Showing posts from February, 2011

Tales of Bananas, Dragons and Tigers

[My article below was published in Brunei Times on 13th December 2010] +++++ THE GOLDEN LEGACY The Tales of the Bananas, Dragons and Tigers by Rozan Yunos One of the most interesting facts about animals is that the entire Borneo Island of which Brunei currently occupies a small percentage has no tigers. No one knows why. And yet for a country without tigers, it is quite surprising to note that a few caves found in Brunei are said to be Sawang Harimau or Tiger’s Caves. It is indeed surprising that there are at least two caves in Brunei, one in Muara and one in Kilanas are known as Sawang Harimau. With names like that, one would expect to find that these caves were at least once used by tigers even if they are no longer used by tigers today. But then there were no tigers in Brunei, so why the name Tiger’s Caves? Bukit Tempayan Pisang in Muara housed one of these tiger’s caves. From the top of the 500 metre high hill, one can have a panoramic view of the beautiful beaches around Muara esp

The Value of Brunei Money

Many people asked me what is the best book to get if you collect paper money or coins? The answer to that depends on which country's money you are collecting. But if you are focused on collecting Brunei's currency, then the best book to buy is this one - the Standard Catalogue of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Coin and Paper Money. The catalogue is produced by a Mr Steven Tan and as you can see it is in its 19th edition. Steven is almost 73 years old today and had been in the business for the last 50 years. He is one of the most experienced person in today's numismatic world. If you happen to have the old Brunei money, the catalogue priced it as follows: 'Begawan Series' (uncirculated) $1 is now worth RM 160 $5 is RM 360 $10 is RM 450 $50 is RM 1,600 $100 is RM 2,200 'Hassanal Bolkiah 1st series' $1 is between RM20 to RM42 depending on the year of production $5 is RM 120 $10 is RM 175 $50 is RM 450 $100 is RM 800 to RM 1,200 $500 is RM 3,000 to RM 3,500 $1000 i

What His Majesty said for 27th National Day

Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim Alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen, Wabihee Nasta’eenu ‘Alaa Umuriddunyaa Waddeen, Wassalatu Wassalamu ‘Alaa Asyrafil Mursaleen, Sayyidina Muhammadin Wa’alaa Aalihee Wasahbihee Ajma’een, Waba’du. Semua perkara adalah berpunca daripada Allah. Nikmat daripada Allah dan musibah juga daripada Allah. Semua ini berlaku dengan hikmah dan sebab-sebab yang tersendiri. Kerana itu sayugia diingat, dalam apa pun perkara, kita jangan melupakan Allah, termasuk ketika menyambut dan merayakan ulang tahun Hari Kebangsaan. Tidakkah kita ingin mengimbas kembali detik bersejarah perisytiharan kemerdekaan, di mana kita telah membesarkan Allah di dalamnya? Kita telah pun sama-sama melafazkan ‘Allahu Akbar’, dengan tujuan, untuk mendapatkan restu Allah serta keberkatan dan pemeliharaan-Nya jua. Alhamdulillah, tujuan ini tercapai, dengan kemerdekaan yang telah berumur 27 tahun itu sedang membuahkan nikmat dalam bentuk pelbagai kemajuan di sem

11th Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution

The 11th Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting on Transboundary Haze Pollution which took place in Singapore agreed to continue to be vigilant and prepared for any occurrence of transboundary haze from fires during extended periods of dry weather in the coming months. Representing Brunei Darussalam at the meeting was the Minister of Development, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi. The Ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre's weather outlook of occasional periods of dry weather over the next two months. With the possibility of the prevailing La Nina weakening to neutral conditions in the second half of the year, drier weather may be expected during the coming traditional dry season between June and September 2011. The Ministers also expressed their appreciation to Indonesia for its enhanced and new efforts in implementing its Plan of Action in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution. Eight action prog

Greetings from Singapore

Greetings from Singapore. I am attending several meetings, the 11th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution, the 5th Brunei-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment as well as the 5th Brunei-Singapore Annual Exchange of Visits over the last three days. It ended at noon today and we will be flying back later tonight. We were lucky that on Thursday night, the Singapore organisers invited us to visit the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, you know the famous three tower hotel with a connecting plate on top. That connecting plate on top has an interesting swimming pool (see above) where you can see the entire Singapore. I am not sure whether I would like to swim in that pool. Being up there already gave me the jitters.

Houses and More Houses

I was presiding over the selection of houses last week for both the National Housing Scheme (RPN) and the Landless Scheme (STKRJ) for 160 houses at Rimba and Sungai Buloh. For most recipients this pengundian ceremony is the best as this is the time they actually get the keys to their houses. But of course the most memorable occasion would be when His Majesty hands them the plaque to commemorate the ceremony and for a lucky few, get their houses visited by the monarch himself. During this ceremony, we hold a drawing session where every applicant gets to draw which his house would be his in that area. Many bring their spouses and children and ask their children or their other half to draw on their behalf. A number would be shaking when they open their draw. Some might be lucky and get corner units or houses at the end of the road etc. There was one time when we all saw that one applicant would be getting a relatively larger area compared to the others because of the shape of the land and

Remembering Past Maulidur Rasul in Brunei

Maulidur Rasul celebrations in Brunei's past histories:

Brunei 1950s

I acquired about 10 or rather exactly 10 photographs from ebay recently. These black and white photographs were quite small and equivalent to today's 2R size. I had problems recognising several of them. Here are two I recognised. The first is a photograph of the Brunei Wharf and the second is the obvious Kampong Ayer and note the relatively calm waters of Kampong Ayer compared to the choppy waters of today.

Maulidur Rasul / Maulud Nabi

If you google on the internet, there are many arguments about the maulidur rasul or maulud nabi celebrations. I am not knowledgeable enough in Islamic theology to argue one way or another. Last year when I was researching the material on Maulud Nabi in Brunei, I came across another article written by Gabriel Haddad and published in Brunei Times about the history of the Maulud Nabi celebrations in Makkah many many years ago. With the upcoming Maulud Nabi celebrations, I thought I will reproduce what I wrote based on that article. (Photo: This is a very old photograph supposedly showing where the Prophet (S.A.W.) once lived.) One account written by Gabriel Haddad and published in the Brunei Times in 2008 was the following description by Ibn Jubayr (540-614) in his Rihla (“Travels”): “This blessed place (the Birthplace Mosque of the Prophet) is opened, and all men enter it to derive blessing from it (mutabarrikin bih) on every Monday of the month of Rabi al-Awwal, for on that day and in t

Pai Ti Kong

Last night was the Hokkiens' Pai Ti Kong. What is it? This is an excerpt from the Chinese New Year article which I wrote for Brunei Times 31st January 2011 edition and the photograph from a blog called who wrote about the same event in Penang in 2006:- This is the Pai Ti Kong celebrated by the Hokkien Chinese on the eve of the ninth day of the Chinese New Year. The prayers to the heavenly supreme deity Jade Emperor was said to have occurred because of one legend. Three different versions have been told. One version said to have occurred during the Song Dynasty, was during a time when the Mongolians attacked Southern China. Hokkien or Fujian Province was especially targeted where the Mongols wanted to kill all the inhabitants in the province during that time. It was a time of great fear. What was left of the tribe hid themselves in a sugarcane plantation in the hopes of being spared from the Mongols. It was on the ninth day of their hiding that the Mongolians

Lion Dance in Brunei

I wrote the following article for my column, The Golden Legacy which was published on Brunei Times on Monday, 7th February 2011. The Lion Dance in Brunei The only known description of how Chinese New Year was celebrated in Brunei Darussalam can be found in the book written by Peter Blundell entitled “City of Many Waters” which was published in 1923 in England. Peter Blundell wrote about Brunei Darussalam at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an engineer with the cutch factory in Brunei. Cutch then was the equivalent of today’s oil exports for Brunei Darussalam. In his dealings in Brunei, Peter Blundell came across all segments of the Brunei society. He wrote about them and was very honest about what he wrote about. About the Chinese New Year, Peter wrote “... the Chinese opens the New Year proceedings with processions in which dragons, serpents, devils and other creature figures. He lights paper lanterns, lets off fire-works, and pays great attent

Focus on Job Skills

The Oxford Business Group reported the following news. +++++ Brunei Darussalam: Focus on job skills Brunei Darussalam is planning to strengthen its technical and vocational education system by increasing the number of institutions providing training, expanding the range of courses on offer and establishing exchange programmes with neighbouring countries. Over the past decade, the base of Brunei Darussalam’s economy has become more diversified, with less dependence on energy production, both as a result of the state’s long-term policy of developing downstream industries in the hydrocarbons sector and via the reinforcing of non-oil-and-gas segments. Schemes such as the Brunei Methanol Company’s $450m production facility at Sungai Liang industrial park – which commenced production last year – along with other projects still in the pipeline, require trained personnel at all levels of their development, from the initial planning process through construction to the final operational stage. A

Brunei Hotel

I saw this photograph of the newly refurbished Brunei Hotel on Brunei Times today. If it is as grand as the report, then I hope Brunei Hotel would be able to attract the crowd to come back to it. After all, it is the only hotel that is in the middle of the city, as compared to Radisson, Terrace or Jubilee which are slightly off the city centre. Compare this to the original Brunei Hotel in this old postcard about 50 years ago:

Muara Town

I was editing my future third book last night adding photographs and correcting grammar etc, when I found this old photograph somewhere in my hard disk. This is Muara Town or Pekan Muara before the Port was built. That row of shophouses is still the same row of shophouses but the old filling station at the end is no longer there. I remembered the old Muara very well. Today's Muara with the port's concrete walls looked as if it is now cordoned off from the main activities.

A Short History of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei

I bought this book the other day from ebay for about US$8. It cost me another US$14 to get it over to Brunei. I don't mind paying for expensive books and expensive shipping if the book is worth it. This book unfortunately was not as exciting as I thought it would be. It does a decent enough job previewing the history of the three countries going as far back as the early history. The book did more of the Malaysian history, Melaka, Acheh, Johor etc but of Brunei, she only did it in passing. Mary Turnbull was at the University of Hong Kong when she wrote this book more than 30 years ago. The book was published in 1980, a few years before Brunei's independence. Its last words on Brunei were 'a question mark hung over its future as an independent unit'. I guess the 27th National Day marking the 27 years of independence of Brunei had removed that question mark.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I remembered when I was younger, it used to be Kong Hi Fat Choi. I wrote this article for the Chinese New Year and got it published last Monday (31st January 2011) on The Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times. I hope you enjoy reading it. +++++ The Practises and Taboos of the Chinese New Year In a few days time, it will be the most auspicious occasion for the Chinese community in Brunei and more than 1.3 billion Chinese around the world — the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by new-year visits to kins, relatives and friends. Everyone will be wearing new clothes to signify a new year and most in various shades of red. To the Chinese, the red colour is the emblem of joy, and symbolises virtue, truth and sincerity. Wearing red is not the only practice. There are many other practices and also taboos during the Chinese New Year. Almost all of the Chinese New Year’s practices are based on legends and stories that are told from