Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brunei climbs up HDI

Bandar Seri Begawan, 23 March 2013 - Brunei Darussalam scored the second highest in the Human Development Index (HDI) in Asean at 0.855 after Singapore, which places the Sultanate at a rank of 30 out of 187 countries, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report revealed this week.

In 2011, the Sultanate stood at 0.854, scoring high in health at 0.917, income at 0.904 and education at 0.757. Life expectancy at birth is 78.1 years, while mean years of schooling (of adults) is 8.6 years with a GNI of $45,690.

Brunei is categorised under very high human development. Between 1980 and 2012, Brunei's HDI rose by 0.2 per cent annually from 0.765 to 0.855 today.

The Sultanate fared better in indicators of adult literacy rate for both sexes at 95.2 per cent, primary school teachers trained to teach at 87.1 per cent, and combined gross enrolment in education for both sexes at 83 per cent.

Norway, Australia and the United States lead the rankings of 187 countries and territories in the latest Human Development Index, while conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and drought-stricken Niger have the lowest scores in the HDI's measurement of national achievement in health, education and income, according to the United Nations Development Programme's 2013 Human Development Report.

Singapore is the Asean country with the highest HDI of 0.895, placing it at 18th worldwide, followed by Brunei Darussalam with 0.855 HDI in 30th place, and Malaysia ranking 64th with a 0.769 HDI. Thailand and the Philippines placed 103th and 114th on the list with a HDI of 0.690 and 0.654 respectively.

--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, March 22, 2013

Brunei Coal Mines in 1883

Straits Times Weekly Issue (Singapore), 19 March 1883 Page 3
The Muara Coal Mines (Brunei)

A correspondent has favoured us with the following account of a visit he recently paid to the Muara Coal Mines in Brunei:-
"On the 13th March 1882, these mines were ceded to Mr. C by the Sultan of Brunei for 20 years. They had been surveyed and partly worked by the first Labuan Coal Mining Company. They extend about 30 square miles. Mr. C has full mining rights, no duties to pay, and the right to wood, &c. He is allowed to erect buildings, wharves, and piers, which he can remove at the expiry of the lease should it be desirable to do so.
   "On the morning of the 5th of this month, we left the s.s. Borneo, and embarked on board the steam launch of the Sultan of Brunei, which had been kindly lent us for the trip. We steamed away at a great pace, and were soon clear of the difficult and tortuous bar of the Brunei river, when we stood almost direct for Muara. Muara is situated N.W. of the entrance of the river. By 11.30 we had moored alonside the long wooden pier on which were numerous baskets full of coal ready for shipment; a tongkang was on the shore being made ready for a voyage to Labuan with coal. The Royalist had not ayet arrived.
   "On landing we were met by Mr D, the manager, a rather rough and ready sort of man, but one who appeared to know what he was about, and we started at once for the mines 1 1/2 miles distant. The commencement of the walk was rather heavy, through sandy soil, but as we advanced, we came to a slight ascent, and the ground became harder. We met some buffalo carts laden with coal toiling down to the shore. This is a slow mode of proceeding, but will soon be changed, as rails are now at Singapore and are to be sent immediately. Very slight traction power will then be necessary, and either buffaloes, horses, or steam can be used. Near the mines, a short line of rails is laid and trucks, each containing about 16 cwt,. are running. On arrival at the pit's mouth we descended a short ladder and were at once amongst the coal, which is good even at this short distance from the surface. Being provided with candles we explored the seams. Towards the hill was a fire which had been smouldering some months and the water from which, flowing towards us, was warm; we did not feel enough curiosity to penetrate far in that direction. On arriving at daylight we proceeded a little further and descended another and more worked mine, having coal seams branching in four directions. The sides and roof were in some parts propped with wood, but were in others simply hewn through the coal. Some of the passages were low and narrow, being barely sufficient for one man to pass at a time. It was very hot here, with a certain suffocating sort of feeling, and we were not sorry to regain the light and sun; the latter was however very powerful, but we considered ourselves bound to accept Mr. D's proposal to go to a certain ridge, which ran round the portion of the mines being worked, and gave a general view of the works, as well as of the low ground on the other side which is used as a paddy sawah.
   The labourers in the mines were Chinese and Brunei people; some of the latter were formerly working in the Labuan coal mines, and Mr. D. had great confidence in them and praised them much. The old hands can do much more work than the new ones, but coal cutting is not a very difficult art to acquire.
   Having seen everything, and being sufficiently hot, tired, and dusty, we returned to the steam launch and enjoyed exceedingly a B.& S.
   The output of coal has been much retarded lately owning to the Chinese new year, and the absurd marriage festivities at Brunei. Mr. C however is to get some Chinese coolies shortly, and is prepared to pay them so much for every ton of coal put on the pier. This with the railway would work excellently; the Chinese excel in piece work, and would earn double what they do on wages, so labout would be certain.
   As far as could be seen the supply of coal is almost unlimited. The first seam we explored was 22 feet thick, running parallel with the range of hills. The other was 16 feet thick at the thinnest part, and also ran in the same direction N. and S. north to the sea and south to Bukit Pisang 650 feet high. The present mode of working is economical, there being no necessity to go deep; the coal being excellent where it is being taken from, just a few feet below the surface.
   The engineers and stokers who have tried the coal speak very highly of it, and it is to be hoped the enterprising owner will meet the reward his energy deserves.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

National Seminar Empowering the Reading Culture



A TWO-DAY conference to highlight the importance of acquiring knowledge through reading and in building an educated community began yesterday.

The National Conference on Empowering Reading Culture 2013 was officially opened by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan.

In his remarks, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah, quoted His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's titah, where the monarch urged the citizens to be more educated and learn to think through reading. Books and other reading materials are the mediums used to acquire a reading culture.

"Reading is one of the fundamental blocks of learning and a reading culture too can enhance the quality of life within a community and nation."

The minister hoped that with this year's theme centred on "Empowering Reading Culture", would assist in developing citizens who are educated, talented, critical, creative, innovative, analytical, imaginative and knowledgeable, who enable themselves as well as the nation to compete and benefit from global progress.

The objective of the conference is to realise His Majesty's emphasis on the importance of knowledge in the development of a nation especially in realising Wawasan 2035 as well as the support of the implementation of the 21st Century National Education System (SPN21) towards a better quality, educated and skilled life with a resilient and dynamic economy.

A keynote address was delivered by Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Awang Abu Bakar Hj Apong, who spoke about "The Importance of Reading in Realising Wawasan 2035".

In his address, the minister outlined eight strategies which the Ministry of Education (MoE) has been tasked to achieve within a span of 10 years. The strategies include investing in early childhood education; using the best international practices in teaching and learning; providing a high standard of education at the secondary and higher education level, including vocational schools, to produce experts, professionals and technicians required in businesses and the industry; strengthening the competence of info-communication technology (ICT) for students, teachers and education administrators, including the integration of ICT into the school curriculum; developing programmes that promote lifelong learning and increase access to higher education; encouraging research, development and innovation in government funded institutions and the institutions that are funded by public-private sector partnerships; using teaching methods that are cost-effective through the use of technology; and improving management of all educational institutions.

A total of 17 speakers are scheduled to deliver their working papers during the two-day conference, five of whom are from Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. Today, another seven working papers will be tabled.The opening was held at the Rizqun International Hotel, attended by foreign dignitaries, ministerial officials, Language and Literature Bureau officers and staff, literature experts as well as members of the public. The Brunei Times

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brunei's Nominations for World Heritage Sites

Brunei Nominates 4 for World Heritage Sites

Bandar Seri Begawan, 12 March 2013 - FOUR locations in the country have been identified to have the potential to be recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site and the appropriate framework has currently been undertaken by various agencies, spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) in preparing a tentative list to nominate the locations recognised as a World Heritage Site.


The four locations; Tasek Merimbun Park in Tutong, Abana Rocks Coral Reef Formation; the Brunei River and Industrial Heritage of Colliery in Muara are being included in a final report, following a nine-day deliberation in a workshop which was officially closed yesterday.

The workshop, held towards the preparation of the Tentative List World Heritage Nomination Procedure (UNESCO-World Heritage Convention 1972) for Brunei was organised by the Brunei Museums Department and was attended by 20 participants and three observers from various government ministries and its departments including the MCYS, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Development as well as the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

Officially closing the workshop at the National Archive Building, Jln Dewan Majlis, yesterday was Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, Permanent Secretary at the MCYS who was also the guest of honour of the event.

During the closing ceremony, a full report of the workshop was handed over to the guest of honour by the Director of Museums, Awang Bantong bin Antaran. The guest of honour also presented certificates of participation to the workshop attendees.

A summary of the workshop was also delivered by an expert in world heritage and the workshop’s facilitator, Dr Richard Adams Engelhardt, UNESCO Chair Professor of Culture Resource Management and Former Regional Advisor for Asia Pacific Culture, Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr Richard said that although countries go through a lengthy process in getting a location recognised as a world heritage site by the approving body, it goes a long way to safeguard Brunei’s heritage for generations to come.

According to Awang Bantong, the workshop was a follow-up to the first workshop held early last year to formulate framework of actions to nominate a world heritage site for Brunei, in line with the World Heritage Convention 1972 which Brunei has signed.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin --

Friday, March 08, 2013

2013 Legislative Council



His Majesty officially opened the new Legislative Council session yesterday. His speech focused on three things:

+ Members to have meaningful deliberations
+ Estate Duty abolished to spur domestic investment
+ Efforts to strengthen the economy top priority

+++++

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Friday, March 8, 2013 - WITH effect from January 1, 2013, any outstanding taxes on estate duty will be struck off the books as estate duty itself will no longer exist.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday announced this at the official opening of the Ninth Legislative Council as part of efforts to encourage investments within the country.

Even with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently depicting a more positive outlook for the global economic situation, His Majesty's concerns still remain as the world continues to be overshadowed by the global economic crisis which is feared to possibly affect the livelihood of citizens and residents.

The state of the fiscal, financial and economic systems in several countries remain in turmoil and continue to be tested, said His Majesty, "this is why it is imperative for my government to carry on and redouble efforts to strengthen the national economy and its growth".

One of the primary needs, the monarch said, was to improve business and trade and to attract more foreign investments. His Majesty pointed out that the government would endeavour to create a more conducive atmosphere for foreign investment, and that upstream and downstream industries in the energy sector would continue to be strengthened as the key contributor to Brunei's economy.

Meanwhile, progress in the non-energy areas of the private sector will continue to be facilitated as it is being done at present, the monarch added.

Be proactive, not complacent

His Majesty in his titah, was very critical of the role of the Legislative Council members, particularly those appointed into office.

Touching on his government's contributions, those in the form of essential infrastructure will be continued.

"The $6.5 billion budget under the 10th National Development Plan to finance national development projects is a huge commitment from our government."

"All these (projects) should get serious attention from Legislative Council members, especially appointed members. They should offer as many opinions and suggestions on the matter as possible."

The monarch went on to say it was "not enough" to simply ask a lot of questions, without offering constructive ideas.

"Nor is it acceptable to just speak of the figures allocated in the budget without looking at what they are for and how they are utilised effectively and efficiently. All these undeniably, need the viewpoints of council members."

His Majesty said it was believed that members, in particular appointed members, were already aware and know the areas that are being developed under government planning.

"So, is it not timely that they must also offer their own views and opinions?" His Majesty questioned.

The monarch called on appointed members to offer their opinions and ideas on ways to improve education, improve the quality of health, overcome unemployment and promote tourism, as well as agriculture, fisheries and the environment.

In the areas of religion and legislation, His Majesty said views and opinions were also required. For instance, on tidying up and facilitating the process of implementation.

Similarly on social issues, the monarch said that means and ways on how best to effectively address and overcome crime and other social ills needed to be addressed.

"In short, the field is wide and open for full discussion and deliberation. If there is a good and heated debate among the members on the (related) issues, the purpose of this session will then become more meaningful."

"In my opinion, this is what the members of the general public are eagerly waiting for. They want to hear, they like to know what progress and development is taking place in this country through the status of government projects that are completed, as well as those being implemented," His Majesty added.

"This is a big responsibility for the appointed members. As grassroots leaders, it is required of each and every one of them to get to know personally and in full, government initiatives that were or are being implemented, encompassing all aspects and areas of religion, economy, education, infrastructure and mentality, and security."

Through this, LegCo members will then be regarded as having brought forth the Legislative Council as a respectable institution, said His Majesty.

-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times --

Thursday, March 07, 2013

National Day Forum 2013



Bandar Seri Begawan, 6 March 2013 - In conjunction with the 29th National Day celebrations, Religious Teachers' University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) yesterday organised a National Day Forum, seeing a panel of speakers from the university deliberating on the role higher education institutions play in inculcating the spirit of patriotism.

Hundreds of students and scholars showed up at the Lecture Hall of Insitut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah for the forum, which was organised by the KUPU SB Core Education Centre.

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

In his opening speech, the event's chairperson, Md Amirul bin Abdul Rahim, noted that the objectives of the forum are to enliven the country's national day celebrations, instil patriotic spirit and love for the country, as well as foster closer relations within the university college's community.

Norasimah binti Omar, the Deputy Dean of Usuluddin Fatuity; Pg Hajah Norwidayawati binti Pg Hj Metusin, Deputy Dean of Syariah Faculty; Awang Haji Yahya bin Apong, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Forum Chair, Pg Hjh Salmiah binti Pg Hj Shahbuddin , Deputy Director of Language Centre; deliberating on the topic 'To which extent does the role of Higher Education Institutions have for the love of the religion and country"

Also present at the forum were the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs Hj Harun bin Hj Junid and Ra'es of KUPU SB Dr Hajah Masnon binti Haji Ibrahim.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin --

Top Ladies in Brunei Government


While waiting for the Legislative Council session to start this morning, we were ushered into a waiting room. All the ladies permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries seated themselves together. I just had to take this photograph of the most senior lady officers in the Brunei government:

Left to right:
Dr Norlila Dato Haji Jalil, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health (Congratulations! Promoted last night)
Hajah Mariam Haji Jaafar, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health
Hajah Hasnah Haji Ibrahim, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources
Pg Datin Hajah Masrainah, Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (retired Permanent Secretary, same ministry)
Hajah Suriyah Haji Umar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence
Hajah Naimah Haji Ali, Deputy Permanent Secretry, Prime Minister's Office and Solicitor-General at the Attorney General's Chamber
Dr Hajah Rahmah Haji Md Said, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministery of Health (Congratulations! Promoted last night)
Dr Hajah Masnon Haji Ibrahim, Raes (Vice Chancellor) Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College

Just for the record, the following top ranked ladies are not in the above photograph:

Hajah Ning Lela Dato Mohammad, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance
Datin Lim Bee Yong, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Hajah Normah Pehin Jamil, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Sabah Treaties

In the Program Book for the Coronation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah as the 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on 1st August 1968, there were two treaties obtained from the Public Record Office London. One was signed by Sultan Jalilulazam of Sulu appointing Baron de Overbeck as Dato Bendahara and Raja Sandakan dated 22nd January 1878.
 
This is the treaty which caused all the current issues in Lahad Datu currently:-
 


However we do have another treaty in that same program book signed by Sultan Abdul Momin, the 24th Sultan of Brunei appointing the same Baron de Overbeck as the Maharaja of Sabah, Raja Gaya and Raja Sandakan signed 29th December 1877. Three week before the above treaty was signed.


When Sultan Abdul Momin signed the treaty, he clearly believed that Sabah was within his control and was never ceded despite the claim of historians, otherwise he wouldn't have been making those appointments. Even when you studied Sultan Abdul Momin's appointment, his is more grand. He appointed Baron de Overbeck as Maharaja Sabah (Overlord of Sabah) and Raja Gaya and Raja Sandakan. Whereas the Sultan Sulu's appointment was limited to Raja Sandakan and Dato Bendahara. The first question to ask is did Brunei cede Sabah to Sulu?

One British historian has studied this and published in his book 'The Origins of British Borneo' published by Hong Kong University Press in 1970. L.R. Wright wrote:

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Art Charity by Zakaria Omar Foundation


My deputy minister was supposed to launch the Art Charity by Zakaria Omar Foundation at Giant Supermarket this afternoon. But since our Minister is the Accompanying Minister to the Lao Prime Minister on his official visit to Brunei, the Deputy Minister had to witness the signing ceremony of an MOU on Youths between Brunei and Lao, I had to be drafted in to deliver her speech.

This Art Charity is interesting. The Foundation hopes to collect money for the Fund for the People of Gaza in Palestine. Instead of the usual merchandises, the Foundation are selling paintings and other works of art so that it can raise funds for the fund. Please come to Giant Supermarket at Tasek Rimba to see for yourself an art exhibition. If there is any painting that interest you, by all means buy one and you will be contributing to the fund.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Lowering the National Flag




 
 
I was the Chairman for this year's Raing and Lowering the Brunei Giant Flag Ceremony for this year. This is the second year that I have been tasked to do that. Normally everyone is upbeat about the Raising of the Brunei Giant Flag as that marked the beginning of the National Day events. You get pretty good attendance for that. But the Lowering of the Brunei Giant Flag is a more sombre event.
 
We had been so busy with National Day this year that we did not have a rehearsal for the ceremony. In most cases we do but this time round, the ceremony was only 5 days after the National Day and we had a number of other things in between. Everyone in the committee was saying this is so routine and blah blah blah. I made the mistake of agreeing with them.
 
Lo and behold. Parkinson's Rule. Something happened. Not serious but I have a feeling someone did get an earful on that day. When the flag came down, the soldier who was supposed to grab it, grab the wrong end. He should have grab the lower corner of the flag but instead he grabbed the upper corner. So the flag was grabbed and the soldiers below were holding the flag but now the flag is upside down in their hands. It was alright but when the rope holding the flag came down, the rope was twisted and the other side of the flag was twisted. The soldiers were struggling and I am sure they were pretty nervous. The commanding officer standing on the side was giving quiet instructions, as quietly as he could but I could sense he wanted to shout.
 
The Deputy Minister and I were watching the whole spectacle. It was a comedy of errors. They managed to get one of the hook loose and that rope went swinging round the pole. One soldier 'chased' after it. They finally managed to get the other hook free and held on to it. Finally the flag was able to be folded.
 
We were all unnerved by then. When the army officer and the sergeant bearing the flag came to us, I quietly asked the Deputy Minister to receive the flag. I forgot that the sergeant will give the flag to the army officer to be presented to the Deputy Minister. Luckily as the Deputy Minister turned to get the flag from the sergeant, the Adat Istiadat officer who was holding the tray whispered to her that the flag will be from the army officer.
 
I tell you for a fifteen minute ceremony, things did get a little bit tense there. I am not sure whether the 300 crowd behind us saw anything amiss but it was almost dicey there.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Golden Warisan Volume 1 Reprinted

In April 2009, I remembered going to my first printer to make arrangements to print my first book, The Golden Warisan Brunei Darussalam Volume 1. I spoke to the owner and I asked her how many books I should print. She said I should look in the region of 500 books. I told her I wanted 1,000 books. Her advice was that 500 should be good enough and since I am doing my own printing, the more I print, it will cost me more and I have the burden of storing the books especially if they don't sell.

That got me a bit worried. What if the book didn't sell. So I printed 500 copies and after I brought it to a few bookstores, the 500 copies ran out and I had to print another 500.

That 500 ran out too. The bookshops started calling me whether I will do a reprint. By then I was busy doing my second and third book and so the question of reprinting my first one was buried somewhere in the past. I still received enquiries now and then.

So I approached Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Brunei on the possibility if Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Brunei could look whether they can reprint the book and perhaps do a Malay version. They agreed and guess what.
 
This is the book that came out. It was officially released today together with all the other new books produced by Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Brunei during the opening ceremony of the Book Fair. It has a new cover, an updated typeset and a new ISBN. DBP is now using the new 13 number ISBN andso my book got a new ISBN 978-99917-0-920-8. The photos are much clearer on this book.
 
If you want to reread the book or own another copy or if you never got one before, please come to the ongoing Book Fair which will be on until the 10th March at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas. I can't give you a discount. The book is on sale for $10 payable to Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Brunei.

Inspirational Quotes

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