Lest We Forget

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES

Compiled by Zainul Akmal Zaini

Museum receives 400-year-old Japanese armour suit

JANUARY 25, 1969 – This 400-year-old suit of Japanese armour (Pic Below) has been presented to the Brunei Museum by the Assistant Minister of Health, Pehin Bendahari China Hong Kok Tin.

Bulletin picture shows Pehin Hong (R) demonstrating to the museum curator, Pengiran M Shariffuddin, how the helmet and fearsome face mask were worn by a warrior of the time.

Pehin Hong was given the armour by a Japanese businessman friend several years ago. The Japanese had refused an offer of BND10,000 for it.

The helmet, mask and chest plate of a similar suit of what is called the Tachi-do form of armour was sold at an auction in London last year for 1,300 guineas (BND10,024).

The Brunei Museum’s set is complete with arm and leg guards, although slightly damaged.

Sweat stains on the padded lining of the helmet and chest plate show it had been worn by a soldier of the period.

The armour is made out of fine steel plates and chain mail, and brightly gilded. A bristling moustache is fitted to the scowling face mask.

Pengiran Shariffuddin said a man-sized model would be made and fitted with the armour for display in the new museum which is now being built at Kota Batu.

He said it was the first important Japanese exhibit he had received for the museum’s Southeast Asian collection.

Most of the collection has been bought with museum funds. The only other major gift received so far was a Chinese painting worth BND2,000, given two years ago by Pehin Kapitan China Lim Teck Hoo of Brunei Town.

Microbiology: Not so difficult, says Masni

JANUARY 13, 1979 – Datin Masni Bahrin (Pic Below) has become the first Brunei woman to get an honours degree – and the subject she selected to achieve this distinction was the very difficult one of medical microbiology.

“But it was not so difficult. Anyone could have done it,” she said modestly.

The official news of her MA pass came from the University of London, just in time to make her Christmas a particularly happy one.

She said she first became interested in the subject when she used to study items through a microscope as a child.

“And it just developed from there. It’s an exciting field because new developments and breakthroughs are being made in microbiology all the time,” she said.

Datin Masni went to school at the Raja Isteri Girls High School (STPRI) and Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) College before being awarded a scholarship to take a degree in microbiology at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

She graduated with a BSc with honours in 1970, and returned to Brunei to work as a bacteriologist at the hospital here.

The following year she married Pengiran Bahrin bin Pengiran Haji Abas, now Attorney General. The couple have two sons, aged six and four.

In 1976, she returned to England to take her honours degree “and to keep myself abreast of developments”.

“Also, a masters degree is a useful thing to have, and it gives one contact on an international level,” she added.

She spent a year at Hammersmith Hospital and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, both attached to the University of London, with her family also in England at the same time to keep her company.

The next year was spent working on a specialist project in bacteriology in Singapore to round off her master’s course, and this was only completed last September.

Datin Masni said she hopes more local women will study to get degrees.

“One shouldn’t just stop at getting married and raising a family. It’s not so difficult at university, but one does have to sacrifice one’s time,” she said. – Robin Alp