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Friday, 27 September 2013 22:19

teahprofEditor's Note: Hi Readers! Lately, I have been introducing new contributors to this blog. There was the travel piece by John from NerdWallet, I am a Bird by Kathrina and Angel's Bistro Chez Fio experience. Over the next few weeks I will be introducing other new writers. This is important to me as everyone has a different perspective on things. We see things through different lenses. On that note, allow me to introduce you to Teah. This is a little bit about her in her own words.

"A civil servant by day and a freelance writer at night, Teah recently launched a Brunei based writing zine, Songket Alliance. She is also the co-founder of Bruneians Read, which means she likes to read. She travels too, and that's kind of the same as reading sometimes."

5 Things Bruneians Need to Talk About

by Teah Abdullah

1. Upholding a Realistic Language

The government is trying its hardest with upholding the writing and speaking of the Malay language. Quite frankly, it isn't working very well.

Before I go on to elaborate my point, let me clarify this: I write really well in English, and I'm not making this point as a form of superiority complex. I write Malay relatively better than the average person who writes English as well as I do. I write Malay for work every day, and I do not resent writing or speaking in Malay.

But standard Malay is a pain.

As oppose to emphasizing the continuation and the upholding of standard Malay, we need to start being realistic when it comes to our culture, which is: Uphold Melayu Brunei as a national language.

You can consider Melayu Brunei as bahasa pasar if you want, but I disagree. There is nothing more culturally strong and significantly Brunei than our capability at speaking Melayu Brunei. Granted, the Bahasa Rojak (English and Malay mixed together while talking) will always exist, but we need to realise that language evolves. "Cali" or humourous, for instance, is believed to stem out of the comedic actor Charlie Chaplin, "eksen" or "bluffing" derived from "action". We've allowed these words into our lexicon without thinking of its origin, and they are so deliciously Brunei.

When I was studying in Singapore, I surrounded myself with people who were enthusiastic of the Southeast Asian region. Some of them spoke both Standard Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. In the event I was on the phone with my mum, my best friend Shalina would tell me, "I think Melayu Brunei is the most beautiful and delectable Bahasa Melayu dialect in the region."

I have my biases when it comes to thinking we have a pretty good Melayu dialect, but I know several others who feel the same way as Shalina does. Our tonal goes several harmonies and our Melayu Brunei sounds playful. Continuing language identity is a very difficult task, but when people resent Standard Malay because the language sounds odd when uttered, we need to be realistic and find a language that is more identifiable to Bruneians, and that is Melayu Brunei.

2. Incest

Incest is a subject that goes on the newspaper often, but no one actually uses the word 'incest' to describe rape between family relations, which strikes me as odd. I'm personally curious to know the data on incest, and why we--as a society--have done little to reprimand it other than quietly discussing it. There are some things that should be left behind the walls of a family's house, but incest rape is one area where we need to start having serious discussions about, even if there are already regulations dedicated to it.

The less we talk about incest rape, the more we are giving space to fathers who rape their daughters saying that the girls were "tempting" him (legitimate reasoning I have personally seen on a newspaper.) Other than the psychological harm it may cause on the victim, it can be even more dangerous for the female in the event she gets pregnant from it. Other than the possibility of deformation, abortion is an option that isn't available for females who got pregnant through rape. And if the method is available, it isn't medically safe.

3. Our Overindulgence is Becoming a Cultural Trait

Want an iPad? No worries. Pay an installment of such-and-such dollars and you'll be able to pay them off in three years, at which time, there will be two other new iPads on the market! Want an LV bag? Go to the nearest mall! There's several grade-A fake ones you can afford!

There is something about branding that irks me. And while every so often I fall as the victim to branding, the overindulgence I see in a portion of Bruneians can be shocking. I'm sure there's someone that we know who has a new phone every few months despite not being a technobrat; they just buy it because it's new on the market. And there's the issue of grand weddings which causes people to drown in massive debt because of societal expectations, which isn't a good start to marriage. How about that WhatsApp message that circulated around recently about the Malaysian Ringgit being at its weakest and we could see long queues at money changers? Our overindulgence has become a cultural trait that our neighbouring country is abusing the weakness knowing that a portion--no matter how small or big--of our population would fall for it.

UBD did a study in 2009 which found that 75 percent of Bruneians aged 25 to 45 currently do not save or invest. THAT. IS. CRAZY. Where does their money go to?! Repayments, loans, cars, new and expensive phones.

This is dangerous for the future of our country, particularly when it comes to poverty. In other societies, elderly and women are the ones more likely to fall into poverty. With government pension no longer a privilege, this puts several generations of the Brunei population at risk.

It definitely isn't my business to tell you what you buy, but it certainly is my concern that we should not think so highly of ourselves that we forget moderation when it comes to our spending for the future of our economy or social stability.

Written by Delwin Keasberry Monday, 23 September 2013 15:28


Greetings readers. I caught up with Jonathan Bong over a meal a while back and picked his mind about some of the lessons he has learnt from his entrepreneurial journey to date. You may be asking yourself, "Why does he seem so familiar?" Not surprising really. You might remember him from one of his previous stints, from St Andrew's School or from his time with Breeze Magazine in East Malaysia. Today, he is in the construction industry, "focusing on road base for both industrial and rural roads", working on projects in three international markets.

I asked him, What advice would you give to others looking to make a name for themselves in business? Here are his five pointers:

1. Have realistic goals. "There are no guarantees in business so, unless you have really deep pockets, do not waste your time chasing lofty dreams."

2. Be pragmatic. "Practice due diligence and know your market. Be brave enough to let go of wishful thinking to do that which makes you money."

3. Find good partners. "You are not good at everything. Work with people who complement your skill sets. Also, look for investors and mentors who can coach you through."

4. Do less. "It helps to focus on one thing at a time instead of spreading yourself thinly over too many things."

5. Grow yourself. "Do not be contented and comfortable; be hungry. If you are able, work and learn about business overseas. Expose yourself abroad and then come back with different experiences."

Written by Delwin Keasberry Friday, 13 September 2013 15:49

During 2nd year uni fashion 2011What do you do?
A freshly graduated fashion designer specializing in conceptual womenswear clothing.

Describe yourself in a few words.
Optimistic and loves indulging in anything creative.

What does success look like to you?
Success to me is to persevere despite the many obstacles and negativity that you may face.

When I see the words 'fashion designer', I think of The Devil wears Prada and Ugly Betty. Exaggerations? Or pretty close to reality?
Perhaps some scenes are quite true as being in an industry where competition is always never-ending, catty attitudes are not uncommon. But, the way they portray interns in the movies is probably exaggerated as it really depends on the company on how they treat their interns, as generally interns are not paid as we are giving free labour but, I guess it is up to us individuals on whether we can find ways in learning through that experience. There are times where I had to do simple errands such as walking around the city to collect things or send things; it may seem boring but I take it as a way to observe the sights and sounds of the city whilst doing so. At the end of the day, it is how you perceive these small tasks in a different light.

Apart from that, designing clothes may seem like a glamorous career but it is actually a lot of hard work, talent and dedication. I remember being in the studio doing my own tasks and observing the long hours that the designers dedicate their time towards their designs.  

Have you always been creative? Or was it something that grew on you?
I have always enjoyed drawing and making creative crafts as a child so I think that came quite naturally to me. In middle school and high school, I was in the Science stream so, for a few years I did not have any formal education in art and design and did not have the opportunity to yield my creativity. However, that is the period in my life when I realized that I wanted to pursue something creative as I really missed drawing and having the freedom to create something artistic on a daily basis.

A peek into my sketchbook

Illustrations final collection1

page sketchbook inspiration1

Toile development Outfit51

Hunting for fabric

Fabric shopping london2 2010

Fabric shopping London 2012

Saturday, 07 September 2013 20:31

ubudcomp KathrinaDaudEditor's Note: Hi Readers! Allow me to introduce you to guest blogger Kathrina Daud. Kathrina reached out to me via Instagram after I called out for writers. Kathrina is usually a lecturer of English Literature and Creative Writing at UBD, but is currently on a year-long sabbatical. She received an MA in Writing from the Uni of Warwick and completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the Uni of Manchester in 2011. At the moment, Kathrina lives in Oxford, where she spends her time researching the Venn diagram of Islam, Southeast Asian literature and popular fiction, watching plays and being rejected by publishers. She will move to Seattle in December, where she expects to do more of the same, plus snow.

I am a Bird was a shortlisted story selected by a panel of judges appointed by the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival on culture360.org.


I am a Bird

By Kathrina Daud

I migrate with the seasons. I fly away from the monsoons and the heat of Brunei in September, using metal wings to alight into London Heathrow, where I am searched and questioned. I heave a sigh of relief when my bag, which is stuffed secretly with harmless contraband, sugared cuttlefish and tins of corned beef, white rabbit sweets wrapped in edible transparent plastic, makes it docilely through customs and immigration. Years ago, when I first arrived in London, the grey cold of the air outside the airport was a revelation – clear and crisp and burning through my lungs. These days, I make sure I am wrapped up against the chill, and I can make my way from baggage to the coach station with my eyes closed.

In the summer, the Junes and the Julies, when the academic year is over, I fly away from the dry heat of England back to the heavy humidity of Brunei. As soon as I step off the plane into the terminal building, the air compresses and exhales droplets of moisture. The lines here are slower-moving, less anxious. My heartbeat is steady and home. My bag will be heavy, with Marks and Spencers biscuits, Harrods trinkets, requests from Mothercare, all the chains that we do not have. As I step outside, I know my family, my parents, will be waiting for me, waiting to greet me with smiles. I will have chosen light clothing, airy, weightless, a barrier against the press of the air, and of expectation.

In the months and seasons in between, I will use my legs to walk – walk – walk everywhere. It feels sometimes that I have walked the length of England on my way to school, to the bus stop, to the grocery store, to the train station. I marvel at the white-haired men and women who seem to think that walking at their age is natural, a necessity, who have no expectation that their sons and daughters will go to the grocery store for them, will replace their old legs with the service of their own. In the spaces between, the Decembers and the Marches, I fly tentatively to new places – the Spains, the Frances, the Italies and Hollands, and my eyes are dazzled by tulips and paintings which blend into each other, always the same Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, the white-and-pink complexions daubed onto canvas, immortalized into smooth white marble. I don’t see my own brown skin anywhere in these masterworks, or even in the newspapers in England, the Daily Mail and the Guardian. I see black and white and sometimes dark brown – usually Pakistani or Indian – sometimes designated “South Asian” but never Southeast Asian. The missing syllable is a missing me.

So this is why, when you ask me to marry you, when I look at your light brown hair and your brown eyes, and your pink-whiteness and your lovely strong bones and jaw, and my heart breaks with the loving of you, I say, “No.”

You ask, Why? Your face is confused and betrayed and I can hear your heartbeat shock into speed and heat, the way mine does when my visa is scrutinized at the borders of your country.

I could tell you that I have loved you, have loved the loving of you, but that when I dream I dream of a heat that warms the bones instead of the skin. That when I picture you in Brunei, I see you confused and lost and increasingly angry when the queues become slower, the explanations vague, and there is no number to call when your pizza comes more than an hour late and you cannot return your socks for a refund and there is a directive from the ministry which you disagree with.

When I tell you, I could only love you in England, I also mean that you could only love me here, as well, but I cannot say this because you would not understand, you would argue, and tell me that love conquers all. We speak in English, and I cannot tell you that I know this is not true.

I saw the truth while I was in the air, when I looked down past my metal wings and saw the dark heavy solidity of land stopping the movement of the vast ocean, and there was a moment when I could not tell, from up there, whether I was coming or going.


If you are interested in guest blogging, reach me here. I'd love to hear from you!


Written by Delwin Keasberry Wednesday, 07 August 2013 15:46

Greetings Readers! Allow me to introduce you to a local outfit that call themselves 400mlFiends. In their own words, they are "a collective of graffiti writers, visual artists, music enthusiasts, trainspotters and all around street culture lifestyle nomads". I got in touch with them and spoke around the topic of Creativity. This is what they had to say.

"Creativity to us means exploring every avenue of possibilities in every artistic aspect and medium. The creative process includes various, brainstorming sessions, trial and errors, experimenting whilst having in mind the goal, which in an overview we aim towards positive progression. The end result of creativity should be an increased standard in quality and audience stimulus within one's artwork, adding more value to the art experience. The opposite of that is complacency which basically means you're producing a repeated product or result, keeping you stagnant. So, creativity isn't a skill or a talent to us as much as it is a willingness to avoid the comfort zone."

Visit their website for more information and connect with them on FB.

Here's some of their work. 

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Photograph with Yang Berhormat Pehin Hazair, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports at the Berakas Youth Park

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Page 9 of 22

You, You and You

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