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Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 21:43

Chom Hassalblad Editor's Note: We are happy to bring you a Q n' A with Zairy, owner of Uneek Skateshop. The Uneek Skateshop is a skater owned and operated skateshop in The Souq of The Airport Mall. Be sure to drop by the next time you're at The Souq, and do check out their Facebook page.

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Zairy Izhan b. Hj Ibrahim. I'm turning 40 this year. I am father of two children and I'm the owner of Uneek Skateshop.

When did your interest for skateboarding begin?
It was in the 80's when I watched this tv show, where there is a group of skateboarding team they called themselves the Bones Brigade (Lance Mountain, Mike Mcgill, Tommy Guerrero and others). I was amazed at how they could make their boards stick to their feet when they do tricks like an ollie (i.e. a jump on a skateboard). From there I bought my own skateboard from a department store and started skateboarding, learning tricks and until today, I'm still skateboarding.

Tell us about Uneek Skateshop.
We started in 2001 at Kiulap and now we have moved to a new location at The Airport Mall (The Souq). This year happens to be our 15 years of anniversary. Thank you to everyone that has been supporting us since the very beginning.

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How has the local skate scene grown through the years?
Yeah, more people have started skateboarding throughout the years - boys and girls. I'm very happy to see the scene is growing with new faces coming to shop to get their skateboards and go to skate together at the park. It's good to see their will and passion to learn. I hope this will keep going for the years to come.

What is your goal with the shop?
Our goals are to cater to the skateboarders here with the best quality brands and to support the skate community here. We also have been branding our own shop brand including tees, caps and hopefully this year we will have our own skateboard deck. Uneek Skateshop is not just a shop, to me it's a place for the skate community in Brunei, where strong bonds between skaters are formed.

You select the brands and products that comes into the store. What do you look for in a product before bringing it in?
Most of the brands that we bring in are big brands from the US and some are requested by our customers.

Are there events hosted for the local skaters?
We've done a few small events for the locals here. For example, there was the GO SKATEBOARDING DAY on 21 June 2016. Check out our IG for updates on future events.

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What would you like to see for the future local skate scene?
I hope the local skate scene here will continue to grow. With more good skate parks built, more skate competitions organised and even more local skateboarders representing Brunei at international skate events.

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Friday, 17 June 2016 13:29

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FYI folks! Check out this Ramadan promotion from Escapee Brunei:

"Ramadan kareem to all our players! For our first season rooms (Circus, Maze and Mad House), you will only have to pay $12 per player! For our second season rooms (Ryokan49 and The Laboratory), you will only have to pay $15 per player!

Take note that for Ramadan, we've extended the hours a little from 12pm until midnight! Come play after Tarawih prayers and terus sahur afterwards. So for those who have yet to try, here's your chance to play and give us a call at 725 2206 to make reservations."

Saturday, 04 June 2016 22:25

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Editor's Note: I remember weekends back in the 90's. I grew up in Kuala Belait, and with most of the extended family based in the Muara district (or "Bandar" as we KB folks would say), many of my weekends were spent in Bandar. I hung out with my cousins, I ate at Thien Thien, and I would  visit comic book shops - where a lot of my allowance was spent. As such, it would be absolutely accurate to say that I have a soft spot for comic book shops. On that note, it is with great pleasure that we feature Fanboys Infinite (FI) in this post. Check them out for all your comic, collectible and other pop culture related needs. Let's get to know Khairul Sabir (KA) and Haslan Haji Ali (HA) from FI.

When did your interest for comics begin?
KA: My earliest memories of comic books were my exposure to superheroes as a four year old. The first superhero I remember seeing was Adam West's Batman on TV, that show, along with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES from the Nineties created a lasting impact. Characters like Spider-Man, X-Men and especially Superman were a childhood mainstay. Shortly after I was exposed to comic books, but I didn't fully commit until I was about fifteen years old. I used to save my lunch money every day just so to be able to buy some comics from Bluestone, a now-defunct comic book store that used to be located in the Gadong area.

HA: For myself, it started back in the mid-Seventies (in London where I was raised)  also with the BATMAN classic TV show that was being shown in syndication on British TV, which led me to buying my first comic books, namely JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 #100 (“The Unknown Soldier of Victory”) and DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 1 #457 (“There Is No Hope In Crime Alley!”). And, thus, began my decades-long fascination with books in general and comic books in particular.

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How has it developed throughout the years?
KA: In recent years, I have been more interested in the graphic novel medium, comprised of stories which tend to be more philosophically challenging and cover more mature ground. There are stories that are commentaries on real-world issues and character-driven arcs that are not just about punches being thrown, but also contain life lessons behind every page.

HA: I feel that the very first JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA comic book I ever bought had played a definitive role in my fascination with the Golden Age of comics as well as challenging myself to figure out new and interesting ways of telling a story, which helps, being an amateur writer and all. As such, although I do read the newer stuff, I prefer immersing myself with stories published during the Eighties as it was around this time that comic book stories really started to mature and was no longer just for kids in general. Case in point, the release of both BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the mid-Eighties led to the grim and gritty style of storytelling that has taken decades to undo and whose influence can be felt in recent live action films in general and DC live action films in particular, none more so apparent than in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
Share with us some of your favourites.
KA: My top three comic runs of all time and in no particular order are: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING by Alan Moore et al; GREEN LANTERN by Geoff Johns et al; and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

HA: I will read anything written by Alan Moore, David Mack, Grant Morrison, J. M. DeMatteis, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Kevin Maguire, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas, and Warren Ellis. I also have a very soft spot for Jack Kirby’s plethora of work with both Marvel Comics from the Sixties and DC Comics from the Seventies, and especially Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s seminal work on DC Comic’s DOOM PATROL. Art-wise, I simply adore the works of Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean, David Mack, Frank Quitely, Kevin Maguire, and Richard Case, just to name a few. My top three favourites are ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek et al, DOOM PATROL by Grant Morrison et al, and PLANETARY by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.

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Tell us about Fanboys Infinite.
KA: Fanboys Infinite was officially established on 8th September 2012, and was born out of the need for a comic book specialty store in the country. It initially started as a collectibles store, but pivoted towards a comic book store that also carried collectibles.

HA: I only joined the company a year later after its official establishment, and a week after I left my previous company where I had been under their employ for more than twenty years. It was a timely decision as we were able to focus more on achieving our corporate objectives, and led to our meteoric expansion from our old premises to a newer and larger one the following year after I had joined. That allowed us to better cater to our ever-growing customer base by increasing our inventory as well as hosting annual in-store events like “Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)” and “Re:Boot Camp”, both of which are annual pro-reading initiatives that we have organised over the years. Recently, we have been participating in a lot of pop-up events like the recent “Collectibles Conclave v. Books @ The Souq” event. Such events allow us to inculcate public awareness that we are here to fulfill their comic book, collectible and pop culture needs. Additionally, we have also tied up with local and foreign business affiliates in order to incite and fuel a resurgent collecting community to reach newer heights.

How has the response been for Fanboys Infinite?
FI: Response towards Fanboys Infinite is reflective of an ever-changing market mindset - as more people get into comics, we sell more of those. In comparison, the collectibles market is too vast for people to keep up with. 

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How is the present community in the local scene?
FI: Our core business are our members and loyal patrons. They are always the first movers in supporting all our events and whatnot, be it movie premieres or in-store functions. That is why we believe that building and sustaining a collecting community is paramount to the company’s continuous success.

Any special shoutouts?
FI: Fanboys Infinite would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who have supported us from the beginning. We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that your respective comic, collectible and pop culture needs are met in a more efficient, effective and economical manner.

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Saturday, 07 May 2016 21:28

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Editor's Note: In this feature, we chat with Mark Jay from GTXperiment. He has Brunei roots, enjoys movies, working out, video games, and when he isn't studying, he can be found in the studio with the band. Follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook, and check them out on YouTube.

When and why did you start playing drums?

I started playing the drums about 12 years ago. Why? Don't really have the answer, I just really liked it when I picked it up as a hobby and as I got older it grew in me.

Who is your favourite band?
Can't choose one...I have too many haha. E.g. 30STM, The Used, Paramore, Justin Timberlake and Coldplay.

Who are your current musical influences?
Current musical influences now would be Imagine Dragons, Darren Ashley and Tori Kelly.

Who is GTXperiment?
GTXperiment is made out of four people. We are a KL based band who like to bend rules and infuse genres. There's Daryll, frontman of the band and main singer. Jude, guitars, back up vocals. Clinton on keyboard, and also back up vocals. Then there's me. I play the drums.

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Tell us about some highlights from your musical journey so far.

We had quite a lot of gigs since last year. The most recent one was opening for Sam Willows on March 5th. We did a few charity gigs too. But the biggest gig we had so far was opening for Girls Generation in the  F1 after party in Sepang 2015.

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Is GTXperiment currently involved in any projects?
Yes we are, we are currently working with Coleman malaysia to make a 360 music video in Malaysia. Really excited for its release. And also we have our own project which is our first album, it is still under production, it's half way there, most probably done by end of July.

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What is the music scene like in Kuala Lumpur compared to Brunei?
Well, there is a huge difference and to be fair Malaysia music scene started out much much earlier than Brunei and they had more exposure then and even now. Brunei music scene is really small and there isn't much exposure for the local musicians in Brunei which is sad because there are talented musicians in Brunei, but they don't really have a place to showcase their talent, sometimes they do but its limited.

Is there something you'd like to do more of in the future?
Defiantly touring. Always wanted to go for a tour as a band haha. And of course write more songs and enjoy what I do!


Friday, 29 April 2016 09:23

Press Release: Curtin graduates should be proud of graduating from a top university, says Vice-Chancellor.

Miri – 28 April 2016 – All graduates of Curtin University should take pride in graduating from a university that is recognised as being among the top two percent in the world, having progressed more rapidly in major international rankings than any other Australian institution in recent years.

This was highlighted by Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University, Professor Deborah Terry, when addressing the graduating classes of 2015 from the Faculty of Business and Humanities and Faculty of Engineering and Science of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) here recently.

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Curtin Sarawak is Curtin University’s largest international campus offering Curtin courses and degrees identical to those of its Australian parent. It further provides an undifferentiated student learning experience and Curtin’s strong student learning support mechanisms.

Professor Terry added that Curtin University’s recent achievements have been many, including Australian federal government approval of the Curtin Medical School; launch of Cisco’s Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, only the eighth such centre in the world; membership of edX, the prestigious global consortium of universities established by Harvard and MIT to deliver online courses to students all over the world; and major new partnerships to enhance students and research opportunities with Hockey Malaysia and Jimmy Choo.

She also commended Curtin Sarawak for some of its recent achievements, such as the establishment of the Curtin Sarawak Graduate School to advance postgraduate education; being the first foreign branch campus to host the National Engineering Symposium and the first institution in Malaysia to host the Global Communication Project involving 15 universities worldwide; and the establishment if strategic partnerships with the National Sports Institute, Sarawak Energy and the Sarawak Agriculture Department.

She went on to say that Curtin’s reputation benefits hugely not only from the reputation and profile of Curtin Sarawak but also from the achievements of its graduates, citing the examples of graduates mass communication graduates Keeshaanan Sundaresan and Renee Loretta Foong, and mechanical engineering graduate Chukuwuma Menakaya and chemical engineering graduates Lee Ren Jie, Lim Shih Chiang, Sam Tze Mun and Loo Ying Ting.

Keeshaanan has been active in the world of sports writing since 2011 and is now Chief Editor of the sports news website while Foong is a newscaster for Radio Television Malaysia.

Chukuwuma now works in New York where he is a global affairs researcher for the Peace Island Institute and the United Nations, while Lee, Lim, Sam and Loo were winners of the international Honeywell UniSim Design Challenge, a first for a Malaysian team.

Commenting on Curtin’s role in Malaysia, Professor Terry said she was very proud that the university’s mission to produce graduates of global calibre aligns closely with the country’s aspirations to build a skilled and educated workforce in order to support economic growth.  

She added that in Sarawak, its courses, research and campus community work help to build the social and economic fabric of the state, including helping to meet the manpower and technical requirements of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Professor Terry also said that as the graduates make their way out of university life, they are in esteemed company, joining nearly 210,000 Curtin graduates from more 165 different countries in Curtin’s diverse alumni network.

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About the Editor

new about me profI am a born and bred Bruneian who lived and worked in Australia for over 10 years. I am now based in Brunei. Having spent time away from Brunei, I have learnt that, to know a country is to know the people. To truly appreciate a new place is to see it through their eyes, to listen to their stories, to taste, smell, do and feel as they do.

Everyone has a Story, and this blog - Projek Brunei, features the stories, music, photography and art of locals and of people who have lived or worked in Brunei before. Join me on this project, a project to discover and rediscover this country they call the Abode of Peace, the Heart of Borneo, this place they call the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures...through the stories of the People.

You may know me by my online moniker, @BruneiTweet. I created BruneiTweet in 2009, and currently (October 2016), I have over 30,000 followers. I am passionate about community, and use social media to connect with people - both on and offline.

I have an MBA, a keen interest in business-development and marketing, and I am a three-time TEDx speaker. I believe in the power of social media and collaboration. I have worked alongside corporate organisations on various community projects. Some highlights from my journey to date: In 2011, I co-organised Twestival Brunei to raise awareness and funds for Brunei’s Child Development Centre. That year I also organised Convergence, Brunei’s first youth led leadership forum. In 2012, I co-organised Movember to raise awareness on men's health issues. In 2013, I participated at various forums including Brunei's National Environment Conference and the ASEAN Social Media Exchange in Thailand. In 2014, I was selected to represent Brunei at the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Programme. In 2015, I was involved as a panel moderator in an International Women's Day event, and was invited to speak at the Green Leaders Eco-Camp in Brunei about using social media with purpose.
But enough about me.

If you have something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei or are interested in being featured on ProjekBrunei, reach me here or email me at

I would love to hear your side of the story.

You, You and You

Something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei? Interested in being featured on Reach me here.