Brunei's Time Line

I had lunch with my alumni at a restaurant called Wecan Elite - the best description for the location I can think of is it's in an apartment block behind Pizza Hut Gadong. I had a tough time searching for it, apparently it is quite popular and I must admit the food was good (that's a free plug for Wecan). There are not many of us but the few that we have are enough to keep our group alive and allow us to share many things. Yesterday, we ended up talking about the concept of time when a minister, a member of our alumni was describing how his elders, if they wanted to know how old you are now, would ask how old you were when a certain major event took place.

The Bruneians then have their own concept of time. A number of our elderly Bruneians when you asked them do not know when exactly they were born, sometime some do not even have birth certificates to prove that they were born in whatever years. It was only in the 1940s that birth certificates were issued and even then not everyone has birth certificates to prove what year they were born. Some of our elderly folks then were not literate in the ways of the British to register their children. There are many cases where in the civil service, the elderly siblings are still working but the younger ones have reached retirement age because the elderly one can claim any year he was born but the younger ones have birth certificates.

To determine how old you are, you will be asked how big you were when a certain event took place. It seemed that there were several major events in Brunei between the 1900s to 1950s. This would be a very quick lesson in modern Brunei history:-

'Beras bau tahi' (circa 1906) - there was an episode when the rice that was available in the country was of such low quality that it smelled very badly - some say at that time, the rice was imported from one of the south asian country and by the time it reached Brunei, the rice had turned bad and was giving out bad odours;

'Perang Jerman' (First World War circa 1910s) - this is the easy one - this was during the first world war even though technically it was a World War but it was mainly between the Germans and the rest of the world, hence the 'perang Jerman' (German War);

'Rahmat - cholera epidemic' (circa 1920) - I am not sure why this is called Rahmat or I heard it wrong - during this time there was an epidemic and a number of Bruneians died during the time;

'Tamoi Angus' (circa mid 1920s) - this was a big fire at the Kampung Tamoi at Kampung Ayer, even though the fire is not as big as the ones that happened today, when it happened the fire at Kampong Tamoi was considered then as the largest those people alive then have ever seen and this became an event marker;

'Perang Jepun' (Second World War circa 1940s) - this is also an easy one - second world war but since the Japanese invaded Brunei, this came to be called by our elderly folks as 'perang Jepun' (Japanes War);

'Orang Australia datang' (circa 1945) - the Australian Military Administration (AMA) took over from the Japanese when the Japanese surrendered and the AMA ran the administration until they handed it back to the British;

'Marhum Puspa' (circa 1950s) - this was when His Majesty Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien was coronated after the death of his brother His Majesty Sultan Haji Ahmad Tajuddin.

I bet you a number of you have never heard of those events (other than the World Wars) and honestly I have just heard it too.


Unknown said…
Well you've just lost your bet.
i still have 299 daily blog readers....
Anonymous said…
Assalamualaikum brunei resources and to all readers. I love this topic! Its something i can relate to. Very often, if not all the time, my parents or aunties or uncles or grannies, alright the elders in my family (haha)talked of anything that happened in the family in the past, one of the "major events" would pop up as well. This is because they often could not agree of "when" that family event occured or what their age was that time. One said it happen in this year, another said that year. In the end, someone would interrupt and said it happened just after the "perang jepun" or something like that. Birth certificates..None of my elders have/had birth certificates. They too had to make "accurate guesses" as to when their birthday could be, using that same method you wrote old they were when a certain event happened. Age is another thing my elders could not seem to agree on. My mum would say she was this age during "perang jepun", only to be quickly disagreed by her brother, stating "You cant be that age. You're wrong. You were barely a toddler, just learning to stand up then....". Yes, they love to disagree with each other..haha! Cant help but laugh out loud at "beras bau tahi"!! Eyuu!! But anyway, I have a coousin, who is much., much older than me that I sometimes forget that she is my cousin and not my auntie. She has a unique name, well not her real name, but her "nama timangan", nick name. Almost everyone in my family, have nick names, except me! These nick names were given by my ever-so-creative grandpa. (Waaaahhh!!) Simply because evryone but I have a nickname given to them by my grandpa makes me feel that i don't belong. But perhaps I should feel grateful maybe, because when i say unique names..well..they dont necessarily are nice or cute or beautful! You're know in a little while why. I'm rambling on, I know, I'm sorry. Why am i apologising? Hehe. Anyway, her nick name is....(drums rolling) "Dai". Now you're probably wondering what her nick name has anything to do with your article. Bear with me okay. She was born when "orang Australia datang". She has a perfectly beautiful name, khadizah. But my grandpa who is fond of giving nick names decided to call her "Dai". Can you guess where that name came about from? You do?! So I don't have to tell you then? Okay. Then I'll leave it at that. Thanks for reading my comment. (^_^) Hjh Yati
Anonymous said…
Hi again. I have so much to share about the nick names in my family and their significance. But I'm already malu for taking up so much space in here, mengalahkan yang empunya blog. (*blushing* haha). I'm sorry okay. Perhaps brunei resources will be interested to carry on the topic of nick names. Then I will be able to post my comment once again and continue from there! (malu, tapi mau!) (^_^) Hjh Yati
Unknown said…
Haha! Nada nada! Pay up pay up! Ada again "Memberuntak" and others as well.

By the way, Wecan Elite atu nice ah. Cheaper version of Sanur I must say.
To Hajah Yati: If you want to write a whole topic about it, you are most welcome! I can always put up guest bloggers on my spot. It will reduce my burden of blogging everyday. Please contact me on
To Maurina: I am seriously underestimating my blog readers here! :p
Anonymous said…
A guest blogger would be a good idea. It will offer different perspectives/opinions/etc on other subject matters. And I cant quite remember one event that my grandma always mentioned whenever I complained about food. Something bout ubi kayu. Hmmm. Must be the aftermath of the war I assume.

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