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Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People

Friday, 10 August 2012 10:13

Greetings Readers! Recently I visited Jerudong Park. After the visit, I wrote down a few questions in my journal.

Will Jerudong Park ever sparkle again like it did in the nineties? Does the Park need 'fixing'? Where would you begin? Should we try and resuscitate this seemingly unconscious giant? Would more rides help? Should we bring back old ones? Inject in more resources? Is it time to put up the 'Do Not Resuscitate' sign?

Have you been back to the Park recently? What are your thoughts?

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Friday, 27 July 2012 16:40

mahusin_2What do you do?

I am a student at Micronet College, but I am currently committed to the London Olympics. As such, I am not a full time student and have deferred my studies; I resume after the Olympics, in September 2012. Before this, I was a national hockey player. (Image source: Pelita Brunei)

Describe yourself in a few words.

I have always been an active person; since primary school! I like hanging out with my family, love cats, like playing Rock Band with my sibling, and also enjoy singing.

You will be Brunei's first ever female Olympian at the upcoming London Olympics. This is historic stuff! When and how did you first hear about it?

The Brunei National Olympic Committee (BNOC) notified me in September 2011 that I had been chosen as an eligible recipient for the Olympic Scholarship for London 2012. Two months ago, they then announced that I was going to represent Brunei at the Olympics.

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Image source: belia-sukan.gov.bn

Tell us a little about your journey to date as an athlete. When did you decide to take sports seriously?  

It happened during my Sports Day event in 2007 at the Balapan field. I took part in and won an 800m race. The athletic national team were there; they saw me run following which one of them approached me and offered me a chance to join their team.

So I gave it a try.

I trained with the National team for three months and then represented Brunei for the first time at the Teluk Danga Games in Johor. I did not win the race but I improved my time. It was then that I started to take this seriously. I went on to win a lot of local and international competitions and I was awarded with the Best Female Athlete in the national competition in 2009 and 2011.

mahusin_3Describe a 'normal' day in the life of Maziah Mahusin.

I train almost every day, Monday to Saturday, from 7.30am to 10.00am, and then from 3.30pm to 6.00pm. Sunday is my only rest day. In general, I spend more time with my family than I do with friends. Sometimes we go to the beach and sight-seeing. In previous fasting months, I trained during the afternoons in the preparation for Olympics. This was personally very challenging. (Image source: The Brunei Times)

You recently turned 19. This year, you have been in the news on numerous occasions, both locally and internationally. How have you coped with the recent 'fame'?

I have received a lot of emails and calls from the western media. It feels strange and different…and it is actually very difficult for me. But this is my opportunity to encourage the youth in Brunei to take part in sports. My aim is to inspire female athletes in Brunei. I really need more female athletes and running partners to work with.

Friday, 20 July 2012 18:29

Greetings Readers! I came across this article from The Brunei Times today and I had to share it! It's a short story about 68 year old Rokiah Abdullah. Kudos to The Brunei Times for a heart-warming piece!

An Elderly's Reverence, courtesy of The Brunei Times

By Nurhamiza Hj Roslan and Rachel Thien

TO GREET His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam once a year during the get-togethers, there are many elderly who don't mind enduring inconveniences to travel long distance, riding boats and taking road transport.

During the get-together session yesterday for the Brunei-Muara residents, 68-year-old Rokiah Abdullah from Kampong Ayer made her way alone by boat and a bus ride to the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien (Taman SOAS) to meet and wish the monarch.

The frail and diminutive elderly was seen to be having a tough time amid the jostling crowds vying to meet and greet the Sultan. Seeing her plight, some good Samaritans pulled her to safety and placed her at a vantage point where she could meet His Majesty.

Talking to The Brunei Times she said that she had been coming every year to the meet-and-greet sessions just to shake hand with the monarch and wish him well.

"It's an occasion that is rare. It only takes place once a year," said Rokiah.

Rokiah said she knows how to recite pantun (short Malay poetry) and even recited a number of pantun which she knew by heart to The Brunei Times.

When asked if she was going to recite a pantun for His Majesty, she said she might, "just a simple one".

However, when her turn finally came, she reached out to shake hand with His Majesty, and it was a memorable moment for those around Rokiah as His Majesty displayed affection by touching her face and speaking to her.

Later, Rokiah said she had forgotten to recite her pantun before the ruler as she was overwhelmed by His Majesty's imposing presence.

Shortly after, Rokiah also had the pleasure of shaking hands with other members of the royal family. When it came to shaking hand with HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, she managed to compose herself and recited a pantun.

"I am very grateful and happy that I was able to meet His Majesty and other royal family members. I pray for all of them to have good health. Hopefully, I can meet them again next year," said Rokiah.

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.

Cynic.   

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

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(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”

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Farah Muhammad - “Family Outing :D”

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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”

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

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Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:18

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Photo courtesy of Olympics.Time.com

An excerpt from Olympics.Time.com

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.

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