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Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People

Thursday, 19 July 2012 20:04

Faiq_Airudin_Prof2What do you do?

I am currently developing a documentary on domestic workers in Brunei with Dr. Kathrina Daud and have just finished recording a yet to be aired youth orientated talk show for RTB as a co-host. I also volunteer for SEEDS (Students' Extracurricular and Educational Dramatic Society) and was a co-founder of B:READ (Bruneians Read).

Describe yourself.


Tell us about the Visiting the Mall project.

The "Visiting The Mall" project was developed for The Creative Industries Festival. I was approached by Low Kok Wai a member of the Creative Industries Research Cluster (CIRC) to exhibit during the festival, and was was provided a space to exhibit my work. The project emerged from observations of how people walked through The Mall, and I wondered where people were heading to. I had already produced a body of work documenting the space, such as The Mall Escalator and another being a video called The Mall, Gadong.

These works didn't require direct interaction with those that visited The Mall and were far more abstract in style. While the previous body of work would fit within a traditional art gallery space, given the huste and bustle that is usually found around the entrances to the ground floor, it required a far more interactive approach that would make people stop and engage with the work.

Photographs from the Creative Industries Festival at The Mall, Gadong




(Note: Here are some of the photographs from Faiq's "Visiting The Mall" project. The folks were asked why they were at The Mall on that particular day.)

Abby & Dad - “Visiting”


Farah Muhammad - “Family Outing :D”


The Mall, Gadong

The Mall, Gadong, Brunei Darussalam, 2011 from Faiq Airudin on Vimeo.

Portraiture in Brunei is usually confined to studio spaces, while location shooting is practised by fashion photographers and street photography is supposed to be candid and informal. The project is an attempt to combine these styles of photography, taking portraiture into private spaces which required asking the names of who you photograph and strike up a conversation.

The project is also an attempt to create a modern portrait of Brunei; of what people wear and what kinds of things people do in The Mall. The photographs in the project aren't so much about technique, but more about the people in the photographs, hence the social media aspect and the assistance of volunteers. The volunteers for the festival helped by using their own cameras, initiating the conversation and photographing people on their own terms.

How have the public responded to being part of this 'live' project?

The responses of families that were photographed were especially endearing, some running over to the photo in excitement, while others walk over tentatively completely surprised their photograph is actually displayed. Friends of those displayed in the booth usually go directly to the photograph in amusement, and have a discussion among themselves. Others pass the booth hoping to spot a person they might recognise and then wonder why people in a photograph seem familiar and then walk away.

Attending the booth had the advantage of knowing what people think of the work and responding directly, that’s if they wanted to share their thoughts with me of course! Most of the questions fall either into those that wonder about photographic technique or questioning if the work is art or something else completely different.

Monica Law & Ann Goh - “Shopping”


Amirah M. Villamin & Martina Joy A. Abgayani - “to watch a movie with my friend”


Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:18


Photo courtesy of

An excerpt from

Brunei, an Islamic sultanate located on the northern shore of Borneo, sent a single athlete to each of the Olympics in 1996, 2000 and 2004. For the first time in its brief Olympics history, this year it will send two athletes — Maziah Mahusin and men’s 400-m runner Ak Haify Tajuddin Pg Rositi.

But the gender of one of those two athletes is what really makes Brunei’s tiny team historic. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the only countries besides Brunei that have never fielded female athletes. This year, Qatar has accepted three wild cards from the IOC to field women in air-rifle, swimming and track events in London. And in June, Saudi Arabia’s Olympic Committee bowed to international pressure and agreed to field female athletes who qualify on their own merits, and without a special berth, for the Games. But their favored candidate — the equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas — failed to qualify after an injury sidelined her horse. With less than one month to go, officials in Saudi Arabia — which bans sports for girls in state schools — are still scouring the country for female athletes who could compete in London.

“It is an important advance that Brunei and Qatar are sending women to compete in the Games,” says Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “And not just for precedent, but also because it reinforces what a true outlier Saudi Arabia has become on women’s rights, broadly speaking.”

Despite being a sign of progress in Brunei, Mahusin says female athletes still face plenty of challenges in her country. She has watched the ranks of her female competitors thin over the years. Cultural norms in Brunei tend to value a woman’s scholarly pursuits over athletic ones. “Some parents discourage their children from giving full attention to sports as they are concerned that this may affect their studies,” she says.

She doesn’t think about winning medals and says it’s enough to compete in the same Games as two of her idols, American sprinters Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix. “I’m happy to see the flag of Brunei Darussalam being hoisted in London,” she says. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of meeting world-class athletes.” Inspired by Mahusin, perhaps Brunei’s young athletes will one day rank among them.

Friday, 13 July 2012 09:22

Greetings Readers! I saw this in one of the local newspapers today. Check it out.

"The Energy Department under the Prime Minister's Office is calling all young Bruneian subjects of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam below the age of 27, who have graduated but are unemployed and have a keen interest in the energy industry, for an:

Invitation for a dialogue with Minister of Energy Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar and a chance to explore apprenticeship opportunities in the Energy Industry."

When and Where: Saturday, 14th July 2012, 8.30am, 4th Floor Manggis Ballroom, Hua Ho Manggis Mall


Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:44

Something new is on the way it seems...


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