What's in a Name?

I was passing by the Lambak Kanan area and I saw this brand new primary school called the Lambak Kanan Primary School Jalan 19. You probably thought that this is a temporary name. Nope, you are wrong. The name is emblazoned in front of the school gate with big bold brass lettering. So it is permanent. I cannot remember that many schools nowadays having names derived only from the places where they are located. Almost all schools and colleges in Brunei have fancy names. One of the few that I know of that is named after the place is the Berakas Secondary School. Apart from that practically every other ones have some royalty, religious figures or other VIP names in front of it.

Surprisingly, the newly opened Business School in the former UBD campus in Gadong also has no other name. The newly opened Form Sixth Centre in Lambak Kiri, Berakas also has no official name. I am not sure whether this is the latest trend or a deliberate policy by the Education Ministry not to provide names for schools. Previously the Ministry was quite fast in providing names. I am not sure whether we have run out of names but I am sure they will be able to think of something up later on. We don't want to reach the stage in America where a number of schools are just numbers like Primary School Presinct 379 or something like that.

Most other public buildings such as mosques on the other hand are not named very often. We have a number of smaller mosques like the Kampung Kilanas Mosque, Kampung Bunut Mosque and even Sengkurong Mosque. It's only the bigger ones that are named. Post Offices and clinics are not often named. Though the Bunut Health Centre has a name, Golden Jubilee Health Centre or something to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Kampung Bunut. This may have something to do with the fact that a certain former health official lived there. On the other hand the post office opened at about the same time in Bunut is not named, I guess the Bunutians failed to ensure that one of their own works in the postal ministry.

Naming convention is something we have to consider. In UK, I remember if you want to name something after a person, that person must no longer be alive. To me that is useful. If you are still alive and something is named after you, and if you somehow commit a faux pax later on, then it can be quite embarrasing to have to rename that particular place or to call it another name. I am sure you can think of at least one example. I am not saying we should not honour a person but it is better if the honour is given after one's funeral. That way that honour is safe. Afterall it is very unlikely people would want to withdraw something named after you when you are already dead. It would look mean or something.

But a number of important places remain unnamed in Brunei. Some important roads such as the Berakas Link Road or the Tungku Link Road remained with those temporary names. Some simpangs (side roads) become so important but remained numbered as Simpang 1016-20-30-40 or something like that. The government offices complex is a nightmare if you have never been there. Everybody knows that these buildings exist either in Old Airport area or Jalan Menteri Besar area. But try describing their exact locations and you would really be lost as all these buildings don't have exact addresses apart from the general area they are in. Maybe the next time you meet someone in Public Works, remind them.


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