Showing posts from October, 2011

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,”

Retiring at Age 60

I saw this being forwarded round. I think it came from one of the Malaysian newspapers. It shows the scene of what a government office in Malaysia would look like with the retirement of civil servants at 60. Brunei has introduced the 60 year old retirement for government staff who are non pensionable starting last year. So we are beginning to see the same thing happening here in Brunei. When it was first announced, a number of people supported the idea that one can work up to 60. Though a number commented that there would be less entry for younger people to join the civil service. Personally I would like to retire at age 55 where it is at the moment for me. I for one am not looking forward to retire at age 60.

Magellan's Voyage

I acquired this book very recently from Those who do know Brunei history would know why this book is probably one of the most important that you would need to get hold of if you want to know more about Brunei History. This book entitled 'Magellan's Voyage' described how Magellan's expedition traveled around the world way back in 1519 to 1522.  Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer but served King Charles I of Spain to search for a westward route to the Spice Islands (today's Maluku Islands in Indonesia). His expedition of 1519 to 1522 became the first expedition to sail from Atlantic and then into the Pacific Ocean. The expedition was the first to circumnavigate the earth but unfortunately Magellan himself was killed in Mactan in the Philippines. However the most important man for Brunei was not Magellan. By the time the expedition reached Brunei, Magellan was already dead in Mactan. The most important man was Antonio Pigafetta. Antonio was

41st Anniversary of Bandar Ser i Begawan

[I wrote this article for the 4th October 2011 edition of The Brunei Times] +++++ It can be confusing to many people. The word Brunei appears in both the country as well as the district. Before 1970, it was more confusing. The word Brunei can be used not only for the country of Brunei and the district of Brunei but it was also for the capital city, Brunei Town or Bandar Brunei. The older folks know it as Pekan Brunei. This writer’s mother-in-law sometimes asked, “are you going to Brunei?” To which this writer was always tempted to answer, “we are already in Brunei” but this writer realised that she was referring to the capital city even though it has not been called Pekan Brunei for a long time. It is not known when Brunei Town officially used the name. However at the turn of the 20th century, Pekan Brunei was a city on water but it was not on today’s dry land. Peter Blundell in his 1923 book “City of Many Waters” who wrote about Brunei at the end of the 19th century

Good Bye!

It never is easy leaving any organisation. Leaving the Ministry of Development after 3 years 8 months and 8 days is as sad as any move that I have ever made in the past. In fact this afternoon, my officer asked me how many times I had moved. I said 12 not realising the 13th movement was just a couple of hours away. To all officers and staff at MOD, I had an enjoyable 3 years 8 months and 8 days. My time is up and it is time for someone else to take over. I wish everyone the best and hope that the bond of friendship will remain. +++++   Radio Television Brunei reported the following news on 5th October 2011: By command of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Prime Minister's Office hereby announces that His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to the transfers of several Perma

Medicinal Plants of Brunei

His Majesty's reminder of studying local products such as herbs could not have come at a better time.  There are many aspects of Brunei which we do not have the time to study. It is not just us actually. For instance, I read somewhere in the US that over there, there are many things which have not had adequate research. You probably can find one subject which you can study in depth and find that no one had been there. Time too plays a part. No one remembered what had been done in the past. My brother-in-law, Dr Yusof Mohiddin who was formerly the Director of Agriculture, before he retired showed me this book recently entitled "Medicinal Plants of Brunei Darussalam". This book was published eleven years ago in 2000. This book is a result of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) which funded a project entitled Development of Therapeutically and Biologically Important Substance from Plants. The short term objectives was to identify, document and collect all k