Showing posts from July, 2006

Food on a Brunei Sunday

Yesterday and Friday was the first time in about 5 months that I was not on a golf course or in the gym. This is due to my bad knee and I have been undergoing physiotherapy sessions twice a week for the last 2 weeks. My physiotherapist at JPMC described the knee problem as shock absorber rosak. I vehemently blame it on my bad golf swings because if I don't blame it on that, most people will prescribe eating less to reduce my plus size figure would be a much better way to improve my knee's medical problems. Of course yesterday being a Sunday gave me and the family time to ourselves and we didn't attend any wedding functions. There must be a couple of invitations but therein lies the typical Brunei dilemma - should we go or shouldn't we. A number of factors had to be considered - whether the invitation is from your family, friends, aquaintances, office mates, office staff, how many times you have been there, how many times they came to your families' wedding functions

Brunei International Tattoo 2006

I was among the 10,000 crowd watching the first performance of the Brunei Darussalam International Tattoo 2006. Last night was an all invitation only and it was a record attendance. For the record, it is worthwhile watching though 3 1/2 hours was a tad too long and very discomforting. My wife and I were seated about 2 rows behind the royals, so we had to sit and bear the 4 hours that we sat in those seats. I actually found our own forces' performance to be more entertaining that everyone else's. The most conservative (read boring) was the British. Even the Jordanians and the Pakistanis were entertaining. By 11 plus, my eyes refused to open and my wife had to nudge me several times to keep me awake. After watching umpteenth drum majors twirl their whatever it is you call it, it gets kinda repetitive after a while. Watching the heart shapes being performed again and again was another downer. I just realised heart shapes must be the easiest shape for military bands to do. I was

The Mysterious Kampung Pancur Murai

I have written in the past about the origin of place names in Brunei Darussalam. Some place names are pretty straightforward and you can guess how the name originates. Though in my research, one place name takes the cake and win hands down the prize for the most interesting way how the place is named. The kampung is called Pancur Murai and if you have not come across it, it's located about 22 kilometers from the capital and is bounded by Kampung Batong and Kampung Wasan, in Mukim Pangakaln Batu. According to the older folks, Kampung Pancor Murai was originally known as Pangkalan Imang . In those days, people especially local traders (called pengalu) come from the capital to the place via Sungai Imang. And Sungai Imang was not even a real river. It was just a watering hole and a villager named Kajimang dug a waterway and made it into a river. The waterway became known as Kajimang River and later as Imang River. The interesting bit is why does this name of Pangkalan Imang not stick?

You know you are Bruneian

1. People ask where you're from and the easiest explanation is saying that it's next to Singapore. 2. People are still clueless about where Brunei is and then you mention how the Sultan of Brunei was once the richest man in the world and everyone instantly remembers. 3. You either hang out in Coffee Zone or Coffee Bean or have children that do. 4. Your closet is full of designer gear but all you wear is the same old t-shirt, shorts and 'selipar jepun' that cost $2 from the 'kedai kaling' next door. 5. You don't wear Versace because only the older Datins & high society people wear it & because you have the suspicious feeling that it was made in Brunei. 6. You travel all the way to Miri just to get bargain priced goods but spend twice as much there as you would back at the shops in Brunei. 7. Your family has at least 4 cars, almost always including a large car like a 'Land Cruiser' (for stocking up at Miri). 8. You don't drive second hand c

100 Years of the Brunei National Flag

I was intrigued by someone who wrote on the cbox asking who was the creator of the Brunei's flag. After going through my resources, I found the story behind the creation of the flag of historical significance to be shared with you all. So here goes. On 3rd December 1905, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin signed a Supplementary Agreement with the British which was significant for the relationship between the British Resident and the Sultan: "His Highness will receive a British Officer, to be styled Resident, and will provide a suitable residence for him. The Resident will be the Agent and Representative of his Britannic Majesty's Government under the High Commissioner for the British Protectorate in Borneo, and his advice must be taken and acted upon on all questions in Brunei, other than those affecting the Mohammedan religion, in order that a similar system may be established to that existing in other Malay States now under protection." The agreement was also co-s

Brunei Schools' Houses by Hajah Yati

Each year, schools across Brunei organise annual sports meet among their students. The students and teachers are divided into four houses. These houses are assigned a colour and a name. The colours are usually red, blue, yellow and orange. So I guess that makes Jerudong Arabic School and MD (Maktab Duli Al-Muhtadee Billah) unusual, as they have colours other than the usual four. Whats really interesting is the names itself. The houses of St. Andrew's School are Hollis (red), Cornwall (blue), Danson (yellow) and McDougall (green). I represented Hollis and am proud to have contributed a few golds and silvers for my house. *smiles* Then in MS ie. Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, the houses are Hulubalang (yellow), Panglima (red), Pahlawan (green) and Laksamana (blue). These are the different ranks of malay warriors. I was a Hulubalang. Not to carry basket, but again, I collected a few medals for my house. If I remember correctly, Hulubalang was the champion house for two years

Brunei's Protected Buildings and Places

Under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act, the Director of Museums can issue an Antiquities and Treasure Trove (Ancient Monuments and Historical Sites) Order to direct for certain buildings to be listed and these buildings will require special permission if ever you need to do something to them. I don't remember if there was any Order made prior to the 3rd May 2006 Order. So under the recent 3rd May 2006 Order, the following list of buildings and places are now protected for the first time and they have been gazetted in the Order as follows:- Bubungan Dua Belas - I have posted about this one before; Charcoal Mine Site - I have posted about this one too before; Former Lapau Lama Building - this is actually the current building used by the History Centre or rather the attachment to the History Centre - I could be wrong; Government Secretariat Building - this building is at Jalan Elizabeth II and is used by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs; Istan

What I discovered on Sunday

I am seriously tired. I haven't had my rest and I have been struggling to write my blogs over the last few days. I sometimes wished I could be like this kid in the photo. Just lie face down without a thought in the world. My apologies - the recent topics have been very contrived and not very flowing - I know, and yes, I am going through another bout of bloggers block. By the way, thank you to all for the comments and welcome to all the new readers (a record 1,080 visitors on 17th July 2006) that came my way the last few days. I do deliberately open up topics so that readers can challenge my views and come up with much better ideas and thinking. We, you and I won't be learning anything new otherwise. Yesterday was again a very tiring day. After watching the colourful presentations on the padang, I spent the whole morning walking around our capital with my colleagues while waiting for His Majesty to complete his rounds with the rakyat. We had santap at the Lapau at about 2pm befo

The SPA Interview

One of the scariest thing that young Bruneians face is the interview at the Public Service Commission or in Brunei speak known as Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam or better known as SPA. Get through the SPA interview, fortunes in the civil service awaits you. Or at least that is what's on the mind of everyone who applies for a job in the government service. It's been quite sometime since I last interviewed anyone at SPA. I used to do it when I was the Deputy Director about 10 years ago. The one thing I noticed is that most people who were being interviewed mostly seemed ill prepared for it - some were very prepared for the wrong thing. There is this perception that if you remember the full name of the Minister or the list of Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries or the Director of the department or the Ministry that you are trying to get into together with their full names and titles, you are going to get the job. Wrong! Our people selection system is not the best

Thankful to be in Brunei Darussalam

Someone asked me what the government actually subsidises in Brunei. Whoa. Major question that. Apparently this is as a result of two items in His Majesty's speech during the birthday when His Majesty noted the $176 million worth of fuel and gas subsidy and the continuation of government's welfare scheme especially in the areas of medical and health care. The major subsidies include (in order of my memory and not in order of anything):- (a) Subsidy in fuel meaning the fuel that you buy for your cars - diesel carries the higher subsidy and slightly lesser subsidies for the other types of fuel (so everytime you drive your 3000cc+ SUV with its superturbo and using diesel like water, think of how much subsidy is in your car); (b) Subsidy in LPG - that's the gas that you use for cooking; [(a) and (b) account for the $176 million per year] (c) Subsidy in electricity - two major forms of subsidies here, one is the cheaper than world price for the gas that is pumped and used by the

Some thoughts for the young Bruneians

July is that time of the year. Some of you have to make decisions on what it is that you want to do for your future life. Some are thinking about going to UK and Ozie being the two most common destinations. Some perhaps a little bit further such as the US, Canada or New Zealand. Some nearer such as Malaysia and Singapore and some just across the borders. For some, it is finishing time - to go home or to continue. Life is already so much fun abroad. Going home? Urrgh.... The pressures. Time to get someone, you are graduated already... time to you know... July is that time of the year. It happened to me in July about 20 years ago after attending the convocation ceremony and all that. Just for the record, I managed to get a 2nd Upper Joint Honours in Law and Economics and in July I was sitting down contemplating what to do with my life. I had by then been accepted into Lincoln's Inn to do my Bar and the Education Ministry then had already extended my scholarship for the duration of th

Monopoly Brunei Version

Over the last couple of weeks, my family's evening activity had been to play Monopoly. The month before it was Scrabble. The Monopoly set we have is a Disney version which my 6 year old chose simply because he liked the characters. The Monopoly is the same but there are slight variations. Instead of land title deeds, you get title deeds to Disney movies. For railway stations, they are replaced by Disney movies transportation such as Aladdin's Flying Carpet or Cruella's Limousine. And the utilities are pixie wands and star dust. The Chance and Community Chest cards are replaced by Magic Moment and Show Times cards. And of course the money bears the face of Scrooge McDuck. Other than those, everything else is the same including the prices and the taxes. I found it useful as it teaches my son how to count money and hopefully turned his attention towards being a milionaire or something or at the very least a financial planner. Last night, we did not play monopoly. Instead toget

Dirgahayu Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik

I was watching the news on RTB last night, partly because where my wife and I sat during the banquet for uniformed personnel the night before, we were smack in the direction of the camera and there was no way the camera could have missed us so I just wanted to see what I looked like on tv (not very pretty, I tell you) but partly because what I really wanted to watch was the segment where RTB news focused on a number of Bruneians giving greetings to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the occassion of His Majesty's birthday. All the viewers that were shown on tv all wanted to wish His Majesty's a Happy Birthday. But a lot of them sounded as if they did not know what the right greeting is or are afraid of making mistakes. So you hear a number of versions and you get confused as to what is the right way of greeting His Majesty on his birthday. So, what is the right way of greeting? I have asked that question myself and unfortunately I don't have

The Celebration Continues

By late morning yesterday, some are already wondering when is it that they will be getting the wonderful gift from our benevolent Sultan. All I can tell you is that Treasury Department is working flat out to ensure that every single increments will be in your pay packet by the August salary. However this also requires inputs from all the ministries and departments and because it is a computerised system the inputs must be in by the first week of August if we are to make it for the August salary. I have been told that 100% payment maybe a bit iffy, so the chances are, some payments will have to be made in September. In fact, some have also indicated that with September, the payments will be with the August and July arrears, so it may make for a better Hari Raya celebrations in October. We will cross that bridge when we get there. Before I forget, I have been asked to clarify that the increment for July will be made up of 17 days (15th July to 31st July). So don't expect a full month

The Birthday Gift from His Majesty

The gift by His Majesty during His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebration is one of the most memorable and most expensive in recent history. The revised salaries that everyone currently in the civil service will get in August will raise the salaries that everyone who is in service during the announcement, in division 5 cases, equivalent to working 9 years or for officers in division 2, equivalent to doing a Master's degree (2 increments). By the time I post this, PMO's Circulars 13/2006 and 14/2006 would have been issued and everyone by now would have known that His Majesty has granted 3 announcements during the Birthday Speech. The first is the accelerated salary increments, the second a revised pay structure for daily paid staff and the third a special increase for cost of living allowances. The biggest number of civil servants will be affected by the increase in the increments that each division will receive as follows:- Division 2 - 2 increments (on average raises between

Brunei Honours 2006

The Honours Award Ceremony by His Majesty during his 60th birthday was a solemn affair. By my calculation, this is the largest number of Datoship being awarded and I don't remember any previous group larger than this. The last one when more than 20 datoships were awarded was way back in 1987 when my father was one of the 22 DPMB recipients. All the Cabinet Ministers datoships have now been upgraded to first class as well as 2 deputy ministers. 26 new datoships were awarded and one of the more interesting figure to receive his datoship was Pehin Kapitan China Kornia Diraja Awang Lau Ah Kok more popularly known as Mr. Hua Ho. He enjoyed the ceremony so much that he posed for photographs after receiving the datoship at the back of the queue, luckily out of sight of His Majesty who was still awarding other datoships at the dais! On this occassion, everyone in and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the recent recipients

Brunei Code Breakers

Da Vinci Code Breakers. Break this code - div 1: 0; div 2: 2; div 3: 3; div 4: 6; div 5: 9.

The Palace Birthday Banquet

His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebrations started off with the usual parade at the Padang in the Capital. But his titah caught many people by surprise when he announced the accelerated increments for the current civil service, so come Monday when the circular officially comes out, everybody will know just how much they are getting, so I can't say anything until then. I will try to put up the official circular when it is officially released so that readers can read it. There are so many things to talk about but I have a special request to talk about the banquet feast that was laid out inside the main banquet hall. So together with about 300+ guests inside the main banquet hall, we were served in the lavish surrounding of the palace. Since this is the anniversary of my appointment, I had the benefit of experience and came well prepared. First of all, I have to admit that the quality of the food is first class and are designed by artisans who specialised in food designs. Even the c

Happy 60th Birthday Your Majesty!

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, is the 29th of his line, which dates back to the fourteenth century. Being the eldest son, he became Crown Prince in 1961 and ascended the Throne on 5th October 1967 following the voluntary abdication of his father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien. His Majesty the Sultan was crowned on 1st August 1968 in pomp and pageantry befitting Brunei's ancient customs and traditions. His Majesty was born on 15th July 1946 at the Istana (Palace) Darussalam in the capital, Brunei Town (now Bandar Seri Begawan). He received his early education in the form of private tuition at the Istana Darul Hana and attended top institutions in both Brunei and Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) before furthering his studies in the United Kingdom where he later qualified for admission as an officer cadet at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy and was commissio