Showing posts from 2011

SMS Donations

Datin Adina, Acting Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports receiving contributions from donors through DST (Source: The Brunei Times) The other day, I was accompanying our MCYS Deputy Minister, Datin Adina who was then Acting Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports to receive contribution from donors through sms using DST and B-Mobile. DST subscribers contributed about $38,000 and B-Mobile subscribers contributed around $28,000. These donations will go to the Orphans Fund. Sms contributions is not new to Brunei. We first started using it for the Acheh Tsunami victims around 2004 and later on for the Orphans Fund. At that time the Orphans Fund received some $300,000 about 5 times more than what we received nowadays. Sms donations have been done so often that subscribers have been too inundated that the amount that can be collected has became much less. Lately it was the turn of the flood victims of Thailand and Cambodia. How do we increase the amount collected? These are all good c

New Nama Jalan

I remembered complaining about the lack of road names years before I joined MOD. When I was at MOD, the Jawatankuasa Kebangsaan Nama Geografi was just beginning its task in recommending for road names. Sometime last year MOD started labelling new names for roads outside Municipal areas and if you are paying attention, you will see names such as Jalan Utama Tungku, Jalan Utama Mentiri and the likes. Even for the new housing area in Panaga, the roads are named after birds, Jalan Kruak, Jalan Parak and etc. Even the road in front of the Istana Nurul Iman is now called Jalan Pengiran Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, the name is used for the stretch of road from the Edinburgh Bridge to the Telanai traffic light. Pretty soon we will have more new names for a number of roads mostly unnamed at the moment and you can probably guess where these roads are: Jalan Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah Jalan Permaisuara Jalan Jame Asr Jalan Industri Beribi Jalan Stadium Jalan Dewan Majlis Jala

Brunei Heart of Borneo

During the 8th Heart of Borneo Council Meeting, His Royal Highness Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince as the Royal Patron of the Brunei Heart of Borneo graced the meeting and listened to the briefings on the works of the Heart of Borneo. Before the meeting, he was presented with a book entitled "Brunei Heart of Borneo: Its Journey". The book was published by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources with help from Brunei Shell and the Forestry Department. The book contained the history of the Heart of Borneo and everything you ever need to know about the HoB including its strategies, its challenges and where it wants to go.  It also contained a list of endemic plants of Brunei. These plants are only available in Brunei Darussalam and cannot be found or not much can be found elsewhere. It shows how unique Brunei can be. I am not sure whether the book is for sale. However it does inside the covers that if you want copies of the book, the person to write to

The Royal Regalia Coffee Table Book

When I was first posted to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, my first thoughts were that this would be an interesting ministry to work in especially given my interests. This has proven to be true. Recently I was asked to be the Guest of Honour for the launching of the book marking the 15th anniversary of the Royal Regalia building at the where else but the Royal Regalia Building itself. It was sometime ago in 2009, that the Museums Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the publishing of a book entitled Coffee Table Book: The Royal Regalia of Brunei Darussalam. The book is aimed towards increasing interest and appreciation for the country's Royal Family history and to promote the Royal Regalia as a tourist attraction and provide visitors with a souvenir to generate more international interest in Brunei. More than 100,000 visitors visit the Royal Regalia Building every year. This initiative was undertaken by the Museums Department in collaboration wit

Remember, Remember, the 8th of December

[This is an updated entry of an earlier entry I made in 2009. The entry was as relevant then as it is now.] Exactly 49 years ago today, some people thought they heard fireworks. They were wondering why fireworks? Thy did not know that it was not fireworks that they heard. It was the sound of small arms fire. A group of people decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands. Ask many people who had gone through those era and you will get many tales which you don't or even expect to hear today. I was not born yet. I was a two month old fetus in those days. My father was an Administrative Officer Cadet at the Belait District Office. My mother told me that she and my father had to sleep on the floor in case any stray bullet went through their wooden government quarters in Kuala Belait. One uncle told me that he was almost shot at by another uncle when he as members of the armed guards of BSP went to the Panaga Police Station to take refuge. The police shot at them b

Nanjing, Bandar Seri Begawan's Twin City

[Brunei Times asked me to write an article about Nanjing becoming Bandar Seri Begawan's twin city and it was supposed to be published on 21st November 2011. I could not meet that deadline as I was coming back from Bali together with His Majesty's entourage after attending the ASEAN Summit. The article was published a week later on 28th November 2011.] +++++ Nanjing, Bandar Seri Begawan's Twin City What do these cities have in common with Bandar Seri Begawan? Alsace in France, Barranquilla in Colombia, Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Bloemfontein in South Africa, Daejeon in South Korea, Dallas in the Unites States, Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Florence in Italy, Hauts-de-Seine in France, Leipzig in Germany, Limassol in Cyprus, London in Ontario, Canada, Malacca in Malaysia, Mexicali in Mexico, Nagoya in Japan, Perth in Australia, St Louis in the United States and finally Sunderland in United Kingdom. Nanjing Waterfront photo from These cities and B


My brother called me up and said that I had a wide smile when His Majesty was talking to me. So I had to search and found this picture. It was during the Santap at the end of the Majlis Penyerahan Rumah-Rumah Sungai Buloh last Wednesday. His Majesty said that now that I am in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, I have to start running and do sports! For those wondering about the infrequent posting latley, let me just say that so many things had been happening over the last two months - highs and lows and in-betweens. My beloved aunty, Hajah Armah binti Haji Mohd Hussein, who has been like a second mother to all of us, her nephews and nieces passed away a month ago. I saw her before I went off to Beijing to attend an International Conference on Women and Sustainable Development and on the day I came back, she was in her final stages. We pray that the Al-Mighty will place her amongst the chosen ones. So, it was with sad heart when I had to fly off again a few d

Brunei Flying High

[The Oxford Business Group on 14th November 2011 reported the following news.] +++++ Brunei Darassalam: Flying high Brunei Darassalam’s skies are set to get more crowded and its international airport busier, with an increasing number of airlines looking to serve routes to the Sultanate and the country’s own flag carrier positioning itself to maximise returns by sharpening its focus on the regional market. Having built up an enviable reputation for quality and service since being founded in 1974, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) has encountered some difficulties in recent years, coming under increased pressure on some of its more lucrative long-haul routes and seeing lower returns on some of its less frequented runs. In particular, soaring fuel costs have reduced the airline’s earnings, prompting a review of operational practices and routes earlier this year, after which it was decided that RBA would cut a number of its well-established routes – including to Auckland, Brisbane and Ho C

New Bridges in Brunei?

[The Oxford Business Group reported the following news on 7th November 2011.] +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Building bridges Brunei Darussalam’s construction sector is set to benefit from a number of new infrastructure projects coming off the drawing board in the next year, two of which will have particular significance for the Sultanate’s domestic economy and integration with its neighbours. On September 13, officials from the Sultanate and Malaysia signed a series of agreements that laid out the terms and conditions for the construction of a bridge spanning the Pandaruan River, which forms part of Brunei Darussalam’s border with Sarawak, Malaysia. Though the river is just 20 metres wide, those travelling between Temburong and the Limbang district of Sarawak must use a ferry service with limited capacity, which causes long delays during peak hours. The joint committee established to oversee the project should be calling tenders for the construction in December, with five contr

Hari Raya Aidil Adha and Past Practices

[I first wrote about Hari Raya Aidil Adha way back in 2008. I thought I will rewrite it with fresh material and published it in my Golden Legacy column on The Brunei Times edition 7th November 2011.] +++++ EID UL Adha (Aidil Adha) is Hari Raya Haji to Bruneians. Moon sighting at various locations in Brunei would be held at the end of Zulkaedah to determine when the beginning of Zulhijjah would be and hence would also affect when Aidil Adha will be celebrated in Brunei. In the past the moon sighting for Zulhijjah was not practiced and Zulhijjah was determined using hisab or calculation. However the Aidil Adha celebrations in Brunei are not widespread compared to Eid ul Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to mark the end of the Ramadhan fasting month. Aidil Adha celebrations in Brunei are rather muted compared to most other Muslim countries. Nowadays, after the Aidil Adha prayers at the mosque, many do not do anything. In most other Muslim countries, the Aidil Adha celebrations would be

Hari Raya Korban

It has been a while since I last showed Cuboiart's cartoon. Cuboiart is probably the single Bruneian I do know that can make this caricature come to life. The subtlety of his drawing is just unprecedented. This one depicts the Hari Raya korban. The one he did for Thursday's is even hilarious. Catch cuboiart on .

Ketupat Basing at the Empire

This was sold by a village in Tutong. For those wondering what this is, this is ketupat made in the shape of a squirrel or tupai in standard Malay or basing in Brunei Malay. There are a number of sellers selling their village's products currently at Level 4 at the Empire Hotel outside the Indera Kayangan Ballroom. They were invited to do that as a showcase to how they can help transform their lives. The ASEAN Meeting currently taking place inside the ballroom is the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication. Currently the Senior Officials are still meeting. The Ministers will meet tomorrow after the opening ceremony done by the Crown Prince. I was searching for this ketupat when I did my article on the history of ketupat. I knew this kind of ketupat existed. I wrote this paragraph for my article  Ketupat is also used as a religious offering for some of the indigenous races. Elderly Dusun people called it "tebuu". However the ketupat

Brunei: End of 16th Century

[I wrote the following article for my Golden Legacy column on Brunei's national newspaper The Brunei Times published this morning.] +++++ Brunei: End of 16th Century IN the Brunei Museum Journal of 1986 was an article written by John S Carroll entitled "Francisco de Sande's Invasion of Brunei in 1578: An Anonymous Spanish Account". The article is quite intriguing as it highlighted one particular documentation which also described the Castille War. The Castille War was the war between the Spanish from Manila and Brunei. Brunei's Golden Age continued after the death of Sultan Bolkiah in 1524. Sultan Abdul Kahar was also able to increased Brunei's territories which included the whole of Borneo, Palawan, Sulu, Balayan, Mindoro, Bonbon, Balabak, Balambangan, Bangi, Mantanai and Luzon. With the Brunei traders, Islam spread far including to the southern Philippines islands and Brunei was recognised as a centre of Islamic propagation. This was widely ackn

Selamat Pengantin Baru!

My cousin, Didi got married last Friday. I thought this was the best photo that I have seen of any family getting married with my Uncle and my Aunty and all Didi's sisters also in the picture doing all their free posing. It's very nice to see marriages start with a very positive note.

Brunei Oil Plans

[The Oxford Business Group reported the following report on Brunei on 29th October 2011.] +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Plans on paper With a radical overhaul of its energy sector planned, Brunei Darussalam is looking to ramp up production at the wellhead while expanding downstream activities through a long-term programme that is intended to quadruple national revenue and boost employment. On September 21, the Sultanate unveiled the outline of its first ever Energy White Paper, which will serve as the blueprint for the oil and gas sector in the coming two decades and beyond. Under the programme, key points of which were made public at the Brunei Energy Expo 2011, the country’s GDP is set to increase from the current $12.6bn per annum to $50.6bn, with the energy sector’s contribution to rise from $3.9bn to $35.5bn. To achieve this, Brunei Darussalam aims to increase production to 800,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of oil and gas production, up from the present figure of around

Brunei's First Social Media Conference: We are not Robots!

[Emmagoodegg wrote in her column (published on 23 October 2011 on Brunei Times) and her blog the following article on the recent Social Media Conference which I helped moderate one of the sessions. My apologies to emmagoodegg and to my favourite artist cuboiart for uploading their article here and to candidsyndrome for borrowing his photographs.] +++++ Brunei held its first ever social media conference on Friday this week. The seed was planted last October at the Borneo Colours event in Sabah specifically for Borneo online geeks where several Brunei online folks attended. Thereafter some of us from Brunei's online universe wanted to jump on the bandwagon of having our own social media conference; conferences the world has already seen many times over. What would be our angle we all wondered? It has all been said and done before. Unless you've been living underneath an unconnected rock, we all know that social media is not a new thing. It is a widely accepted fact base

Brunei Malays Outside Brunei

[My article below was published in my column, The Golden Legacy in The Brunei Times on 24th October 2011.] +++++ “Brunei Malays outside Brunei” At the recent Second Borneo History Seminar held recently at the International Convention Centre in Berakas, there were a number of international participants among the local participants. Some were from as far away as Pahang and some as near as Labuan and Beaufort in Sabah. However they all had one thing in common. Their ancestors were all from Brunei. According to an unverified source, the total number of Melayu Brunei or Brunei Malays outside Brunei exceeded some 400,000. If this was true, the Brunei Malay as a grouping outside Brunei is indeed a large group and can wield some form of influence if that can be utilized or exploited. These people who are now outside Brunei clearly practiced Bruneian culture and tradition. So, sometime in the past, a number of Bruneians must have left Brunei and had families outside Brunei and continued

Brunei: Well placed to compete

[The Oxford Business Group on 22nd October 2011 reported the following article.] +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Well Placed to Compete Brunei Darussalam’s economy has maintained its competitive edge over the past year, according to a recent report, putting in a solid performance in difficult times as the world struggles to rebound from recession. However, the study also identified a number of key areas where the Sultanate needs to step up if it is to further improve its rankings. In its latest Global Competitiveness Report, issued September 7th, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Brunei Darussalam 28th out of the 142 countries covered in its annual study. It received the same spot last year, though it is worth noting three more nations were added to the list in 2011. The annual report, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of world economies based on 12 criteria, ranked the Sultanate highly in several categories, including labour market efficiency, education system quality

Second Borneo History Seminar

The second Borneo History Seminar drew to a close yesterday. In terms of participants, this is probably one of the ones which drew a huge crowd of international participants. The Seminar actually is the culmination of a History Centre's activity Jejak Kesultanan Brunei. In Jejak Kesultanan Brunei, History Centre's teams went out in search of Bruneians and Brunei origins outside Brunei. So their teams went to interesting areas such as Bolongan, Soemporna in Sabah, Pahang and other places where these areas are populated by Bruneians or Brunei origins. These people were invited to present papers in a Seminar and this Seminar is that seminar. There were so many papers being presented that their sessions had to be done in parallel. And if your interest is multiple then it is difficult to go to all of them. This book which is compiled before the seminar took place covered about half of all the papers being presented during the seminar. These papers are the ones received much ea

Boosting Brunei's Health

[The Oxford Business Group reported the following news about Brunei on 20th October 2011.] +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Boosting the Nation's Health Faced with a steady increase in the incidence of diabetes, Brunei Darussalam’s health officials are stepping up efforts to counter the illness by boosting awareness programmes, deploying more treatment facilities and even debating a proposal that could place the Sultanate at the forefront of international research to combat the disease. Following heart disease and cancer, diabetes is the most common cause of death among Bruneians, with some estimates claiming that up to 25% of the population have either been diagnosed with the disease or found to be impaired glucose tolerant, meaning they are in the pre-diabetes stage. This percentage translates to 90,000 or more people, a number that is steadily rising as the mean age of those suffering from diabetes is falling. Local health authorities have warned that there has been a steep in

Brunei Darussalam: Innovation in ICT

[The Oxford Business Group had this report on Brunei. It was published on their website on 17 October 2011.] +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Innovation in ICT Brunei Darussalam’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector has been given a significant boost with the launch of a new programme that will provide budding entrepreneurs in the field with access to funding, technical support and mentoring, and help meet the objective of developing the Sultanate into a knowledge-based economy. Mobile phone operator DST announced in July that it was setting up a fund to provide seed equity for ICT entrepreneurs. With an initial capital of BN$150,000 ($122,951), the Future Fund is the first step of a strategy to accelerate the growth of the ICT industry in Brunei Darussalam, said DST’s CEO, Idris T Vasi. “This is one initiative, but based on discussions with various partners in the country, we expect to develop other programmes where DST can spark more growth in the ICT industry,”