Monday, December 31, 2012

Heir to the Brunei Throne

It's the big moment for the 15-year-old prince as Pengiran Bendahara (left) hands over the Royal Kris

Heir to the Brunei Throne

BRUNEI TOWN, August 19, 1961 - Installed as Crown Prince this week, the Sultan's eldest son said that with the will of Allah, he would do the duties demanded of him to be the best of his ability.

The ceremonial rituals at Istana Darul-Hana were traditional and colourful.

The solemnity of the occasion was tempered by the bright splash of court colours and the rich gowns worn by officials and onlookers alike.

The prince wore a headdress of beaded jewels during the ceremony earlier this week.

After the proclamation had been read out by Dato Setia Marsal, the Deputy Menteri Besar, the Pengiran Bendahara presented the 15-year-old prince with the Royal Kris.

A special feature of the guard of honour was the inclusion of school children.

Wearing floral crowns, girls in neat white and green baju kurongs, walked beside the stately palace guards and spear bearers who were garbed in either total red or total black.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin -


Friendly princes are pals to all

KUALA LUMPUR, SEPTEMBER 30, 1961- Eight months have passed since the Sultan of Brunei sent his two sons to one of Malaya's best secondary schools, the Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

It has been an interesting period, not only for the two princes, but also for their principal, Dr G E D Lewis, their teachers and Malayan schoolm-ates. It constitutes a transition from their previous palace cloistered education by tutors in Brunei to studying in a public school - fitting them into an entirely different life.

Except for the occasional glimpses, the public have never before known how the two princes - Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah, 15, and Pengiran Muda Mohamed Bolkiah, 14 - fared in the school.

This is the first full report of their schooling here based on interviews with Dr Lewis, Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah's form teacher, Mr Yap Chai Seng, Pengiran Muda Mohamed Bolkiah's teacher, Mr T Rajaratnam and pupils of the school.

Perhaps the best indication of their progress is the remark made by Dr Lewis that the two princes "are holding their own among a highly selective group of pupils".

The Victoria Institution has always drawn the cream of Malayan schoolboys and to say they are holding their own among the pupils of Form One in the school, where the medium of instruction is English, is praise indeed. Their form teachers report that Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah's best subjects are Malay and Art, while Pengiran Muda Mohamed Bolkiah's are Malay and Mathematics.

Both the princes are hardworking, keen and well behaved.

Mr Yap said: "Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah often volunteers whenever there is anything to do in class. It may be anything - shifting desks or cleaning up the classroom - and he will always offer to lend a hand. Incidentally, he is the biggest boy in the class and one of the toughest, but at the same time, one of the best mannered and gentlest boys."

Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah's generosity is also well-known to his classmates and teacher. Mr Yap said that Pengiran Muda Hassanal Bolkiah once contributed $100 of his own savings to the school's appeal fund for sports day.

Both rather kept to thems-elves when they joined the school in January this year, but they now mix freely with the Chinese, Indian and Malay boys in the school irrespective of whether they are ambassador's children or boys from poor homes.

Dr Lewis recalled that before sending his two sons to the school, the Sultan of Brunei who was then in Malaya invited him to tea and told him that he would like them to receive exactly the same treatment as the other boys.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin -

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brunei's First Army Recruits

The first batch of 60 Brunei recruits, who form the nucleus of the new Brunei Regiment, is seen here on arrival in Kuala Lumpur in this May 31, 1961 file photo
Brunei's first recruits for new army get big welcome

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10, 1961 - The 60 Brunei Malay recruits who form the nucleus of the proposed Brunei Regiment arrived here last week for training in Port Dickson.

The recruits are mostly students who had just left school.

The recruits told the Bulletin they considered themselves fortunate and honoured because they would be the first soldiers of Brunei's own army.

The 60 men were chosen out of the 102 who applied to join the Brunei Regiment.

A Malayan team led by Major Mohamed Shariff bin Ahmad, recruiting officer of the Federation of Malaya Regiment, had gone to Brunei to pick the men.

Major (Dr) G A Lopez, who examined the recruits in Brunei, told the Bulletin: "They are all physically fit. They are the best of those who applied."

The recruits will be trained in Port Dickson for six months after which they will be attached to various Malayan units for some time.

- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin -

Friday, December 28, 2012

52 Year Anniversary of BSB's Chinese Temple

The Chinese Temple during the official opening in 1960. (Source: Borneo Bulletin)
BRUNEI TOWN (December 31, 1960) - The United Kingdom High Commissioner in Brunei, Mr D C White, declared open the Kwong Chek Choon Ong Temple, in the presence of a large gathering earlier this week.

In his opening speech, Mr White, speaking in Malay, said that the temple was one of the finest in the Borneo territories.

Mr White said that the temple would help to lend lustre to the name of Brunei.

Earlier, the chairman of the temple committee, the Kapitan Cina said that he would like to thank on behalf of the Chinese committee, the Sultan, Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien, the Brunei Government and others who had contributed towards the building of the temple.

The Kapitan Cina said that the government had not only given the land for the temple but had also contributed very liberally towards its building.

Source: The Borneo Bulletin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brunei's 1st Water Park

Brunei's First Water Park at Liang Lumut Recreation Club (Source: The Brunei Times)
Seria, 15th December 2012 - THE country's first water amusement park made a splashing opening as gates opened for the first time to visitors across the nation flocking for the chilled, crystal clear waters, and water play areas.

The park, which took four years in the making, was thought of for quite some time, according to the park's General Manager Nisa Halim.

Despite the opening, thoughts of expansion are set in motion: "We're also looking at more facilities to expand the water park, the area has been cleared, so hopefully we can conjure up a few ideas, such as wakeboarding, and so forth," said Nisa.

"This is great," said a mother of three, from Lumut.

She added, "Since they closed the previous pool four years ago, my kids have been excited and were anticipating for the opening and now we're happy to be here,"

The family who lives in Lumut expects frequent visits to the area, while commenting that the park can be further improved by adding on more shaded areas.

Mother-of-one Masni Salim, from Brunei Muara said, "I think a place like this is fantastic for the kids on school holidays, and the location is very scenic".

Masni added that a room for improvement could include more play areas, and hopes for the possibility for another amusement park of the similar kind to open closer to the capital.

"I like to see one at Pantai Muara," said Masni on her last remarks.

Father-of-two Hj Mohd Rivan, from Brunei Muara said, "I think my children get too bored at home, so the trip here was worthwhile instead of wasting time at home."

"But the park is still small as it is only for children. I would like to see it expand or hope to see an adult-sized water amusement park, maybe one at The Empire Hotel & Country Club," he added.

The park is expected to accommodate up to a hundred visitors at a time.

The main pool measures 0.8 metres in height and harbours a water playground consisting of a slide and water parosals.

The park is located at Liang Lumut Recreation Club at Jalan Pantai Lumut, Belait. It opens all week on Monday to Thursday from 10am - 8pm, and Friday to Sunday from 9am - 8pm.

Children's ticket cost $1 from Monday to Wednesday and on Thursday to Sunday, $2. Adult's ticket costs $2 on Monday to Wednesday while on Thursday to Sunday it costs $3.

Additionally, the park also offer a family package which includes two adults and two children for $8 only applicable from Thursday to Sunday.

- Courtesy of The Brunei Times -

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brunei - 50 years under emergency rule

This is a transcript of a radio interview conducted  and broadcasted by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Australia and was published on ABC Radio Australia in December 2012. You can link here to the website and listen to the podcast yourself or you can read the transcript below:

Brunei - 50 years under emergency rule

Updated 13 December 2012, 15:52 AEST

This December marks 50 years of emergency rule in Brunei, the small wealthy sultanate on the North Coast of Borneo.

This was at a time when fear about the spread of communism was palpable, prompting the Sultan to annul the election results and declare emergency rule.

But that was half a century ago, so why does the state of emergency still exist today?

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Geoffrey Gunn, Professor of International Relations, Nagasaki University in Japan

GUNN: Well simply that the rebellion is perceived in Brunei today as derhaka, a term meaning treachery against the Sultan. And for this and various other reasons the state of emergency has not been rescinded, and neither has Brunei revived the parliament that was promulgated according to the 1959 constitution. So simply Brunei looks back upon that rebellion as underscoring a threat to the stability of the nation.
COCHRANE: But that threat of course no longer exists 50 years on now. Is the tolerance of this state of emergency tied up in the public's view of the ruler?
GUNN: Well simply for various reasons there has been no challenge to the status quo in Brunei. Legitimacy of the Sultan of course stems from its windfall oil revenues which the Sultanate passes out to its subjects. So no challenge has really been mounted to the Sultan, and why should people do so? Basically they are middle class, they are satisfied with the status quo. So there's simply no push for democratic change in Brunei. It sounds like a contradiction, but it's a fact.
COCHRANE: So people are simply too comfortable to worry about politics?
GUNN: Pretty much so, I mean there are two token opposition parties but they have no seats in any institution so they're marginalised. People can vent their anxieties in letters to the editor or through rumour, and these days of course through internet, but that's about as far as any murmur of discontent goes.
COCHRANE: So if politics isn't a huge concern or at least further democratisation isn't much of a concern amongst the public, and they're fairly economically comfortable, what are some of the main issues that the nation of Brunei faces?
GUNN: Well for the Sultan himself protected by two battalions of Ghurkhas, I mean he's commander-in-chief of the armed forces, so he's pretty much neutralised any threat of say a coup d'etat on the one hand. But on the other hand radical Islam always poses a challenge to these kind of Islamic monarchic establishments. But on the other hand progressively the Sultanate has Islamised over the last 20 years as a way of neutralising any kind of Islamist challenge. Neither has the Arab Spring contagion really entered into the equation in Brunei either. And on the other hand Brunei is now comfortable within ASEAN, as an ASEAN member threats from neighbours has virtually disappeared. And looking ahead Brunei will chair the ASEAN summit from next year further giving it legitimacy within ASEAN and the region.
COCHRANE: As you mentioned though the source of the Sultan's wealth is the country's oil reserves and thus the stability that stems from that. How long is this going to last? How long will the oil last?
GUNN: Well that's a state secret, it's an oil company secret, but it's always been put around that 15 years more reserves remain. But as the technology for deeper sea exploration and development expands so probably the pool of reserves expand. So nobody really knows. Moreover Brunei Darussalam has reaped the benefits of fairly high oil prices in recent years, moreover it's locked into long-term contracts, 15 year contracts with its major markets and clients; Japan, Korea and now China. So it looks good but it is vulnerable, of course oil and gas is a finite reserve, so Brunei simply has to manage its sovereign wealth in clever ways. And that does pose a doubt into the medium term, yes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brunei Volunteers Benefit Society

Haji Mohd Rozan presenting  a certificate to one of the training participants. (Source: Borneo Bulletin)
Bandar Seri Begawan, 12th December 2012 - FIFTY youth proclaimed "We are strong, we are unbreakable, we are invincible" as the 11th Life Skills Training (LESTARI) organised by the Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAC) came to a rousing close yesterday at the Female Residential College Hall, UBD.

Overcome with emotion, participants shed many a tear after opening their blindfolds to see their parents welcoming them after undergoing the four-day training programme.

This year's group of 50 youths, named themselves the 'Titanium 50' to represent the dense and hard metal. Utilising a combination of local and foreign practical training methods, the LESTARI programme used music, storytelling, audio and visual, games and interaction to teach life skills to participants and raise awareness of AIDS in Brunei.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Hj Mohd Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Yunos, present as guest of honour at the closing ceremony, said, "Alhamdulillah... What you have taken part in and the knowledge you have gained on this course will bring you closer to achieving His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's vision of a syumul (comprehensive) youth".

The Permanent Secretary highlighted that as said by His Majesty, to truly achieve the ideal of comprehensiveness, one needs to fill themselves with knowledge.

"LESTARI covers a multitude of skills including cognitive, personal and interpersonal, which are forms of knowledge that are absolutely necessary in this day and age."

Hj Mohd Rozan also praised the training for instilling a culture of volunteerism and urged youths to expand their horizons beyond social and community services to humanitarian and more youth-centric issues.

One of the participants, Dyg Mantazah Hj Hamzah described the training as "an emotional journey. One moment you're crying, the next you're laughing".

"If there's anything that I've learnt from LESTARI it's to never give up. I have learnt to believe in myself and believe in others; that I need to back others up to get their backing."

Zul Hamzi Faiz Hj Zali said that he will keep the bonds made during the programme for life. "I see 50 different personalities, all of who are steadfast in character. LESTARI has taught me to be brave and to be creative."

The AIDS Council of Brunei Darussalam have received recognition for their efforts, being awarded the Commonwealth Youth Silver award in 2005 and 2007, as well as the ASEAN Ten Accomplished Youth Organisation (TAYO) Award last year.

-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times --

Saturday, December 08, 2012

8th December Revisited

[This is an updated entry of an earlier entry I made in 2009 and 2011. I have added a couple of extra books at the end. The entry was as relevant then as it is now.]

Exactly 49 years ago today, some people thought they heard fireworks. They were wondering why fireworks? They did not know that it was not fireworks that they heard. It was the sound of small arms fire. A group of people decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands.

Ask many people who had gone through those era and you will get many tales which you don't or even expect to hear today. I was not born yet. I was a two month old fetus in those days. My father was an Administrative Officer Cadet at the Belait District Office. My mother told me that she and my father had to sleep on the floor in case any stray bullet went through their wooden government quarters in Kuala Belait.

One uncle told me that he was almost shot at by another uncle when he as members of the armed guards of BSP went to the Panaga Police Station to take refuge. The police shot at them because they thought the guards wanted to attack the police station.

A group of people burst through my father in law's shop in Muara demanding bullets. In those days bullets are sold through licensed shops.

One of my former officers told me how his father who was a warden at the SOAS College hostel walked from Kiulap to ensure that the boys were fed. He did not come back until later at night and his family thought he had died.

The one and only memorial dedicated to the events of 8th December is currently inside the ferry passenger terminal building in Bangar. The memorial is dedicated to a number of Bruneians who were killed during the turbulent period.

What I know about what happened 49 years ago was what I heard and read. A number of books had been written about it. Today my entry is about those books which you can go to the bookshops and buy them for yourselves.

"Remember, Remember, The 8th of December." Our own HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah wrote this book. Published by Brunei Press in 2007, this one is easily available at any bookshops in Brunei. This one is an easy read and contained lots of photographs making it probably more dramatic and makes the pain of the fight of Bruneian versus Bruneian more intense.

HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah wrote that "... if we are going to enter this new era confidently, then each of us has to remember our past, acknowledge it and respect it. That's what the founders of ASEAN did and that's what we all must continue to do so. In Brunei this means we have to come to terms with what happened forty five years ago, on a grim, dark Saturday morning, early on the 8th of December, 1962 ..."

This book is easily available at most bookshops in Brunei.

Title: "Remember, Remember, the 8th of December"
Written by: HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah
Published by: Brunei Press Sdn Bhd
Year published: 2007
ISBN: 99917-32-18-17


"Rebellion in Brunei: The 1962 Revolt, Imperialism, Confrontation and Oil" written by Harun Abdul Majid.

I wrote an entry about this book a few months ago which you can link here. This book is written by Datuk Harun Abdul Majid, one of our local businessmen. This book arises out of his dissertation when he was doing his Masters at King's College in London and he carried out his research at the Department of War Studies there.

What's different about Datuk Haruns's book is that his view is seen from the larger regional 1960s Malaysia-Indonesia conflicts. A number of British servicemen who served in the region noted the fighting in Malaya and Brunei was part of the Small Wars which the British soldiers, sailors, and airmen from Britain and the Commonwealth have been fighting to defend Britain's shrinking empire since the end of World War Two.

Professor Michael Clark, Director of the International Policy Institute of the King's College wrote that the book 'contains a lot of colourful material which is genuinely original and throws some new light on an interesting military operation of the 1960s.'

I have not seen any bookshops in Brunei carry this book but the book can be bought online and cost a fair bit at around US$79.

Title: "Rebellion in Brunei: the 1962 Revolt, Imperialism, Confrontation and Oil"
Written by: Harun Abdul Majid
Published by: I.B. Taurus and Co Ltd, London
Year published: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-84511-423-7


"Brunei 1839-1983: The Problems of Political Survival" written by D.S. Ranjit Singh.

This was probably one of the oldest modern book about Brunei history. Published by Oxford University Press in 1984, the book remained for quite a while one of the most comprehensive written about Brunei's modern history. Ranjit Singh was a lecturer in University of Malaya when he wrote the book at the time when Brunei was taking her tentative steps towards full independence.

It traced how Brunei's rulers struggling to maintain Brunei's autonomy and control Brunei's destinies despite the British and Western Imperialism in the 19th century. The success and the turbulent times of the 1950s and 1960s pave the way to Brunei's sovereignity and independence in 1984.

This book is almost impossible to get hold of brand new now. I was lucky to have found a copy at the Select Books in Singapore many years ago and I doubt if you can find it today in any book shop. Most libraries will have this book though.

Title: "Brunei 1839-1983: The Problems of Political Survival"
Written by: D.S. Ranjit Singh
Published by: Oxford Univ Press
Year published: 1984
ISBN: 0195825713


"8 Disember: Dalangnya Siapa?" Written by our national historian and our Principal of Brunei's History Centre, Yang Berhormat Pehin Jamil and published by Brunei History Centre in 2003 is an official account of what happened on that fateful day in 1962. Surprisingly I was also informed recently by one of his officers that that fateful date is also Yang Berhormat Pehin's birthday.

In his introduction, Pehin wrote that this book tries to depict a part of the many events related to the 8th December and at the same time trying to trace the origins and the many issues related to it. He admitted that in writing the book, there are many other evidences and events which needed to be learnt and researched. In the end, he hoped that this book will raise people's awareness of what happened and the way to move forward '... menimbulkan semangat kesedaran berbangsa dan bernegara: Brunei Darussalam ...'

This book is available from Brunei History Centre and local bookshops in Brunei.

Title: "8 Disember: Dalangnya Siapa?"
Written by: Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri
Published by: Pusat Sejarah Brunei, Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan
Year published: 2003
ISBN: 99917-34-27-9


"Pertumbuhan Nasionalisme di Brunei (1939 - 1962)". This book written in Malay by Dr Haji Zaini Haji Ahmad was published in 2004 and contained the forewords of Pehin Jamil.

Dr Haji Zaini (full name: Dr Haji Zaini bin Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Setia Awang Haji Ahmad) wrote it as an insider and was one of the main character of the 1962 event. This book is actually rewritten from an earlier book published by the writer below.

Pehin Jamil described the book as interestingly written and recorded a part of Brunei's history which is still actively discussed. Even though the event remained a painful and bitter event for Brunei, we can only learn from it and pray that it will not be repeated in the future.

This book is available at selected bookshops around the country for the price of $12. The last time I checked, only Kedai Buku Mega has it. Try also Book Lane at Delima, that shop tended to have unusual collection.

Title: "Pertumbuhan Nasionalisme di Brunei (1939-1962)"
Written by: Haji Zaini Haji Ahmad
Published by: Haji Zaini Haji Ahmad
Year published: 1989, 2nd Edition: 2004
ISBN: 99917-48-18-0


"Brunei Merdeka: Sejarah dan Budaya Politik". This book was published earlier by Dr Zaini in 2003. This is actually based on the manuscript that he wrote as his PhD thesis at Universiti Malaya in 1996. Its contents is almost similar to the latter book above. It also contained the forewords of Pehin Jamil.

The book is divided into 10 chapters. It started with the old histroy of Brunei and end with the Brunei scenario of 1962 and the events and questions surrounding it. I will not try to summarise the book but hoped that you are able to read it for yourself and find out what the end is.

The book is also available at selected bookshops throughout the country. The copy that I have, I bought it from Bismi for a rather expensive $23. Despite the price, the book is invaluable in the amount of knowledge it gave me. So I do hope you too will try to read the book.

Title: "Brunei Merdeka: Sejarah dan Budaya Politik"
Written by: Dr Haji Zaini bin Haji Ahmad
Published by: Dr Haji Zaini bin Haji Ahmad
Year published: 2003
ISBN: 99917-34-01-9


"Sejarah Brunei: Menjelang Kemerdekaan". This book published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Malaysia is written by a Malaysian and two Bruneian.

The Malaysian was Professor Sabihah Osman from UKM and the Bruneians were Dr Muhamamad Hadi, who was the Deputy Principal at Brunei History Center before becoming the Director of Information and has since retired, and Sabullah Haji Hakip, an Education Officer at MOE.

This book tried to avoid the usual historic theme of glory and fall but focused on several themes which are important to the Brunei's history. The book read more like a collection of essays written by the three historians but at the end does try to be more like a book. It has interesting photographs of Brunei's fishing industries and equipment as well as other photographs.

The copy that I have I bought from Kedai Buku Mega in Kiulap for $22. I have not seen any other book shop carry this book.

Title: "Sejarah Brunei: Menjelang Kemerdekaan"
Written by: Sabihah Osman, Muhammad Hadi Abdullah & Sabullah Haji Hakip
Published by: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur
Year published: 2001
ISBN: 983-62-4816-1


"Brunei: Traditions of Monarchic Culture and History." One very recent book published by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah also contained interesting background materials to the events of 1962. It was a memorandum written by R.H. Hickling. In terms of importance, it was as important as MSH MacArthur's 1906 Report of Brunei, however it has not been given as prominent as it should have been.

Title: "R.H. Hickling's Memorandum Upon the Brunei Constitutional History and Practice"
Introduced by: B. A. Hussainmiya dan Nicholas Tarling
Published by: Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah under the series Brunei: Traditions of Monarchic Culture and History
Year published: 2011

You can link here to read more about the book including the book review (in Malay) which I did during the launching of the book at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah on 19 May 2011.


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