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Archive for 02/08/2013


Flawed, unplanned

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in RA News

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The Ugly Truth


RA says first of all, Happy weekend to all of you. I’m still recovering from jet lag from my US trip and it’s not easy you know especially if you are traveling back and forth from the US in just less than a week. Nonetheless, it was a fun trip indeed and I would have chose the option to stay a night or two longer than usual. There were still places of interests that I didn’t manage to visit such as the space needle, Seattle Art Museum and the Pike Market to name a few. Hopefully I will be sent again to Seattle in September insyaAllah and I will make those visits a reality. Anyway, a big thanks to Royal Brunei Airlines and Boeing Company for the wonderful experience in Seattle for the past few days.

Ok for today’s Ugly Truth, it will be slightly controversial and it has been controversial from the public responses ever since The Brunei Times posted a front page article about the new directive where Non-muslims are not allowed to dine in restaurants and cafes that are owned by Muslims or partly owned by Muslims. This statement alone have already raised some eyebrows especially the way it was worded in the article as it can be perceived as racist or prejudice though I can assure that wasn’t the intention by them. I believe if the article was written or rephrased in a different manner, it would have eliminated the risk of such perception. Then again, such article is a tricky one to express with factual contents given by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) last week and for the past week or so, the hot topic has been this issue which has been reported six times in a span of a week in The Brunei Times.

My instagram posting alone last week hit a record 160 comments and it was the first time that I also posted something that I don’t 100% agree to an extent of the new directive set by MUIB. I knew what implications it might bring because it’s a religious related. Honestly, when the previous directive on the shops closing during Friday prayers, it was a culture shock for many but it was a good move and slowly many saw the significance and intention behind it.

However, for this particular directive, it has sparked some mixed feelings and some had good arguments and the rationale on why the new directive won’t seem fit for our country. The trending reason that I picked up from the discussions and comments boils down to “tolerance”. I do have a similar argument to this but what boggles me is the timing of the implementation of the directive from MUIB. Why was it announced by the halfway mark of Ramadhan? Yes, I have seen many argued for that this is the best move by MUIB.

However, they failed to see the inappropriate timing of the execution which was in the middle of the Ramadhan which made the council looked unprepared for such a plan. In other words, it wasn’t a properly executed plan. For a proper execution, they would have done an awareness campaign to inform the public through the media prior to Ramadhan rather than an impromptu deployment of the directive which caused a huge culture shock to many.

The new directive that stirred some mixed feelings from the public. Click image to read the comments from my instagram posting.

I do appreciate MUIB for carrying out their duties for the good of Brunei and also shaping Brunei into a Zikir Nation. Perhaps the execution of things could have been done more appropriate and timely too. With the recent coverage in The Brunei Times, this doesn’t look good on the image of the council and I have predicted that it might end up with a scenario like this.

This situation could have given much thought and even the Municipal Board has come into the picture as they are the one issuing memos to restaurants and cafes on the new directive. However, it was to the public’s knowledge that NO ACTION will be taken against Muslim restaurant owners should they still allow dining in service in their premises during Ramadhan. It was mentioned in The Brunei Times that this is just an awareness period to advise and inform the public of the new directive. Hence no action will be taken against Muslim operators who served during the day time.

This is one reason why I thought that the new directive seemed so rushed and now even the public seemed uncertain of the situation. After the announcement from the Municipal Board, I have a few restaurant owners who are quite furious as they have already taken steps in changing their business hours. This is the kind of stuff that could have been avoided. Where’s the proper planning and execution of the new directive?

To be fair, there are quite a number of people that applauded such move by the MUIB and it’s 60/40 are against the new ruling according to the comments I received on my instagram. I would like to thank my followers on instagram on their comments (pros and cons) and it is nice to have different views of things and that’s the great gift that we all have – the expression of our thoughts and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to agree or disagree with it because we are entitled to our opinions. What pisses me off are people who are rude and inconsiderate in replying comments in an uncivilized manner which makes a discussion fruitless and less constructive. In this month of Ramadhan, it’s about our inner strength, faith, discipline and patience to name a few.

I’m happy that The Brunei Times are quite engrossed in this issue and it’s no surprise that their hits are hitting like crazy ever since it became a debatable topic. I’m pretty sure this will still be an ongoing topic and I’m not sure if MUIB will be reviewing the policy after some mixed responses from the public. For you info, the MUIB stated the the new ruling was in accordance with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darusslam’s 2007 titah to turn Brunei into a Zikir nation which was highlighted in today’s paper.

All in all, I hope MUIB will review the new ruling and that’s just my opinion and I welcome positive and constructive criticism for a more open ended dialogue. Sorry for the long rant 😀 Happy Ramadhan.




August 2013
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