Sunday, November 30, 2014

Radio Television Brunei - Provider of Valid and Accurate Information





BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Sunday, November 30, 2014

THE public should rely on Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) and not through social media for more valid and accurate information, a senior government official said yesterday.

Hj Md Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos, the Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (Media and Cabinet), said that many people today obtain information faster via social media. However, the information is often innacurate and inconsistent with information presented through proper media channels.

“”This is one of the major challenges faced by RTB today,” Hj Md Rozan said, adding that the dissemination of false information could cause widespread panic and agitation.

He was speaking during the launch of the RTB Media Carnival at Times Square yesterday.

To overcome this issue, the Permanent Secretary urged the state broadcaster to also play an active role in social media.

“RTB must move forward and explore in the use of social media applications and interactive media to communicate with its audience,” he said.

“It will give the public a variety of sources for valid information,” he added.

Hj Md Rozan said that one of the objectives of the Media Carnival is to promote RTB’s vision and its services, in line with the state broadcaster’s slogan ‘Sentiasa Bersama Biskita’ (always with you).

Pg Hj Md Sariffuddien Pg Hj Aaji, the organiser of the RTB Media Carnival said that the carnival aims to give the public the opportunity to interact closely with RTB and to get public feedback on its services and programmes.

“By undertanding our weaknesses, we will try to improve and enhance our programmes and services,’’ he said.

The carnival is open to the public until tomorrow.

The carnival is also the precursor to the upcoming annual RTB Awards ceremony which will be held on December 6 at the Jerudong Park Country Club Amphitheatre.

Since 2001, RTB has organised the Media Carnival and Awards ceremony to honour the contributions of local artistes in the Sultanate. – Khai Zem Mat Sani

The Brunei Times

Saturday, November 29, 2014

HM Sultan Brunei: Online Recruitment for Civil Servants


Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Friday, November 28, 2014 - JOBSEEKERS applying for government jobs will be able to submit and track the status of their applications online next year.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced the new online recruitment service in a titah yesterday during the 21st Civil Service Day celebration at the International Convention Centre.

The monarch said this would help fix the delay in government’s work in recruiting and filling up vacancies.

The new service will allow jobseekers to submit their applications online, including completing the forms and making automatic data entry. They will also receive acknowledgement (of receipt of applications), and notice of interview and results of their application within a short time.

His Majesty said the theme of this year’s celebration, “A Dynamic Governance towards the wellbeing of the nation”, underscored the importance of dynamic governance for national transformation.

“Otherwise, such governance would be weak and incapable of meeting the target desired,” His Majesty added.

The monarch also urged for responsive changes in governance following Brunei’s drop in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index in accordance to the new assessment criteria.

The index showed that the Sultanate’s ranking took a plunge from 98 in 2013 to 101 this year.

“This shocking revelation definitely requires us to conduct self-introspection to learn about the situation of existing improvement programmes, commitment level and delivery in implementation,” said His Majesty, urging relevant parties to identify the causes behind the decline and overcome them.

While acknowledging efforts made in improving the quality of leadership and management, the monarch pointed out the need to focus on skills such as competency and ability to handle unexpected situations.

His Majesty also expressed his desire to see laws and regulations be enforced efficiently and effectively “as anything to do with discipline, for instance, is vital for a civil service that has integrity”.

The monarch was also concerned about the number of cases involving breach of trust in financial management.

“Although such cases involve negligible amounts of money, nonetheless they are among acts of offer and acceptance bribes. Such despicable behaviour and practice can easily proliferate and undermine the civil service if not dealt with in a firm and successful manner.”

His Majesty welcomed the efforts of the Management Services Department in conducting management audit that formulate the assessment of strengths and weaknesses of management in the civil service as well as awarding star status to those who met the criteria for recognition.

The scope of the audit comprised customers charters (TPOR), Work Procedure Manual (MPK), strategic plans, programmes for improvement and innovation as well as customers management.

His Majesty congratulated the 46 recipients of excellent service awards that include the recently introduced excellent service awards for Division II officers, as well as this year’s winners of civil service excellence awards.

The monarch hoped the awards would motivate and inspire others to work towards excellence in the civil service.

At the same time, His Majesty also expressed his appreciation and prayed for the good health of the civil servants who retired from service this year.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources recorded the highest number of award recipients: 16 from the Veterinary Laboratory Services Unit at the Agriculture and Agrifood Department, and another 16 from the department’s Agriculture Industry Development unit.

The Brunei Times

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Brunei National Archives: Preserving Information For Future Generation

File photo shows Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah (2ndR) viewing the process of digitalising old documents during a working visit to Museum Department at the National Archive building, Jalan Menteri Besar. BT file

RAFIDAH HAMIT

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Thursday, November 27, 2014 - THE National Archives of Brunei Darussalam was established in 1977 to house and preserve for posterity government and public records and historical documents.

Senior archives officer Hj Mohammad Jefri Hj Mohd Sabli said the various roles of the public records office were set out in the National Archives of Brunei Darussalam Act, 1975 (Chapter 116), 1983.

“The centre does not only keep records and archives but also authorises the disposal of public records. This includes identifying, appraising, registering, archiving, securing, preserving and conserving national documentary heritage principals,” he said.

The building also facilitates access to public records for research and reference.

“We also assist in asserting the national agenda in the form of information sharing and education,” he said.

Public consultancy services are also offered in record-keeping management, including conventional and electronic records.

Assistance is also given to ministries, departments, statutory boards and government-owned companies.

“The National Archives building does not only keep old records but recent ones as well, such as documents on the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order,” he added.

The Museums Department of Brunei is responsible for the administration and management of archives through the National Archives Act, Brunei, 1975.

The National Archives of Brunei Darussalam became a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA, established in 1948) on July 9, 1981.

In conjunction with the Seminar on the Establishment of the Regional Services and the Fifth SARBICA (South East Asia Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives) General Meeting in Manila, Brunei became a member of the SARBICA on February 1984.

Brunei Darussalam also hosted the Seminar on the Organisation of Archival Exhibitions and the 2nd Meeting of the 8th Executive Board Meeting in 1989, the seminar on Archives Legislation and the 13th Executive Board Meeting and the 16th General Archives Conference and Executive Meetings.

Brunei Darussalam was also appointed Chairman of the 2006-2008 SARBICA during the General Conference.

Initially, records were stored at Museum Brunei. In January 1983, the records were moved to a temporary centre on Jalan Kumbang Pasang until February 1985. From March 1985 until November 1996, the records were kept at Jalan Residency, the previous residence of the First Secretary of the Commissioner of Britain to Brunei.

Then in 1977, the records were moved to the National Archives building, which is currently located at Jalan Menteri Besar.

The Brunei Times

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cuboiart: Healthy Lifestyle


I have been neglecting Cuboiart for a couple of years now. I still consider him one of the best, if not the best in Brunei coming up with his insights on Brunei's lifestyle. This cartoon was issued last week on Borneo Bulletin and it really captured what I would be thinking every now and then in keeping myself motivated to do my early morning walk...

HM Sultan Brunei: Prudent Use of Energy is Key Priority

The Brunei Times on Wednesday, 26th November 2014 published the following feature:

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - OXFORD Business Group spoke to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for "The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2014". Here are excerpts from the article.

What is being done to encourage more efficient energy use in Brunei Darussalam?

HIS MAJESTY: Brunei Darussalam has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, which allows us to meet all of our domestic energy needs. It is important that this self-sufficiency be prolonged as much as possible in order to ensure that we continue to enjoy stability in terms of energy security and maintain an environment conducive to continuous economic development. Prudent use of our energy resources is therefore my government’s priority, driven by, among other things, our national aspiration to reduce energy consumption by 45% by 2035. Education, introduction of fiscal and regulatory frameworks, and adoption of the right technologies and best practices suited to Brunei Darussalam are some of the very important measures being undertaken to ensure that our energy resources are prudently utilised. Allow me to touch briefly on some of these measures.

On the fiscal side, my government introduced a new electricity tariff in 2012 that rewards prudent use of power whilst discouraging wastefulness. Furthermore, the replacement of post-paid residential power meters with pre-paid ones has helped users monitor their actual consumption and therefore encourages a culture of energy saving. The combination of these two measures has resulted in significant reductions in the nation’s annual electricity usage in 2012 and 2013.

In education, we are targeting all users, including the younger generations. Efforts include the creation of “energy clubs” at schools and colleges to promote energy conservation amongst students. We will soon be implementing energy standards and labelling for home appliances that let the public understand and compare the energy consumption for a product. We also plan to introduce energy efficiency and conservation guidelines for non-residential buildings to ensure that energy saving is regulated at the design stage.

In the area of technology, we have successfully overhauled and upgraded our old gas-fired power plants to make them more efficient. Newer plants were built, adopting the more efficient co-generation and combined-cycle technologies. The Tenaga Suria Brunei (TSB) photovoltaic (PV) power plant, commissioned in 2010, is our first foray into the use of renewables as an additional source of energy. With an installed capacity of only 1.2 MW, TSB is indeed small, but it is an important step in the development of renewable energy sources in the country. In line with this effort, my government is currently in the process of developing a feed-in tariff mechanism, which may prove to be a lucrative investment opportunity for residents and potential investors who are interested in renewable energy development in the country, particularly for solar PV technology.

What are the government’s main priorities with respect to private sector employment and contribution to economy?

HIS MAJESTY: The government of Brunei Darussalam has launched several initiatives with respect to boosting private sector employment and increasing the sector’s contribution to the economy. The Department of Labour (DoL) - which carries out its role under the guidance and direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs - is tasked with several important functions, including: 1) the issuance of licences for the recruitment of foreign workers; 2) enforcement of relevant labour laws and regulations; and 3) monitoring and ensuring adherence to the Workplace Safety and Health Order 2009.

Currently, one of the main priority drives for the DoL is the promotion of local employment. This is being done by reducing the economy’s dependence on migrant recruitment. The DoL is pursuing this initiative through a campaign of controlled labour licence reviews for companies, as well as identifying positions that are potentially suitable for locals. This new effort to manage foreign worker recruitment licences aims to assist businesses in determining their ideal number of local workers - without having a shortage or surplus. Furthermore, the DoL plays an instrumental role in prioritising specific positions for citizens.

Besides its operational role, the DoL is also responsible for the protection of employees. Workers are protected by legislation, specifically the Employment Order 2009, and enforcement. Additionally, the Employment Agencies Order 2004 protects employers’ interests by regulating the activities of employment agencies through the issuance of licences. This order also protects employees from being forced to conduct illegal or immoral activities that they themselves may not be aware of. Finally, the Workplace Safety and Health Order 2009, which commenced on August 1, 2013, aims to control or eliminate risk in the workplace.

Another initiative to promote private sector employment is through the Local Employment and Workforce Development Agency, which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. This organisation was established in 2010 to serve as a national employment centre. The agency provides registration for job seekers looking for private sector employment; upskilling of workers to meet the requirements of the private sector through training and work schemes; lifelong career guidance; and protection for workers’ welfare and rights.

The government has introduced another process known as the training and employment scheme. This aims to encourage employment and productivity in the private sector with incentives such as wage subsidies during on-the-job training and motivational allowances of up to B$2,500 for retaining employees.

These are some of the steps being taken to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign workers, and also to help promote local businesses’ role in the economy.

The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2014 was officially released yesterday, 25th November 2014.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Vertical Public Housing for Brunei



BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, 26th November 2014 - The government's proposal to build apartment blocks under the National Housing Scheme (RPN) has received a positive reaction from the public. According to the Minister of Development, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, the results of the surveys which have been carried out twice found 70 per cent agrees the construction of the housing project.

However, Yang Berhormat Pehin said the ministry has also received the input from the public towards the project's improvement and will consider it.

The Development Minister said that this matter is being carried out due to a decreasing amount of land for housing projects. It is true that from an aerial view there is still a large mass of forest but land that can be easily developed is decreasing. This is why vertical housing was proposed and it was only proposed following the supportive views of the public and suggestions for improvement.

The Minister of Development stated this in an interview after witnessing the contract signing ceremony for earthworks, infrastructure and construction of apartment blocks in the Lambak Kanan / Salambigar National Housing Scheme yesterday morning. The agreement was signed by the Acting Director of Housing Development, Awg Mohammad Nazri bin Mohammad Yusof and the Managing Director of Dara Construction Sendirian Berhad, Lim Yu Tech.

The six storey apartment will be equipped with public facilities including multi-purpose hall, concourse and multi-storey car park for the home owners. Among the main characteristic of the construction is the use of an environmentally friendly building design concept including the use of products and technologies contributing to energy conservation and use of clean water through rain water harvesting method.

The Housing Development Department plans to build more than thirty thousand houses under the RPN Scheme by 2016.

©BRUDIRECT.COM

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AARON WONG

BRUNEI-MUARA, Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - AREAS for housing projects are increasingly limited as undeveloped land in Brunei is either tied to planned government projects, environmental causes or peatland that is costly to develop, the Minister of Development said.

Addressing the reasons behind the government’s move towards high-rise apartments for the national housing scheme yesterday, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said there was a misconception among members of the public who claimed plenty of land remained for development.

“From an aerial view there appears to be a lot of forests (and undeveloped land), but a lot of this land is peat – which is costly to develop – and what remains and is available for development has to be divided for investment, industry, farming and housing,” the minister said.

He said 57 per cent of the sultanate is already being conserved for the Heart of Borneo initiative.

Speaking to reporters at the contract signing for the country’s first high-rise located at Lambak Kanan/Salambigar, the minister said two recent studies found that more than 70 per cent of Bruneians were receptive to the idea of vertical housing which he described as “the most efficient use of land”.

He added that the future of government housing depends on public acceptance of the $55 million project – which comprises 300 units housing up to 1,800 people, replete with a multi-storey car park and a football field, among other recreational facilities on its rooftop.

“If this first high rise project is a success and is received well by the public, Insyallah it will be extended.

“If it isn’t, we will try other efforts – but this could potentially mean each house will be more costly because developing the land for the houses to be built upon will be more expensive,” the minister added.

The first phase spanning 15 hectares and containing the residential apartments will be constructed in 18 months, with completion projected by 2016.

A master plan for the vicinity of the apartments is also in the works. It may include a school and other amenities such as commercial buildings.

The Brunei Times

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AARON WONG

BRUNEI-MUARA, Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - THE Ministry of Development (MoD) and Dara Construction Sdn Bhd signed a contract for the construction of Brunei’s first high-rise apartments under the national housing scheme. The project will be completed by 2016.

The first phase of the project at Lambak Kanan/Salambigar – containing apartments which can accomodate up to 1,800 residents – will take 18 months to complete, with construction beginning at the end of this month at a cost of $55 million.

Spanning 15 hectares, the 300 units will be in 10 six-storey buildings, separated into two areas containing five buildings each – with a multi-storey car park in between which has a football field, among other sporting and recreational facilities on its rooftop.

Each apartment will be 170 square metres, with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen.

Yesterday’s contract also includes developing master plan for the vicinity of the apartments. It may include a school, community hall, commercial buildings and recreational facilities constructed across 42 hectares.

The apartments will also retain rainwater to be recycled, said an architect from the Housing Development Department.

Muhammad Zaim Arifin Rosli said the area for the project would have a definitive green concept to reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect – where temperatures rise because of the close proximity of buildings and human activity.

The ceremony held at MoD’s Dewan Bertabur yesterday saw Acting Director of Housing Development Mohammad Nazri Mohammad Yusof and Managing Director of Dara Construction Lim Yu Teck sign on behalf of their organisations, and witnessed by Minister of Development Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman.

Acting Deputy Director of Housing Development Abdul Hakim Hj Hanafiah and Director of Dara Construction Ang Chuan Chai were also present to witness their respective parties sign the agreement.

The Brunei Times

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Brunei Firms Need to Consolidate and Merge Abroad



FITRI SHAHMINAN

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - BRUNEIAN companies need to consider merging to expand their businesses and operate regionally by next year, said the regional editor of the Oxford Business Group (OBG), a global publishing, research and consultancy firm.

As ASEAN moves towards forming an integrated regional economy and single production base in 2015, Brunei should already focus on growing its companies to move abroad, Paulius Kuncinas (pic) told The Brunei Times.

“You have to encourage them to grow their revenues. Maybe consolidate, maybe you have companies merging and going together,” he said, following the launch of the firm’s annual publication The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2014 at an event held at the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital yesterday.

He said Brunei needs to trade more with its neighbours and this requires the private sector “stepping up” and going overseas.

“It has to start with the realisation of the private sector. Together they stand a better chance to compete overseas, so the catalyst has to be that recognition of opportunities,” said Kuncinas, adding that Brunei should realise the abundance of business opportunities abroad.

“I am not saying you have to necessarily move the operations from here to another city but you have to compete for business. And I think that it is simply a question of strategic tie-ups.”

The private sector should already realise the limited demand in the local market and the only answer to improving the economy is expand abroad, said Kuncinas.

“I know that this is not just in Brunei but across Asia, you have a dominant family member where it’s very difficult for founders to give up their sharues and do mergers and acquisitions because everyone wants to run the companies,” he said.

However, he cited the example of Thailand where family-owned companies have cross-shareholdings.

“They each hold some shares in each other’s companies and they basically try streamlining operations,” he said.

Bruneian companies which have limited human resources, may look into this option, said Kuncinas, suggesting that “it is much better to combine resources to have one platform when you are going overseas.”

He said Brunei is slowly recognising the need for its private sector to venture overseas.
Kuncinas lauded the government for developing various tools to teach companies how to deal with different legislations, establish efficient accounting systems, prepare effective marketing plans and build successful operations outside the country.

“But I think in 2015, we may actually have to start seeing actual results and first moves across (borders),” he said.

OBG’s The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2014, highlights the 10th National Development Plan, which is galvanising construction activity, as the government rolls out the infrastructure needed to broaden the country’ economic base.

The publication marked the culmination of more than six months of field research by a team of analysts from OBG.

It assesses trends and developments across the economy, including macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and other sectoral developments.

The publication also delves into how Brunei plays its part in strengthening regional integration and improving connectivity among ASEAN member states.

The report includes a contribution from His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei, together with a detailed, sectoral guide for investors.

It also features interviews with political and business leaders including His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; Minister of Finance II Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim and Attorney-General Yang Berhomat Datin Seri Paduka Hajjah Hayati Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Salleh.

The Brunei Times

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Trade exchange Brunei-Kuwait Below Expectation

On 23rd November 2014, the Kuwait News Agency reported the following news:-

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23/11/2014 | 04:31 PM

KUWAIT, Nov 23 (KUNA) -- Trade exchange between Kuwait and Brunei, which is estimated at USD 6 billion, is below the aspired levels regarding the bilateral historical ties, a senior Finance Ministry official said on Sunday.

There is common expectation to enhance bilateral economic ties and trade, Ministry Undersecretary Khalifa Hamada said in a press statement on the sidelines of the second meeting of the Kuwait-Brunei Joint Committee (KBJC) that opened here today.
Hamada who chairs the gathering with his counterpart from the Sultanate Ministry of Foreign Trade, said the agenda of the two-day meetings covers a review of cooperation in fields of economy, trade, investment, higher education, petroleum and IT, as well as the private sector.
Today, the two sides assessed developments since the first meeting was held in Darussalam in 2010, in addition to identifying requirements for cementing cooperation, Hamada said.

He referred to signals that bilateral cooperation is still below expectation, considering the similar economies and nature; both countries are oil exporters and their national income mainly depend on petroleum revenues.
The Kuwaiti Finance Ministry official pointed to the role by the chambers of commerce in the both countries, saying the private sector is the locomotive of any trade cooperation.

He also referred to an agreement, still in the making, to be later signed by the ministries of commerce in Kuwait and Brunei, saying it will focus on joint investments, financing and exchange of expertise through cooperation between the relevant bodies in both.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

HRH Prince Abdul Malik Graced Brunei Go-Kart Race 2014



BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The capital's town centre became the focal point when the final of the Go-Kart race was held yesterday. His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik consented to launch the race which was organised in conjunction with the 44th Anniversary of the name change from Bandar Brunei to Bandar Seri Begawan.

Upon arrival His Royal Highness was greeted by the Acting Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Dimuliakan Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awg Halbi, as Chairman of the Bandar Seri Begawan Go-Kart Race 2014 as well as members of the race's executive committee.

Before officiating the launch, His Royal Highness was introduced to the race participants. The championship was divided into three categories - Novice, Veteran and Elite. More than thirty five racers competed in the finals including seven participants from overseas namely Oman, India and Malaysia.

His Royal Highness consented to launch the final Elite race, participated by fourteen racers. The race had 25 laps with a distance of 1 point 2 kilometres per lap. The race used a part of Jalan McArthur and a part of Jalan Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien.



Meanwhile in the VIP Race among those participating were the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Dato Paduka Dr. Hj Affendy bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin; the Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Shaikh Haji Fahilah bin Shaikh Haji Ahmad and the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Awg Haji Ismail bin Haji Abd Manap.

His Royal Highness also consented to officiate the presentation of prizes to the winners. Emerging champion in the novice category was Yang Amat Mulia Pg Anak Abdul Rashid bin Pg Haji Kamarulzaman. The Veteran category was won by Johnny Kwa and the Elite final was won by Haji Fauzan Rahman.

The race is one of the social products of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department to involve the public in enhancing cheerfulness, happiness as well as an attraction for the capital's town centre as a destination for citizens, residents and tourists.





Prior to leaving the event, His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik consented to receive a pasambah from members of the race executive committee, presented by the Acting Minister of Home Affairs.

The event was organised by the Municipal Department with the cooperation of the Brunei Darussalam Go-Kart Association. Through the sport, participants were directed towards focus, determination and emotional control. They were also hoped to continue to cultivate a sense of comradeship and strengthening of relations among participants to produce an image of solidarity and harmony of the community through sports. ©BRUDIRECT.COM

Brunei Youth Regatta 2014



BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Brunei River became another attraction yesterday with the Youth Traditional Boat Race 2014. Participants competed in eleven categories. The 25 Invited Peddlers 100 Metres, and the 30 Youth Peddlers 1,500 Metres Traditional Boat Races which were launched by Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar.

Other events included the Open Jetski Run About race.

The Kampong Sungai Bunga Youth Boat Racing team won the 1,500 metre event. Second place went to the Kampong Lurong Dalam Boat Racing Council, while WAKTU Brunei Darussalam team came in third.

Yang Amat Mulia presented the prizes, medals and trophies to the winners. The Yang Amat Mulia's Rotatory Trophy was won by the Kampong Sungai Bunga Youth Boat Racing Team.

©BRUDIRECT.COM

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brunei's Delicious Butter Minyak Engkabang


Minyak Engkabang mixed with hot steaming rice and some salt makes a delicious meal. Picture: BT/Nurhamiza

The finished Minyak Engkabang pushed out of its casing. Although “minyak” means oil, here it is seen that the Minyak Engkabang looks more like solidified fat. Picture: BT/Nurhamiza

An illustration of the Engkabang fruit which looks like a nut with petals. Infographic: BT/Ayi Hermala

Jefri Dulah and his wife, Norsiah Tuah selling Minyak Engkabang at the exhibition of products made by the Economic Bureau of different Village Consultative Council (MPK) in Times Square. Picture: BT/Nurhamiza

Nurhamiza Hj Roslan
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Friday, November 21, 2014

I WAS walking past vendors’ stalls at a trade fair when I saw this exotic food item I had last seen a few years back. It was minyak engkabang. It looks like a large yellowish glue stick encased in bamboo. It was on display recently at an exhibition of products made by various villages.

Seeing that food item at Times Square where the exhibition was held brought me back to our home kitchen many years back when I first saw my parents eating rice mixed with minyak engkabang. My mother and father were having lunch. On the table I saw what looked like a large glue stick in a bamboo tube. The contents of the tube were a pale yellow that my mother mixed with the rice she was eating. I asked her what it was and she said: “Minyak engkabang. It’s good with steaming rice.”

I had long forgotten about it until recently when I saw the “large glue stick”, similar to the one that my parents had for lunch one afternoon in our kitchen years ago.

A Muslim Iban couple, Jefri Dulah and wife Norsiah Tuah, manned the stall selling minyak engkabang. They came all the way from Kampung Lepong Baru, Temburong. Jefri said it is a special food item. It looks more like butter or solidified fat that has a rich flavour.

The most common way to consume minyak engkabang is to mix it with hot steaming rice and some salt. It can also be used for frying, said Jefri.

I bought a tube of minyak engkabang from Jefri. The tube costs $4. I tasted it for dinner several nights after. I push out the tube’s contents, about an inch of solidified minyak engkabang. I pressed the tube into the plate of hot steaming rice. As soon as it touched the rice it melted. It melts just like margarine. It gave the rice a light yellow tinge.

In my opinion, it tasted like vegetable cooking oil when mixed with rice. It has an oily texture but lighter than cooking oil. It does enhance the flavour of the rice, giving it a subtle richness. I decided to experiment further and added a pinch of salt. It made my meal of rice with minyak engkabang more enjoyable.

You can harvest the engkabang fruit only every few years, said Jefri. “The fastest time the tree will bear fruit is, maybe, three years, but it could take five to seven years.”

The scientific name for the engkabang is shorea macrophylla. According to the Forest Research Institute Malaysia, the shorea macrophylla is of the North Bornean dipterocarp species and is usually found along river banks and flooded alluvial plains.

Jefri said that to make minyak engkabang, the fruit of the engkabang tree must first be collected. The fruit looks like a large nut that has wooden petals. People do not climb the tree to get the fruit, they get the ones that have fallen. An engkabang fruit falls from the tree in a spinning motion that mimics the movement of a helicopter propeller, he said.

To extract the flesh of the fruit, the exterior petals have to be removed first. After removing the petals, the fruit is then dried under the sun until it turns black. This process can take up to three or four days, Jefri said.

When the fruit is already dry, the outer skin is peeled and the flesh is taken and pounded with a rice mortar until the powder is smooth. The next step is to steam the pounded flesh. After steaming, the engkabang flesh is put in a container and squeezed to remove any moisture. It is then transferred and firmly packed into pieces of cut bamboo.

Jefri said that in the old days, there were rules that must be followed in certain processes of making minyak engkabang.

“If these rules were broken, your minyak engkabang would not turn out right.” One of the rules was to not talk so much and not complain about how long any of the processes took. Jefri explained that engkabang was to be treated as if it had feelings and that is why when one complains during the making of minyak engkabang, the finished product would not turn out right.

Jefri said he is unsure of the food’s origins and who started making minyak engkabang but he learned how to make the delicacy from his elders. Even though the engkabang tree takes a long time to bear fruit and the process of producing minyak engkabang lengthy, the food item has a long shelf life.

“You can keep minyak engkabang for 10 years and it would still be good,” said Jefri.

As an effort to ensure minyak engkabang lives on as a delicacy on Brunei dining tables, Jefri said he has taught his own children how to produce it. Jefri said not many of Brunei’s younger generations know of minyak engkabang and how special it is. He expressed hopes that his children will continue in his footsteps and pass on the knowledge of how to make minyak engkabang.

The Brunei Times

***





KANOWIT: The ‘engkabang’ may not be priced as high as most commodities, but longhouse folk enjoy collecting the fruit for the fun of it.

An engkabang tree bears fruit every four to five years.

Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) regards the engkabang fruit (shorea macrophylla) as ‘butter from the rainforest’ for its buttery texture when cooked in bamboo.

Punga Manja, in her 70s, from Rumah Jarau, Nanga Sibau in Ulu Sungai Ngemah here was among those who collected the fruit.

“Collecting the fruit is like a tradition for us longhouse folk in the rural area.

“I have been collecting the fruit since I was a child. Most of the collection is for sale, with some for making engkabang oil,” she told The Borneo Post when met at her longhouse recently.

Engkabang tree, with a known record of 50 metres tall and four metres in girth, is one of the lightest wood in the red ‘meranti’ group.

The trees are mostly found along the rivers.

Punga sells the dried fruit to a shopkeeper in Nanga Ngemah for 80 sen per kg.

“In my younger days, the price could fetch up to RM2 per kg.

“Not many people want to sell the fruit now. They use it to make oil which is high in demand.

“The oil cooked in the bamboo and then cut into small sections with each section measuring about five inches is usually sold for RM5.

“Many like its rich buttery taste especially when applied on hot rice,” she said, adding that her granddaughter working in Sibu had frequently asked her for the oil.

Thirty-six-year-old Luli Renggan from Rumah Andrew Balun in Nanga Ngungun resettlement scheme here collects the fruit with her children on weekends.

She sells the fruit as she does not know how to make oil out of it.

“I sell the fruit for RM1 per kg in Nanga Ngemah while in Kanowit, the price is RM1.50 per kg.

“The fruit is plentiful in Sungai Ngungun, but not many youngsters want to collect it because of the low price,” she said.

Meanwhile, Punga has unselfishly shared the method to get engkabang oil.

She said the skin must be peeled off before the fruit was left to dry in the sun or smoked.

Dried fruit is then pounded and squeezed to extract the oil for cooking in the bamboo.

“When it is cooked, it will be left to cool in the bamboo. The texture is like butter when it hardens.

“Besides cooking, the oil is also used for massage,” she said.

It is believed that the oil, rich in an anti-aging property, has found its way into some cosmetic products.

The Borneo Post Online

Brunei's Beautiful Miniature Boats

| Shahminan Ibrahim |

Building a model or replica boat, no doubt, requires a lot of time and patience. Made of small-scale pieces, the models are intricately assembled all by hand. While the construction process differs from how life-sized wooden boats are built, it still requires some expertise nonetheless.


One of the few local Bruneians who are into making model boats (or Perahu as it is called in local Malay) is Hj Abdul Rahim bin Hj Ahmad from Kampong Mentiri in Jalan Kota Batu. What he initially started as a passing interest while he was still working has now become a serious hobby for him.

The 64-year-old ex-policeman collects woods for his models from the local sawmills at reasonable prices. The woods he normally uses are Meraka Merah, Meraka Putih, Kayu Kapur and the tough and sensitive wood of Madang Sisik.

Hj Abd Rahim produces numerous types of local boats in different sizes. He has basically made all types of Brunei boats such as Perahu Lumba that comes with oars, Perahu Nelayan or the fisherman’s boat and small rowing boat known as Bidar Laki and Bidar Bini (which is male and female respectively).

He has also made Perahu Tambang or the water taxi complete with the engine and fuel tank and also the Temuai Beratap or boat called Temuai with roof. Depending on how much time he has on his hands, he can even complete one reasonably complex replica in four days.











In order to improve the result of his product, this rather chatty and smiley replica builder uses a complete set of tools including several electrical machines such as grinder and saw.

According to him, all the boats are available for purchase. While some personnel from the government departments approach him personally to make their purchase, most of these models are sold on consignment basis at several shops in Sumbangsih Mulia building in Beribi.

Apart from keeping the models as displays in the living room, some buyers have also converted some of the large-sizes models into food trays. While some buyers made their purchase as gifts for their foreign friends.

Prices, on the other hand, vary and are determined by the sizes and complexity of each model. It usually ranges from $50 to as high as above $200. Sizes of these mini replicas range from as small as around nine inches in length to as big as four feet long.

As a rather serious replica boat hobbyist, this cheerful retiree spends most of his free time, especially during the weekend, in his workshop plying his special trade.

Other than replica of boat, Hj Abd Rahim also produces models of houses which are also available for sale. Just like the boats, their prices also depend on the size and the complexity of the models.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, November 22, 2014

UN Human Development Index 2014: Brunei Maintained 30th Position

Datin Adina, Brunei's Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports at The Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review Conference

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Saturday, November 22, 2014 - BRUNEI has maintained its 30th rank in the 2014 United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI).

This was due to the effectiveness of policy and manifestation towards achieving the country’s Vision 2035 which focuses on improving and raising the people’s quality of life, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman said during a conference held recently in Bangkok.

The Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing + 20 Review Conference was held from November 17 to 20.

Issues related to the advancement of women are handled under a special committee on family institution and women under the National Council on Social Issues.

The deputy minister added that the country’s emphasis on education is another reason for the progress, that the government has allocated 13 per cent of the annual national budget exclusively on education.

The country’s ongoing efforts to ensure women inclusiveness includes reviewing SPN21 recommendation; proposal to extend duration of formal education; exclusive health facilities and building for women and children; enforcement of Mental Health Order 2014, Employment Order 2009, and Work Place Safety and Health Order 2009; women’s participation in the labour market; and extension of maternity leave from 56 days to 105 days.

Delegates from more than 40 state members took part in the conference that was held at UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The Brunei delegation to the conference comprised Deputy Permanent Secretary at the MCYS, Hj Noor Jusmin Hj Abd Samad as well as other senior officers from the Community Development Department (JAPEM). – Billah Hassan

The Brunei Times

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| Fadley Faisal |

THE recent declaration of Asia-Pacific ministers brings hope to Brunei Darussalam as it moves to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the country’s efforts to realise the goals of its Vision 2035.

The ‘Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review’ was convened recently in Bangkok, Thailand by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in cooperation with UN Women, from November 17 to 20.

Asia-Pacific countries adopted a ministerial declaration comm-itting to accelerate action on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment across the region.

Representing a strong and united regional voice, leaders from more than 40 countries committed to reinforcing their efforts to eliminate gender discrimination and inequality, as a matter of human rights and for the development and prosperity of the region.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Datin Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman, in her statement said, “The Brunei Government’s efforts in improving its citizens’ standard of living have placed the country at 30th place in the United Nations’ Human Development Index.This manifests the achievements of Brunei’s Vision 2035. The issues in the area of women’s empowerment are handled through the Family and Women Special Committee’ under the National Council for Social Issues. Women in Brunei benefit from eight main areas identified under the comprehensive Action Plan which will ensure the implementation of various projects and programmes.”

Datin Paduka Hajah Adina also highlighted that the nation’s efforts towards progress in various fields include the review of SPN21, the plan to extend the formal education period, the soon-to-be operational Women and Children’s Health Services building, the enforcement of the Mental Health Order 2014, Employment Order 2009, Work Place Safety and Health Order 2009, the participation of women in the job market, the extension of maternity leave from 56-105 days and the qualification of women staff in the civil service.

The Beijing Platform for Action is a declaration, which was agreed upon at the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 and has been vetted by the United Nations General Assembly.

Since then, every five years, the progress in reaching the strategic objective ‘Plan of Action’ is reviewed by the ‘Commission on The Status of Women under the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’ (ESCAP), United Nations.

Three reviews were made in 2000, 2005 and 2010. The 4th review will be conducted in 2015 at the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Action Plan.

The review convention is led by ESCAP based on the regional research and the reviews reports by member countries on the participation of the civil society.

The convention usually formulates achievements and challenges as well as the vital execution of the 12 critical fields in the interest of the Action Plan, which are: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women (and girls), women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment and the girl child.

The Beijing +20 convention stated that most of the member countries have achieved perceptible developments in each field namely: policy fortification, rules and action plan towards gender equality, reduction in violence against women as well as the participation of women in politics and decision-making.

Meanwhile, some member countries still face deficit in gender equality in economy, education, health, environment, power, basic rights, and participation in media. Therefore, several fields have been identified for development such as politics, civil and private sector services, women empowerment in economy and the elimination of violence against women.

The Borneo Bulleting

Friday, November 21, 2014

Brunei Woos More Tourists Through Rainforest

The Bangkok Post on 18 November 2014 had this news:





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Brunei Woos More Tourist Through Rainforest

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Largely ignored by tourists for decades, Brunei is finally stirring as a holiday destination, drawing more tourists with its pristine rainforest as well as quiet and safe image.

The oil-rich kingdom on the northwest coast of Borneo has the potential to become an ecotourism hub due to its untarnished rainforest in the heart of Borneo, after being sidelined for years by more popular tourist spots such as Mt Kinabalu in neighbouring Malaysia, tourism industry officials and travel agents say.

Tourists to Brunei have risen in recent years, with more cruise ships calling at its port while travel agents have also been including Brunei as part of their regional itinerary. Some 3.3 million visitors came to Brunei last year, up from about 2 million in 2007, according to data from the Brunei Tourism Development under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

Although the government is keen to diversify the economy to be less dependent on liquefied natural gas exports, there isn't much to attract tourists in the country so far.

But Brunei has a lush and pristine rainforest that appeals to the growing global interest in ecotourism.

Travel industry officials say one of the main factors for the rise in tourists in recent years is spillover from the huge number of Chinese tourists visiting Southeast Asia in line with China's economic boom.

Increasingly, travel agencies include a stopover in Brunei for Chinese tourists visiting Sabah or Sarawak in Malaysia, and Chinese are now among the top three sources of visitors to Brunei, the tourism department said.

This positive trend has seen a mushrooming of inbound tour operators and many local travel agents have hired Chinese-speaking staff.

And at least one travel agency even has Japanese-speaking staff to cater to Japanese tourists.

Anthony Chieng, managing director of Sunshine Borneo Tours, which runs an upmarket jungle resort in the national park, said that when he started his travel business 20 years ago, there were only two agencies in Brunei involved in inbound tours, but he estimates there are as many as 50 agencies doing such tours now.

Hoping to boost tourism, Brunei opened a luxury seaside resort, Empire Hotel, in 2000 and eight years later developed a jungle resort in Temburong National Park that is managed by Mr Chieng's firm.

Most tourists who visit Brunei are curious about Brunei as a wealthy country and one of the world's longest surviving monarchies.

Sightseeing tours offered by Brunei travel agencies usually include the national park, the water village, resplendent landscapes of palaces and mosques, the Seria oilfield and the Empire Hotel by the beach.

These days, Brunei's remote and conservative atmosphere is also seen as an advantage as more tourists look for a safe and crime-free destination where they can enjoy a quiet and peaceful holiday close to nature with their family away from rising crime in other popular tourist spots in Southeast Asia.

As a major LNG producer, Brunei's economy does not depend on logging or oil-palm plantations, and this has helped keep its rainforest more intact than others in Southeast Asia.

According to Brunei's Forestry Department, visitors to Temburong National Park jumped from 4,500 in 2003 to 10,000 in 2012 before sliding to 8,000 last year.

The 17-room Ulu Ulu National Park resort set amid leafy surroundings in the park has received guests from different parts of the world and can be reached by speedboat from a jetty in downtown Bandar Seri Begawan followed by a more leisurely longboat ride down a river lined with mangroves.

"We are not here for the mass market. Brunei is a small country that is suitable for the niche market of people who appreciate nature, culture and heritage," said Mr Chieng, who would like to focus more on nature-based tourism.

He hopes to attract more tourists from Singapore and Japan.

Sugumaran Nair, inbound manager of Freme Travel Services, said that although his company is more than 40 years old, its inbound tour division only came into being in 1990. Its Rainforest Lodge, about 40 minutes by boat from the national park, was built about 14 years ago.

"We have growing interest from Japanese tourists. Our main market at the moment is still China, but we are also looking at new markets like Australia. We want more people from Japan and also other neighboring countries," Nair said.

In particular, the company, which has five Japanese tour guides, plans to woo Japanese expatriates based in Singapore to visit Brunei.

Brunei has long had a more conservative Islamic image than other predominantly Muslim Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

The sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned in the country although non-Muslim visitors are allowed to bring in two bottles of wine or spirits and 12 cans of beer for private consumption.

All businesses in the country are required to shut down for two hours from noon to 2pm every Friday when Muslim men are required to attend prayers at the mosques and during Ramadan every year food outlets are closed until sunset.


And smoking is now banned in all public areas.

The country also introduced the first phase of a more all-encompassing Islamic law since May this year that has raised concern among some.

"We offer something that is uniquely different," Mr Chieng said. "Brunei is slowly coming towards recognition by travellers to be a destination where it's actually an advantage to have no alcohol because many guests have commented to us that they feel so much safer. In Brunei you have such peacefulness and quiet."

Mohd Shavez, a young Bruneian who has high hopes his country will have a bright future in ecotourism, has been actively promoting nature conservation and dreams of starting his own ecotourism business some day.

The 21-year-old university student started his own club, "1stopbrunei Wildlife," which aims to protect Brunei's rich and diverse wildlife. "We are a group of young people just trying to make a change," he said.

"Brunei can be an ecotourism hub and can be a great market. Oil and gas is going to run out in maybe 20 to 30 years so I think it's time to diversify now before we lose our forests like other nations. There is a market, it's just about exposure."

Disseminate Positive Values & Images of Brunei and Monarch

The Meeting at the Lapau Building

LAPAU, BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, 21 November 2014 - Media practitioners are the first in line to distribute and broadcast accurate information as well as having the right accountability. A media sharing information programme and the government agencies act as a medium in sharing knowledge between the government with the government and private media.

The Assistant Senior Chief of Adat Istiadat Negara, Yang Amat Mulia Pg Seri Wijaya Pg Hj Ahmad Pg Md Yusof highlighted the matter at the Knowledge Sharing Session ceremony yesterday.

According to Yang Amat Mulia, the existence of the open communication network will enable media to broadcast and disseminate the correct information to the public without affecting the image and reputation of the Monarch and the Government.

Yang Amat Mulia also said the Public Communication Committee for the Government and its Departments will also be use as a bilateral platform between the Media and the Government.

With this platform, both parties will jointly support and look after the good image of the government and the country to ensure a harmonious and peaceful life for the people and citizens of Brunei.

Present was the Chief of Adat Istiadat Negara, Yang Amat Mulia Pg Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pg Anak Hj Abd Aziz Pg Jaya Negara Pg Hj Abu Bakar.

The Permanent Secretary for Media and Cabinet at the Prime Ministers Office, Awg Hj Md Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos in his speech said the session aimed to increase knowledge and improve the quality of broadcasting.

According to him, following a correct order or hierarchy is among the most important agenda in the country in accordance to the Malay Islamic Monarch (MIB) doctrine.

Such a program was aimed to benefit every media practitioners in sustaining their integrity, being responsible in a career, not violating the code of ethics and journalism ethics that focussed on the concept of MIB towards the harmony of the country.

The event was held at the Dewan Persantapan Lapau in the capital. ©BRUDIRECT.COM

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shell International Confident in Brunei's Energy Future

Graeme Smith, Shell International VP for Exploration in Asia and Australia

Rachel Thien

MANILA, Thursday, November 20, 2014 - SHELL International’s VP for Exploration in Asia and Australia yesterday said he is very confident there is more oil and gas in Brunei, and is looking to see how undertaking exploration can be economically viable for Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) and the government.

Speaking to The Brunei Times here in Manila on the sidelines of a briefing of the Philippines Malampaya Deep Water Gas and Power Project, Graeme Smith said his role as VP for exploration is to try and find new hydrocarbon pools in Brunei.

“I am very confident that there is more oil and gas in Brunei. What I would love to see, double check and have a conversation... is how we can make those rewarding for both Shell and the government,” he said.

With regards to exploration, Smith said he would love to drill more and see whether the small accumulations can be economic for BSP and therefore make money, given that the bigger accumulations have already been tapped into.

Asked whether he forsees challenges in exploration activities now that Brunei is looking towards the use of renewable and alternative energy, he said: “I think everywhere needs to look at both.

“We need efficiency, which means switching off air conditioners, and getting more appliances that are ‘A’ rated. First of all, every little bit of use of energy needs to be more efficient,’’ he said, adding that hydrocarbons will be needed for the future.

Sebastian Quiniones, Managing Director of Shell Philippines Exploration BV, said from a Shell perspective, they are very proud of BSP and are glad that Shell is permitted to be able to further explore in the country.

“They have been a very responsible company there, and have developed the country so much. I have been in Brunei and I have seen the facilities there and how they (BSP) have helped the people, and I am very impressed,” he said.

“We shamelessly copy the good things BSP has done, such as the Green Days, which is the process of monitoring performance safety and I shamelessly stole the good stuff that they are doing.

“That is what you do in Shell. You always try to get the best practices around,” he added.

Asian journalists have been invited to take a closer look at the Malampaya Deep Water Gas and Power project, a public-private partnership which has contributed to the Philippines’ reduced dependence on imported fuel by 30 per cent.

It is currently providing up to 40 per cent of Luzon’s power generation requirements, and has remitted over US$7.7 billion to the Philippine government as of June.

The Brunei Times

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

100 Years of Formal Education in Brunei Darussalam

On Friday, 10 October 2014, The Brunei Times reprinted my article on the post war education history in Brunei Darussalam. This article has been reprinted at least twice before in The Brunei Times before this. Here is the article which was published under my column The Golden Legacy:

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ROZAN YUNOS
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Friday, October 10, 2014

TODAY in Brunei, students have a choice of four universities to choose from, all fully funded by the government. However providing education has not always been as easy as it is now. We look at the early development of education in Brunei.

When the British Resident first began his duty in Brunei in 1906, the education system in Brunei was along the line of religious education with “sekolah pondok” and students being taught the rudiments of the Islamic religion as well as how to read the Al-Quran.

It was not until 1911 that the British Resident was able to introduce a western education system. It was not because education did not play an important role for the government but it was because of the lack of funds as well as the lack of available Bruneians who can teach. Between 1906 and 1910, the budgets were in deficit and it was only in 1911 that the budget showed a small surplus.

It was also thought that the introduction of a western style education so soon after the British Residency would be quite sensitive to the Brunei population then.

Formal education began in Brunei in 1914 with the opening of a Malay vernacular school in Brunei Town. When it started, it had no special building so the school used a mosque. Psychologically, using the mosque also reduced the resistance and objection from parents. It later moved to a building which was formerly occupied by the Monopoly Office. The first group of students was made up of 30 boys.

By 1915, that number has increased to 40 boys. Another school was established in Muara with a Malay Teacher teaching at his own house. The other districts got their first schools in the next three years. In Belait, the first Malay school, the third in the country, was built in 1917. In Tutong, it was built in 1918.

The first crop of these schools was absorbed into the government as trainees by 1917 and full time government servants by 1920. Some of these students were also sent to attend short teaching courses at a Teachers’ Training College in Melaka.

Education in these early vernacular schools was limited. It was conducted in Malay for boys aged between seven and 14 years and the curriculum included Reading and Writing (in both Arabic and Romanised script), Composition, Arithmetic, Geography, History, Hygiene, Drawing and Physical Education. Gardening and Basketry were later introduced at some schools.

The Chinese community established their own school in 1916.

Teacher training in Brunei began soon after the modern Brunei education system started in 1912. The shortage of experienced and qualified Brunei teachers was immediately apparent.

According to the State of Brunei Annual Report of 1919, as early as 1918, two Brunei teachers were sent for a short teacher training course at the Malacca Teachers College. Teacher training began in earnest from the 1930s. As there were no teacher training institutes in Brunei, all the trainee teachers were sent abroad.

The colleges included the Sultan Idris Teachers College at Tanjong Malim, Perak (SITC) and the Durian Daun Women Teachers College in Malacca (MWTC).

The first Bruneians to be sent to SITC were Marsal Maun (later to be Dato Paduka) and Haji Basir Taha (later to be Dato Paduka) in 1930. They graduated from the college in 1932.

Islamic religious education began in 1931 when it was taught formally as a subject at Jalan Pemancha Malay School. It was still limited as classes were only held on Friday after the noon prayers.

The teaching staff was made up of mosque officials. These teachers received an allowance of $5 per month only. They were not paid by the government but by three donors.

In 1936, Marsal Maun was appointed as the first local Superintendent of Malay Education. Under his watch, the Islamic religious education was moved into the regular Malay education curriculum and no longer taught on Friday afternoons.

However despite the government's efforts, many parents did not want to send their children to schools. Even though there were shortages of teachers and shortages of school buildings, there were also shortages of willing parents. Most of the boys who attended were from the upper class and very few from the village commoners. Most parents refused to send their daughters to school.

In order to encourage parents to send their children to school, the government enacted a legislation making attendance at school compulsory.

The School Attendance Enactment of 1929 allowed the government to impose a fine between 50 cents to $1.00 to parents who refused to send their children aged between seven and 14 years old to government schools. The Enactment covered mostly parents living in the Brunei Town area and had little effect elsewhere in Brunei.

At first the government's efforts were mostly focused on getting Bruneians to be able to read and write. During those years, there were not many literate Bruneians.

The curriculum was based on those taught at the Malay Schools in the Federated Malay States in Malaya. They are taught Malay language and Malay culture so that they can inherit their parents' occupations which were mostly farmers and fishermen.

Oil has yet to be discovered and the British Resident was quite pessimistic about the ability of a good education system. British Resident EEF Pretty in the Brunei Annual Report of 1923 stated that Brunei “is not ready for any elaborate educational schemes since there are practically no openings for a well educated Brunei in his native land and he is loth to leave it”.

In that year, despite the opening of a new school in Belait, attendance has actually fallen from 193 to 172. The poor attendance was attributed to the revival of the rubber industry — the children were taken by their parents to assist in the tapping and weeding of their small holdings.

English education did not begin until expatriate workers came to Brunei with the advent of the oil discovery. In 1931, the Anglicans opened up a school in Kuala Belait. Another English school was opened in Brunei Town in the same year funded by Brunei Shell and Brunei Government but run by a missionary. A few more English schools were opened by Christian missionaries in the following years.

HRH Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin funded a religious Arabic school in the early 1940s. It was a private school registered at the Education Department.

Prior to the outbreak of war in the region in 1941, the number of schools in Brunei had exceeded 30 including 24 Vernacular Malay, three private English and five private Chinese. The number of pupils enrolled was 1,746, including 312 girls.

It was during the post World War II era that Brunei’s education system really expanded into what it is today.

The writer runs a website at bruneiresources.com.

The Brunei Times

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cruising Brunei River with MV Sentosa







| Azaraimy HH |

BRUNEI Tourism received a major shot in the arm as cruise vessel MV Sentosa was launched yesterday.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, said cruising along the Brunei River in the comfort of a spacious vessel is an attractive and value-added service not just for in bound visitors but also for domestic activities and tourism.

The minister spoke to the media while cruising the Brunei River after the vessel’s launch.

A river cruise provides a different mood altogether, for example a sunset river cruise while enjoying sumptuous buffet dinner, holding an event such as a celebration providing memorable takeaways for the passengers and touring the pristine river that is still in its natural state. River cruising is a niche market.

The minister said there are countries that have actually developed their rivers to provide for this industry, but in Brunei, the river is still in its natural state and a service such as this is in line with the objective of the nation’s tourism industry to provide a niche market as well as differentiated tourism for visitors.“They also call it experiential tourism. Tourists come to experience the life in the country, come to find birds and hope to find new bird species. This is of course a specialised area of tourism, where visitors come not without knowledge or expertise on birds,” said the minister.

“This type of tourism,” the minister added, “for instance cruising the Brunei River, provides the visitors with a historical and natural perspective of the river.

Similarly, ethical tourists will also be interested as they are concerned about the environmental condition and concerned about the destruction of it.

“This type of service comes with a high cost of operation and safety issue is paramount,” the minister said and added that the government supports this type of service and over time, the ministry hopes that this industry will develop well and provide diversified services.

Formerly known as Tanjung Bakarang, this vessel is now owned and operated by Sha-Zan Marine Sdn Bhd after a year and a half spent on upgrading and refurbishing the vessel.

The vessel has a capacity to carry 60 passengers with fully enclosed air-conditioned decks. MV Sentosa is based and will operate from Queen Elizabeth II Jetty, Kg Dato Gandi, Jalan Kota Batu.

“Our main aim for Sentosa is to provide guests and tourists with a more comfortable and safe option of touring the Brunei River and Kampong Ayer,” said Managing Director of Sha-Zan Marine, Pehin Datu Paduka Raja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Hj Shari bin Ahmad. “Apart from safety and comfort, this vessel can accommodate many passengers at a time and refreshments can also be served on board.”

MV Sentosa complies with international maritime safety standards and will be operated by six certified crewmembers. With the introduction of this vessel, the company mainly aims to cater to the growing number of tourists visiting the country.

For locals, this vessel is not limited to just river cruising, as it can also be chartered for private functions, meetings and event trips to Temburong.

At the moment, the management of MV Sentosa has been working closely with the Brunei Tourism Board and travel agencies to provide various tour packages such as the sunset dinner cruise. “This will be the highlight of our packages and departs at 5.30pm,” said the management.

More enticing packages will be introduced in the near future, assured the management.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Oxford Business Group: Agri-Tech Route to Self-Sufficiency for Brunei

The Oxford Business Group reported the following news on Brunei on 14th November 2014 as follows:

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Brunei Darussalam eyes 'agri-tech' route to self-sufficiency
Economic Update | 14 November 2014

Innovative agricultural initiatives launched in Brunei Darussalam, such as developing new rice hybrids and growing plants in water, underline how agro-technology can edge the Sultanate closer to its goal of food self-sufficiency.

Figures released by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) in November showed that the agrifood sector, which excludes livestock and crops, made up nearly 30% of the overall industry in 2013, with a total value of $86.2m representing a 37% increase year-on-year. Between 2009 and 2012, the agrifood industry represented 22-23% of the sector.

While Brunei is about the size of Bangkok, three quarters of the Sultanate’s 526,500 ha is under forest cover, of which the government has allowed only 1%, or 5895 ha, for agricultural use. The limited availability of land has meant that agri-tech programmes in rice cultivation and fish farming have played a key role in increasing domestic output.
Self-sufficiency

The agriculture sector’s share of GDP is 0.72% and employs just 1.4% of the population, estimated at 425,000. Further growth is important for a nation that is dependent on imported foods that account for as much as 80% of the national food supply. The sultanate imports most of its rice requirements from Thailand and has recently started purchasing from Vietnam and Cambodia.

This has prompted ambitious targets: the government wants to achieve 60% self-sufficiency in rice by 2015 compared with the current level of 5%, as well as a 170% growth in fisheries to $187.7m by 2023 and increasing the value of the livestock segment to $140m.

Ministers have admitted that previous rice self-sufficiency targets were a “tall-order” but inroads are being made, albeit small ones. The minister of industry and primary resources (MIPR), YB Pehin Dato Hj Yahya, recently announced near self-sufficiency in its poultry and egg industry, and more than 80% self-sufficiency in seafood products and tropical vegetables,
Boosting rice yields

Rice innovation is an important part of Brunei's agricultural development. The country is working closely with its neighbours on various programmes and building new facilities such as the recently-opened plant in Kg Wasan, situated in the north of the state. The rice-milling facility, which removes the husk and the bran layers from paddy rice, opened in August and is capable of producing 5800 metric tonnes of rice per year. But officials say another site is needed.

“This new complex has a grind capacity of 3.5 metric tonnes ... and if used all the time, will enable us to achieve 20% (self-sufficiency in) rice production. In order for us to (attain) the 60% (rice self-sufficiency rate), we will have to build a high capacity centre which can produce up to 7.5 metric tonnes per hour,” said the MIPR minister, YB Pehin Dato Hj Yahya.

To boost output a new hybrid rice, titih, which can increase yields from 2 to 3 tonnes per ha to the 3.8-8.7 tonnes per ha range, is being deployed.

In a further bid to increase the productivity level of its rice fields, Malaysia has agreed to help Brunei with a $6m project − which will be part-funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) − drawing on the technology know-how of its neighbour.

“Brunei has the ambition to become self sufficient in rice production and Malaysia has the technology, the expertise and the willingness to share,” said Kunrat Wirasubrata, acting director of the IDB Group Regional Office, as quoted by local media.
Growing food in water

One nascent area of development being explored is farming techniques based on aquaponics, a system of growing plants and aquatic species such as fish and prawns in water, eliminating the need for soil and also fertilisers − often a source of worry for farmers.

Local agro-technology company BfB confirmed on November 3 that it was collaborating with government agencies to introduce aquaponics in Brunei to promote sustainable farming and food security. The technology would allow people to grow food and vegetables in outdoor ponds or in an aquarium inside their house.

BfB has been given 1 ha of land on Jalan Lampaki at Kg Mulaut by the MIPR to carry out farming projects, and also plans to open a factory in Serasa where an aquaponics garden will be installed on the rooftop.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

News from the Past: The $100 Notes Disappeared and Came Back

This $100 notes were taken off circulation in November 1994

This $100 notes replaced the old $100 notes in November 1994 and this was replaced eventually by the $100 polymer notes of today

NOVEMBER 7, 1994 – The Brunei $100 notes are back. They will reappear once again over the counter and in ATMs at local banks as from today. This follows a directive from the Brunei Currency Board to the Association of Banks over the weekend, bank sources said.

Banks were told to put them back into circulation with immediate effect.

According to sources, Brunei $100 bills began to disappear from the public eye following an advisory from the Brunei Currency Board, according to bankers.

Fifty dollar bills were used instead. ATMs were also emptied of $100 bills. Sources, however, emphasised that $100 bills were still legal tender and there should be no cause for alarm. The operation to withdraw the current $100 notes from circulation went on very smoothly, and it was pronounced a success, according to bankers. – Ignatius Stephen

The Borneo Bulletin

OECD Forecast: Brunei's GDP Forecasted Average 1.6% 2015 to 2019



KOO JIN SHEN

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Monday, November 17, 2014 - BRUNEI’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is predicted to be the lowest among ASEAN member countries for the period of 2015 - 2019, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) stated.

According to the OECD’S Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India, Brunei’s GDP is expected to grow an average of 1.6 per cent annually from 2015 to 2019. This is an increase from 0.9 per cent growth measured between 2011 and 2013.

In comparison, for the same 2015 - 2019 period, Myanmar is expected to grow at 7.8 per cent a year, Indonesia at 6.0 per cent, Malaysia at 5.6 per cent, Thailand at 4.1 per cent and Vietnam at 5.7 per cent, Philippines at 6.2 per cent.

Cambodia and Laos are forcasted to grow at 7.1 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively.

The second slowest growth is Singapore at 3.5 per cent. On average, the ASEAN-10 countries are expected to have a 5.6 per cent growth in GDP per annum during this period, up from 5.4 in between 2011 to 2013.

China is projected to be growing at 6.8 per cent in 2015 to 2019, India at 6.7 per cent.

Economic growth prospects are stable for Brunei Darussalam and Singapore. However, the report said that Brunei’s growth performance will depend on the energy sector and the volatility of oil and gas prices.

For Singapore, smooth economic transformation in healthcare and social services and effective land use will be challenges for the Singaporean economy.

According to the report, Malaysia’s strong demand in the domestic market supported by the rise of the middle class.

Malaysia’s growing export-oriented sector will remain resilient despite still weak demand in OECD economies, the report said.

“Indonesia’s economy will be supported by robust domestic demand and expectations of reform - with the Jokowi administration possibly rationalising fuel subsidy. Another economy driven by domestic demand, strongly supported by remittances from overseas and political stability is the Philippines where growth is expected to be favourable in the Medium term,” the report read.

Thailand’s political unrest is highlighted in the report to adversely affect growth prospects in the near future, noting that consumer and investor confidence, along with trade performance has weakened due to uncertainty.

The report noted that rapid growth expected for Cambodia and Laos will come from improvement in the agriculture sector and the business environment. For Myanmar, the report said there was rapid progress in many areas and this will keep it on a favourable path in the medium term.

The growth Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will affect the speed of the ASEAN integration.

The OECD report said that due to this, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are expected to become the new centres of growth in ASEAN.

The Brunei Times

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