Wednesday, October 31, 2012

45th Anniversary Brunei-Singapore Interchangeability Agreement

As a collector of stamps, this is indeed fantastic news. New jointly issued stamps from Brunei and Singapore to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Brunei-Singapore Interchangeability Agreement. In simple language, this is the 45th year that Brunei and Singapore accepts each other's money at par. Anyway, the news is as follows as released by Singapore Post:
Bandar Seri Begawan - To commemorate the longstanding diplomatic relations between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, a joint stamp issue themed 45th Anniversary of Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA) will be released on November 27, 2012. This joint stamp issue celebrates the currency union between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
Under the Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA) which took effect on June 12, 1967, each country undertakes to accept the currency issued by the other, and to exchange it at par and without charge, into its own currency. Forty-five years on, Singapore and Brunei continue to build on this strong historical bond to grow bilateral trade and cooperate on a wide range of areas including tourism, health and education, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press statement.
The Singapore-Brunei joint stamp issue comprises three stamp designs - one of the stamps features the back of the 40th CIA anniversary commemorative note issued in 2007 to highlight the milestones achieved in the CIA, while the other two showcase the respective iconic elements in Singapore and Brunei currency notes.
Singapore's stamp depicts the themes of its past and current currency notes namely, the "Orchid" series (1967-1976), the "Bird" series (1976-1984), the "Ship" series (1984-1999) and the "Portrait" series (1999-present). Correspondingly, the Vanda Rothscildiana "Teo Choo Hong" on the S$50 banknote, the Yellow-breasted Sunbird on the S$20 banknote, the barter trading vessel "Palari" on the S$10 banknote and the portrait of Singapore's first President, the late Encik Yusof bin Ishak on the S$1,000 banknote are featured on the stamp.
Brunei's stamp also showcases four series of their currency notes - the illustration of Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque on all of their 1967 banknotes, the view of Padian (the Water Village woman vendor in her boat) on a Brunei banknote in 1989, the view of a Rainforest Floor on the $5 polymer notes in 1966 and lastly, the Bunga Tapak Kuda Laut (or Ipomoea Pescapre, a medicinal plant with purplish flowers found along the beaches of Brunei) on the $20 banknote in 2007.
The 40th CIA anniversary commemorative note on the S$2 stamp and the Singapore currency notes on the S$1 stamp will be on sale from November 27, 2012. SingPost will also be releasing a Miniature Sheet comprising the complete set of stamps (S$4.25), a Pre-cancelled First Day Cover affixed with two stamp designs (S$3.85), a Pre-cancelled First Day Cover affixed with Miniature Sheet (S$4.90), a Pre-cancelled Commemorative Cover affixed with both Singapore and Brunei stamps (S$7.05) and a Presentation Pack with the complete set of stamps (S$9.10).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We Are Human Just Like You

Attending an international meeting here in Incheon on disabled persons and listening to all the difficulties and speeches given by disabled persons, I was inspired. One sight impaired speaker said, 'I cannot see but I have a clear vision.' Suddenly I too have a clear vision about a poem which I dedicate to all the disabled persons out there. I have started a number of poems but I have never completed them. This is my first full completed poem and I am glad that it is on a worthwhile subject:

By Rozan Yunos, Incheon 29 October 2012

We cannot see but we can perceive
We cannot hear but we can understand
We cannot walk but we can move
We cannot touch but we can feel

We need aid not sympathies
We need rights not handouts
We need understanding not pities
We need compassion not sorries
We are capable not incapable
We are competent not incompetent
We are disabled not unable
We are human just like you

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rights for Persons with Disabilities in Brunei

The 5 Star Sheraton Incheon Hotel is next door to Songdo Convnsia in Incheon
(Photo source and copyright:
Greetings from Sheraton Incheon Hotel in Incheon, Korea. By the time you read this, I will be starting the Senior Officials Segment of the High Level Inter-Governmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of the Disabled Persons 2003-2012 held by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UN-ESCAP). The meeting is held at Songdo Convensia which is next door to the Sheraton Incheon.

I will be making a presentation on behalf of Brunei of what we in Brunei have done and how we are making real the rights of persons with disabilities. For those interested in what we in Brunei have done, this is a very brief summary of Brunei's efforts (I am only given maximum 4 minutes as there are 53 nations who will be doing their presentations as well) which I will deliver:


Haji Mohd Rozan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
delivering Brunei Darussalam country statement during the Senior Officials Segment
of the High Level Intergovernmental Meeting on Disabled Persons in Incheon.
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me congratulate and thank the Government of Republic of Korea for successfully organizing this meeting and for the warm welcome and hospitality in this beautiful city Incheon.

Excellencies and Distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to share with you the progress by Brunei Darussalam on the implementation of Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and Biwako Plus Five towards an Inclusive Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

The building and enhancement of a caring society including the promotion and the protection of the rights of PWDs is a top priority. Policies and programs are initiated to foster the caring society spirit. The Special Committee on the Elderly and PWDs established in 2008 shows our commitment in promoting an enabling environment and strengthening effective mechanisms for policy formulation and implementation. Brunei Darussalam signed the Convention on the Rights of PWDs on 18 December 2007 and will soon enact a ‘Disability Order’ that will reinforce right-based approach to disability issues.

To protect the rights of PWDs, voluntary and non-profit NGOs have supported the government by looking after their members’ interest and promoting public awareness on their needs and rights. NGOs jointly organized International Day for the Disabled and Special Olympic Games. On policies concerning PWDs regular GO-NGO consultations are held.

To help NGOs, civil servants can opt for voluntary pay deduction to contribute to any PWDs associations with the government providing grants for their operation. The government plans to build a multipurpose complex with athletic and swimming facilities and sites to house PWDs buildings.

The Health Ministry provides early detection and prevention of disabilities by optimising pre-natal and post-natal care; High Risk Clinics follow up infants and children who are at high risk of developing disabilities; and Early Intervention Clinics and Programs for children identified as already having developmental problems with therapy provided early to minimize the progression of the disability and improve prognosis.

In education, there is equal access of facilities for all including an inclusive education with no segregation of schools for special needs with specialized teachers and Centres of Excellence for special needs students who excel in their studies through Model Inclusive Schools.

PWDs are given skills training and job attachments programs which have increased their employment in public and private sectors.

The Development Ministry’s new Building Control Order provides for disabled friendly access to built environment. The Communication Ministry’s 5 year road map provides disabled-friendly accessibility for public transport and information technologies.

For PWDs’ welfare, the government provides a non-contributory and non means tested disability allowance to PWDs and their dependents under the Old Age and Disability Pension Act. The government also provides micro credit financial assistance for income generating projects. Other assistance includes wheel chairs, walking aids, Braille and prosthetic limbs.

Excellencies and Distinguished delegates,

Brunei Darussalam has always placed great importance in the promotion and protection of the rights of PWDs. The government is moving forward with the right based approach and encouraging more NGOs, private sectors and community in promoting an enabling environment for PWDs so that they can contribute to the economic and social development of the country.

Thank you.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Equal Rights for the Disabled

UN-ESCAP's Make the Right Real! Campaign aims to accelerate the ratification and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Asia-Pacific

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to Korea to attend this mouthful "High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012" organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia Pacific (UN-ESCAP) at the Songdo Convensia Convention Centre in Incheon, South Korea. The Senior Officials Meeting is from 29th to 31st October 2012 and the Ministerial Meeting is from 1st to 2nd November 2012.

Songdo Convensia (Source: Korea Times)

The Meeting will be attended by Ministers and senior officials of governments, as well as civil society leaders from across Asia and the Pacific. The Meeting will consider measures to empower persons with disabilities and promote greater equality, particularly through the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)– the first disability-specific human rights treaty in the world.

The past ten years have seen substantial progress in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in Asia-Pacific. 24 Governments in the region have ratified the CRPD, and many others have adopted and implemented national laws to promote disability-inclusive development. The ESCAP Intergovernmental Meeting will review this progress and also launch the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022.

The Meeting is also expected to adopt the Incheon Strategy, a pioneering document that will guide national and regional action in a multitude of domains: reducing poverty among persons with disabilities; improving accessibility of the physical and ICT environments; enhancing access of persons with disabilities to education and employment opportunities; promoting their participation in decision-making processes, promoting gender equality for women with disabilities; making disaster risk reduction disability-inclusive; and accelerating the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ESCAP region. Through the Incheon Strategy, ESCAP countries will be charting the course of regional cooperation during the new Decade with a view to improving the lives of the 650 million persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Meeting will also see the launch of the first Disability-Inclusive Business Award in the region, a partnership between ESCAP, the Nippon Foundation and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD). Building a disability-inclusive society is not only a moral imperative, but also a tremendous social and economic opportunity to realize the potential of 15% of the region’s population

Stoning the Devils in Mina, Saudi Arabia

Our Brunei pilgrims, not that many in number this year will be busy 'stoning the devils' rutual in Mina at the moment. Today's ritual is a lot easier to do as you get to throw pebbles at a huge wall but in the older days, the jumrahs were a lot smaller and a lot shorter too as these collection of old pictures of what the jumrahs used to look like before they become taller and wider testify:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Royal Call during Friday Prayers

The Borneo Bulletin headline succintly says it all. For the full news of His Majesty's titah, here is The Brunei Times news about it:


Friday, October 26, 2012 - HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday called for shops to close during the Friday prayers, in order to uphold the country's Islamic image and to prevent errant young muslims from skipping the obligatory weekly prayer.

In a titah delivered on the eve of the Hari Raya Aidil Adha celebrations, the monarch said that shops should close temporarily, from a "suitable" time of the day up until the Friday prayer has concluded.

Apart from being a portrayal of the country's image, the proposed closure would also discourage a "proportion" of muslim youths from loitering in and around shopping centres, at a time when other muslims were either at the mosques or making their way there.

"If this is allowed to continue, will it not tarnish the image of the country and even the image of Islam itself?" His Majesty said rhetorically.

"I ask and hope that the relevant parties, through an appropriate method, will address this issue without much delay."

The monarch pointed out that the closure of shops would be in line with Syara' or Islamic law, which requires muslims to leave their worldly affairs, and only return to them after they have completed their prayers. "From this command of Allah (SWT), no one will lose out but instead, the country will get a good name and image, as well as the blessings that we can anticipate from Allah (SWT)."

His Majesty spoke at length on the need to appreciate such blessings, which was also a form of praise to Allah (SWT).

"Glorifying Allah (SWT) is not like glorifying anything else. Glorifying Allah (SWT) means we appreciate His blessings, (and) appreciating those blessings is wajib (compulsory)," His Majesty said.

"If we appreciate Allah's blessings, He promises to increase it further. Otherwise, if we do not appreciate those blessings, then it justifies Allah (SWT) to inflict His wrath."

His Majesty said it was not enough to express one's appreciation verbally, but it should be "proven" through an individual's charitable deeds. "We have been awarded with wealth, while our tongues utter 'Alhamdulillah'. Allah (SWT) is also watching us; where is the wealth that we have used?"

The monarch said that if the wealth was rightly used, then Allah (SWT) will accept the appreciation, but if used wrongly, then not only will the appreciation be rejected, but Allah will also inflict His wrath.

Allah's blessings are evident every second of every day, His Majesty continued, through the air that we breathe, the ground that we live on and the water that we drink.

In this context, His Majesty said that Bandar Seri Begawan itself was a blessing, and should be maintained for future generations to appreciate it. "(We) are required to constantly preserve the purity of the country or our capital, from all forms of evil."

His Majesty added that it was a "duty" to uphold the Islamic image, especially since it was in line with the national philosophy of MIB (Malay Islamic Monarchy) and the aspirations for Brunei to become a Zikir nation. In concluding his titah, the monarch conveyed the royal family's Hari Raya Aidil Adha greetings to the people, and also prayed for the successful and safe return of Brunei's haj pilgrims.

- Courtesy of The Brunei Times -


Fond Memories of Haj Pilgrimage in Brunei

One of the writers on Borneo Bulletin which I admired the most is Haji Mohd Daud Abd Rahman. In a way, I always considered him as my rival. He writes about old Brunei in Borneo Bulletin whereas I write about old Brunei in The Brunei Times. His writings are not as long as mine but he wins on photographs. He must have a lot of photographs in his collection. His latest writing about the Haj in Brunei was published in last week's Borneo Bulletin as follows:


Fond Memories of Haj Pilgrimage in the Olden Days
by Haji Mohd Daud Abd Rahman

During the Haj season in the yesteryears, the old Customs Wharf (now BSB Waterfront) will be flooded with relatives and family members waiting since dawn for the arrival of the government ship carrying Haj pilgrims sailing from Labuan Island.

Disregarding the feelings of fatigue and tiredness, family members will wait patiently at the dock for hours on end for the arrival of the pilgrims. Some even went as far as waiting for the pilgrims using 'Tongkang', 'Kumpit', and 'Pemukatan' (fishing) boats at Pulau Chermin, Kuala Sungai Brunei, and Pulau Sibungur; in order to spot the oncoming government ships.

Every house of each of the returning Haj pilgrims will have an arch erected outside their house, with decorative writings in Jawi such as 'Welcome Home', Additionally, wooden bridges from the jetty towards their house, will also be decorated with young nipah leaves and bamboo shoots, and colourful flags.

Recalling the return of Haj pilgrims during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, it should not be forgotten to this day.

When Haj pilgrims are safely returned to their residences, a white (puaidai) fabric is rolled out over the entrance of the house, a tradition Brunei has long practised since the 1950's, allegedly to earn blessings from and the provision of Allah the Almighty to enter the Holy Land in accordance with an intention to fulfil the Haj pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam.

Now however, the traditions of old as stated above, are no longer being practised. However, a Doa Selamat is still carried out to bless the safe return of the Haj pilgrims.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin -


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halal Innovations in Brunei

On 22nd October 2012, the Oxford Business Group had this economic update about Brunei:


Brunei Darussalam: Halal Innovations

As an increasingly significant player in the rapidly expanding global halal market, Brunei is laying the groundwork for further industry growth by extending its reach across Asia and Latin America, while also encouraging product innovation.

The Sultanate has benefitted from its position as one of the early entrants in the international halal market, which today supplies approximately 1.8bn people worldwide and is estimated to be worth $2.3trn. Having launched the Brunei Halal brand in 2010, the Sultanate has since strengthened its reputation by becoming one of the few countries outside of the Middle East to establish an internationally recognised certifying body for the industry.

In April, Romleah Juliet P Ocampo, a representative from the Philippine’s Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions, described Brunei Darussalam’s halal standards as the “highest in the world”. The Sultanate’s halal brand now looks to be generating significant interest among emerging players, including non-Muslim countries, who are keen to gain a share of market growth.

Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III used an official visit to Brunei in late September to highlight the country’s interest in exploring opportunities for setting up joint ventures in the halal food industry. Local media reported in April that a number of Thai firms have also headed to Brunei this year to discuss possible partnerships in sugar refinery and halal food production initiatives.

Thailand’s ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Apichart Phetcharatana, told media that collaborative ventures would benefit both countries. “We can promote the Brunei Halal Brand to the world and we can use Thai experts to assist Brunei,” he said.

Other countries further afield are also in talks with Brunei, including South Korea, which is eyeing the potential of halal cosmetic products, and Mexico, which plans to send entrepreneurs to the Sultanate later this year to discuss the potential for halal food production in the Latin American country.

While interest from around the world bodes well for Brunei’s plans to develop its halal brand, new players in the market, particularly in major growth areas such as China, India and Europe, are likely to challenge the Sultanate for its position as industry leader.

Aware of mounting competition, Brunei Halal is looking to expand its operations by setting up new production centres to run alongside its manufacturing bases in Malaysia, Spain and the UK. The firm has also introduced a range of new products in June.

“There has been considerable progress for the brand,” a company representative told local media. “For one, our product range has grown in numbers and categories with new markets within and beyond the region also being explored as we continue procuring products.”

The Brunei Agro-Technology Park (BATP) is likely to be instrumental in driving industry growth by providing local manufacturers with modern facilities they need to stay globally competitive. The park will cover 50 ha in Kampung Tungku, with the first phase earmarked for completion in 2015.

Feby Latip, chief executive officer of Brunei Wafirah Holdings which manages the Brunei Halal brand, told The Brunei Times in August that he expected the facility to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tackle a range of challenges, from developing and exporting products to obtaining their halal certification. “The incubators within the park would help (…) SMEs with that,” he said.

The BATP will also have a strong focus on research and development, which could prove key to the Sultanate’s plans to diversify away from a reliance on oil and gas revenues, particularly in newly emerging segments such as halal pharmaceuticals.

Last year, Canadian firm Viva Pharmaceuticals invested $26m in the Sultanate to create a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical facility, buoyed by confidence that the halal pharmaceuticals sector would match the industry’s success in food, cosmetics, sharia-compliant health care and financial and investment products.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

1st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women

YB Pehin Hazair, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports delivering his statement during the 1st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women held on 19th October 2012 at Don Chan Palace Hotel, Vientiane, Lao PDR
The first ever ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women was held on 19th October 2012 in Vientiane, Laos. With the exception of Malaysia, all the other ASEAN member states were represented by the Minister or Deputy Minister responsible for women affairs in their respective countries. Malaysia's current Minister is actually the Prime Minister, so it was not as easy for him to attend the meeting.

The Brunei Delegation for the 1st AMMW was led by YB Pehin Dato Hazair Abdullah, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. The "Vientiane Declaration on Enhancing Gender Perspective and ASEAN Women's Partnership for Environmental Sustainability" was issued by the Ministers after the meeting.

The 1st AMMW was preceeded by meetings at Senior Officials Level - the 11th ASEAN Committee on Women and the 4th ACW+3 Meetings. The Brunei Delegation for these meetings from 16th to 18th October was Haji Mohd Rozan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

The official media statement of the 1st AMMW with the theme “Enhancing Gender Perspective and ASEAN Women’s Partnership for Environmental Sustainability” is as follows:



1.    We, the Ministers/Heads of Delegations of ASEAN Member States, convened the First ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW) on 19 October 2012 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, which carried the theme “Enhancing Gender Perspective and ASEAN Women’s Partnership for Environmental Sustainability”. The Meeting was convened following the ASEAN Leaders’ approval on the establishment of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women at the 19th ASEAN Summit held on 17 November 2011 in Bali, Indonesia. The AMMW was established to furtherstrengthen ASEAN cooperation on women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming.

2.    We shared information and exchanged views on the policies, strategies, practices, achievements and experiences of ASEAN Member States as well as the challenges encountered in mainstreaming gender perspective and strengthening women’s knowledge, skills and participation in policies, programmes and strategies to sustain the environment and build a disaster-resilient region.

3.    We adopted the Vientiane Declaration on Enhancing Gender Perspective and ASEAN Women’s Partnership for Environmental Sustainability. We tasked the ASEAN Committee onWomen (ACW) to effectively implement the commitment reflected in the Vientiane Declaration and monitor its progress in collaboration and coordination with other relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies.

4.    We acknowledged the progress of work of the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) in implementing the planned projects and activities under its Work Plan for 2011-2015. We noted with satisfaction the completion of several regional activities in 2012, notably the ASEAN Multi-sectoral Workshop on MDGs: Acceleration Strategies and Priorities Beyond 2015 which was held on 30-31 July 2012 in Yangon, Myanmar; the Workshop on Strengthening National Capacities to Collect Violence Against Women (VAW) Statistics in the ASEAN Region which was convened on 6-9 August 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia; Regional Workshop on the Promotion of Female Entrepreneurs to be Leader of Local Wisdom Products and Business under the Skill Development Promotion for the Advancement of Women (2010-2012) which was convened on 29-31 August 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand; and the Consultative Meeting on HIV and Key Affected Women and Girls: Reducing Intimate Partner Transmission of HIV within ASEAN which was convened on 24-25 September 2012 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.

5.    We acknowledged the development of key indicators by the ACW to monitor the achievements of goals and targets concerning gender equality and women’s advancement in the ASCC Blueprint towards the ASEAN Community that is socially responsible and people-oriented by 2015. We supported the effort of the ACW to collect data against the agreed key indicators for the first report of the ASCC Scorecard by the end of 2012.

6.    We commended the efforts of the ACW through various initiatives towards the integration of gender perspective and analysis in the work programmes and commitments of ASEAN across the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars. For this purpose, a consultation has been convened between the ACW and ASEAN Task Force on AIDS on 26 September 2012 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, to identify joint actions to prevent and curb HIV transmission among key affected women and girls in the region. We tasked the ACW to continue its consultations, coordination and cooperation with other ASEAN sectoral bodies.

7.    We welcomed the adoption of the Terms of Reference of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’Network by the ACW aiming at improving the capacity of ASEAN women entrepreneurs and boosting their development and networking. We noted with appreciation that Viet Nam would be the Network’s coordinator for the first two years of its work. We tasked the ACW to nominate the initial members of the Network from national women entrepreneurs’ associations and/or micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, associations, clubs and/or other economic entities owned or managed by women in all economic sectors, as well as organisations participating in promoting business skills and opportunities of women entrepreneurs in ASEAN Member States.

8.    We noted the convening of the 4th Meeting of the ASEAN Plus Three Committee on Women (ACW+3) on 18 October 2012 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, which, among others, reviewed theimplementation of completed projects as well as status of on-going and planned projects for implementation in the period of 2012-2015. We further noted that the 5th ACW+3 Meeting would be hosted by Malaysia in 2013.

9.    At the Informal Session, we exchanged views with the Ministers/Heads of Delegations of the Plus Three Countries on ways to strengthen the cooperation for gender equality and women’s advancement in the region through the existing mechanisms of the ASEAN Plus Three Countries and East Asia Countries. We expressed our sincere appreciation to the continued support and cooperation of the Plus Three Countries in promoting gender equality and women’s advancement in ASEAN.

10. We applauded the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) for the finalisation of its Work Plan 2012-2016 and Rules of Procedure. We exchanged views with the ACWC Chair and Vice-Chair and agreed to continue the coordination and collaboration with one another in empowering women as well as promoting gender equality, social justice, well-being and rights of women in the region.

11. We appreciated the Australia’s Global Ambassador for Women and Girls for its support to ASEAN and interest to cooperate with the AMMW in empowering and promoting substantive participation of women and girls in the region.

12. We also appreciated the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Assistant Director for its support to the work of the AMMW. We agreed to continue the cooperation in fostering gender responsiveness of policies, programmes and strategies of ASEAN Member States to accelerate the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and ASEAN’s development agenda beyond 2015.

13. We thanked the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, particularly the Lao Women’s Union, for their warm and generous hospitality accorded to us and our respective delegations and the excellent arrangements of the Meeting.

14. We welcomed the generous offer of the Philippines to host the Second AMMW in 2015.

15. The First AMMW was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cordiality.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Elephant Money

When I was going through the stalls in Vientiane, Laos I saw a number of vendors selling tiny little silver elephants. A set of five tiny elephants with its little plate were being sold depending on your bargaining expertise for between 250,000 to 300,00 Kips, Laotian currency. US$1 is worth about 7,597 Kips according to the exchange rate at the hotel and my officers told me that is about the same at the money changers. I bought a set of 5 tiny elephants at the hotel for US$40 which works out slightly expensive at about 320,000 Kips and no bargaining.

What I like about the tiny elephants were its historical values. I was told that these tiny elephants once served as the currency in the old days. I guess why not? Rather than minting coins, why not make elephants? Brunei in the past did the same thing too. Bruneians used even heavier metal and bigger models too. For those who do not know, small hand held cannons were once used as currencies in Brunei.

The other reason why Laotians go for elephants is that elephants are very much revered in the past. The original kingdom Lane Xang founded in the 14th century was also known as the Land of a million elephants. The name was established in 1354 by King Fa Ngum because the old capital of the Kingdom was Luang Prabang and it was surrounded by large grazing pastures for wild herds of elephants. Also elephants were used as the principal engines of war and a transport for the Lao Royal Family back in ancient times.

Asian elephants loved Laos as their home because the country used to have extensive forest and crops and a sparse human population. However, due to modern day wars and bombs which have scared the elephants away as well as forests being cut down resulting in less food for them, the elephant population in Laos and our proud national heritage is dwindling fast.

Elephants were a dream for every elephant lover visiting Laos, but today they are scarce. Laos is now thought to have only 700 elephants left in the wild.

Tamed elephants are used for heavy work, such as pulling large logs. Most spent all their time working and had little opportunity for reproduction. The authorities are trying to reduce the workload of these elephants in hopes that their numbers would increase.

Elephants will always be an important part of history and appreciation to Lao people because these large beasts was a vehicle for transport and work for centuries. The 3 headed Elephants were contained in a Lao flag during the monarchial times that represented Lao unity between Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champassak.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Brunei's Superwater Exported

Our Brunei companies do not export much outside Brunei. Whenever a local company managed to do that, we should all be proud of that achievement. I saw this news on The Brunei Times and I must share this:
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - LOCAL bottled water brand Rainfresh Super-Oxygenated Water will soon be available in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Romania following the signing of an international partnership deal between Superwater Marketing Sdn Bhd, the local producer, and foreign distributors yesterday.

After a five-year stint on the local market, Superwater Marketing, which produces Rainfresh, will be exporting the bottled water as part of the Rainfresh's expansion plan.

Superwater Marketing's managing director, Yong Teck Foo, said a 20-ft container of Rainfresh bottled water was shipped to Romania on October 12, the first Bruneian product of any description to be exported to the eastern European country.

A second shipment of bottled water to Malaysia is awaiting final approval from the country's Ministry of Health.

"As a small country, we do not have sufficient market size to support the business. Therefore, right at the onset, we have set out to try and get our products out to the bigger overseas market," Yong said.

The firm's expansion plan was supported by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) through its Promising Local Enterprise Development Scheme, a programme that helps local companies tap into overseas markets.

"With the financial assistance from the BEDB under its Enterprise Technical Assistance Scheme, we will be able to cushion the cost of introducing our products in a new marketplace overseas," Yong said.

The local bottled water producer received help from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources to meet international quality standards, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade supported its entry into its target markets.

"There are so many water brands out there, with numerous prices and types. We are also up against branded beverages produced by major players in the world and the competition both locally and abroad has been very stiff," Yong said on the sidelines of the contract signing at The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.

He added: "As an emerging company, we do not possess the tremendous resources of the bigger brands for advertising and public relations. Despite all these obstacles, with the support and help of the Brunei government, we have faith and we still believe that a small company like ours can make it."

The firm has also signed a deal with Malaysia's MS Megah Marketing to distribute the bottled water.

To meet additional overseas demand, Yong said the company planned to boost production from 30,000 boxes to 300,000 boxes per month with the establishment of a 15,000-square-foot production facility at Muara Port.

"With the help of the various agencies, we are able to embark on building a new and bigger facility at Muara Port that will enable us to increase production for the export market," he said.

The company yesterday also revealed plans to launch a new line of healthy energy, fibre and vitamin drinks that will be sold domestically and abroad.

Signing on behalf of Superwater Marketing Sdn Bhd yesterday was chairperson Pg Hjh Mariam Pengiran Bendahara Pg Muda Hj Hashim.

Witnessing the signing ceremony was Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and BEDB Chairman Dato Paduka Hj Ali Apong.

"We are pleased to see companies such as Superwater Marketing looking beyond the domestic market and taking the bold step of expanding overseas in search of further growth," Dato Paduka Hj Ali said.

"I am confident that one day, we shall see our own Brunei companies make a mark in the regional and international arena."

Incorporated in 2005, Superwater Marketing was the first bottled water company in the country to obtain ISO 9001-2008 certification. The company expects to get HACCP certification, funded by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, in February 2013.

Yong said Rainfresh's production process, which uses German technology, involved a series of filters and continuous aeration with ozone.

Rainfresh claims its water has six times more dissolved oxygen than other drinking water products on the market, and has a longer shelf life.

- The Brunei Times -

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brunei in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup

Brunei in action in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup (Source:
Congratulations Brunei Football Team!

Brunei did very well in the qualifying round of the AFF Suzuki Cup recently completed in Yangon, Myanmar. We beat Cambodia (3-2) and Timor Leste (2-1) but lost out to Myanmar (0-1) and Laos (1-3). By beating Timor Leste, we prevented them from qualifying but allowing Laos to qualify instead. In the end, Myanmar ended up with 10 points, Laos 7 points and Brunei with Timor Leste only 1 point behind at 6 points and Cambodia propping up the table with no point.

Personally I don't see the point of having a qualfying round when there are only 10 + Timor Leste teams in the whole ASEAN. We could just have two groups of 5 and 6 and play directly in the ASEAN Football Championship. Unfortunately it is not for me to say. Perhaps it is just to make it more exciting.

For those who do not know what Brunei has been playing for, here is a short summary courtesy of Wikipedia:


"The ASEAN Football Championship (AFF Championship), is a biennial international association football competition organized by the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia. It was founded as the Tiger Cup after Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries, makers of Tiger Beer, sponsored the competition from its inauguration in 1996 until the 2004 edition. The competition was renamed as the ASEAN Football Championship for the 2007 edition as a result of a termination of the sponsorship deal. From 2008, Japanese auto-company Suzuki bought the naming rights for the competition, and the competition has been renamed to AFF Suzuki Cup.

Since it was inaugurated, the cup has been won three times by both Singapore and Thailand while Malaysia and Vietnam have won the cup once each. Indonesia has never won the competition but have been runner-up four times, more than any other team.

Malaysia were the defending champions, beaten Indonesia 4-2 on aggregate in 2010 final."


Anyway, the 8 teams who finally will be playing in the 'finals' of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup will be:


divided into Group A (games in Thailand) and Group B (games in Malaysia) in late November. The top 2 of the groups will play against each other in a two legged match, the winners will play in a two leg finals as well.

Out of curiosity I checked the current FIFA rankings of all the teams and in reverse order:

Timor Leste 206
Brunei Darussalam 203
Laos 193
Cambodia 189
Myanmar 184
Indonesia 170
Singapore 162
Malaysia 162
Philippines 142
Vietnam 140
Thailand 139

Brunei's position hopefully should move up with the AFF Suzuki Cup results taken into account. We currently have 5 points which came from our 2009 matches before the ban. That had a 20% weighting. The 2012 results would weigh more heavily and we will get more than 5 points hopefully real soon. Though Timor Leste would also move up but Cambodia might go down.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Brunei from the eyes of Thailand

Brunei-Thailand pin from
The Nation, an English newspaper published in Thailand had an article Brunei published on 15th October 2012. The article entitled "Sultanate of Brunei - Another World" is written by Gerald W Fry, Distinguished International Professor, Department of Organisational Leadership, Policy and Development of the University of Minnesota, USA. This is the article:


Sultanate of Brunei - Another World

 Among the Asean nations, Thai students and citizens know the least about Brunei. Few Thais, except for some diplomats and guestworkers, have ever been there.

 Though its majority people are similar to the Malays of both Indonesia and Malaysia, in other respects Brunei is an outlier, unlike other Southeast Asian countries in so many ways. First, it is very small in terms of both population (a little over 400,000) and land area, of only about 25 per cent of the province of Chiang Mai. It is about 75 per cent forest. The country is completely surrounded by the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.

 Second, it is the only country in the region that was a protectorate and it has maintained its Islamic monarchy throughout. It achieved that status in 1888 and that lasted until the nation gained its complete independence from Great Britain in 1984 and joined Asean as its sixth member that year.

 Like Thailand, Brunei has a long and glorious history. Its current Islamic monarchy dates back to the early 1400s and in the 16th century there was a great Brunei Empire that controlled much of what is now northwest coastal Borneo and the southern part of the Philippines.

 Its political system is also an anomaly. It is an absolute monarchy similar to Siam before 1932. It has no political parties, elections, nor legislature.

 Brunei is one of the world's richest nations, primarily because of its having much oil and natural gas. In terms of per/capita income (about $50,000) it is the world's ninth richest country.

 It is the world's fourth largest producer of liquefied natural gas. It has been called "the Shellfare state" since most of its Malay population either work for Shell Oil or the government.

 The 3D (dirty, dangerous, and difficult) jobs are done by foreign guest workers from countries such as Bangladesh. In fact, 40 per cent of the labour force in Brunei are foreigners. Thus, it is quite a cosmopolitan place.

 Because of its large oil reserves, petrol for cars is extremely cheap in Brunei (about Bt13 per litre) and the country has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world with the average family having 2-3 cars.

 Brunei is a multiethnic society with 66.3 per cent of its population Malay, 11.2 per cent Chinese, 3.4 per cent indigenous, and 19.1 per cent other. Though the Chinese have no political voice, they are allowed to prosper economically.

 Another unusual aspect of Brunei is its not having personal or sales taxes at all and its provision of free health and education to all its citizens.

 Also Brunei is an Islamic country in which its women have excellent opportunities. Its Islamic women generally wear head scarfs but not vales. Its women were able to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

 The average salary of Brunei's women rank number three in the world, $38,000. With 58 per cent of women participating in the work force, they rank 20th in the world in that regard. More than 50 per cent of small and medium sized enterprises are run by women.

 In terms of education, Brunei's women also fare well, ranking 11th in the world in terms of participation in higher education.

 Given the nation's wealth, many of its students can afford to study abroad. In my many decades of teaching at the college level in the United States, I have never had a student from Brunei. Their students tend to think Oxbridge and usually study in Great Britain or Australia.

 Brunei's major institution of higher education is the University Brunei Darussalam, with approximately 3,000 students. Though Malay is the official language, Brunei has an active bilingual program and English is commonly spoken. Except for a few locally-oriented fields. English is the language of education at the university level. Thais could study there for a tuition of approximately Bt75,000 per year.

 Another unique aspect of Brunei, is that it makes no attempt to promote tourism. With its oil and natural gas being non-renewable resources that will eventually be depleted, Brunei must think long-term and develop a more knowledge-based economy. Eco-tourism could also be a possible future area for emphasis.

 Though it is a small market in terms of population, its people have great purchasing power and, thus, it will be an excellent market for a variety of Thai goods in the AEC era.

 As Asean moves into the AEC era, Brunei with its great wealth could provide much more technical assistance to its poorer Southeast Asian neighbours. Brunei potentially could help fund an Asean Volunteer Corps and the nation, with its strong English capability, could provide more English teachers for countries such as Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

 In the new AEC era, Brunei will become much better known and Thai engagement with Brunei will certainly increase, particularly in the educational and economic areas.


Monday, October 15, 2012


Greetings from Vientiane. Laos is the ninth ASEAN country that I have visited so far. Still on my list is Myanmar. I have not paid much attention to Laos until I knew I was coming here. As a country Laos is relatively a young country.

In fact throughout its history, Laos were ruled by the various local empires such as the Khmers from Cambodia. It was around the 14th century that a small kingdom called Lun Xang was founded by the Laotians. By the 16th century, it was threatened by Burma but by the 18th century, Lun Xang split into three regions and Siam forces occupied Vientiane and the other regions.

By the late 19th century, French influnce in the region grew and in 1893, the Siamese surrendered all territory east of the River Mekong to the French including today's Laos.

During the Japanese occupation in the second world war, parts of Laos were given to Thailand. The king declared independence from France after the War but France invaded the country in 1946 and were in control up to about 1953. By then, Laos was divided, most of it ruled by the Royalist government and the other parts ruled by a political party, Paphet Lao.

In the 1960s, Laos was drawn into the Vietnam war. From 1964 to 1973, Laos was also bombed. When South Vietnam and Cambodia governments fell, the ruling government in Laos was also replaced by the Paphet Lao. Laos joined ASEAN in 1997.

I have only seen the airport and everything in between the airport and the hotel I am staying in. What I can see is a lot of modern infrastructure. The Wattay International Airport is modern and complete with aerobridges. The roads are nice and wide. There was not much traffic though. For a first impression, I must admit Vientiane was much more developed than what most people say.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

ASEAN Committee on Women

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to Vientianne, Laos to attend the 11th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), followed by the 4th Meeting of the ACW+3 and finally the 1st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW). What is the ACW?

According to the ASEAN Secretariat's website, this is the explanation as well as a short history of it:

ASEAN leaders recognise and reaffirm the importance of women and their participation in development. ASEAN Member Countries have been supportive of efforts to promote the status of women and have participated actively in the regional and international arena pertaining to women’s advancement.

Efforts towards establishing an ASEAN involvement, as a region, in women’s issues began during the ASEAN Women Leaders’ Conference held in 1975. The ASEAN Sub-Committee on Women (ASW) was established in 1976 and was renamed the ASEAN Women’s Programme (AWP) in 1981. To give a fresh impetus to the on-going ASEAN cooperation on women’s issues, this sectoral body was restructured into the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) in 2002. The coordination and monitoring of the implementation of ASEAN’s key regional priorities and cooperation in women’s issues and concerns are carried out by the ACW which meets regularly every year.

The recognition of women in ASEAN and the commitment to the advancement of women are clearly reflected in the Declaration on the Advancement of Women in ASEAN which was adopted by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in 1988. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the ASEAN Region, adopted by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in 2004, is the second declaration recognising important concerns for women. It also marks the first time that all ten ASEAN Member Countries are committed to this cause at the regional level.

ASEAN cooperation on women is guided by two operational documents:

a. The Work Plan for Women’s Advancement and Gender Equality (2005-2010), which has its roots in the 1988 Declaration on the Advancement of Women in ASEAN.

b. The Work Plan to Operationalise the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (2006-2010), which builds on existing national efforts, moves forward the priorities of the other Work Plan and integrates all relevant priorities and measures into a consolidated action plan on violence against women.

The strong link in government and non-government partnerships is illustrated in, among others, the close partnership between the ACW and the ASEAN Confederation on Women’s Organisations (ACWO). The ACW has also established close partnerships with a number of key international organisations in working for gender equality and advancement, and eliminating violence and discrimination against women. These organisations include CIDA, UNDP and UNIFEM and a framework of cooperation was signed with UNIFEM in 1996.

ASEAN Member Countries have achieved various accomplishments in addressing women’s issues. The ACW has convened different regional workshops, seminars, training sessions and consultative meetings that provided platforms for government officials, civil society organisations, professionals and other stakeholders to exchange views, share experiences and build commitments and a common understanding on various gender issues.

The ASEAN-High Level Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming within the Context of CEDAW, BPFA and the MDGs which was held in November 2006 is the most prominent example. During the High Level Meeting, the Joint Statement and Commitment to Implement Gender Mainstreaming was adopted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

National Youth Run 2012

A week from today, on 21st October 2011, the National Youth Run or Larian Hari Belia 2012 will take place. This is always held in conjuction with the National Youth Day. The run will take place at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

The run is open to all with a registration fee of $10. Those under 15 need to get a permission slip from their parents. There will be six categories - Adults Men and Ladies 10 km 19 to 40 years old, Youths Men and Ladies 5 km 15 to 18 years old, Special Needs 2.5 km and Fun Run of 2.5 km. Contact the Youth and Sports Department

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chung Hwa Middle School - 90 Years Old

Chung Hwa Middle School 2012 (Source: Borneo Bulletin)
Chung Hwa Middle School 1930s (Source: Borneo Bulletin)
Bandar Seri Begawan, 11th October 2012 - What started off as a modest beginning, Chung Hwa Middle School, Bandar Seri Begawan (CHMS) had only two teaching staff and 20 students back in 1922. Ninety years on, after accomplishing momentous milestones, battling against the tide of time, the journey of one of the oldest and largest Chinese private schools in the country is that to be proud of.

Its success story is translated to what it has become today; with a strong teaching force of 200 staff, and accommodating more than 3,000 students. Indisputably, as one of the oldest schools in the country, it has made a significant contribution to the country's education system as the system rapidly evolves into its glory as one of the best in the region today.

The idea of the school's formation was initiated by its founder, Ong Boon Pang with other few prominent figures in the Chinese community back in the 19th Century. In its early beginnings, the school operated on a very limited rented space for its classroom at the second floor of a building known as York Choi School back then.

In 1922, its founders renamed the school to Chung Hwa School, and to accommodate the increasing demand and growing population of students, it introduced a new block located in Jln Bendahara in 1938.

Two years later, the Chairperson of the School's Board of Directors, Ong Boon Pang (who was then bestowed with Kapitan Cina title) passed away after 22 years of chairing. From then on, he has left a strong foundation for the development of the school.

Lim Teck Hoo was appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the school in 1954, and a year forwards, Chung Hwa School introduced lower secondary education to fulfill the needs of students who have completed their primary education. With that, the school transformed into Chung Hwa Middle School.

Starting 1957, the government started to provide subsidies to the school to ease the burden of the cost in teacher's pay, administration cost, as well as construction of facilities for the school.

In 1959, the school reached yet another milestone with the introduction of upper secondary education to provide a comprehensive education system for the school; starting from primary to upper secondary. By the same year, the students' population has reached 1,000 people. Due to lack of classrooms, the school launched a donation campaign for a new building to be built. Students, besides paying for school fee, also contributed B$2 each month to the school.

Three years later, the school finally completed the construction of a two-floor building costing B$800,000 with the support from the government and donations from the public. With the new facilities, Chung Hwa Middle School then started to offer kindergarten or pre-school education in 1963, and then in 1968, the construction of the school's hall was completed.

After almost 20 years of receiving subsidies from the government, this practice was put to a halt in the 1970s. Hence, to overcome the financial difficulties, Kapitan Cina Awang Lim Teck Hoo, along with other members of the Boards of Directors, as well as the public made monthly contributions to the school.

By 1975, all subjects in secondary school were required to use English Language as the delivery language, with the exception of Mandarin, Malay, History, Music, Physical Education, Art and Moral Education. At the same time, the school started to receive government teachers to teach Malay Language at the primary level.

Throughout the rest of 1970s, the school has achieved significant milestones as it began to accommodate for GCE 'O' Level examinations. Its image was also further heightened with excellent results coming from Primary Certificate of Education (PCE) and BJCE examinations.

The 1970s period also marked a milestone when the school celebrated its 50th anniversary. The late Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien officiated the celebration in 1972. During the same year, a new four-storey building was built to meet the needs of the secondary section.

Meanwhile, the 1980s era also marked significant achievements for the school. A new administration block was built in the 1980s, and the school celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1982, graced by HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah. This period also saw the establishment of the School's Alumni Education Fund. In 1983, a meeting was held by the school's sponsors and at the end of 1984, the school held its first election for members of its board of directors. Sixth Form classes were also introduced in 1986. In retrospect, the management had been computerised; computer class for secondary students was pioneered at the school as early as the 80s and it became the first school to make use of computer systems for its administration, and computer classes were also introduced to be part of co-curriculum activities subsequently.

Early in the 1990s, a new dormitory block for teachers and staff was built. The year 1997 saw Ang Swee Chuan elected as the Chairman of the School's Board of Directors to replace the retiring Pehin Temenggong Dato Lim Teck Hoo after 40 years of service. The school also launched its website in 1998, where parents can access their children's examination results and performance record online.

In this era of vigorous technological advancement, the school has always been gearing up to create innovative ways of integrating information and communication technology (ICT) into the curriculum and management. It was soon followed by the establishment of the school's computer room in the 90s and the introduction of computer lessons from primary one in 1998. The school in early 2000 gave students access to some learning materials online to its website for academic purposes.

Over the years, in response to the directives from the Ministry of Education, the school's ICT facilities have been substantially upgraded. Having begun the setting up of Chung Hwa Network in the library in 2002 and proudly emerging as the first school in Brunei to be linked by intranet, the school presently has one of the most extensive educational websites in the country, which incorporate all three languages, catering for parents and other educationists of different races.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam also consented to an unscheduled visit to the school for the first time in 2001. In 2002, His Majesty also graced the school's 80th anniversary celebrations. Throughout the decade, the school also saw several other achievements including the building of new blocks and a bridge, all which came from sponsorships derived from individuals and groups.

The school was also awarded the 'Exemplary School Award' in 2009 by the Foreign Office of the People's Republic of China.

Early in 2011, the school introduced a new education system for Chinese Language for its primary section. At the same year, the school also received accolades for various international and local competitions including the APICTA Competition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Pattaya, Thailand.

In September 2011, His Majesty awared the school's Principal, Kho Guik Lan the Meritorious Teacher (School Leadership) Award.

Over the course of evolution, Chung Hwa Middle School has been standing tall, attaining remarkable achievements for almost a century, aided by the capitalisation of the leading-edge technology.

Now, with the surging needs to keep pace with the latest educational reforms, the school vows to implement the avant-garde SPN21 curriculum through the optimum utilisation of state-of-the-art facilities and up-to-date software.

Although the school has the undeterred aim to ensure a perpetual enthusiasm in Mandarin and Tiong Hwa values amongst Tiong Hwa community and other races in Brunei, it never forgets its duty to place equal emphasis on cultivating moral value, knowledge, physical strength, appreciation of arts and team spirit into the students. For decades, the school has been serving as the backbone of the society in producing well-rounded citizens who are trilingual and possess both academic and athletic competences.

Meanwhile, during an interview with Mr Tan San Leong, the current Chairman of the Board of Director of Chung Hwa Middle School, who was also one of the first few students to study in the school's secondary section, he said, "It was during the late 1940s that I entered the school, when I was nine years old. I was the first few secondary students of Chung Hwa to graduate in 1961."

Recalling on the infrastructure of the school back then, he said, "During that time, the school already had a proper building and also a small hall, which can only accommodate 100 students. The classrooms were made of wood, and there was also a field."

The education then, he commented, "subjects were mostly taught in Mandarin Language. Only after some time, the school took up English and Malay languages."

With Chung Hwa Middle School reaching 90th anniversary this year, he expressed, "The school has been through many challenges in the past and educational transformation in line with the development of the country. The school is now among the top Chinese schools in the country."

He then added, "We want to continue to further develop the school in line with the Government of His Majesty's aspiration and the country's educational policy."

Mr Tan San Leong also hoped that the Chinese community will unite together in realising the aspiration of His Majesty for Wawasan 2035.

- Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin -

Thursday, October 11, 2012

UBD Art Show at the Waterfront Art Gallery

Haji Mohd Rozan presenting a certificate to a UBD undergraduate (Source: Borneo Bulletin)
Bandar Seri Begawan, 11th October 2012 - Seventy-eight paintings by undergraduates from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) are now on display at the Art Gallery, Waterfront in the capital.

The paintings are the product of the Art Retreat held at Taman Warisan Tasek Merimbun last June. The theme of the art exhibition is "A Glimpse into Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park".

The facilitators at the launching ceremony yesterday were Dr Haji Baharuddin bin Darus, Khalid bin Osman and Haji Ilham Rohadi bin Haji Mashud.

Haji Ilham Rohadi, Chief Officer of the Museums Department, said he hoped that the participants will continue to enhance the quality of their artwork.

The guest of honour was Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Twenty-one undergraduates from UBD received certificates of participation from Awang Haji Mohd Rozan who received a souvenir as a token of appreciation for launching the art exhibition yesterday.

The art exhibition, which aims to uncover new talents in art in Brunei Darussalam, is open to the public from October 11 to 30.

- Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin -

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Brunei Window Washer

I was checking through the list of books about Brunei on when I saw this book entitled "The Brunei Window Washer".

When I opened up the book using amazon's "click to look inside", it was a story about a Bruneian by the name of Chai working at a grand hotel in Brunei as a window washer. Of course it is not a true story but one that was made up and for what you may ask?

Since the book is written by James D Kirkpatrick and Wender Kayser Kirkpatrick, I checked their website at and these are the reasons why you must read the book:-

Every organization in the world faces the same challenge: How do we accomplish our highest goals with the time, money, resources and people available to us?

No matter how lofty the goal, achievement happens one person and one action at a time.

This book tells the endearing story of Chai, the Brunei Window Washer. Through his experiences, you will learn the secrets of developing a team that cares about their customers and the overall mission of the business.

Chai embodies the traits that employers want to see in every member of their team. He gets his job done while also providing memorable customer service that really makes a connection with resort guests.

A clear discussion of the Kirkpatrick Model follows this quick read, pulling in elements of Chai’s experience to demonstrate how building business partnership using this model can help you and your organization to engage the talents of every employee and achieve your highest goals.

It is very interesting that the Kirkpatricks used a Brunei window washer for their discussion. Amazon sells the book for $24.95 if you want a copy of it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alai Sekap - Brunei's Traditional Dances and Music Series

Our Arts and Culture Division of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has been active in providing information about Brunei's Traditional Dances and Music on Facebook. To help disseminate the information further, I will be taking their posts and reposting it here. This is the second in the series about a dance from the Belait people:

ALAI SEKAP ialah nama sebuah tarian rakyaat puak Belait yang berasal dari Kuala Balai. Alai bererti tari dan sekap bererti dimasukkan kedalam. Fungsi tarian ini pada mulanya ialah sebagai menghibur keluarga yang sedang berduka kerana kematian, terutama kalangan keluarga penghulu puak dan ketua kampung.

Kayu atau alu adalah peralatan utama untuk tarian ini. 

Dua orang penari akan mengetukkan kayu itu dengan memegang kedua-kuda hujung kayu tersebut. Dalam masa yang sama seorang atau dua orang penari yang memakai sejenis tutup muka atau topeng, dengan baju compang-camping beraksi dengan memasukkan kaki, tangan dan badan mereka di antara kayu yang diketukkan itu.

Pada masa ini fungsi tarian ini sudah berubah yang berperanan sebagai hiburan sama ada pada majlis perkahwinan atau acara keriaan. Berlainan dengan tarian Melayu Brunei asli yang lain kerana tarian ini tidak disertai dengan sebarang nyanyian sebaliknya ia khusus diiringi oleh gendang ‘sabih gotu’.

- Courtesy Arts and Cultural Division, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam -

Monday, October 08, 2012

New Brunei International Airport 2014

Bandar Seri Begawan, 06 October 2012

A foundation stone laying ceremony for the Modernisation Project of the Brunei International Airport was held this afternoon for the airport's new arrival/departure terminal building. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Communications as the Guest of Honour at the ceremony held at the proposed site for the new Arrival/Departure Hall said that "by 2014 Brunei International Airport will be an iconic International Airport, prominent to the world with its Malay Muslim Monarch identity". The event commemorates the casting of one of the major columns supporting the massive roof for the new Arrival/Departure Hall.

Also present was Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of BEDB, Yang Berhormat Haji Awang Ahmad bin Haji Husin, Member of the Legislative Council, Yang Mulia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohamad Yusof, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Communications, Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Development, Deputy Permanent Secretaries from Ministry of Communications and Development and senior officials from the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

The concept design of the airport expansion project which began at the end of 2010, is undertaken by a Singapore consortium, Changi Airport Consultants Pte Ltd/AECOM Asia Co Ltd and the contractors appointed for the construction works are Trans Resources Corporation Sdn Bhd JV Swee Sdn Bhd. Aimed at improving the existing environment and appearance, the project is expected to enhance convenience to passengers and the public through the expansion of floor areas, the development of iconic structures and green features, as well as the installation of a much improved security system. The project, when completed in approximately 36 months, will see the Brunei International Airport improving on the quality of its services by emphasising on public convenience, safety and comfort.

In its announcement, the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on the major construction works on the modernization of Brunei International Airport terminal is on track. Airport users and passer-bys will observe the construction of the columns and roof structures in coming months. The BEDB and DCA will ensure the smooth operations of the airport during the construction period, continue to implement safety measures including changes in road traffic and passengers' movement within the airport area.

In addition, BEDB and DCA would like to seek public cooperation and consideration while encouraging outbound passengers to plan their travel & departures in advance. Both agencies will also ensure that the public and other stakeholders will be well informed in advance of any other major works undertaken at the airport.

Pg Adnan bin Pg Badaruddin, Acting Director of DCA in his opening remarks stated that this major expansion project is one of the objectives of the department aimed to develop Brunei International Airport as the regional hub that will ensure both safety and security for all air travellers or passengers and/or airport users and with the upgraded aviation safety system, facilities and services.

- Press Release -

Friday, October 05, 2012

Ancayau - Brunei's Traditional Dances and Music Series

Our Arts and Culture Division of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has been active in providing information about Brunei's Traditional Dances and Music on Facebook. To help disseminate the information further, I will be taking their posts and reposting it here. The first of the series is about Ancayau which is a dance from the Dusun people:

ANCAYAU IALAH nama sebuah tarian rakyaat yang berasal daripada puak Dusun. Ia ditarikan bagi tujuan bersuka ria dan berpesta. Gaya tarian ini menggambarkan pergerakan berburu dan penarinya memakai pakaian khas iaitu daripada kulit kayu timbaran, sementara dastar daripada jenis batik atau tenunan. Peralatan penting bagi mengiringi tarian ini ialah angkiring yang berupa sebatang rotan yang runcing di hujungnya berukuran panjang sedepa dan pada hujung rotan ini dipasangkan giring-giring daripada tembaga bertujuan untuk mengeluarkan bunyi.

Alatan lain ialah khalid iaitu sebuah perisai yang diperbuat daripada kayu. Penari utama akan memegang angkiring dan khalid serta memakai selampai yang ditenun, sementara penari pengiring yang memegang sebatang payung akan mengiringi penari utama di sepanjang perburuan itu. Muzik yang mengiringi tarian ini ialah irama gendang ibang-ibang.

- Courtesy Arts and Cultural Division, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam -

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Brunei's Presentation at 5th East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families

Datin Adina, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports
Bandar Seri Begawan, 3 October 2012 - EXTENDED families are an ideal platform for inculcating positive values, said Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports during the Country Presentation Session of the 5th East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families (EAMFF).

"The extended family system provides the traditional support system and emphasises on interdependency and support among family members." Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman (pic) said in her presentation. "It provides a good environment for each family member to realise their responsibilities responsibilities as a parent, child, grandparent, aunt, uncle and so on."

She added that "It is an ideal platform for inculcating positive values. These are significant factors in upholding the family stability, strong community and cohesive society."

She said that in a close-knit community like Brunei, where family values are integral to the moral fabric of the Bruneian society, "We uphold the importance of family and the significant role it plays for the well being of each member of society."

She noted that with a population of 393,162, "Brunei Darussalam is home to 68,208 households nation wide, with the average family size of 5.8 in 2011".

She pointed out that the extended family structure remains common throughout the country, where "parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts can be found living under one roof".

The deputy minister also reiterated that Brunei government has a high priority to strengthen the family institution, which included adopting a National Plan of Action, approved by a special commitee on Family Institution and Women.

The Plan of Action acknowledged that "Work and Family Balance" is an important agenda and had set out programmes such as enhancing parenting skills, communication skills, time and financial management as a means to address Work-Family balance, she said.

"Other programmes include promoting family friendly centres at the workplace, awareness campaigns on the responsbilities of each member of the family, health awareness campaigns, regular surveys on the status of families and enhancing the school curriculum on the family institution and the mindset of the community," she added.

The deputy minister also highlighted that Brunei celebrates National Family Day as a recognition of the importance of a family.

She also said that the extension of Hari Raya holidays (from two days to three days) starting from this year by His Majesty reinforced further the need to spend quality time with the family.

She also shared with other delegates some of the provisions Brunei had made to assist with the wellbeing of families and promoting work-family balance which include free healthcare and education, allowances for leave in various circumstances including Haj, accompanying a relative for medical treatment and 105 days maternity leave for working mothers.

"In terms of family responsbilities on the care of the elderly, Brunei Darussalam with its extended family system provides a good environment for such care," she said.

- Courtesy of The Brunei Times -

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

5th East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families

YB Pehin Hazair, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports with Ministers, Vice Ministers and Heads of 13 delegations attending the 5th East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

Bandar Seri Begawan, 2 October 2012 - The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah yesterday drew up the curtain for the 5th East Asia Ministerial Forum on Families (EAMFF).

The opening ceremony was held at the Indera Samudera Hall of The Empire Hotel & Country Club.

A total of 100 delegates from 13 countries comprising ministers and senior officers responsible on family affairs, including those of the host country Brunei Darussalam, will be attending the three-day forum.

Yesterday's opening ceremony began with the welcoming remarks by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Awg Hj Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos, who noted that the ministerial forum acts as a sharing avenue on family issues.

It is also an opportunity for participants to generate ideas for establishing cooperative partnerships within the East Asia region, which is in line with its main goal to help regional countries share experiences on solving family issues and assisting families facing a high risk of breakdown.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is pleased to host the 5th EAMFF that will provide a valuable platform to facilitate the sharing of regional experiences and highlighting the family as a backbone for solidarity, security and nation building.

He highlighted that the attendance at the biennale meeting is a clear evidence of their shared interest in family related issues, and hope that the forum would arrive at joint actions for the well-being of individuals and the stable development of families.

He further disclosed that the forum will focus on managing work-family balance as such issue is a global challenge faced by the family institution, where there have been a rise in working mothers, due to rapid socio-economic development.

"Career mothers' commitments and contributions in the socio-economic development have undeniably changed their roles from being full-time mothers and housewives," he added.

Despite the changing roles, not all parents can spend most of their time with their families, thus in handling such issue; the meeting will discuss and share their best practices and experiences on managing the issues of work-family balance.

In line with this year's theme, "Ensuring Work Family Balance", the forum will bring up various issues towards the wide role of family such as imbalance between work and family that could lead to social issues, psychology and somatic apart from reducing productivity at work place.

The 5th EAMFF agenda yesterday began with a roundtable discussion with participating countries, where the session was led by three invited panelists; from the Institute of Family Studies, Australia; Institute of Science and Health, UBD; and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company, as a representative from the private sector.

Awg Hj Mohd Rozan also disclosed that the statement issued on the final day would contain a declaration that will ensure commitments made by delegates at the forum, which are given the highest priority.

Following the opening ceremony, the minister chaired the closed session forum, in which the heads of delegation discussed and exchanged views, information, best practices and experiences on welfare and family institution development issues.

The first EAMFF, held in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2004, produced the Hanoi Statement - "For regional Cooperation on Family Related Matters", while the second EAMFF hosted by Singapore in 2006, has issued the Singapore Statement -"Building Resilient Families".

Following that, Indonesia hosted the 3rd EAMFF in Bali with the Bali Statement, "Strengthening Collaboration for Programmes on Family Resilience", and the 4th EAMFF was hosted by Malaysia in 2008 in Kuala Lumpur with the Statement - "Safe and Resilient Families: Protecting and Empowering At-Risk and High-Risk Families."

- Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin -

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