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December 30 2013

PHOTOS: Humans of Southeast Asia

Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York Facebook page has inspired many photographers around the world to share photos and stories of ordinary people in the streets in their respective countries. Let us review similar initiatives in Southeast Asia.

The Humans of Brunei page was created on May 17, 2013. Below is a photo of Brunei students

Photo from Humans of Brunei Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Brunei Facebook page

Meanwhile, the Humans of Indonesia page was created on August 16, 2013. Below is a photo of Indonesians in the Harau valley waterfalls in the Bukittinggi area:

“It was a very special experience … these pristine waterfalls were turned into some kind of public bathing area. So if I would zoom out you would see kids riding inflatable ducks, souvenirs, people selling noodles & bunch of other activities …” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

“Those young coconuts look fresh?” “Oh, please take one if you like” “Thank you so much. Why don’t you just drop them down? Seems heavy to carry like that” “Don’t you see that few kids play under these trees? I am worry these coconuts would hit them.” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

“Those young coconuts look fresh?”
“Oh, please take one if you like”
“Thank you so much. Why don’t you just drop them down? Seems heavy to carry like that”
“Don’t you see that few kids play under these trees? I am worry these coconuts would hit them.” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

There is also a Humans of Jakarta page. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia

Photo from Humans of Jakarta Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Jakarta Facebook page

Check the Humans of Bali page. Bali is a popular island in Indonesia.

In Malaysia, Avinash explains the idea of creating the Humans of Malaysia page:

…firstly its because I want those people know that there are people out there who care, for their opinions, for their stories, for their time, for their attention, for their thinking, for their views on life, on every issue, on everything, and that these people make Malaysia home. Second, i like to listen. and ask questions of course. And thirdly, well because I was at a point of my life where i really just needed to talk to someone, i needed someone to not help, but to just listen, no one was there for me then. I always have this thing in my mind, thinking that i might come across someone today who really just need someone who would listen. Thats why I do this

“What scares you the most?”
“Being poor. Having no money. Everything is about money nowadays. Supporting my family, food, transport, bills. Its everywhere.” Photo from Humans of Malaysia Facebook page

There is a separate page for the Humans of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital.

“Abang (brotherly term for a guy) Hafiz washes and arranges the fish and vegetables at one of the agricultural grocery stores in KL. It is late at night and people are still coming in.” Photo from Facebook page Humans of Kuala Lumpur

The Humans of Thailand page has not been updated regularly but the Humans of Bangkok page seems active. Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. Zon explains the project:

The page is a small urban project that I've just started about the people and their everyday lives in Bangkok, which has become a much more hybrid-society than ever. Revealing lives of the city inhabitants would make us better aware that everyone is interconnected.

“My daily challenge is riding. I have to manage to ride through the gaps between big cars. And actually it's extremely dangerous. I've been a taxi rider for a year but honestly I don't know how long I could continue with this job, or either know what I want to do next with my life.” Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Bangkok police. Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Bangkok police. Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

As the political crisis deepens in Thailand, Bangkok residents are calling for a ‘peaceful Sunday’

“Political conflict in Thailand now. We hope for #peacefulsunday and that no violence will take place tomorrow.” Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Check also the Humans of Chiang Mai page. Chiang Mai is located north of Thailand.

Photo from Humans of Chiang Mai Facebook page

“No texts, no calls, nothing. Cause I'm still thinking abt my Painting!” Photo from Humans of Chiang Mai Facebook page

In Vietnam, we’d like to feature the Humans of Saigon and Humans of Hanoi:

Photo from Humans of Saigon Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Saigon Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Hanoi Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Hanoi Facebook page

In Laos, there is a Humans of Vientiane page. Vientiane is the country’s capital.

“Local law enforcement in Luang Namtha enjoying a game of petangue.” Photo from Humans of Vientiane Facebook page

Below is a photo of Stacy from Singapore relaxing at Clarke Quay. Photo from the Humans of Singapore page:

“I've been sitting here because it's quite breezy. And you can watch the boats passing by too. They've been doing a tour of the entire river all the way till Marina Bay Sands, where they tell you about the history of these places and Singapore. It's quite interesting, you hear all sorts of things which you didn't know and it's always a bit of a surprise.” Photo from Humans of Singapore Facebook page

Visit Humans of the Philippines and Humans of Manila. Manila is the capital of the Philippines.

Children of Tondo in Manila. Tondo is a working class district. Photo from Humans of Manila Facebook page

Children of Tondo in Manila. Tondo is a working class district. Photo from Humans of Manila Facebook page

The People of Yangon page created by Chris James White was also inspired by the Humans of New York idea. Yangon is major city in Myanmar.

People of Yangon Facebook page

People of Yangon Facebook page

December 15 2013

Citizens Complain Against Bad Roads in Brunei

Teah criticized the slow action of the Brunei government in fixing bad roads and how road repairs are usually done when foreign dignitaries are visiting the country

To fix an area to impress foreigners is crucial, I think, but what's even more important is the fact that citizens who have to deal with these problems every single day for years now.

Potholes is a metaphor in Brunei. It's a chip, a massive chip, in our society. It's a chip that no one wants to fix because it isn't viewed as important to appear good for your citizens. We talk big to foreigners–like how Brunei is great, peaceful and calm–but we ourselves can't seem to improve our own livelihoods.

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October 15 2013

Brunei Launches Digital Learning Hub

The government of Brunei has launched a digital learning hub called Media and In-Service Centre “to innovate interactive fresh learning media and empower teacher capacity development.

It will usher in a new era of digital learning based on OUR digital values!

Brunei Darussalam aspires to build a strong community that embraces new technology and thrives in the digital age, while preserving and strengthening Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB) values, traditional culture and beliefs.

October 07 2013

Five Issues Brunei Citizens Need to Discuss

Teah Abdullah lists 5 issues Brunei citizens need to discuss: Upholding a realistic language, incest, overindulgence, excessive number of burger joints, and overdependence on the government. She elaborates on the last issue:

…our government is such a strong part in our everyday lives, but our dependency on them is problematic because it is as if we can't solve our own troubles. We are creating an extra strain at making the government solve all the little problems in our lives.

October 06 2013

Should Brunei Punish its ‘Runaway’ Scholars?

Brunei students during a convocation. Photo from Flickr of Aidityafunda (CC BY 2.0)

Brunei students during a convocation. Photo from Flickr of Aidityafunda (CC BY 2.0)

Brunei is preparing legal action against government bonded scholars who have refused to come home after completing their studies abroad. Reports indicate that 12 doctors will be charged for failure to comply with their scholarship condition. Last year, the government said that 20 doctors and other medical specialists didn’t return to Brunei after finishing their training. A government minister has asked these ‘runaway’ scholars to fulfill their obligation in contributing to the national development.

The issue has sparked an intense discussion about Brunei’s education system, scholarship process, and state of economy.

Writer Shareen Han has raised several points about the deficiencies of the scholarship system:

We don't know the reason(s) these bonded scholars did not return to the country, but many were quick to condemn their actions.

…it tells us that there are inherent flaws in Brunei's system of awarding scholarships.

There are simply not enough jobs in the public sector for every single scholar because Brunei's economy is not growing fast enough to create jobs.

Is there a need to provide scholarships to hundreds of students every year? We have a lot of bright students who excel in their studies and show great character, but it is not sustainable for the government to sponsor every student.

How many of these scholarship students can afford to pay for higher education? How many scholarship recipients are from low-income families?

mujahidjohar urged others to understand the reasons of the young scholars who didn’t come home:

People overlook the fact that going abroad to study for a few years forces many people to reevaluate their opinions, biases, and worldview

They learn that the government shouldn't be immune to criticism, that seniority doesn't always equal competence, and some societal problems will not be handled in their lifetimes. Then they hear tales of low salaries, lack of career development options and professional satisfaction.

We need to investigate without prior judgment as to why these people flee before we punish their families who are in Brunei.

Introducing a loan component in the program could address the problem, according to Hakeem Hameed Affandy

I would suggest the government to introduce higher education loan in their scholarship scheme (half loan, half scholarship). So people who are qualified to get scholarship but don't want the government bond they can loan the money instead.

Tan Wei Lun blames lack of career opportunities in the country:

Inefficiency in the government workplace deters scholars. I've known engineering scholars come back without jobs, they're teaching math and physics in high school right now. Lack of professional pathways and advancements are also a reason.

Khairunnisa Ash'ari insists that ‘runaway’ scholars should repay the government:

I don't have any real opinion on this, but somehow allowing people to escape their contracts without any repercussions doesn't sound like a good thing either. It further encourages the mentality of not being accountable, etc. Also it would encourage more people to do the same thus leading to a brain drain in the country.

Honestly though if they don't want to honour the contract by not going back, they should at least repay back the amount they have taken, which would have gone to another individual who would eventually contribute back to the country.

Getting a scholarship in Brunei is quite difficult. Iffah Muzri elaborates:

…it’s an all-out battle trying to get the top position in school, fighting tooth and nail just to be able to qualify to even be considered to apply for a scholarship. What happens to those that didn’t get a scholarship, that couldn’t afford to be sent to universities…

July 29 2013

Brunei Bans Daytime Dining in Muslim Restaurants

The Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) has issued an order prohibiting non-Muslims to dine in a restaurant or fastfood outlet owned by Muslims in the daytime during the holy month of Ramadhan. The new regulation is meant to show respect to Muslims who are fasting during the day. Brunei is a Muslim-majority nation.

Non-Muslims are advised to take out their order and consume their food elsewhere. The ban applies to foreigners and tourists as well.

Many people were surprised with the directive considering that Ramadhan will be over soon. Some restaurant owners are not yet aware of the new regulation. KFC Brunei has issued this statement to advise customers about the adjustment in their operations in response to the MUIB directive:

With respect to the new directive from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), only Takeaway, Delivery and Drive Thru services will be available during the fasting period of the Ramadhan month. Our operating hours remain the same

Brunei restaurant. Photo from Flickr of Reeda. CC License

Brunei restaurant. Photo from Flickr of Reeda. CC License

Netizens reacted strongly. On Instagram, @maurina described the new ruling as silly:

This is the silliest directive ever! Somehow I don't think the world have to stop just because we're fasting. Fasting in Ramadhan is an awesome time between me and my beautiful God. It has nothing to do with non-Muslims eating in restaurants? Sorry MUIB! This is a #fail. Lets stay positive and be a more tolerant society!

@alingms shared the same sentiment:

@maurina omg! Too much eh! Even non muslims cant eat? They might as well force each and every non muslim to convert! Why cant they respect other religion as well kan?!!

@nr_han feared that Brunei could soon be the ‘land of endless restrictions’:

This is so stupid! Did they even think thoroughly of the implications before implementing this rule?? Brunei…Abode of peace. Yeah right. More like, Land of Endless Restrictions!

The ruling has ‘weakened the nation’, according to @jo8bean:

Agreed, #epicfail @maurina.. If I may be so bold to say that this directive has just ‘weakened a nation'. #tsk

@liza_mohd commented that it could make Brunei a ‘less tolerant community’:

Inconsiderate towards minorities & it also makes us look like a less tolerant community. Such an unprecedented and absurd move!

But @imanadzmara reminded netizens to keep calm since the ruling will not be implemented the whole year:

It's only for Ramadhan NOT the whole year round and it only affected muslim food operators. Yeah, keep calm. We are still blessed to live in a ‘free’ country, no income tax, free education, free medical and expensive treatments abroad. Why need to jump when the Government do this ‘small’ thing compared to the ‘big’ thing given to us. Take it or leave it

@qhhr has mixed feelings over the directive:

People, there are loopholes here. In light of what has happened, at least you save a lot of money. Although, the new implemented rule is ridiculous. It could have been done eons ago, we were better off it anyway.

@n_cud wrote that it is insulting to non-Muslims:

Its the fact that this was even thought of in the beginning that is kinda insulting to non muslims, loophole or not.. Where does it end? Closin down of all businesses during prayer times everyday? seems like we're headed that way

@kangta164 argued that it is an unnecessary regulation:

Personally, I think it's one of the “unnecessary” rule implemented. Fasting is about an individual commitment to resist temptation. To implement such rule that affects businesses is illogical. I personally hate the fact that it segregates “non Muslims” and “Muslims” because it encourages religionism. I do have Muslims friends and I respect the fact that they're fasting so realistically, I won't eat in front of them. But to make it a mandatory rule is pretty much ridiculous.

It seemed authorities became overzealous in performing their job, wrote @tiny_lou:

Isnt it about resisting temptation? So if the temptations removed. .no resistance required! Seemd over zealous..what next..cut off all water supplies?? What about tourists..expats..non muslims?

July 18 2013

PHOTO: “Go Bald for a Cause” in Brunei

Image from @ranoadidas

Image from @ranoadidas

“Go Bald for a Cause”, a charity event to benefit the Brunei Breast Cancer Support Group. “The act of shaving their heads will also aid in creating public awareness on breast cancer, demonstrating that hair loss is just a temporary setback on the road to recovery for patients.”

June 03 2013

Dans la jungle de Bornéo, des visiteurs en quête d'authenticité

Le voyage vise parfois à retrouver un mode de vie jugé plus « vrai », car plus rudimentaire, auprès de populations qui, elles, aspirent bien souvent à la modernité. / Malaisie, Animal, Développement, Écologie, Logement, Loisirs, Relations Nord-Sud, Tourisme, Forêt, Brunei, Commerce, Environnement - (...) / Malaisie, Animal, Développement, Écologie, Logement, Loisirs, Relations Nord-Sud, Tourisme, Forêt, Brunei, Commerce, Environnement - 2012/07

May 15 2013

Brunei: ‘Slow Internet is Almost Like Censorship’

Brunei internet users are complaining against the slow and unreliable internet connection in their country.

Writing for The Brunei Times, Shareen Han cited a study by the World Economic Forum which listed Brunei as having one of the most expensive internet rates in Southeast Asia. But many Brunei netizens feel they are getting poor internet service for the high fees they are paying.

Through Twitter, The Brunei Times posted this question:

Are you satisfied with Internet services in #Brunei?

A tweetup event in Brunei. Bruneians are among the most active social media users in Asia. Photo from Flickr page of Reeda

A tweetup event in Brunei. Bruneians are among the most active social media users in Asia. Photo from Flickr page of Reeda

‏The replies are mostly complaints about the slow internet connection provided by the country’s three major telco providers. @nadiebytes even compared the slow internet to censorship:

No! The internet provides easy access to a wealth of info. Slow internet is almost like censorship.

Here are similar comments about the slow internet in Brunei:

@ZeekCrazy I don't think even the mouse is satisfied.

@janetlivetravel No! It's 2013. Internet, technology, information and social media should be there with just a click of a finger. TOO SLOW

@masruuuuur Try finding someone who IS satisfied

‏@almstfrsh not worth what we're paying for. Inconsistent. Unstable. Need I say more?

@AmeerahIsa seriously NOT HAPPY with it. I mean we pay for so and so mbps, and the speed is not even near to what we paid for.

@_hakims very disappointing.. even my parents complain.. sorry #workitout

@ongscw Investigations on regular service disruptions should be conducted. I would choose SLOW Internet over NONE AT ALL any day.

@Aliffen41 Light years away from it.

@bobby_trisyia thankful but not satisfied..slow and expensive

According to a report, Brunei has at least 200,000 internet users who are among the most active in social media usage in Asia. However, only 56 per cent of Bruneians are internet users.

Some internet users are actually quite satisfied with the quality of internet in the country:

@AnwarOmarAli yes very satisfied.

@berrymerlina speed, yes! High price can't be argued because of population & competition unlike other countries

@Yunn_ha even if there's vast improvements with the speed, We will never be(satisfied). Haha #sobrunei

@oxba 6 years ago, 3G wasn't around and ADSL was at 256kbps. 10 years ago, I can't even surf the web on my mobile. I am satisfied.

Even before the publication of the article in The Brunei Times about the internet quality in the country, Bruneians have been complaining about it for some time already:

@Natterulala Brunei's internet is the main reason why most bruneians suffer from High Blood Pressure and Depression.

@AzizHarun212 OMG Brunei's internet really knows how to piss people off

Elliop notes that internet speed has not improved in Brunei:

I don’t know about you but I for one am wondering why in this day and age where internet speeds are measured not in single digits but 10’s or 100’s of Mbps. Brunei’s internet speed has not changed much in years, and is lagging behind the rest of the world significantly.

A petition was created demanding answers about the slow internet in Brunei:

We the people of Brunei want to know:
• Why Brunei’s internet access speed is so slow?
• Why Brunei’s internet access is unreliable?
• When will the internet access reliability be improved.

Joe King thinks telcos are not pressured to improve service:

The problem is they are the monopoly in the market here, so they do not feel the pressure to deliver what we need. Who else can we turn to to get quality service? They're only out to get your money

April 23 2013

Study on Southeast Asian Monarchies

There are four monarchies in Southeast Asia: Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. The March 2013 issue of the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia discussed the history and prospects of these monarchies. In Brunei, the absolute monarchy is able to consolidate its rule by implementing generous welfare programs.

April 07 2013

Digital Collection of Historical Southeast Asia Travel Accounts

Southeast Asia Visions is a collection of historical travel narratives of pre-modern Southeast Asia from Cornell University Library's John M. Echols Collection. The digital collection includes 10,000 images, drawings, photographs, prints and maps.

February 20 2013

Green Brunei Project

Green Brunei is a non-profit group that “promotes environmental education and creates awareness on environmental conservation and clean technology through media, activities and projects.” It aims to be the biggest green community in Brunei. Its recent project was Nature's Avengers, which involved students and young volunteers.

February 04 2013

Brunei has Freest Press in Southeast Asia?

According to the press freedom index for 2013 released by Reporters Without Borders, Brunei ranked highest in Southeast Asia (122). It was followed by Thailand (135), Indonesia (139), and Cambodia (143). Some journalists in the region were surprised with the results, in particular, the high ranking given to Brunei.

December 18 2012

Brunei: National Day Logo 2013

The Brunei Times announced the winning logo designed by @keeranj for Brunei's National Day 2013 celebration

December 16 2012

I Love Brunei Because….

Golden Mosque of Brunei. Photo from Flickr page of Mr Syaf

Delwin Keasberry, more popularly known as @BruneiTweet in the Brunei internet community, asked fellow local netizens to tweet their love for their country:

@BruneiTweet Tweeps, complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because…” 8)

And below are some of the answers given by Brunei twitter users which reveal a lot of things about Brunei society and its people:

@suzaneeena: I love #Brunei cause it's peaceful, not so polluted, and not to mention…the variety of cheap $1 food we can get!!

@AlHudaaRose Tweeps, complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because it is a peace country, where we can eat a lot of halal food :-)

@MiQy98 ilove #Brunei because we have awesome food & people which are getting awesome-er day by day

@ninactor I love #brunei because it's home and the culture - especially the food, is simply wonderful, also the people.

@Gold_Book_BN: I love #Brunei because Brunei has an ability to develop their people & country. So, LIKE us..

@AzemahARRR Complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because…”" If anything ever happens, the whole nation's thoughts are with you.

@debbietoo I love Brunei because the people here are some of the most welcoming and warm people in the world.

@anakbrunei I love #Brunei because it is a moderate country which does not impose its will upon its people regardless of race or religion.

@Ajul_mna@ There is no place like HOME

@ashfarizi Complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because…”” of the people and peace! plus nasi katok.

@sazikalman Because there is no place like home. Its cheesy but its true! RT @BruneiTweet Complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because…

@HqahAmin it's the green heart of Borneo :-) “@BruneiTweet: Complete this sentence: “I love #Brunei because…”"

@DiyyDiyana I love #Brunei because it's peaceful. Hence, “abode of peace”

@sarahwaffles @BruneiTweet I love #Brunei because it's an exotic place. Friends from overseas hardly heard of it & would love to come visit.

Lastly, @trylobyte reminds everyone to keep Brunei a remarkable nation:

@trylobyte I love #Brunei because of the reasons already mentioned. Now let's work hard to keep it that way so we can continue loving it.

Meanwhile, a Love Brunei Pinterest page was set-up to pin photos exhibiting the beauty of Brunei.

December 05 2012

Traditional Weddings in Brunei

Haji Daud bin Haji Abd Rahman writes about the traditional wedding customs and practices in Brunei. He also features some wedding photos in the 1950s and 1960s.

Reposted byculture culture

November 30 2012

Movember: Campaign for Men's Health Issues

Delwin Keasberry writes about the ‘Movember Tweet Up' event in Brunei to support the global campaign to raise awareness about men's health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and depression.

Brunei: ‘Bullying Awareness' Project

The Nina Project features a ‘Bullying Awareness' initiative based in Brunei Darussalam to help young people cope up with bullying. Internet users in Brunei are asked to support the campaign by spreading information about the issue.

October 06 2012

Preserving Southeast Asia's Peatlands

Peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia cover approximately 35 million hectares in the region. An inter-nation network was set-up to preserve the peatlands which play a ‘critical role in the economy and ecology of the region - providing timber and non-timber forest products, water supply, flood control and many other benefits.'

August 04 2012

Brunei's First Female Olympian

Delwin Keasberry of Projek Brunei was able to interview Ms Maziah Mahusin, Brunei's first female olympian in the 2012 London Olympics.

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