Who buried ‘The Brunei Times’?

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This was back on July 1, 2010 when The Brunei Times introduced a compact version and I was so kiasu that I headed to The Brunei Times office to grab the first copy that entered the office. Photo courtesy of Rano360.com.

More bad news for press freedom in Southeast Asia.

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY (ANU) CORAL BELL SCHOOL OF ASIA PACIFIC AFFAIRS


THE Brunei Times
, the second-largest publication in Brunei’s small and heavily censored media landscape, has been shut down. The paper was issued an official order to “cease publication and operations on 7 November” just three days prior, leaving 110 employees jobless in face of an economy analysts have describedas “spluttering.

This is a significant loss to journalism in a nation ranked 155th in the world for press freedom, compared to Thailand’s ranking of 136, and Myanmar’s ranking of 143.

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The last issue of The Brunei Times, which has been publishing since mid-2006, contained an announcement stating the closure was due to “business issues, reporting and journalistic standards that should meet the mark set, and also issues relating to business sustainability.”

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However, unsatisfied Bruneians on social media are pointing to a different tale.

An ex-writer for The Brunei Times reported in Pakistani news that the real motive behind the shutdown was a complaint filed by the Saudi Embassy, after The Brunei Times published quotes from an unnamed source in a story published on 26 October. The article covered the increase in Hajj and Umra visa fees for Bruneian residents, with the unnamed embassy spokesperson describing the hike as a result of economic downturn from falling oil prices (click here to view a text archive of the now deleted article).

Although an apology was issued on 4 November, there are angry suggestions circulating on social media that the complaint provided the final incentive for government to shut down the publication, which often toed the line of Bruneian censorship standards — even though they may have annoyed authorities from time-to-time.

According to the report, the anonymous ex-employee source stated, “The government had been angry with the paper for quite sometime for its work but the Saudi Embassy story proved to be the final straw.”

Students and researchers are also mourning the loss of the newspaper, which provides an invaluable source of information on Brunei spanning the last ten years.

In a country where there is virtually no criticism of government and where voices are worn weary under the threat of harsh and repressive legislation, we may very well never know what, or more darkly who, buried The Brunei Times. In an age of wavering press freedom in Southeast Asia, this is deeply troubling, solemn news.

New Mandala

Wed, 9 November 2016

http://www.newmandala.org/buried-brunei-times/  

 

http://rano360.com/2016/11/07/thank-you-the-brunei-times/

 

 

 

 

 

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M’sian cartoonist gets ideas after Subuh (dawn) prayer

LatNur Firdaus Abdul Rahim
KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA

CARTOONIST Mohd Nor Khalid, or popularly known as Lat, regards Ramadhan not only as the most blessed month, but also the time of the year when he is able to get ideas and inspiration for his work.

Born on March 5, 1951, in Kota Bharu, Perak, Lat, who is known for his cartoon series the ‘Kampung Boy’, said the best time for him to focus on his cartoon work is after the subuh (morning) prayer.

“I can be said to have retired, as my work no longer appeared in the newspapers, but I do still draw just to pass the time and is working to produce a comic book soon.

“So, the best time for me to get ideas for my work is in the morning, when my mind is still fresh.

“During the fasting month, after the ‘sahur’ (pre-dawn meal) and Subuh prayer as well as doing other religious rituals, I’ll spend time until noon on my cartoon work. That’s the time when I can focus,” he told Bernama.

He was met during an event “Jelajah Potret Penerima Anugerah Merdeka” by Petronas Gallery at the State Museum here recently. Lat is one of the recipients of the award. He received it in 2014.

On how he got himself into becoming a cartoonist, Lat said he had the skill since young and his father was the first person to discover his talent. He said most of his work was influenced by local cartoonists at that time like Raja Hamzah, Alias Kulub, Raja Sulaiman and Saidin Yahya.

“My father was the one who actually encouraged me. I remember during my childhood days, he would take us to the circus and when we got home, asked me to draw the animals which performed at the circus.

“That was how my interest in drawing started and it then progressed into drawing cartoons,” he added. The winner of the 2002 Fukuoka Asian Culture Award has so far published more than 20 cartoon series.

The first when he was 13 years of age. Most of his work depicts the life of the multi-racial society in Malaysia. Referring to “Kampung Boy”, he said it was based on his personal observation, life and experience.

“I don’t know how to create political stories because it is not an element that can last in the cartoon world.

“I prefer elements that are more remembered by the people, like friendship, neighbours and living in a society,” he added. He said the role of a cartoonist was not merely to produce work for people to view.

“At the same time, a cartoonist should be an agent to unite the people, especially in a country with various races, only then there is harmony,” he added.

Bernama

Sunday, July 10, 2016

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– See more at: http://www.bt.com.bn/features/2016/07/10/m%E2%80%99sian-cartoonist-gets-ideas-after-dawn#sthash.BTSk9Hih.dpuf

Christians celebrate X’mas in Brunei

 

THOUSANDS of Christians celebrated Christmas yesterday in multiple services held in churches across the sultanate.

Head of the Catholic Church in Brunei Bishop Cornelius Sim said about 4,000 out of the 18,000 estimated Catholics in the country attended mass on Christmas Day and the night prior at the Church of Our Lady Assumption (COLA) in the capital, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria and St John’s Church in Kuala Belait.

The bishop and an Anglican reverend told The Brunei Times that despite international media outlets reporting a blanket ban on Christmas – which continued to be observed as a public holiday in Brunei this year – neither received a notice restricting celebrations.

“To be quite honest there has been no change for us this year; no new restrictions have been laid down, although we fully respect and adhere to the existing regulations that our celebrations and worship be confided to the compounds of the church and private residences,” said Bishop Sim.

In practice, he said the church has continued its observation of daily dawn services beginning at 4am to 5am and lasting about 45 minutes from December 16 up until Christmas Eve with no restrictions. A social gathering for migrant workers at the COLA church was hosted yesterday evening, mirrored by a similar celebration in Seria.

The bishop also echoed Pope Francis’s address on reconciliation within fractured communities experiencing violence around the world, saying that Brunei was fortunate and in a unique position to have seen unhindered peace and prosperity.

“In my experience, the authorities are respectful and considerate towards other religious communities. In comparison to what is seen elsewhere in the world, we are fortunate to have religious harmony.

“Tolerance is part of our country’s constitution and we have always been free to practise our religion,” he said.

He added that the Catholic community, which makes up the majority of the Christian population in Brunei, “were no different” from any other citizen or resident.

Similarly Reverend Johnny Chin of St Andrew’s Church said relationships between the country’s Muslims and those from other faiths continue to be positive, with the restrictions on Christmas decorations in public which made headlines last year not diluting the true meaning of Christmas to Christians.

“I guess with regards to Christmas, we have reminded ourselves to remain focused on how Christmas is not just about the music, the decorations and the Santa hats – which have been emphasised – but that has never been what Christmas is about anyway,” he said.

The Brunei Times

Saturday, December 26, 2015

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2015/12/26/christians-celebratex%E2%80%99mas-brunei

 

Singapore-based scientist wins top science and technology award of Islamic world

JackieYing

Professor Jackie Ying will be awarded the inaugural Mustafa Prize in the Top Scientific Achievement category on Friday. Photo Courtesy: TST/Seah Kwang Peng

Samantha Boh

SINGAPORE

A SINGAPORE-based scientist has won the top science and technology award of the Islamic world, which comes with a $700,000 cash prize.

Professor Jackie Ying, 49, executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), will be awarded the inaugural Mustafa Prize in the Top Scientific Achievement category on Friday (Dec 25), in a ceremony to be held in Teheran, Iran.

This prize is meant for individuals whose research has improved human life and “expanded the boundaries of our perception about the world”.

Among her numerous scientific contributions, Prof Ying was recognised in particular for her role in developing glucose-sensitive nanoparticles that deliver insulin to diabetic patients only when their blood glucose levels are high.

The system does away with external blood glucose monitoring by finger pricks, and allows insulin to be delivered orally or by the nasal passage, instead of through injections.

Professor Hossein Zohour, head of the scientific committee of the Mustafa Prize, said the groundbreaking research is “an outstanding scientific approach of great promise for improving the quality of life of mankind in the near future”.

The other top award winner, under the Nano Science and Nanotechnologies category, was Jordanian chemist Omar Yaghi, co-director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

The pair edged out 600 other nominees, including Nobel laureates and scientists in the top of their fields.

The Mustafa Prize recognises leading researchers and scientists of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, and Muslim researchers from around the world.

Prof Ying, who was born in Taipei, and raised in Singapore and New York, converted to Islam in her 30s.

She told The Straits Times that she intends to use a portion of the prize money to get more students intrigued about science, such as through exchange trips to renowned overseas science institutions and better-equipped school laboratories. She will start her effort at her alma mater Raffles Girls’ School.

The Straits Times

Thursday, 24 December 2015

 

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-based-scientist-wins-top-science-and-technology-award-of-islamic-world

Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan: “‘Wasatiyyah’ (moderation) is an important part of Islamic identity that has been forgotten”

A NEW breed of leaders is needed to reconstruct a civilisation based on wasatiyyah or moderation, a Malaysian scholar said yesterday.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan, eminent visiting professor of the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies, said new leaders are those who possess moral excellence and technological brilliance.

In his public lecture “Malay-Islamic Civilisation: Its Birth, Development and Wasatiyyah Identity” at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, he said wasatiyyah is an important part of Islamic identity that has been forgotten.

“But now Alhamdulilah, people are coming back to the term wasatiyyah,” he said.

Wasatiyyah means a sense of justice, excellence and balance between extremes, he said.

The source of the term wasatiyyah is derived from Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 143: “And thus we have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the messenger will be a witness over you”.

There are three pillars of Al-Wasatiyyah, he said. First is justice — which includes strength, power and dignity — followed by goodness and excellence, and third, balance/moderation.

He said all three are connected, not separated, and that Muslims are supposed to represent these qualities. Religious identities of Muslims that uphold justice, moral excellence and upholding the principle of balance and moderation in certain aspects, he added.

In his lecture, he talked about major civilisational transformation and intellectual revolution of Malay culture brought about by the worldview of Islam.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

“The worldview of Islam consists of mainly three parts: aqidah (belief system), syariah and akhlak (character). The worldview of Islam represented by aqidah of tauhid (Oneness of Allah SWT), syariah and the morals of Islam brought about cultural and intellectual revolution with a new tradition of learning, learning by the book and not learning on the basis of myth, superstition and wrong beliefs,” he said.

With this change in the culture of the Malays, we have the development of what we called the tradition of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah, he added.

The whole of South East Asia came under the influence of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (people who followed the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the practices of Muslims who are the companions and followers of the Prophet (PBUH).

This tradition of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah also brought together three major branches of knowledge known as Ilmu Tauhid (Oneness of Allah), Ilmu Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Ilmu Tasawwuf (focuses on the spiritual development of the Muslim), he added.

He said the Malay world, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Muslims of Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, still preserve this integration of these three branches of knowledge.

Tan Sri Prof Dr Mohd Kamal is presently a professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation, International Islamic University Malaysia.

The Brunei Times

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2015/11/04/need-revive-wasatiyyah-stressed

‘SE Asia set to lead Muslim world’: Malaysian Muslim Scholar

Tan_sunda-kelapa-4
Quratul-Ain Bandial
BRUNEI-MUARA

THE “centre of gravity” of the Muslim world will shift from the Middle East to Southeast Asia in the next 20 years, a well-known Islamic scholar said yesterday.

Speaking during a public lecture titled “Islam and the New ASEAN Community” at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan said the economic, political and social resources of the Middle East are drained.

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan

“I feel that given the chaos, the turmoil in the Middle East, the uncertainties and atrocities after the Arab Spring. What we have is not a spring but an eruption which has destroyed so much,” he later told The Brunei Times in an interview.

As half of ASEAN’s 600 million people are Muslims, countries like Brunei and Indonesia can lead the shift in moral and intellectual authority to Southeast Asia, he said.

“Brunei can be moral exemplar. How I see the possibility of Brunei playing a leading role is because religious values are being integrated, and corruption is low,” said the International Islamic University Malaysia professor.

“Although the sultanate is small, it can still lead because it is blessed with political and economic stability. A larger country like Indonesia can complement this by providing intellectual and academic leadership.”

Dr Mohd Kamal added that corruption and a culture of complacency are problems that plague the Muslim world, but what distinguishes ASEAN is its inter-communal relations.

“We have always lived with non-Muslims as our neighbours… there may be some political problems but we still respect people of other religions.”

“The cultural qualities of Southeast Asian people – the tolerance, the dynamism – Middle Eastern people should be looking at Southeast Asian people as the carriers of the humanitarian promise of Islam.”

Dr Mohd Kamal will be delivering a second public lecture at UBD’s chancellor hall today on Malay Islamic civilisation.

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

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http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2015/11/03/%E2%80%98se-asia-set-lead-muslim-world%E2%80%99

‘Religious differences should not harm unity’: Indonesian Muslim Scholar

religions

INTERFAITH cooperation is the way forward in maintaining unity among ASEAN member states and protecting their people from being drawn into radicalisation and violent extremism, a visiting Indonesian religious leader said.

Kyai Hj Hasyim Muzadi (pictured), a member of Indonesia’s Presidential Advisory Board, said ASEAN member states need to understand that they have people practising different religions in their countries.

“Differences in religious beliefs should not harm the unity and humanity,” he told reporters on the sidelines of his visit here yesterday.

KH Hasyim Muzadi

KH Hasyim Muzadi

The religious leader had earlier this week met His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

He said ASEAN should set a good example of promoting common understanding among people with different religious backgrounds.

To combat terrorism, he said ASEAN countries should promote “moderate thoughts of Islam, and put the religion in its place”.

“ASEAN should combat terrorism through moderation, not fundamentalism, not liberalism because moderation is the balance between faith and tolerance,” he said.

“If we have faith without tolerance, we will head towards fundamentalism and radicalism. If we radicalise religion, we will probably lose our faith and integrity in Islam or in other religions,” he added.

Kyai also spoke on the importance of building unity in diversity and putting into practice the rule of law.

“Each country in ASEAN must safeguard their people (against radicalisation and violent extremism) by putting into practice the rules and unity in the respective nation, such unity will subsequently be implemented together in the region as a whole,” he said.

Kyai said the real threat in connection to extremism includes an influx of thoughts that did not originate from Southeast Asia, but from other regions such as the Middle East or Europe.

“When such thoughts spread in the ASEAN region, what they bring in is not their religious faith or rituals but their political system and political situation from their country of origin,” he added.

The cleric also spoke on the importance of building unity in diversity and putting into practice the rule of law.

Earlier this month, the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism was held in Kuala Lumpur, in view of the security threats terrorist groups pose.

The Brunei Times

Saturday, October 31, 2015

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2015/10/31/%E2%80%98religious-differences-should-not-harm-unity%E2%80%99