Showing posts from March, 2010

Another View from Rio

One of the famous views of Rio de Janeiro, rather obvious as you can't miss it is what is called the Sugarloaf Mountain (in Portuguese, Pão de Açúcar). It is a peak situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 metres (1,299 ft) above the harbor, its name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. I am not sure how but I guess sugar in those days were kept in a mound. If you are a James Bond fan, you would remember this. Roger Moore fought against a character called Jaws played by Richard Kiel. Roger Moore with Dr Goodhead (can't remember what happened to her) were up the cable car at this Sugar Loaf when Jaws whose strong point was that his jaw and teeth are made out of steel bit the cable that held the cable car. That movie was called Moonraker, if you are interested in searching for it. Can't remember what year, my guess around the

Farewell from Rio de Janeiro

Farewell greetings from Rio de Janeiro! By the time you read this, I would hopefully be on the Air France flight from Rio to Paris. The flight coming in was not comfortable and I am dreading the flight back. But it was the only flight available to us. The other one I wanted to use was British Airways to London but the strikes forced us to use the alternative Air France flight. It is a 12 hour flight non stop. After that a three hour layover at Paris CDG Airport before connecting with the Singapore Airlines to Singapore. That's an A380, so not much complain there other than it is also another 12 hours non stop. It will arrive on Monday morning and I will be waiting 3 hours in Singapore before catching the RBA flight back to Brunei. That's about 27 hours total on three different aeroplanes and nine hours waiting time at four different airports. Something not to look forward to! Yesterday was our last day and it was the closing ceremony. The Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum

Affordable Housing

Greetings from the 5th World Urban Forum here in Rio de Janeiro. I was attending a talk on Affordable Housing when the Panel invited a representative of an NGO to present the NGO's views. I was quite intrigued as many of the NGO's representatives are all over the conference venues. The members were wearing green tee shirts which say 'Shack/Slum Dwellers International'. This group apparentlty even had a international song or rather international sound or probably better described as their 'war cry'. I can't even described it but it does sound African. The lady representing the NGO was very vocal, to say the least, and very passionate about her work. I guess she would have to be as SDI probably represented millions of people who lived in slums throughout the world. One of the thing that I pick up from her argument is that the poor can pay their own way - of course not to the level of the non-poor - but they are still able to pay their way. What was more import

The 5th World Urban Forum

Greetings from Brazil especially from the City of Rio de Janeiro, the January River. I guess not many knew that or bothered to know that. Apparently Guanabara Bay where the river flows to was found on 1st January 1502 by the Portuguese and hence the river was named January River and in Portuguese Rio de Janeiro. One thing I can tell you is that the city is a totally European city in the middle of South America which is not surprising. It even served as the capital of Portugal when Napoleon invaded Portugal and many Portuguese migrated to Rio and reestablished the capital here making it the most unusual of capital of a European country. It was not in Europe. What am I doing here? If you have been keeping track, I am here to attend this:- The 5th World Urban Forum organised by United Nations Habitat. The World Urban Forum is the largest gathering of policy makers and practitioners of planning and housing. It's held every two years. I attended the last one in Nanjing in 2008. The amou

Bruneian Postgraduate Symposium 2010

Greetings from the Copa Cabana Palace Hotel, Rio De Janeiro. But I am not going to write about that. I will write about last Saturday. Remember, last Saturday, I was here at this symposium. Right here at the Brunei Gallery at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. This is the view of the main entrance of the building. The unflattering sideview of the Brunei Gallery which unfortunately is what you see when you drive to the building from Russel Square. A picture is worth a thousand word. The following are several thousand words courtesy of Last words. At first I was not sure what to expect. But I thoroughly enjoyed the symposium. After listening to the presentations by the postgraduate students (one or two were way above my intelligence level), listening to the questions that they asked, things certainly augur well for Brunei. These are our young and bright future. I wish there were more of them. I wish there was more time to sit down properly and

A Day in London

We arrived yesterday at about 8 in the morning. I didn't sleep much on the plane and I know the whole day will just be one groggy day suffering from jet lag. I never liked long distance travel, luckily nowadays I only have to do the occasional odd one per year. But since we were in London, and my next appointment was with a British Library curator and the Organising committee, we decided to fit our schedule around the places we wanted to go. One of my officers who is undergoing a course at the Royal Institute of Public Administration suggested that we all have lunch here:- Not bad. Buffet at 9 pounds each. My first appointment was with Dr Gallop, the Head of Asia Pacific Collection at the British Library. We talked for a while about books and she gave me some very valuable materials. I have never been to the British Library but I was very impressed with what I saw: My last appointment was luckily at a restaurant for dinner. My body clock was telling me that this was 2 in the mornin

London Greetings

Greetings from London! What am I doing here? Just arrived this morning and the first thing was to unpack my laptop and check all the emails. Actually first thing was to find the cable which the hotel has cleverly hidden and with the help of the porter we searched the entire room only to find that my little room has another little room with a small study table with the internet connection. I must admit it's nice to be in London, the place hasn't changed much despite the many years I have not been here. The streets were just getting clogged up as we were coming in and the sirens are still as noisy as ever. The temperature not too bad, up in the teens. The weather knew I was coming. The airport has changed though. Arrived using Terminal 4 instead of 3. Less busy but then I was on the fast track lane with the high commission official helping us. I just checked into the hotel. The last time I came here was in my PMO days and that was in the height of winter. I was still the PA to th

A New Book?!

Last May when I brought out my book 'The Golden Warisan Volume 1', it was one of the defining achievements of my life. I have often wanted to have a book and to really have one with your name written on it, man.... You can't imagine the satisfaction. Volume 2 came out a couple of months later and I was as proud of it as I was with Volume 1, the satisfaction was not the same. The reality was whether there is actually a market out there. I printed only 500 books of Volume 1 and when I tried to sell the books through Best Eastern and Bismi bookshops, they only wanted to take 100 books each. I gave away or sold the others at my own special prices. A couple of months later, the two shops came back and asked for more. By then I only had a few copies left and I decided to do a second print of 500 copies. Up to now, I wonder about the sale. However the other day, Best Eastern asked for more copies. I looked through my house and discovered that I only had copies left. I am thinking

The Legislative Council - A Story

[Note: This short piece is extracted from my much longer article to be published in my column, The Golden Legacy in The Brunei Times this coming Monday about the history of the Brunei Legislative Council] The magnificent blue domed building overlooking down a hill situated at Jalan Kebangsaan in Berakas is certainly a sight to behold in Brunei Darussalam. The huge Legislative Council Building edifice represents the future of Brunei Darussalam. In it, members of the Legislative Council representing both the people and communities of Brunei and the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah debate issues of the utmost national importance. Many have come to view the building as a symbol of Brunei Darussalam’s progress. Many look forward to the Legislative Council meetings currently being held there where the honourable members representing the people asking questions not just related to their lives, their well being but of national interest. One remem

Is everybody really fine?

On the flight to Brisbane, I was sitting with my colleague. RBA was playing a movie starring Robert De Niro but since I didn't put headphone jacks into those little holes in the arm rest, I didn't know what the movice was about. I saw Drew Barrymore as well as Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale. I didn't give it much thought. On the flight back, that same movie was on. I decided with that many well known people it must be a nice movie. It was a movie which is a bit of a tear jerker. Robert De Niro stars as a father recently widowed and one who asked his two sons and two daughters to come home during the holidays. Not a single one did. He thought he would go out and invite everyone to come home for the upcoming Christmas. His doctor adviced against the trip very strongly. Robert took buses and trains depending on what's available just to see his children and leave personal invitations to each one of his kids. I personally found this moving and touching. This is what happen

Australia's TRS

For those who had been to Australia - have you heard of the TRS? As for me, I have been to Australia a few times in the past. Let me see, there was the 2007 APEC Finance Miinisters, 2005 Executive Development Program and the 2004 Stopover to Auckland. But not one of these times, have I heard the term TRS. Yesterday, we managed to stop by a small store specialising in animal skins called the Skin Thing. My colleague bought something and by the time he was done his shopping cost a fair bit. The manager said since you are spending this much, you can try to get the tax back. Similarly at another shop nearby specialising in opals. There we discovered that there is a TRS leaflet and the minimum spending is $300 per receipt. Back at the hotel, I read the leaflet through. I discovered the part about the bit about the products must be carried on board. But there was nothing in the leaflet about what to do with heavy or big items. In Singapore, there was a little customs post just before you che

The Cliff Hangers of Brisbane

My last day in Queensland and flying out tomorrow. We spent the whole day checking out the way planning is done for the various cities and towns of Queensland before returning just after 6. Anyway, after dinner, our driver took us to see an interesting sight over on the other side of Brisbane across the river called the Kangaroo Point. From there, one can see all the tall buildings in Brisbane Central Business District Area. What we did not realise was that while viewing the buildings, we found a group of students very busy untying ropes. We asked one of them, who happened to be a German transfer student about what the whole thing was. He told us it was the Queensland University of Technology students club called The Cliffhangers. I was wondering cliffhanging to what, when I realised that down the wall where I was standing was actually a cliff going down to the bank about several hundred feet high. I took this photo from the club's website and you can see the tall buildings of Bris

Have you not been updating bruneiresources blog?

I was asked what have I been doing when I was at Gold Coast City Council yesterday. A strange question that given that it was an Australian asking me. I have to admit that the last three months have been fairly hectic. This month March is the worst. I still have not bought a new PC ever since my motherboard gave up on me. So I am using my tiny Sony VAIO which a few years ago was what I thought a good buy. It would be if your hands are not giant size like me and your eyes are not the close to 50 year old eyes like mine. The other excuse of course is my workload. Anyway, where am I? I just been up to the City of Rockhampton in Central Queensland. It's a lovely little city (see photograph). What do you mean you don't know where Rockhampton is? It's a nice up and coming city and growing like crazy. Rockhampton is also a place like our Lakiun Camp in Tembuong, where the Singapore Army practices. I like the way they use the river as a water catchment and places a barrage over it.