Who buried ‘The Brunei Times’?

Image result for the brunei times closure

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.


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.


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.”


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










Brunei’s second-largest daily newspaper shuts down abruptly


Rozanna Latiff


BRUNEI’s second-largest daily newspaper, The Brunei Times, published its final edition on Monday, after abruptly announcing plans for closure over the weekend, triggering online speculation about the reason.

The daily, which was launched in 2006, announced on its Sunday front page that it would cease publication the next day.

On Monday, it said in a longer notice that the closure was due to “business issues, reporting and journalistic standards that should meet the mark set, and also issues relating to business sustainability…”

The daily did not address posts on social media that it had been ordered to shut down for publishing an article on Oct. 26 about changes in visa fees imposed by the Saudi Arabian government for Brunei haj pilgrims.

The daily carried an apology for the article on its website on Friday.

A spokesman for The Brunei Times declined to comment on the posts and instead referred Reuters to Monday’s front page statement. He said the newspaper had 110 people on its staff.

The Prime Minister’s Department did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

“The Brunei Times… no longer has sustainable resources to continue its media and publication operations and the company’s Board of Directors has agreed that the best course of action is to close down the paper,” the paper’s notice said.


Monday, 7 November 2016









The Burning Europe

charliemagepaIkhwanul Kiram Mashuri

WHAT really happen in several countries in Europe? France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine was being attacked. About 12 people were murdered, including a Muslim police — out of two police who were killed during the attack.

The Moroccan-born Muslim police is Ahmad Murabith, 42 years. In the footage, his foot was shot. When he tried to get up, an attacker confronted him and shot him right in his head. He fell and died in the place.

Few days later, a gunman took a number of hostages n Jewish kosher supermarket Hyper Cache in Vincennes, Paris. The gunman and four hostages were killed during the police raid.

A day after Charlie Hebdo attack, British Intelligence Agency, MI5, warned that Al Qaeda militants in Syria were plotting attacks to inflict mass casualties in the West. The aim is to create massive casualties similar to what they have killed in World Trade Center, New York, US in 2001. Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people.

“The often attack transport system or iconic targets,” Head of MI5 Security Service, Andrew Parker, said.

Few days before in Germany, or Dresden to be exact, up to 18,000 people attended a rally with the Anti-Islamic Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West). The rally has spread to Munich, Berlin, Tostock, Wurzburg, Dusseldorf and Bonn.

The racial rally was responded by another group which defends Muslim community in Germany. With similar number of people, they upstaged a rallt in Dresden, Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart, Muenster and Hamburg. Fortunately, the two groups didn’t clash.

Islamophobia or hatred towards Islam, Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim appears in other countries in Europe. Besides France and Germany, the attack towards Muslim and its facilities happened in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and others. Several mosques were attacked and burned down.

With two bloody events in Paris, the tension emerges in Europe. Europe is burning. Distrust and suspicion even develop in citizen of Europe, especially towards Muslim.

In Belgium, al Sharq al Awsat reported that Muslim, especially female who wear hijab, are afraid to go outside of their house. They are afraid that stangers will attack them. “The Charlie Hebdo attack increases Islamophobia in Belgium,” Sheikh Muhammad at Tamami, the imam of Masjid al Hamidin in Anderlecht, Belgium, said. Anderlecht is predominantly Muslim neighborhood.

In France, the attack towards mosque and other Islamic facilities is rising since Charlie Hebdo attack. So in other European countries.

Then, who takes the advantages of the attack towards Charlie Hebdo and hostage in kosher supermarket? Muslim clearly doesn’t take the advantages. So does government and citizen in Europe. European countries, such as UK, France and Germany is democratic, secular, tolerant and supporting freedom.

That is why, President of France Francois Hollande and German Counselor Angela Merkel must neutralize the attack towards Charlie Hebdo and anti-Islamic rally in order not to become inter-religious conflict. “The attackers of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are not related to Islam,” Hollande said. “The rally is conducted by people who do not respect diversity in Germany,” Merkel said.

Those who take the advantages from Charlie Hebdo attack and the burning of mosques are radicalism and extremism groups. Radicalism and extremism are ideology. Ideology which allows any ways to reach a target. The action that justify any means gives birth to terrorism.

In Europe, the radical and extrimist come from both Muslim and non-Muslim. The cause varies. In German, for instance, about 18,000 people who attented anti-Islamic rally were furious due to economic downturn. They are disappointed as they cannot compete with Muslim immigrants. They are racist. They may also hate the behavior of hardline Islam which cause terror everywhere.

Radical and extremist also appear in Germany. They maybe small in number, but they inflict losses to 3 million of Muslim in Germany. The 3 million Muslims who lived in peace among 80 million of German citizens. German, likes any other people who live in the world, knows that radical Muslim like Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jabharu an Nasrah and others poses terror everywhere.

The attack towards Charlie Hebdo in Paris surely will raise Islamophobia in the West. The attack that killed 12 people brings more harassment towards mosques in France and other European countries.

We condemn terrorism conducted by any body from any group. Not only for the attackers of Charlie Hebdo, but also for those who publish the magazine.

Charlie Hebdo which has insulted Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and Islamic symbols several times is also a terrorist. They are terrorizing the faith of Muslim. And also other parties such as anti-Islamic rally in Germany.

Freedom is important. However, it must be followed by responsibility. A responsibility to avoid hatred and anger. Responsibility to create peace in the middle of pluralistic people.

In this frame, we must fight radical and extremism. They are our enemy.

Sat, 17 January 2015


NU: Charlie Hebdo is stupid, has not taken a cue




An associate chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has expressed disappointment over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to again publish a caricature of Prophet Muhammad on the cover of its latest issue.

“This means Charlie Hebdo’s editors are not smart. They have not taken a cue from the recent incident that has also made their fellows victims,” remarked Slamet Effendy Yusuf, the associate chairman of one of Indonesia’s mainstream Islamic organizations.

Indeed, the attack on the French satirical magazine’s office in France was not justifiable and deserved to be called an inhumane act of terrorism, he stated.

However, the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign as a slogan adopted by supporters of free speech and freedom of expression to express solidarity with the publication is also not entirely acceptable, moreover under the concept of freedom of expression, he reiterated.

“It is wrong to generalize all people as Charlie Hebdo. The West must learn to respect the Eastern view that freedom of expression must be implemented with responsibility and empathy towards what others believe,” he noted.

Slamet Effendy Yusuf

Slamet Effendy Yusuf

Slamet condemned the attackers of Charlie Hebdo who killed 17 people and called them fools. However, he also said that the editors who decided to continue to publish the latest Charlie Hebdo issue with Prophet Muhammad’s caricature were equally fools.

He emphasized that the West must be able to rectify its behavior. Even in the West, numerous articles have been published emphasizing the importance of implementing freedom of expression with responsibility and morality.

“Freedom of expression must not offer room to insults and abuses on what billions of people in the world consider as holy. The incident will continue to occur if the media continues to adopt this attitude, and the public allows it to continue,” he remarked.

Slamet stated that every form of insult on any religion, be it Judaism or Christianity and holy figures of religion such as Jesus or Mohammad, is not justifiable.

“Moreover, in Islam, visualization of Prophet Muhammad is banned,” he pointed out.

Charlie Hebdo, in its latest issue, has depicted a caricature of Prophet Muhammad on its cover with the words “He Suis Charlie” and the words “Tout East Pardonne” appearing above his white turban that translate to “all is pardoned.”

Nearly three million copies of the issue have, so far, been printed, which is far above the regular number of only 60 thousand, in 16 different languages and will be circulated across 25 countries.


Wed, 14 January 2015


Indonesian Presidential candidate Prabowo accuses ‘The Jakarta Post’ undemocratic, jerk

jpErik Purnama Putra

PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the Red and White Coalition Prabowo Subianto opened interview with foreign media at the Freedom Institute, Monday (14/7). The Hatta Rajasa pair was accidentally opened the debriefing room for foreign media after the declaration event of a permanent coalition of Red and White at the Proclamation Monument in Central Jakarta.

Prabowo was standing at the podium that has been provided in one room. He answered a few questions from foreign journalists. On one occasion, a woman journalist from The Jakarta Post media posed a question in English.

The journalist mentions her name and then his media. “From The Jakarta Post. To clarify ..,” he said. Journalist’s question was cut off.

Prabowo hurried remarks, also in English. “From Jakarta Post? Jakarta Post is already untie me. Why do you have to ask questions? You’re not going to publish it,” said the former commander of the Army Strategic Reserve Command.

The journalist chuckled and promised to publish it. However Prabowo still persists with his attitude. “I’m very open. The Jakarta Post has been clearly partisan. They always publish half at my ease. Sorry,” said the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Gerindra.

Get answers Prabowo, the journalist was still trying to ask questions. But Prabowo budged. “Thank you. I’m sorry. Jakarta Post, I do not want to answer. Sorry,” said the former commander of Kopassus (Army’s Special Forces Command).

The journalist then replied, “At least I’ve tried.” Prabowo still have an answer to that statement. “Yes you’ve tried. It is not your fault, but the owner of your media,” Prabowo said, laughing.

In the end Prabowo did not answer the questions of the journalists by the Jakarta Post. He still had time to respond to the reporter by saying, no longer works for the media carrying the democratic principle. “Because your media owner does not uphold democracy,” says Prabowo.

While the question and answer session goes on. Prabowo still serve inquiries from other media. As known, The Jakarta Post decided to support Jokowi-JK in presidential elections on July 9. The English-language newspaper affirmed to support one candidate in an editorial column.

Mon, 14 July 2014



Western media and art of distorting narrative

gazAsif Ullah Khan

“ISRAEL under renewed Hamas attack”, says BBC while CNN headline is more dramatic “Rockets rain on southern Israel”. The front page of USA Today reads “Israel: rocket fired every ten minutes” and “How Hamas reached deeper into Israel”. The New York Times ran the headline “Israel vs Gaza: for now, it’s rockets vs interceptors”.

If this was not enough, doyen of broadcast journalism ABC News’ Diane Sawyer went overboard to paint Israel as the “victim”. She in her news programme says “We take you overseas now to rockets raining down on Israel today as Israel tried to shoot them out of the sky. Then she shows video footage of a Palestinian family gathering belongings in the smoking debris of a missile-hit home in Gaza. But Sawyer identifies it as “an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can.”

gazaSawyer then describes an image of a Palestinian woman surrounded by destroyed homes as “one woman standing speechless among the ruins,” with the implication that she is Israeli.

We must bear in mind that the above mentioned cases come not from right-wing Fox News but the mainstream news organisations which are not only known for their accuracy but also their balanced coverage, meaning showing both sides of the picture, in this case — the conflict.

gaza1The irony is that BBC, the epitome of fair and balanced journalism, has become a propaganda tool for Israel. Writing in The Guardian, Owen Jones says the macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life – this is the hierarchy of death at work.

Jones further says: But the media coverage hardly reflects the reality: a military superpower armed with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Delilah missiles, IAI Heron-1 drones and Jericho II missiles (and nuclear bombs, for that matter), versus what David Cameron describes as a “prison camp” firing almost entirely ineffective missiles. Twenty-seven Palestinians are reported to have died in Gaza – and, mercifully, no Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets – and yet the BBC opts for the Orwellian “Israel under renewed Hamas attack”.

Jones goes on: And so it goes for the events surrounding the abduction and vile murder of three Israeli teenagers. What was not widely reported by the western media was that – in the raids that followed their disappearance – six Palestinians, including a child, were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank. As Amnesty International put it, these were “blatant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law”.

gaza2Such concerted campaign against the Palestinians cannot be termed as an editorial oversight. As they say there is method in the madness. Israeli propagandists infiltrated into major news organisations have very sinisterly changed the narrative. Israel has become the “victim”. The Goliath of the Middle East armed with world’s most modern war machine has become David, defending itself against onslaught of rockets fired by Hamas.

The entire Western media is in sync as far as the narrative of the conflict is concerned. Israeli atrocities, its illegal expansion of settlements and denial of basic human rights to Palestinians do not find place in news headlines rather a new term has been introduced Hamas-run, Hamas-run hospital etc.

People are surprised how a journalist of Diane Sawyer’s calibre could commit such a silly mistake.

Sawyer is not new to the Middle East. She has extensively covered this region and even interviewed Yasser Arafat.

All this is the result of a powerfully sophisticated public relations strategy orchestrated by Israel and partially paid for by US tax dollars, which has even made inroads into BBC.

According to Redress Information & Analysis, an independent website dedicated to exposing injustice, disinformation and bigotry, Raffi Berg, the editor of the BBC News website’s Middle East section, has been sending his staff emails advising them to write more favourably about Israel. In one email, sent during Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012, which killed nearly 200 Palestinians, Berg asked BBC colleagues to word their stories in a way which does not blame or “put undue emphasis” on Israel for starting the prolonged attacks. Instead, he encouraged journalists to promote the Israeli government line that the “offensive” was “aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza”.

The pro-Israeli media has not only distorted the reality but also changed the entire narrative of illegal occupation of the Palestinian land. The Israeli viewpoint is presented in such a way that it is divorced from the history of the conflict. Like the present situation, the main story is rockets fired by Hamas but the context and background of what Israel has done in Gaza is completely absent from the narrative and this is done with such finesse and subtlety that the aggressor and oppressor becomes the victim and real victims are portrayed as aggressors or attackers. Pictures of Palestinian children throwing stones at tanks are prominently shown to justify every killing by Israeli soldiers and bombing raids by F-16s. Words like Israeli war crimes, massacres, assaults, invasion, raids and offensives are not used while reporting Israeli aggression and any reference to previous Israeli killings or attacks is missing.

All Israeli bombings are referred to as a defensive measures or retaliation which can’t be any farther from the reality as it is the Palestinians who are resisting and taking defensive measures against the Israel aggression. No matter how many innocent civilians, including children, are killed, no matter how many homes are destroyed, the western media narrative remains pro-Israel, echoing the policies of their governments. One TV anchor has rightly called US journalists as stenographers for the US government.

The Brunei Times
Mon, 14 july 2014



PBNU: Islamophobia reason behind ‘The Jakarta Post’ caricature


CHAIRMAN of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU) Slamet Effendy Yusuf said that The Jakarta Post caricature, which is insulting and offending to Islam, was born out of an Islamophobic attitude.

“The caricature of The Jakarta Post cannot be accepted by common sense, particularly based on truth or religious belief,” Slamet Effendy Yusuf stated here on Tuesday.

Slamet said that Islamophobia had begun from hatred and suspicion against Muslims.

Slamet Effendy Yusuf

Slamet Effendy Yusuf

According to him, the appearance of the caricature has confirmed the covert attitudes that have been perceived by the readers about the policy of English-language newspaper published in Jakarta.

“It is clear that the caricature is a form of sacrilege and desecration to the religion that has the largest following in this country,” he asserted.

Previously, the Indonesian public was shocked by the publication of the caricature in The Jakarta Post on July 3.

Within the caricature, some elements are present that are insulting and offensive to Islam. The symbols and writings in the caricature have important meaning in Islamic theology.

In the caricature, the phrase “La ilaha illallaah” was present over the image of a skull. In fact, the sentence contains the testimony about submission to the power of God.

In addition, lafaz Allah and the Prophet Muhammad SAW are present in the circle of the skull. Lafaz Allah and the prophet are the most fundamental figures in Islamic theology. One is considered to be a Muslim only if the person believes in Allah as God and Muhammad as Apostle.

Tue, 8 July 2014