Tales of history stamps tell

|     Daniel Lim     |

THE formation of a philatelic or stamp collection museum at the Kuala Belait Post Office came up for discussion during the recent visit of Minister of Communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat to the post office.

Present during the discussion to provide suggestions on the best way to establish the museum was Haji Bakar bin Haji Berudin, Secretary-General of the Brunei Darussalam National Philatelic Association.

“In cooperation with the Kuala Belait Post Office and the Postal Services Department, the museum is aimed at promoting the hobby of stamp collection among the young generation as well as to function as a platform to help them take part in various activities related to stamp collection within and outside the country,” he said.

He noted that the Brunei Darussalam National Philatelic Association is actively encouraging the development of stamp collection as a hobby among the public.

“Currently, there is no philatelic museum in Brunei, and this fact extends to the whole of Borneo, whereas within the Asia region, only Singapore, Macau, and Hong Kong have such museums. If formed, the Brunei museum will be the second of its kind in the Asean region.”

Haji Bakar bin Haji Berudin, Secretary-General of the Brunei Darussalam National Philatelic Association being interviewed. – DANIEL LIM

The current plan is to use the space on the first floor of the Mumong Branch of Kuala Belait Post Office to establish the museum with the support from Ministry of Communications, adding that the museum will be modelled on those in other countries.

“Many of the philatelic museums in other countries display old and antique stamps, which we hope to replicate here. Apart from showcasing personal collections, the museum will also display old and antique stamps collected by the Postal Services Department and the post offices.??

Asked how the museum can generate interest in an increasingly cyber-focussed generation in Brunei, he said, “It is true that this is a trend not only in Brunei, but also in other countries where the young generation is less interested in collecting stamp, but one of the ways to help spark a passion for stamp collection among them is providing opportunities to meet like-minded youth from around the world and attend global events such as the Youth World Stamp Exhibition, which is an avenue to showcase various antique stamps collected across the globe.”

The museum could be a platform to introduce the youth to such exhibitions, he added.

An ardent stamp collector since he was young, Haji Bakar noted that stamp collection can also be beneficial as an investment for the future. “Collecting stamps can offer many benefits including educational, financial and historical, in addition to leisure.??

He explained that every stamp has an inherent value associated with it, and as the stamp ages in time, the value of the stamp increases. “Stamps are also financially beneficial as some stamps are more valuable than other, especially limited edition ones found in other countries.”

The value of the stamp can also change with the condition of the stamp because “while perfect stamps are more sought after, stamps that are worn and torn will most likely decrease in value,” he noted.

Haji Bakar said there is an international committee which is dedicated in cataloguing various stamps from around the world.

“While there are records to help determine the value of a stamp, it is not fixed, as according to the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP), the value of a stamp can potentially increase tenfold in every decade as the stamp ages over time,” he said.

He also noted that old Brunei stamps have a value due to the history associated with them.

Back during the Second World War, Brunei stamps in circulation were taken away from Brunei by the Japanese army during their occupation from 1942, and these stamps now represent the cultural heritage of the country during that era,” he said. “Brunei stamps of that era have been collected from outside the country by many stamp collectors, and I have purchased some of those stamps from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany and other countries.”

Whenever he goes out of the country, Haji Bakar would be on the look out for Brunei stamps to add to his collection, which he said helps him learn more about the significant cultural heritage of the era.

While these stamps are costly, he noted that the cost is outweighed by the cultural significance the stamp has on the heritage of the country during that era. It is to bring the history back to Brunei that the association has proposed the creation of a philatelic museum in Brunei, he added.

“We, as citizens of Brunei, should appreciate the cultural heritage of our country that was built over the course of many decades, and the philatelic museum will be an avenue to showcase the rich history of the country,” he concluded.