Thursday, December 31, 2009

Domestic Flight

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye 2009

Those days are long gone, but we will forever treasure our fond memories together.

Shopping Past Midnight

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bonus Day: All roads lead to ATMs

AS EARLY as dawn yesterday, queues had already formed at the front doors of ATM booths around the country as the sun rose to greet what Bruneians have come to call "Bonus Day", when civil servants receive their remunerative reward for a year of hard work and dedication to their profession.

Traffic jams plagued key commercial areas throughout the day, particularly in Serusop, Bandar Seri Begawan and Kiulap, causing minor gridlocks at some intersections and testing the patience of motorists in search of parking spaces at already full car parks.

An officer at the Fisheries Department who asked to be named only as Jafri said he had a hard time looking for a parking spot. He had to park two blocks away from the TAIB branch in Kiulap and walk, only to end up at the wrong end of a long line of people stretching all the way out of the building.

"I came all the way here from Muara as the ATM machines in my area were out of order. It was difficult to find a parking spot earlier and it didn't occur to me that Kiulap was going to be jammed," he said.

Asked what he will be spending his hard-earned bonus on, Jafri replied, "The new school term is just around the corner and, like every other year, my wife and I will prioritise buying books, stationery, uniforms and other school supplies for our four children."

Mohd Asri, a father of two, said that he had been waiting outside the bank since before it opened for business.

He explained that he chose to make his withdraw at the counter because the queue at the ATM spilled out all the way to the next shop unit.

He added that the ATMs had preset limits on the amount that could be withdrawn by the same person within 24 hours, and that since it was Bonus Day, he wanted to withdraw more.

"I promised my eldest son I would get him his first video game console as he had passed his PSR exams this year with flying colours," he said when asked what he was going to spend his bonus on.

"Other than that, I have some loans to settle, and the remaining will go into my emergency fund," he added.

Mohd Khairul, a security guard at the TAIB branch in Kiulap, said that he saw a long line of people even before the doors were open, and more people kept pouring in throughout the busy morning.

"It took less than two hours for our ticket counter to reach 200. On normal days we usually reach that figure at the end of the day," Mohd Khairul said.

He added that additional security guard was posted for the day to ensure the safety and smooth serving of customers. "So far everything is under control. Everyone is cooperating in queues," he said.

Some people were willing to spend more than an hour in the long queue, even in the hot sun, to withdraw their hard-earned money.

Fendi, who lives at Sungai Akar, came all the way to BIBD's Kiulap branch to withdraw his salary from the counter. He had been waiting for his number for almost an hour when he was interviewed by The Brunei Times.

"It is something we all expect. Whether people came early or late, they still have to wait in line. I prefer withdrawing from the counter instead of from the ATM because, in my past experience, the machines ran out of money too quickly," he said.

"Though I have to wait longer for the counter service, it's good for me as it keeps me from the temptation of entering figures on the machine higher than I really need."

Over the years, he has learned from past mistakes and learned to practise smart spending and budgeting, Fendi explained.

"I don't really owe anyone or the bank much and I'm always thrifty, so I will definitely be able to save more this year. I'm only going to spend some on basic necessities," he added.

"It is an unusual sight for me," said Dayanti, a fresh graduate who just started her career in the government early this year.

It was the first time in her life she had received a bonus, said the 25-year-old, adding that she became more and more anxious the longer she spent in the long queue for the Standard Chartered Bank ATM at Hua Ho Manggis Mall.

"The excitement is there as I'm about to receive my first bonus. Now, I finally understand the thrill experienced by my friends and family on Bonus Day," she said ecstatically.

"I've been advised by my parents for many years not to splurge my hard-earned pay, so I've decided to give both my parents half of my bonus as a way of giving back to them after all the sacrifices they've made in raising me and getting me to where I am now," she said.

However, she added, "Though a little treat wouldn't hurt. I know I've been working hard for the past few months, so I'm still going to use my money to go shopping, but I'm just going it to spend here in the country as I want to support the economy, too.

"Besides, new year is coming, doesn't that call for a little celebration?" she added.

A government teacher who declined to be named said that he saw all the cars heading to the banks and that traffic was congested, but that didn't stop him from coming for a quick withdrawal at BIBD headquarters' ATM.

"My obligations drove me to the bank today. Paying the bills and the car loan as well as spending for my children's new school year are what got me on my feet this morning.

"There is no time to lose. The school holiday is nearly over and we will be very busy by the time the new year kicks in," he said.

"I did enjoy the previous years when we received our salaries and our bonuses four days earlier, as it gave us more time to check bookshops for better offers and buy school items such as stationery for the children," he said.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Glowing Idol

Friday, December 25, 2009

One Way Street

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

US Ambassador hosts Christmas open house

US Ambassador to Brunei William E Todd (C) and his wife Ann Buckingham Todd (R) having a conversation with one of the guests, Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Brunei Mohamed JA Hashim during his Christmas open house at Kg Mulaut yesterday.

HOLIDAY spirits ran high as US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam William E Todd welcomed guests to his home in Kg Mulaut yesterday for his holiday open house.

Ambassador Todd and his wife, Ann Buckingham Todd, welcomed guests, who included Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Ahmad Hj Jumat, Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) Acting Chairman Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, Brunei Tourism Board CEO Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed and Pehin Kapitan Lela DiRaja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin.

Also attending the gathering were ambassadors and high commissioners of the diplomatic corps, government officials, business leaders and members of the American community living in Brunei.The Holiday Party and Open House is an annual tradition for the ambassador and his family and yesterday was the second time the event had been held.

In celebrating the holiday occasion, the ambassador's house was adorned with traditional holiday decorations, including a decorated Christmas tree with Todd family ornaments.

The function was held before the actual holidays as it was anticipated that most guests would be busy celebrating with their families during the coming weeks.

Guests were entertained by carolers from St Andrew's Church. As the choir sung Christmas carols, guests listened intently, embracing the holiday cheer in unity, bringing together harmony between the different faiths and beliefs.

"This is a special opportunity for my family to open up our home to our Brunei friends. I consider it a great honour to be the US Ambassador to Brunei, and I welcome the chance to give a little back to Brunei during the holiday season," said Ambassador Todd.

"My family and I look forward to continuing this annual tradition and spending another holiday season in Brunei," he added.

TAIB staff get fire marshal training

SOME 33 employees of the Brunei Islamic Trust Fund or Perbadanan Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei (TAIB) received certificates after completing their fire marshal training courses last month, which was aimed to educate participants on basic knowledge in handling emergency situations.

The fire marshals consisted of staff and officers from various departments and branches of Perbadanan TAIB that previously took a three-day course conducted by the Fire and Rescue Department at its headquarters in Berakas. The training was held from November 16-18 for the first batch and November 23-25 for the second batch.

The fire marshal training course was led by Station Officer Noorzali Apong from the Public Relations Unit of the Fire and Rescue Department.

The training included theoretical, practical and fitness aspects, where participants had basic physical training and briefing on fire prevention, proper use of different types of fire extinguishers, fire hydrant drills, building evacuation and victim rescue procedures.

"The training course was aimed at educating the participating officers and staff with the basic know-how in handling emergency situations," said Muhd Hisyamuddin Mahmud, one of the participants and assistant officer (Sales) of Perbadanan TAIB Delima Branch.

"This knowledge would come in useful should an unforeseen incident happen at work, and knowing the basic procedures can minimise the impact of damage and save lives."

He added that the fire marshal's role is to ensure that all officers and staff in the building are accounted for and the information collected will later be relayed to the senior marshall and reported to fire and rescue officers.

A participant of the fire marshal training course (R) receiving a certificate from TAIB acting managing director Pg Hj Abdul Rahman (L)

"The most challenging part in our training was going through the 'Dark Room', where we had to overcome our fear and panic," said participant Pg Mohd Nazid Pg Mohd Karim from the main branch.

"The training has been beneficial to the participating officers and staff as it has helped build our confidence and courage."

"Overall, it has been a fun and exciting training course and the extra valuable knowledge we gained can not only be used at work, but in other places as well such as at home."

"I personally feel that the toughest part in our training was carrying and rolling the heavy firehoses. We never thought it would weigh that heavy when we saw the firefighters carry them during their operations until we had a hands-on experience on them during our training last month," said Hj Mohd Yakkub Hj Tuah from the Administration section.

"I believe this training should be practised by every organisation, government or private, as it will help save lives and reduce casualties in the event of fire in the building," he added.

"This is the first time such training was provided to our officers and staff, and this is by far the most effective way of ensuring safety in our premises. Previously, all personnel were only briefed by the Fire and Rescue Department by visiting our offices," said Noraidah Mohd from Customer Service section.

"We want to ensure that at least two members of staff from all our branches in the country have this kind of safety training," she said, adding that safety is one of Perbadanan TAIB's priorities.

The certificate presentation was held yesterday at the Tarindak d'Seni Restaurant at the Brunei Arts & Handicrafts Training Centre.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hijrah a time for reflection, resolutions

The new Islamic year celebration was held yesterday by the Ministry of Communications (MinCom) and the departments under it.

The event was attended by Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong.

The highlight of the activity which was to reminisce the hijrah (migration) made by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a talk by Ustaz Hj Noralizam Hj Aliakbar, from Islamic Da'wah Centre.

"We can learn a lot from the Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which is still relevant today," he said.

"Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) hijrah along with his followers to the city of Medina was not because of fear of being tortured or killed by the enemies, but to uphold the religion."

There can be two agendas when performing hijrah, and that is either for Allah (SWT), or for personal gain. It was found that there were people who had other intentions contradicting with the true purpose of the historical event, such as marriage.

"Therefore, we need to have the right intentions when we migrate (hijrah). With the right intentions, Allah (SWT) will save the nation from any catastrophe. He said this coincides with this year's theme for the new Islamic year of 1431 Hijrah celebrations, Illahi Selamatkan Brunei Darussalam, which is a prayer to envoke the blessings from Allah (SWT) for the Sultanate to always remain a peaceful and prosperous nation.

He added that as a Muslim nation, we should always remember the Almighty and pray for His protection, guidance and blessings throughout our lives, and most importantly, always be grateful with the peace and prosperity which the country has enjoyed over the years.

"We need to be grateful of the luxuries that Allah has provided and in return obey His command and always be reminded of His presence thus bringing us closer to Allah (SWT)," he added.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Temburong comes alive with floral carnival parade

CITIZENS from Temburong District cheered enthusiastically as they witness for the first time, a float procession held in the streets of Pekan Bangar.

Organised by the Mukim Bangar Consultative Council, the Floral Carnival Parade was one of the programmes under the "Cuti-Cuti Temburong 2009", a four-week long holiday programme organised by the Temburong District Office that highlighted the cultural attractions of the district and aimed at attracting both domestic and foreign tourists.

People of all ages turned up as early as 8am to witness the floats procession which was held outside the Kompleks Utama Bumiputera in Pekan Bangar.

A total of six floats took part in the parade, of which five were from the densely populated Mukims in Temburong District: Mukim Bangar, Mukim Amo, Mukim Labu, Mukim Bokok and Mukim Batu Apoi, and one other float by the Temburong District Office.

The chairperson of the parade, Hamdan Hj Besar, who is also the Penghulu of Mukim Bangar said that the theme for the float procession was primarily on floral, to highlight the rich and colourful flowers in Temburong with the inclusion of "One Product One Village", where each mukim showcased their respective products designed on their floats.

He said that it was to coincide with the "Cuti-Cuti Temburong 2009" programme.

In addition, float participants were also entitled to compete for the best overall design.

The winning float was by Mukim Bokok which featured various plants and flowers unique to Mukim Bokok that were decorated around the vehicle, with the slogan "Cuti-Cuti Temburong" branded on its sides, a giant Sumpoi-Sumpoi plant crowned on top the float, and a mini-fountain nestled at its back.

The procession also saw Malay, Murut and Iban participants who walked along with the procession in their respective traditional attire.

Temburong Bikers with their motorbikes decorated with flowers, Long Bicycles and beca (three-wheelers) also caught the attention of the onlookers.

Present to witness the parade was the Temburong District Officer Matusin Orang Kaya Sura Hj Tuba. Also present were Dato Gulam Jalani Khanizaman, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Rural Development and Entrepreneurial Development, Sabah, Iman Ali, Papar District Officer as well as delegates from Papar, who were coincidentally in the district for a three-day visit.

"The teams that took part in the procession have shown a lot of hard work and creativity in making their floats as attractive as possible with the beautiful floral theme," said a committee member.

"We have plans to organise this yearly should there be an overwhelming public response, and increase the number of float participants for the next one," he added.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Reminds me of being in a Metal Gear Solid game for some reason.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Night Market

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wira, Videographer

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Teaser

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brunei joins the world with 'All You Need is Love'

LOCAL artists last night joined other performers from around the world as part of a global choir performing The Beatles' classic All You Need is Love live online at the same time as part of a massive charitable effort to aid The Global Fund in its fight against HIV/Aids in Africa.

Joining spirited voices at precisely 1.30pm GMT (9.30pm Brunei time) were local artists Hans Anwar, Fakhrul Razi and Putri Norizah of Phuturephase Production, Feez Madea and Juju of Projectunes Records, Fau P2F and A Band Once in an event that united individuals, communities and cultures through the universal language of music.

The artists, along with local production crew Megabond Productions, volunteered for the (RED) Love Project, set up three years ago by U2 singer Bono and Bobby Shriver.

Under the project, companies dedicated large portions of profits from particular (RED)-branded products to go towards The Global Fund.

The simultaneous global live-stream performance last night was organised by Starbucks, which in just one year has generated enough money through the project to buy more than seven million days of medicine to help those living with HIV in Africa.

The performance in Brunei was held at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Shopping Complex with Brunei's famous Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque as the backdrop.

The performance lasted five minutes, as the song was sung once, coinciding with performers around the world.

Billed as a historic technological breakthrough, the event received enormous worldwide media coverage and is expected to be written into the Guinness World Records.

Live feeds from the event were streamed to a central location where people in 200 countries were able to view the performance simultaneously.

"This first-ever global event will leverage state-of-the-art technology to stream the live feed of this performance on," said Sharifudin Hj Zainuddin, Megabond Productions' assistant producer.

"Anyone with access to a computer and video camera will have the opportunity to submit their own version of All You Need Is Love for the world to see and hear," he said.

"We need to educate the youngsters to connect globally, and not just locally, when doing something for a good cause such as this," said local artist Fakhrul Razi Ibrahim.

"Although we are a small country, we do make a huge impact. I believe that small things can actually make a great impact, especially when we do it in a community rather than just personally."

For every video submitted to the website, Starbucks will make a donation to the Global Fund.

Big in 2010

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good response to Shahbandar run

SOME 350 people took part in the 6th Bukit Shahbandar Challenge at Bukit Shahbandar Forest Reserve yesterday, an event aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of "urban forestry" amid the global agenda on climate change.

The challenge was jointly organised by the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) and the Brunei Sawmillers Association (BSA) in conjunction with the World Forestry Day 2009.

"Forests play a vital role in sustaining life in the country, reducing and stabilising the global temperature as well as providing the urban community with a healthier environment. It is therefore our role and responsibility to protect and look after it," said one of the working committee members, Ahmazey Ahmad, Head of Promotions Unit at the Forestry Department.

"This is one of the public-approach campaigns that will continue to be organised to attract more people of all ages to support the national forest conservation policy in achieving our goal to remind Bruneians of the importance of forests to the ecosystem," he added.

The event was intentionally held at Bukit Shahbandar in order to further promote the recreational park as one of the most popular ecotourism sites in the country, due to its beautiful and scenic view of the beach, heath and pine forests blended with the rugged terrains which are suitable for physical endurance activities such as jogging, jungle trekking and hiking.

A total of seven categories were competed, namely Category A (Male Open) designated for male runners; Category A (Amateur) for males aged between 15 and 35; Category B for males aged between 36 and 49; male veterans aged 50 years and above came under Category C while Category D was for female participants aged between 15 and 34 and Category E for females 35 years and above.

The final category is a new one called the Fun Run Category for children aged 14 and below.

"The Fun Run Category is a new addition to the challenge as we've had kids interested to participate in the previous challenges held early this year but we were unable to place them in a suitable category then," said Ahmazey.

"Due to public requests, we are proposing to include a category for senior citizens in future events, which is still under discussion," he added.

"We have seen a larger turn up of participants this time as we are also getting in interested foreigners from neighbouring countries such as Miri and Limbang," said Ahmazey.

Present as the guest of honour was the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar who also participated in the challenge under Category B.

Kick-starting the run was MIPR's Deputy Minister Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah Hj Abd Wahab. Also seen participating in the run was the Philippines Ambassador to Brunei, Alexander B Yano.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brunei, Thai relations withstand test of time

Minister of Development Pehin Dato Hj Abdullah (2nd L) and Thai Ambassador to Brunei Phithak Phrombubpha (2nd R) cutting the cake to commemorate King of Thailand's 82nd birthday, while their respective spouses, Datin Hjh Hasiah (L) and Prapassorn Phrombubpha (R), look on.

SINCE the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1983, Brunei and Thailand have enjoyed close and cordial relations, which have continued to be intensified over the years. These bonds of affinities have been strengthened and have so well withstood the test of time.

This was said by Phithak Phrombubpha, Ambassador of Thailand to Brunei, during a reception to mark His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand's 82nd birthday anniversary.

The celebration held at the Grand Ballroom of The Empire Hotel & Country Club last night, was an annual activity hosted by the Thailand Embassy since its establishment in the Sultanate in 1983.

The ambassador expresses hopes that Brunei Darussalam and Thailand will continue on the decades of diplomatic relationship between the two nations.

"Thailand stands firm in cooperation with Brunei in all areas for the mutual benefits of our two countries and people, as well as the peace, prosperity and security of our two region as a whole," said Phithak.

He went on to say that, with the support from the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, he looked forward to continue working to further strengthen the cordial bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation between the two nations in the years to come.

He also took the opportunity to convey his sincere best wishes for the continuing good health and happiness of His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Members of the Royal Family and the people of Brunei.

The Thai Ambassador expressed his sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for all who attended the gracious occasion to honour the Thai King, which also marked as the National Day of the Kingdom of Thailand.

"For the past 64 years on the throne, millions of Thais from all walks of life have witnessed and can attest to His Majesty the King's dedication to his people through all sorts of activities and initiatives that has endeared His Majesty to the hearts of Thais as a highly esteemed and caring monarch who tirelessly works for the continued well-being of his people," he said adding that the Thai monarch has provided leadership, inspiration, comfort and wisdom to all his people, reaching out to the poorest and the most vulnerable in Thailand, listening to their problems and finding practical solutions for them.

He went to say that King Bhumibol Adulyadej is he "Soul of the Nation" and always in the hearts and minds of the Thai people.

Present as guest of honour at the event was Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, who was accompanied by his wife, Datin Hjh Hasiah Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Setia Dato Paduka Hj Hashim. They were welcomed by the ambassador and his wife Prapassorn Phrombubpha.

Among those who attended the reception were selected members of various government agencies and foreign dignitaries.

Thailand and Brunei have enjoyed cordial relations which have progressed steadily at bilateral, regional, and international levels.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties on January 1, 1983, the two nations have cooperated in various areas such as in trade, education, air services, labour, defence and broadcasting.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

BIBD Booth at The Mall

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm Lost

Finding our way in Seoul was pretty tough, the map didn't really help.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Goodbye Korea


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Capital City

Seoul by day

Seoul by night

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Toy

Jeju Island

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