Lest We Forget


Compiled by Zainul Akmal Zaini

Kg Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery depicts Brunei’s history

Azlan Othman

AUGUST 19, 2009 – The newly constructed Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery, to be officiated today, is set to reminisce visitors with the history of the heritage landmark from the 10th to 20th Century to the contemporary period depicting its socio-economic development of the villagers, highlighting among others economic activities and occasions based on Islamic principles like wedding customs.

Built in Kampong Lurong Sikuna, about a three minutes’ water taxi ride from the capital, one can also see the exquisite local arts and handicrafts, antiques, hand-woven cloths and magnificent view of the capital from its observation tower before cruising along the Brunei River. A souvenir shop is also available.

Gallery 1 highlights the 10th to 13th Century archeological findings which proved that the water village had existed for more than a thousand years. Traces of settlements discovered along the banks of the Brunei River revealed that the houses used construction materials from the Nibung palm, mangrove trees and Bulian for columns and leaves of the Nipah for roofs and walls.

In the 13th Century, Chau Ju-Kua recorded that Brunei had a population of 10,000. It was a commercial centre and port, and its people exchanged jungle products for ceramics, gold, silver and silk. Dade Nanhai Zhi (1304) wrote that Brunei was rich in camphor, sandalwood and pearls.

Gallery 2, which depicts Brunei from the 14th to 16th Century, shows that Kampong Ayer continued to expand with a large population centred on the Kota Batu area. There were two settlements, one by the river for the commoners and another on land where the Sultan’s palace and houses of state dignitaries were located.

Western records in the 15th Century indicated that the water village was an important district in its time. Antonio Pigafetta (1521) dubbed it as ‘Venice of the East’ and ‘Floating City’. The city was built on water and had 25,000 families.

Gallery 3 highlights the water village in the 19th to 20th Century highlighting the height of the Brunei empire when the water village was the administrative centre and seat of government, and commercial port and hub for other countries such as China.

Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Primary school sets up ASEAN gallery

Liza Mohd

AUGUST 11, 2009 – To familiarise primary school students to ASEAN countries, a national ASEAN gallery competition for primary schools was organised by the Department of Schools.

The competition aims to expose students to information about other ASEAN countries, particularly to students who have not travelled to any of the ASEAN countries, and also to provide knowledge on the countries in terms of culture, resources, administration and others.

Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Primary School (SRPSBSOAS), Kuala Belait is among the schools taking part in the competition, and the school took an initiative by organising an ASEAN Gallery.

The guest of honour at the launching ceremony was Belait District Senior Education Officer Haji Ramlee bin Haji Abdul Rahman.

Ten booths were set up to display exhibits of all 10 ASEAN countries inside the school’s gallery room. Teachers, students and parents joined hands to set up the items, decorations and contribute from their personal collections.

Chairman of the school’s ASEAN Gallery Siti Susilawati binti Haji Mohd Zaini said preparations to set up the gallery started since April. Among the items exhibited in the gallery include ASEAN traditional clothings, food products, handicrafts, countries profiles and leaflets. Embassies had also contributed to the success of the gallery.

Points for the competition are based on the collective information, history, products and language and students’ involvement.

Collection of ASEAN traditional clothing at the gallery. PHOTO: LIZA MOHD

Scientists urged to set high standards to avoid mistakes

Narissa Noor

AUGUST 17, 2009 – Scientists were urged to abide by the Standard Operating Procedures and have their own personal minimum standards such as quality control, personnel standards and proficiency testing to minimise laboratory mistakes as labs in the country ran as many as 4.3 million tests in 2008 alone.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Salam bin Abdul Momin yesterday officiated the Brunei Darussalam Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists’ (BAMLS) 6th Biennial General Meeting, as they gathered to re-elect new counsel members for 2009-2011.

He commended the work of fellow scientists whose role during the outbreaks of SARS, Avian Influenza and more recently Influenza A (H1N1) is significant.

“The number of tests run by our labs in 2008 totalled 4.3 million,” revealed the permanent secretary. This, of course, excludes the number of H1N1 tests run by said labs since the outbreak began.

“Since June 2009, the department has run 4,200 tests for H1N1 using the latest methods of Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and with the reagents authorised

by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, USA),” he said.

While cost and budget issues remain the dominant setback for health services around the world, the permanent secretary urged fellow scientists not to abandon the values of quality, effectiveness and the impact their clinical outcomes has on the lives of their patients.

“It is undeniable that as lab scientists, the most important aspect of their job is to protect and preserve patient safety,” he said.