In celebration of Brunei Malay Literature

Azlan Othman

Thirty-four local writers have received the Southeast Asia (SEA) Write Award – a platform to acknowledge quality writing and to introduce local writers globally – since 1986.

The recipients, comprising prolific and young writers were brought together recently in a ceremony at the Language and Literature Bureau (DBP). The event served as an avenue to introduce the recipients to the youth.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin said the nation requires the SEA Write Award recipients’ knowledge and advice to formulate strategies to preserve and disseminate Malay language and literature in the country.

Writers, poets and the like have an important role in nation-building as they have a high level of cognitive skills and are bolder in working on big ideas.

On the development of writing in Brunei, 2005 SEA Write Award winner Associate Professor Ampuan Dr Haji Ibrahim bin Ampuan Haji Tengah (Rahimi AB) said there are two types of writing that are given focus: knowledge writing such as theses, essays, and criticism, and poems, novels and plays.

He also said several dissertations and theses at master’s and doctorate levels have been compiled into books or journals, while several essays produced by local writers published in tier 1 journals. Some quality and creative pieces have also gained recognition at the national and regional levels.

Books published by Southeast Asia Write Award recipients. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Salleh Abdul Latif, 1990 SEA Write Award recipient, said a literary work reflects the values that support its creation and the audience that is influenced by it. Each work is created according to a particular line of thinking that supports the values, assumptions and categories of thinking.

Themes and questions as well as sympathy and criticism are shaped and directed by the style of thinking.

He also said the level and limitations of awareness expressed in a work are also aspects of the thinking style of its creator. Creative writers have to work with a mixture of emotions.

Young poets, short story writers and novelists continue to experiment with techniques and emotions to form an identity.

Brunei Malay literature showcases the tradition of form, content, character, style and energy as a result of the inner wisdom and creativity of the artistic capabilities of the Malay.

This gave birth to traditional poetry, Gurindam, Seloka, Bruneian tales which reflect the local culture.

The intellectual dialogue allows the exchange of views and ideas between the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports with the award recipients, strengthening relationship and cooperation between the government and the writers.