Friday, July 31, 2015

From the Past: Royal Wedding Splendour of 1965

Photo show the Bersanding ceremony of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Du-li Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha binti Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohamed Alam in 1965

Watched by 1,000 guests, the Crown Prince takes his marriage vows before the State Chief Kathi, Pengiran Shahbandar, in Brunei Town Mosque on Tuesday. Another 2,000 people stood in the mosque compound during the ceremony. The prince made his vow in the presence of his father, the Sultan, and Pengiran Pemancha, father of the bride. The British High Commissioner, F D Webber, was among the dignitaries who witnessed the marriage. Immediately after the ceremony was over, a 19-gun salute was fired

The bride arrives for the Bersanding with Pengarah Anak Omar Ali Ibnu Pengiran Ben-dahara Haji Mohd Yassin, a distant relative

Girls bearing gifts from the Crown Prince leave the Istana Darul Hana in Brunei Town for the home of Pengiran Anak Saleha. This ceremony – the Menghantar Tanda – was the first stage of the long and colourful wedding celebrations. In olden days, it was not unusual for the bearers to be included in the gift – remaining in the bride’s house to be trained as servants and courtiers. In the background is a field gun which later fired a salute to con-gratulate the royal couple

Royal wedding splendour

BRUNEI Town (July 31, 1965) – A colourful Bersanding ceremony on July 29, 1965 brought to a glittering climax to the week-long ceremony of the marriage of Brunei’s Crown Prince, Pengiran Muda Mahkota Hassanal Bolkiah, to his cousin Pengiran Anak Saleha.

The Crown Prince, wearing traditional Brunei Malay costume, walked with his followers from the Istana Darul Hana to the home of the bride’s father, Pengiran Pemancha, 100 yards away.

This was the first occasion they had seen each other since the celebrations began.

From 4pm, sitting side by side on a raised platform draped with golden finery, they gazed solemnly ahead – as the occasion demands – at the many guests who thronged the room.

Afterwards, they led a procession of 50 cars through the streets of Brunei. In the procession were members of the royal family, heads of government departments and other dignitaries. Children waving flags lined the route.

The procession over, the Crown Prince and his bride returned to Pengiran Pemancha’s home, where they will stay for a few days.

The celebrations began last Thursday with the Menghantar Tanda. As a token of his love and esteem, the Crown Prince sent messengers to Pengiran Anak Saleha bearing gifts.

Next day came the Pertunangan, the official engagement. Representatives of the Sultan and Pengiran Pemancha met to make the formal announcement.

On July 26, 1965, the Crown Prince was powdered by his father and other relatives and dignitaries in the Berbedak ceremony at the Istana. Next day, a small, humble figure in the vastness of Brunei Mosque, the Crown Prince was declared married by the State’s Chief Kathi, Pengiran Shahbandar.

One ceremony remained before the bersanding – the Berinai, annointing of the Crown Prince’s fingers by the Sultan and others who took part in the Berbedak. - Ignatius Stephen


Brunei honours its student prince

JULY 31, 1965 – Not since the opening of the Brunei Town Mosque nearly10 years ago had Brunei enjoyed so colourful a spectacle as this week’s royal wedding.

Flags and bunting bedecked the streets. At night all public buildings and the mosque were floodlit. The Kampong Ayer makers of traditional gold thread sarongs were kept busy to meet a big rush for orders.

Of all the children who lined the route for Thursday’s procession, none waved flags more enthusiastically than the girls of Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Raja Isteri (STPRI), the bride’s old school.

It was only when the official announcement was made just over a month ago that her fellow students in Form III had any idea that she was about to get married – or that her bridegroom would be the Crown Prince.

One said, “It was a well-kept secret. Not by any word or action did Anak Saleha give the impression that she even knew herself.”

Presents from relatives, friends, government departments and from the most humble Kampong dwellers poured in the Istana Darul Hana this week.

Some the Crown Prince and his bride will take with them when they leave for London in September to continue their studies. Others will be carefully packed and put away until they return to Brunei and establish a permanent home.

Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brunei Pursues Greater Sukuk Liquidity

The Oxford Business Group reported the following news:


Brunei pursues greater sukuk liquidity

Brunei DarussalamFinancial Services
Economic News Update
29 Jul 2015

Further solidifying the importance of Islamic finance in Brunei Darussalam’s developing capital market, the country’s financial regulator said in June it is preparing to issue long-term sharia-compliant bonds in the near future.

The Sultanate has a strong track record of sukuk (Islamic bonds) issuance dating back to 2006; however, all 118 of the issues to date, which total BN$8.6bn ($6.3bn), have had maturities of one year or less and were sold exclusively to the country’s seven domestic commercial banks.

With the regulator announcing its intention to widen the list of eligible buyers for the upcoming issue, the prospects of a more liquid sukuk market, as well as the development of a secondary market, are attracting investor attention.
Deepening the market

According to the IMF’s most recent report, published in June, Brunei Darussalam has stepped up its commitment to market reforms in recent years, developing a credit information bureau and launching a national payments and settlement system.

This burgeoning financial architecture would be further improved by an Islamic bond market with longer maturities and greater liquidity, the fund noted. “Going forward, staff encourages the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) to undertake further measures to deepen the financial sector in tandem with an appropriate macroprudential toolkit.”

According to a statement from the AMBD, the new longer-term sukuk is set to be issued in the “very near future”. This comes alongside another announcement in May that the AMBD plans to launch a securities exchange in the next two years.

Its most recent ijara (leasing) issue came in May; the BN$100m ($73.1m) sukuk with a 0.69% rental rate and a 182-day tenor brought total holdings of outstanding government sukuk to BN$700m ($511.5m), according to local press reports.
A firm foothold

With the global Islamic finance market doubling in size since 2011 to an estimated worth of $2trn, Brunei’s plans also coincide with the growing contribution of Islamic financial services to the local economy.

According to the Global Islamic Finance Report, by 2020 Brunei will be one of just six countries where Islamic banking and finance account for more than half of the financial sector. Islamic banks already hold a 45% share of total banking deposits in the Sultanate, with forecasts suggesting this will rise to 50% in the next two to three years.

“When it comes to sukuk or debt capital markets, clearly there are opportunities. High-quality issuers from Brunei could look to raise money domestically and internationally,” Mansoor Shakil, director at Dubai-based private equity firm Fajr Capital, told local media in June.

The Sultanate is also exploring opportunities to extend its local expertise to the broader region. According to statements by Javed Ahmad, managing director of the country’s largest bank, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), the bank plans to extend its Islamic finance activities to establish a regional footprint, with Malaysia and Indonesia cited as the most promising growth opportunities.
Creating competition

Despite the popularity of Islamic finance in the majority-Muslim country, industry observers highlight a lack of competition in the market, with some suggesting that the entry of new players would be beneficial. BIBD currently accounts for about three-quarters of Islamic banking by assets.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

110,000 Hari Raya Visitors to Nurul Iman Palace

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SWELTERING heat did not diminish the festive spirit of thousands of well-wishers at Istana Nurul Iman during the last day of the royal family’s annual Hari Raya meet and greet, which saw more than 100,000 visitors descend on the palace.

Some 39,943 people made their way to the palace on the final day of the open house, bringing the three-day total to 109,642.

This year’s number is the second highest that was ever recorded. The highest volume of visitors was recorded in 2012, when 110,728 people visited the palace.Dressed in their finest attire, visitors queued for hours for the rare opportunity to meet the monarch and other royal family members. The day was divided into morning and afternoon sessions, each lasting about two hours.

Receiving male guests in the Baitul Rahmah Hall were His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah; HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah; HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik; HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; and HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel.

In an adjoining room, Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha received the female guests, accompanied by HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Zariah; YAM Pengiran Bini Hjh Faizah; HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hjh Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hjh Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hjh Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah; HRH Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah and HRH Princess Hjh Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam.

People from all walks of life were among the visitors yesterday, including grassroots leaders, officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs, new converts, senior citizens groups, special needs groups, as well as members of the business community.

Guests were served with a wide selection of food upon arrival at the Istana before queuing up to meet the royal family.

As a token of appreciation, visitors were given embossed yellow boxes containing traditional Hari Raya cakes.

Former Brunei Barracudas forward Michael Pilgrim was among the visitors yesterday.

“This is my first time visiting the palace during Hari Raya, I never had the chance when I was playing in Brunei before so it is definitely a unique experience,” he said.

Pilgrim is back in Brunei to play for Easyway basketball team in the upcoming Mum Bakery Cup on July 25, held in conjunction with His Majesty’s birthday.

Easyway team manager Wira Pori said it had become a team tradition to bring the players to the Istana each year for the annual Hari Raya meet and greet.

The annual open house at Istana Nurul Iman is one of the much-anticipated highlights of the festive season and is attended by thousands of Bruneians, foreigners and tourists each year.

Last year, 96,555 people visited the palace while 105,786 visitors was recorded in 2013.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Foreign Visitors Views on Nurul Iman Palace Hari Raya


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FIRST-TIME foreign visitors were in awe with Istana Nurul Iman as His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam opened his doors to celebrate Aidil Fitri with the public.

Timothy Lynch, an Australian senior lecturer at Monash University, said he was impressed with how the monarch was able to meet the public and offer food to any visitor at the palace.

“Being able to do such speaks volume about his disposition towards being a leader and a king,” he said.“To me, this is quite a unique situation in Brunei because in other countries, they may only be able to do that or perhaps, will only select a number of people to visit the palace,” he added on the first day when the palace was open to the public.

Lynch was transiting in the country with his wife, Effie Pollatos, and his three children before heading home after visiting his in-laws in the United Kingdom.

“Both me and my wife knew some people who toured here (Brunei) a few years ago and they told us how lovely the country is, so this is why we were eager to visit,” he said.“My wife also knew that during the (Hari Raya season), people would be able to see the monarch,” he added.

Lynch had planned to line up and greet the royal family, but had to miss out to take care of their children aged three, two and nine months.

“All the more, we also have to catch on our bus, so we will only be sitting here enjoying the mood and the food; and it is still quite a great experience for us.

“We would also like to wish the royal family especially the Sultan a “Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin,” he added.

Ma Rosali Cielo from the Philippines also said she was impressed with how the Istana open house was carried out smoothly.

“Being able to open the palace to the public just shows how peaceful the country this, everything is in place and in order.

“Everything is also quite organised and overall, I am having quite a good time here,” she added.

Sim Chui Bee, who travelled with her entourage from Miri, said the atmosphere and experience was quite different compared to watching on television.

“The atmosphere here is very lively; the food is nice and fresh; plenty of our friends usually came here for the Hari Raya visit and this is quite a good experience for me actually.

“We plan to join the queue to see the Sultan and other royal family members, and hopefully we will be able to see them,” she added.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Sunday, July 19, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei: Be Grateful for Peace, Stability

Military police firing 12 cannon shots, marking the closing of Ramadhan yesterday at the Taman Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

BE GRATEFUL for the peace and stability that the nation has been blessed with, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam told Bruneians.

Delivering his customary Aidil Fitri titah that was broadcast on state media last night, the monarch said it does not matter that Brunei is small so long as it is free from crisis and turmoil.

This peace is a blessing that not every country, not even those far larger and richer, can experience, he said.

His Majesty told citizens and residents of Brunei to be grateful for the peace that Allah SWT has bestowed on the sultanate, and to shield and strengthen this blessing.

In light of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, the monarch said in this moment filled with blessings and harmony, it is important for those who receive blessings, to feel obligated to be thankful for it.

“Gratitude is a quality of the pious and whoever is always grateful will have their blessings increased by Allah SWT,” he said.

“The blessings from Allah SWT are so much that it cannot be counted and among the obvious blessings is the blessing of life that we go through as long as we are alive.”

The ruler said with Allah’s SWT generosity, life in Brunei is moving smoothly and there are no complications that can disrupt it.

“Alhamdulillah, Brunei is safe from any kind of crisis. We do not experience turmoil usually experienced by others (in certain countries). In the socio-economic field, we have always been harmonious and stable, thanks to a just and good management – this situation must be maintained, for a Brunei that is prosperous and happy,” he said.

He said the pursuit of happiness is not an easy path and not every country is fortunate enough to experience it.

“Even with a large size and population, if a country is chained down by crisis, then that is a sign of unhappiness, or if a country is wealthy and prosperous but still trapped in conflict, then that is also a sign that it is not harmonious.

“This is what we want to steer clear from in Brunei. Let it be that our size is small, so long as we are safe from crisis and turmoil. This is what everyone dreams and considers a true blessing.”

The monarch said there are many lessons that can be learned from observing certain events overseas such as natural disasters, accidents and wars that inflict great casualties.

“The strife is worsening and prolonged, even more condemning is that the casualties no longer directly affect those fighting, but also innocent civilians including children and the elderly,” he said.

“What worsens this suffering is the advent of these elements that hide themselves under the guise of religion, whose place and origins are unknown … and because of them, the peace and security is threatened.”

His Majesty said he feels obliged to remind the country’s citizens to watch out for unhealthy influences and elements no matter where they come from.

“Beware! If the doors of others can be intruded, then why can’t ours?

“Thus, do not be complacent and be easily deceived, instead shield ourselves with the true Bruneian spirit and strong religious values, without being tricked by any propaganda,” he said.

The monarch said what is important is Brunei is already good in other people’s eyes and there is no longer any dispute to it. Hence, it is befitting that Bruneians continue to strengthen this situation as there is not a need to seek anything supposedly better because Bruneians are actually already at “our best”.

“We have owned this good status for more than 600 years and proven that it is capable of bringing us forward and progress. I am very satisfied with what we have, as a country that continues to be stable and peaceful.”

“Our obligation is to protect it and be grateful. It should be remembered that all this was not achieved with just hard work but instead a special blessing to us. Why do I say this? Because everybody in the world dreams of it but not everyone can possess it even with hard work and big expenditures,” he said.

His Majesty said this reality is a reminder to Allah’s SWT promise that when there are people who are devout and pious, then they will be bestowed with bounties.

“The blessings that we own today, the peace and stability are also blessings from Allah SWT,” he said.

The monarch extended the royal family’s Aidil Fitri wishes to all Muslim citizens and residents.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Friday, July 17, 2015

French Ambassador: Brunei Can Play Role in Combating Islamaphobia

Her Excellency Loan Forgeron, French Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BRUNEI can play an important role in combating terrorism and Islamophobia by promoting its “moderate” brand of Islam, said the French ambassador to the Sultanate.

Loan Forgeron lauded the long-standing security relationship between the two countries, saying both parties shared close cooperation in counter terrorism and monitoring transnational borders.

“We know now the very violent context of our modern world. There are terror groups present in Malaysia and Indonesia, so it is very important to secure borders because Daesh (the Arab name for the terror group known as the ‘Islamic State’) is expanding everywhere, recruiting from this part of the world,” she said in a recent interview.

“Brunei has not been infiltrated by these groups because for a long time the government’s policies reflects and anticipates what could happen here.”

The envoy said police cooperation through training in security, narcotics and human trafficking continues to play an important role in the bilateral relationship between Brunei and France.

Forgeron said recent terror attacks in France by so-called ‘Islamic’ militants, has created a very troubling public image for Islam, with Islamophobia creeping into the mindsets of ordinary citizens.

“We have many Muslims in France, around 15 million and they live in peace with many other religions. But terrorist attacks could create a (misunderstanding). Some people equate Islam with terrorism… It is very important for us to show Islam is not synonymous with terrorism and Brunei is a good example of that,” she said.

“I want to develop this image of Brunei in France… His Majesty during his reign made many efforts to promote this image of peace, within ASEAN, with the Western countries and the rest of the world.”

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Royal Brunei Air Force Get C-130J Super Hercules

Thursday, July 16, 2015

THE Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) is slated to take delivery of its C-130J Super Hercules in 2018.

The addition of the American-made transport aircraft hopes to further boost the capability of the RBAirF.

Brigadier General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Wardi Hj Abdul Latip, commander of the RBAirF, said they were currently in the process of acquiring the military transport aircraft from aerospace Lockheed Martin with a delivery date scheduled between 2018 and 2019.

He added the C-130J Super Hercules will enable the RBAirF to significantly increase its contribution to regional humanitarian aid operations.

Used primarily by the United States military and Royal Air Force of the British Armed Forces, the C-130J is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft with new engines, flight deck and other systems developed from the C-130 Hercules.

Variants of the C-130 Hercules are also in service today with the armed forces of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Korea.

The purchase of the much-acclaimed aircraft was part of the RBAirF’s capability modernisation plan, which also included a fleet of 12 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters that were recently inducted into service.

In 2014, the US State Department confirmed the approved sale of a C-130J Super Hercules and six Rolls Royce AE2100D3 turbo-propeller engines to the Brunei Government.

According to the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) last October, the sultanate requested clearance from US authorities to purchase the aircraft along with equipment, spare parts and logistical support for a total of US$343 million.

DSCA said the proposed sale will contribute to foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to strengthen US-Brunei relations.

“The aircraft will enable Brunei to provide aid and assistance in greater capacities to regional allies and partners in need,” said the DSCA.

“Brunei should have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft into their inventory,” added the agency.”

A total of 300 units have been ordered by 15 countries, including Brunei, of which 250 aircraft have been delivered as of February 2012.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

21 Cannon Salute to His Majesty on 69th Birthday

Royal Brunei Armed Forces personnel firing the 21-cannon salute for His Majesty’s 69th birthday yesterday in Bandar Seri Begawan. Thousands of Muslims nationwide congregated at mosques yesterday to perform thanksgiving prayers to celebrate the 69th birthday of the monarch. His Majesty attended the ceremony at the Masjid Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah where congregants also performed mass Zuhur and Sunat Hajat prayers, recital of ‘Surah Yasin’ and ‘tahlil’ yesterday. BT/Zaim Kasmat

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Special Public Holiday for HM Birthday 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

AUGUST 15 has been declared a special holiday to celebrate His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s belated 69th birthday.

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office made the announcement during the second meeting of the national committee for the monarch’s birthday celebration.

A belated celebration will take place on the special holiday involving a parade at Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and an investiture ceremony at Istana Nurul Iman.

In his sabda delivered at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Crown Prince (pic) in his capacity as the national committee’s patron, also announced that His Majesty’s birthday today will be observed with a 21-gun salute on the morning of July 15 and thanksgiving prayers in the afternoon.

Similar to previous years, the monarch’s birthday will be celebrated at a later date as July 15 falls on Ramadhan.

“This traditional heritage is no doubt a strong symbol of solidarity among citizens and residents in the country and is synonymous with continued progress, peace and prosperity resulting from the leadership of a wise, people-oriented king,” said HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah.

He added the opportunity for the public to express their gratitude should be highlighted through participation in the upcoming celebratory events and ceremonies.

The Crown Prince said it is imperative for the celebration to open up opportunities in attracting the “active, yet meaningful and integrated” involvement of various groups such as the public and private sectors as well as NGOs, students, youth and general public.

As members of the national committee, he pointed out it is their responsibility to continue generating ideas and strategic plans that take into account past experiences.

HRH called on the national committee to learn and improve from their past experiences, highlighting the importance of holding a post-mortem meeting that is backed with verified information and supporting data.

“In my opinion, we need to focus on the essence of the celebration programme so that it is able to attract more participation and attendance from all levels of society,” he said.

The Crown Prince said they aimed to achieve consensus through the collaboration of ideas that are not only “government-driven”, but derived from a combination of ideas from the private sector, NGOs including youth and the wider public.

“Our objective is clear, which is to strengthen the unity of the people in this country, especially through the celebratory ceremonies with the public in the four districts,” he said.

HRH said they can plan events that are “universal”, which creates a sense of “belonging and togetherness” among the people. He added that ideas and participation from the public will be addressed by the respective district offices and consultative councils.

He said grassroots leaders play a vital role in mobilising and encouraging their respective village residents to “grab the golden opportunity” to attend the upcoming meet-and-greet events.

The closed-door meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office discussed the preparations that have been undertaken for the celebration, according to Home Affairs Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman.

Also on the agenda were plans for the nationwide meet-and-greet sessions with His Majesty as well as side events such as flag-raising ceremonies and the Knowledge Convention.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Monday, July 13, 2015

16,479 Get Special Gifts from His Majesty Sultan Brunei

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A TOTAL of 16,479 people – comprising orphans, the less fortunate and those with special needs – have received kurnia peribadi (personal gifts) from the monarch this year, ahead of upcoming Hari Raya Aidil Fitri celebrations.

For the past six years, the endowment has been given to individuals registered with the government as requiring “special assistance”, regardless of their being locals or foreigners.In the second event this week, members of the royal family dispersed the kurnia to 7,953 people in concurrent ceremonies held across the country.

In Brunei-Muara, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, and Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah were on hand to give out the kurnia to some 3,385 people at Istana Nurul Iman.

Meanwhile in Belait, 2,246 recipients lined up at Pusat Insani in Seria to receive the cash gift from His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik. His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen presented the kurnia to 2,322 people at the Tutong Community Complex.

Each recipient was given a coupon which they cashed out at one of the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam counters set up at each venue.

The kurnia peribadi reflects the generosity of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, towards his less fortunate subjects during the festive period.

Brunei will mark Hari Raya Aidil Fitri next week, either on Friday or Saturday, once the new moon is sighted.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tanglung Decorative Lights in Brunei in 1950s

‘Tanglong’ for Hari Raya in the 50s

Posted date: July 04, 2015

| Haji Mohd Daud Abd Rahman |

THE arrival of the month of Syawal was highly anticipated by Kg Ayer residents back in the 50s. The elders would be seen busy setting up decorative lightings in the form of ‘tanglong’ or lanterns which were aptly named ‘tanglong bulan’, ‘tanglong bintang’ and ‘tanglong bulat’.

Another traditional form of decorative lightings is made from bottles. The bottles would be filled with kerosene so that it would illuminate once the wick is lit.

On the first and second nights into Hari Raya festivity, these decorative lights would brighten the water village while children would be seen happily singing Hari Raya songs and playing fireworks.

Nowadays, most of the traditional decorative lightings no longer exist. Times have changed where people now prefer buying illumination lights which are sold just about anywhere.

Courtesy of The Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Caring for Brunei's Marine Ecosystem


Monday, July 6, 2015

CORAL reefs contain some of the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet, but it continues to face serious threats from direct human actions such as overfishing, water pollution and sedimentation.

Experts estimate about 27 per cent of coral reefs worldwide have been lost, while another 15 per cent of coral reefs are in critical condition.

Brunei alone is home to 410 reef-building coral species, which shelters a rich fish diversity of 711 species.

However, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources warned “their beauty could be marred by their fragility and susceptibility to damaging threats”.

The government conducts its own Coral Conservation, Awareness, Rehabilitation and Enrichment (CARE) Programme, but volunteer divers have also joined forces in a bid to protect coral reefs.

Organised by the Student Community Outreach Team (SCOT), a group of eight volunteer divers recently completed the second phase of the Green Xchange (GX) H2O pilot project, which aimed to measure and record the growth of corals propagated by another 20 divers during the first phase.

Apart from monitoring the growth rate from March to May at the Pelong Rocks site this year, the participants also repaired propagated corals that were damaged during the monsoon season.

“We saw how something so small can affect everything in the sea, the atmosphere, the air. So it has been interesting to see how it all coincides with each other,” said Kamilah Talipudin Talib, a volunteer diver.

She added the project enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of how coral reefs play an important role in the environment.

Coral reefs provide a source of food and shelter for a large variety of species that humans eat including fish, jellyfish and shellfish. It is estimated that over one billion people around the world depend on food from coral reefs.

Frederick Chong, a participant from project sponsor HSBC, said coral reefs can also make important contributions to the local economy.

“It looks positive in a way that if we were to continue this then it would improve the dive sites and it will definitely improve Brunei’s economy and help the environment,” he said, noting that dive tourism is a growing market.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, the potential economic value of Brunei’s reefs are estimated at $6M annually.

“It’s an eye-opener for Brunei especially to see something that other countries are doing already. We are finally taking our own first big step towards this. There are surprisingly a lot of nice dive sites here,” said Chong.

In addition, coral reefs protect coastlines from ocean storms and floods. It can also dissipate wave energy from storms and tsunamis, reducing damage on the land.

GX H2O project manager Isman Abu Bakar believes that growing more corals would help to repopulate the sultanate’s overfished waters.

In the long run, he said it would benefit fishermen who rely on fishing as their only source of income.

Despite the volunteer divers’ best efforts, they faced a number of challenges during the coral propagation initiative.

Their initial method for coral propagation was later deemed unsuitable to the conditions of Brunei waters, while efforts to grow the corals were further hampered by the monsoon season. However, they managed to overcome challenges by creating improvised solutions.

Wong Thye Sing, general manager of Poni Divers, said the GX H2O paved the way for more volunteer divers to take part in coral conservation initiatives.

“It was a pilot project, so we obviously had some challenges with the conditions here in Brunei. I’m quite happy that we encountered these challenges, so we could come up with different solutions. The participants have all been quite resourceful,” he said.

However, he pointed out it was important to continue coral propagation efforts on a long-term basis in order to see substantial impact.

Wong also noted that numerous data have been logged by the volunteer divers since the GX H2O project commenced with the first phase from April to November 2014, which will help to improve and develop similar projects in the future.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Sunday, July 05, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei: Understand Lessons in Quran

Saturday, July 4, 2015

HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday stressed the importance of understanding the lessons in the Quran, and to not just memorise its contents.

During a religious event to mark Nuzul Al-Quran (Revelation of the Quran) at the International Convention Centre last night, the monarch said the country aims to nurture a generation of people with strong faith derived from the Quran’s teachings.

“This is the goal, so that our generation is not only proficient in reading the Quran but is also able to understand its contents,” he said.“The important thing here is faith – if we are to read, memorise and learn a lesson from the Quran, then it shall be faith. Faith is the sole condition for us to obtain healing and blessings.”

His Majesty said he was happy with efforts to uphold the importance of the Quran among the people, evidenced by several institutes of religious learning and numerous nationwide Quran reading competitions.

“In Brunei, places to learn the Quran are not difficult to find, such as mosques, prayer halls… government and private institutions… it is also present in all levels of schooling.”

He lauded those who had represented Brunei in national and international Quran reading competitions, saying they had brought honour to the country.

His Majesty also congratulated the contestants who took part in the musabaqah (Quran reading competiton) held every year in conjunction with Nuzul Al-Quran, and singled out the skill and talent of the youngest contestants, some as young as 10.

The monarch added that people must not ignore the benefits of reading the Quran.

“Do not ignore this light, we must take advantage of it…. Without clever and diligent reading, the light will not be realised.

“That is the meaning of faith, to trust wholeheartedly and to adhere to all instructions from Allah SWT without any doubts or objections… InsyaAllah, when we read and memorise the Quran, it will be both a remedy and a blessing to us.”

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Deputy Defence Minister: Defence Spending to GDP Ratio

Friday, July 3, 2015

THE deputy minister of defence is advocating for a defence spending to GDP ratio amid a ministry-wide review prompted by a 25.26 per cent cut to the 2015/2016 defence budget.

Dato Paduka Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat recently cautioned against taking national security for granted, pointing out the element of certainty in proposed defence spending is crucial to achieving maximum outcome in defence planning.

“This is why I am advocating for a specific long-term budgeting system to be applied to defence as a ratio of the GDP,” he told The Brunei Times in an interview.

His recommendation came following a review undertaken by the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) that aimed to establish a baseline for defence spending “without compromising operational effectiveness, welfare and morale” of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF).

The current defence budget dropped to $537.490 million from $719.15 million for 2014/2015, owing to the dip in Brunei’s revenue from falling global oil prices.

According to data from the World Bank, the sultanate spent 3.1 per cent of its GDP on the military in 2014 when its defence budget increased by 39 per cent. Previously, the country allocated between 2.4 and 2.6 per cent of its GDP for defence spending annually from 2011 to 2013.

The government has not released its latest GDP figure, but the Asian Development Bank in March projected a 1.5 per cent decline for the current fiscal year.

As one of the main pillars of the sultanate’s defence policy, Dato Hj Mustappa reiterated their objective is to deliver a robust, responsive and resource efficient armed forces that is capable of responding independently to a wide spectrum of security threats and challenges.

“We need a defence that is capable of not only ensuring internal security, but also to deter external aggressions and that we will never be provoked to any kind of threat,” he said.

In order to achieve their objective, he explained it demands a careful and effective long-term strategy involving the intricate process of defence capability planning as well as sound defence management with greater accountability and transparency.

Highlighting the importance of understanding defence, he added that building a strong military for the country is a religious and national responsibility.

“We cannot simply assume that as we have no enemies, nothing will happen to us in the future,” he said, noting that Brunei had “a turbulent era of foreign invasions and interventions” despite the absence of enemies.

After facing various conflicts over the centuries, he said they saw the need for the sultanate to have a strong defence as a basis for an independent policy.

Dato Hj Mustappa said their vision of looking at operational responsibility underpinned the drive to enhance mobility, domain awareness and firepower, which he believed is clearly evident in their naval capabilities.

“In this regard, we have been pleased to see the progress that we have achieved in our defence capability development,” he said.

Commenting on military operations other than war, he noted the establishment of the Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) was instrumental in facilitating adequate mission deployment in response to territorial surveillance as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief among others.

The JFHQ is also responsible for overseeing the readiness and preparedness of the RBAF for national contingencies.

“The situation now also calls for our armed forces to maintain a high degree of readiness and preparedness, and ensure that all our assets, personnel and processes are at the highest level of serviceability,” said the deputy minister.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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