd. This pay ratio can be misleading too. Burundi is ranked 13th simply because their women and their men's pay is very close but at a very low rate of US$349 to US$437 giving them a ratio of 0.80.


What does this all mean? The ranking itself does give us in Brunei some bragging rights and it does also indicate there is no discrimination against women.

Though we have to look this in the context of the other ranking where we ranked 27th in terms of wage equality for similar work between men and women. There is some discrimination there.

The amount of US$38,656 is calculated based on GDP and the number of women in the population. Though if you were to calculate it in Brunei dollars is about B$50,250 which is roughly equal to about B$4,000 a month which is about a B3 salary scale for women in the government.

The whole argument on this would have to centre on the argument on the calculation of GDP. If you have been a student of economics, you would know the pros and cons of GDP calculation. Anyway, please read the Global Gender Gap Report 2011 if you want to know more which you can get from here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The National Archives Postcard of Brunei Historical Photographs Part 3

This is the final three of the nine postcard set issued by the Brunei National Archives. These are photographs of Brunei taken from the 1940s to 1970s.

One of the troupes that followed the procession in conjunction with the observance of the Prophet's birthday around the 1960s (Source: The National Archives)

Silver and copper handicrat being undertaken by a resident of Kampung Sungai Kedayan, Kampung Ayer in 1954 (Source: The National Archives)

Local sellers on boat known as "Padian" trading their wards in the 1950s (Source: The National Archives)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Brunei National Archives Historical Photographs Postcards Part 2

The Brunei National Archives recently released a set of nine postcards showing historical photographs of Brunei in its collection. Here is the second set of three postcards.

A total of 391 pilgrims departed for their pilgrimage voyage using a sea vessel named 'Bolkiah' around 1970s (Source: The National Archives)

The kajang roofed Lapau building that was used on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin on 22 September 1949 (Source: The National Archives)

Seria Town in the 1950s (Source: The National Archives)

Monday, July 09, 2012

The National Archives Historical Photographs Postcards Part 1

The Brunei National Archives recently launched a set of postcards consisting of historical photographs in its collection. The photographs are from the 1940s to 1970s. The publication of the postcards is aimed to promote The National Archives collection as a custodian of national and historical heritage as well as resource and research centre.

There are altogether nine postcards in the collection. I don't know how much the whole set cost but it is not too expensive. Here are the first three of the postcards.

The hearth mat braiding artwork made from pandan or screw pine leaves became a part of the women's activity around Kampong Ayer in the 1940s. (Source: The National Archives)

Several local fishermen netting fishes using a gear called 'selambau' in the 1950s. (Source: The National Archives)

Scenic aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan in the 1970s (Source: The National Archives)

Friday, July 06, 2012

Brunei's New Butterfly Garden

I was away in St Petersburg, Russia when the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports officially opened the Butterfly Garden at the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park. I had known about the park project ever since I joined the Ministry in October 2011 and I am really happy that it is finally open. For those of you who want to go there, all you have to do is drive all the way to Tasek Merimbun or if you want more information, call the Butterfly Centre at 4269179.

The Media during the Opening of the Buttefly Garden (source: Museums Department)

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports observing the butteflies (source: Museums Department)

The following is Borneo Bulletin's reporting of the opening of the Butterfly Garden.

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Wednesday, 4th July 2012, Bandar Seri Begawan - The newly opened Butterfly Garden, which is part of the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park and located close to the Tasek Merimbun Gallery Hall, provides visitors the experience of witnessing the interesting interaction between butterfly species and the shrubberies surrounding them, which is symbiotic to their lifecycles.

Since 1996, the Department of Museums has collected over 300 species of butterflies from within the country. The total number of species in the country is believed to stand at over 4,000.

In an interview with YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali, the Curator of Natural History and Manager of Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, it was learnt that the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park hopes to improve its facilities and enhance visitors' experience.

YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali said the Butterfly Garden is the first step towards achieving that goal.
"We are also trying to work with other stakeholders - such as the Brunei Tourism - as we want to become one of the places of interest in the country."

In response to whether there are plans to commercialise the site, for example by operating a ticketing system for entry, a practise which could help ease the maintenance cost of the site, YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali said, at the moment there are no plans for that because it is quite difficult to levy a ticket.

"Because as an Asean Heritage Park, there are certain things that we have to take into consideration... that we have to maintain in order to remain as one of the Asean Heritage sites," he explained.

However, he is hopeful the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park can be expanded and improved in terms of its facilities. The park is the only area in Brunei declared as Asean Heritage site.

"Hopefully, that's our plan. But, we first need to think about expanding what we have within the park."

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah as guest of honour at the official opening of the Butterfly Garden yesterday noted that the Butterfly Garden is a significant part of Tasek Merimbun because with it, the younger generation who live in sprawling modernity can see the many butterfly species existing in the country, which they would otherwise not have been able to.

"Thus, it is also a good place for students to visit, because the Butterfly Garden and the park itself are not only places where visitors can take a leisure break, but can also become study visit sites for students," said Pehin Dato Hj Hazair.

"Tasek Merimbun can become a significant area where students can view a variety of insects, such as the many butterfly species at the newly opened garden."

It is also a place where students can see for themselves and thus be able to learn about the importance of the ecosystem to human and animal lifecycles.

The Butterfly Garden, which was envisioned by YAM Pengiran Muda Omar Ali, is a valuable contribution, providing an added value to the Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, the minister added.

Meanwhile, the Butterfly Garden will provide visitors interesting experiences, such as how the insect uses a section of its mouth as a tube to suck nectar and 'Madu Bunga', how a caterpillar consumes leaves as well as its transformation to adulthood.

Other than that, the Brunei Museums Department will be conducting scientific studies on the butterflies and aspects of its ecosystem. The data from these studies will enable understanding on its population, habitat and also towards preserving the wild species.

Visits to the butterfly park will depend on approval from the park's management and weather conditions.

--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Bruneiains at St Petersburg, Russia


This is the complete Brunei Darussalam delegation that attended the APEC Women and the Economy Forum which was from 28th to 30th June 2012 at St Petersburg, Russia. This Brunei Darussalam group is actually made up of the official Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports delegation and the Brunei Women Business Council. The delegation is led by Datin Paduka Hajah Adina, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Inspirational Quotes

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