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Posts Tagged ‘BEDB’

21
Jan

It has been told

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News

 

At-Taqwa Travel & Tour 
 


A new travel agent in town
 

  
 

 

Ultraman visits Children’s Ward 
 

Ultramar brings cheers at Children’s Ward at RIPAS

 

 

 

Jong Sarat Show 
 


Happening this Friday and Saturday
 

Synopsis of Jong Sarat: Each struggles between duty and desire: pragmatic Razak, who wants to support his family; dreamy Nur, who is torn between her father’s wishes and her own yearnings; frustrated Asmali, who always feels like second best; and loyal Salmah, who wants only to nurture the friendships around her as carefully as she nurtures her parents’ Jong Sarat business.

One more until their second original production ‘Jong Sarat’! Get your tickets *TODAY* for either of these production nights:

Friday, 22nd January 2016, 7pm
Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 7pm

Tickets are available at SM Yayasan SHHB Primary School Hall this week from 4pm – 9.30pm. You’ll also be able to grab them at The Library Cafe @thelibrarycafebwn and Caffé Verve @ Alliance Francaise de Brunei @vervespresso. You can view more on their info at their website

Check the map for our venue and ticket collection point! Kindly contact for more information (via message only).

Telegram:telegram.me/seedsjongsarat
Whatsapp: +6738678673 for tickets updates.

 


Some of the cast of Jong Sarat. Image by Ikhwan Salleh of The Brunei Times.
 


One of the many characters in Jong Sarat, the second original production by Seeds Brunei, during a rehearsal held recently. Image by Ikhwan Salleh of The Brunei Times.
 

  
 

Enterprise Open Day 
 


Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim highlighted and acknowledged that the country needs to stimulate economic growth through SMEs as the current oil prices have impacted the Brunei revenue stream during the launch of the Enterprise Open Day for Small and Medium Enterprises at Design and Technology Building located in the Anggerek Desa Technology Park
 

The Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (“EIDPMO”) organised an Enterprise Open Day for Small and Medium Enterprises (“SMEs”). Today (Thursday) will be the final day for the event.

The Enterprise Open Day event is aimed at increasing awareness of the various enterprise support services available as well as identifying issues faced by existing and upcoming by entrepreneurs in Brunei Darussalam.

 Held at the Design and Technology Building located in the Anggerek Desa Technology Park, the event opened on Tuesday, 19 January 2015 and will continue on Wednesday and Thursday from 8am to 5pm. The Enterprise Open Day is based around the theme, “Leading Economic Growth and Contributing to GDP for Brunei Darussalam” and was officiated by the Guest of Honour, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim.

Also in attendance were Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Kolonel (B) Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Roselan bin Haji Mohd Daud, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hisham bin Haji Mohd Hanifah, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Finance, Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Dr. Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Finance, Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as directors of all the participating agencies.

 

 

 

 

 

After a brief opening ceremony, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdul Rahman took a tour of the booths set up by both government agencies and financial institutions as well as the ‘Enterprise Issues’ log in desk and Business Advisory Clinics.

Businesses planning to utilise any of these services, should bring their form 16 and 17 and company chop.

Also in conjunction with The Enterprise Open Day, is the launch of the business.gov.bn website and the Central Payment System (“CPS”). The business.gov.bn is a portal providing a single source of information of business-related government services across various Ministries and agencies. The CPS is a payment module under the E-Government Platform enabling customers to pay via online for Government e-services.

One biz will be the first e-service to use CPS with the long term goal of expanding this payment service to other Government e-services. The ‘Enterprise Issues’ log in desk is made available to collect information on any issues or challenges met by local SMEs in Brunei Darussalam.

There will also be presentations by Wawasan Secretariat, Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam (“AMBD”) and Brunei Intellectual Property (“BruIPO”) conducted on Wednesday and Thursday to provide insights and information for those attending Enterprise Open Day. Business advisory clinics will also be made available by various agencies including EIDPMO, various banks, BruIPO and LiveWire. Enterprise Open Day saw the participation of agencies both from government and financial institutions setting up support service and information counters to assist enterprises to better understand the assistance provided by the sultanate.

These include Wawasan 2035 Secretariat, Ease of Doing Business, FDI Centre, Registry of Companies and Business Names from Ministry of Finance, Revenue Division from Ministry of Finance, BruIPO, E-Government National Centre (“EGNC”), Labour Department, Royal Customs and Excise Department, Tabung Amanah Pekerja (“TAP”), AMBD, BAG Networks Sdn Bhd, Authority for Building Control & Construction Industry (“ABCi”) and banks.

 

 

 

 

  
 

 

 

The Big 10 
 

 

Borneo Insider’s Guide (BiG) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with The BiG 10th Anniversary Picnic Festival at the Jerudong Park Colonnade this Sunday, 24th January 2016, from 2pm – 10pm. There will be open-air picnic spots; 8 live music performances by Maria ‘Eia’ Grace Koh, Kala K, with support from DIG Records Preservation Blues Jazz Hall Band and friends; lucky draws, an adult colouring competition and a photo competition with prizes to be won, great food and creative crafts on sale by 50 local and regional vendors. The BiG anniversary event is not just a celebration of BiG magazine’s 10th year in print, but it is also to raise money for two local charities: Majlis Kesejahteraan Masyarakat (MKM) and Care and Actions for Strays (CAS).

  
 

The KK Experience 
 

 

 

It’s always fun traveling in groups because it gives a different sense of fun and bonding. This time, 20 from Brunei Toastmasters (BSC, UBD, BASC and Otters) traveled to Kota Kinabalu for a joint meeting with KK toastmasters, its first ever to be conducted. The toastmasters meeting followed the Brunei agenda and format to share experience with the KK toastmasters on how it is being conducted in Brunei.

I noticed some differences from Brunei and KK in terms of the agenda. Firstly, the table topic speeches take place in the first half of the meeting. Brunei toastmasters had this practice for many years until they change the format a few years ago and it has been very effective for speech evaluators and time management.

Secondly, the KK toastmasters have an invocator to kick off the meeting, toasting to Yang Di Pertain Agong and Yang Di Pertua Negeri Sabah and lastly to Toastmasters International. Interesting. We don’t practice that in Brunei.

Lastly, just a few things such as a Humour Master for KK side for a max of 5 minutes to entertain the audience and the different role of the Table Topics Evaluator where he or she focuses more on the Table Topics Master then briefly on the Table Topics speakers.

On Sunday, we had a leadership training on how to improve the clubs and also to retrain the executive committees (Exco) of the various toastmasters club from KK and Brunei. This training is normally carried out at least twice a year in hoping the Excos that attended can share their knowledge to their respective clubs.

Overall, a fruitful weekend I had and a big thank you to my KK friends, Phylicia, Laurence and Jerry, for bring me around last weekend. I’m also glad that Brunei Speakers’ Club has two new members now – Satra and Alfa. Our club is definitely growing but let’s not forget the older members who have played an important role in sustaining the club.

 

The collaboration between KK and Brunei toastmasters meeting
 

The Toastmasters Learning Institute (training) 
 

Our champion and role model Shawn
 

Thank you, Phylicia, for bringing me around
 

My partner in crime, Laurence, who shared tips on motivating speech evaluators. Thanks for bringing me around and the car ride 🙂
 

The toastmasters from Sandakan Club – Kwan and Jerry – promoting their conference in April
 

The best part of KK – SEAFFODDDDDDDD
 

Representing OTTERS Toastmaster Club 
 

The Ease Hotel room – Cheap (BND 45), small, no windows, good wifi, good water pressure and heater, 10 TV channels only. Stayed  here for a night.
 

Thanks KK gang for sending off at the airport last Sunday. You all are always great at hosting Bruneians.
 

The day Supatra and I wore black from KK *lol*
 

  
 

Netcom at Hua Ho Manggis 
 


Netcom associates with a Hua Ho staff (in red) at the new Netcom IT department located at Hua Ho Manggis
 


Razer products at discounted price until 8th February
 

In a partnership to better serve their customers, Netcom have opened their 2nd IT Department collaboration with Hua Ho Department Store. Situated at Hua Ho Manggis, the new IT Department is a strategic location to serve the residents of Jalan Muara.

This collaboration is an extension of the business partnership between Hua Ho and Netcom, with the success of the IT Department in the Hua Ho Yayasan Branch.

The Hua Ho Manggis IT Department is open daily from 10am – 10pm and is located on the 2nd Floor. It features a full range of Razer and Dell products, as well as gaming gear such as Kingston, HyperX, Logitech and Prolink. Other available products include networking solutions, pen drives, cartridges and also a full range of consumer printers from Canon.

Mr. Vincent Goh, Managing Director of Netcom, said ” We deeply appreciate the trust and the strong support from our business partner, Hua Ho. We are thankful to Netcom customers for supporting us all these years, and we are committed to providing excellent services, quality products and competitive prices to the public.”

To celebrate the opening, Netcom is offering slashed prices for Razer and other selected products until February 8th. For every purchase of $100 and over in a single receipt, customers will receive an exclusive Dell umbrella.

 

 

 

 

  
 

20
Nov

Winning isn’t everything

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News

 

As large as life 
 


Check out the V-Class from Mercedes-Benz at the Jati Transport Showroom in Gadong. Refreshments will be served today
 

 

Kreatif Tech, the new hero 
 


The Champions of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015 led by @ghazi.jo (2nd from right) with his proud sister Izzah Jomari. The team presented their idea on a device for vehicles where it will send emergency dispatch on the occurrence of an accident or instant impact. This is a very cool idea knowing that rate of accidents in Brunei is quite high. Congratulations to team KreatifTech.
 


Hajah Hasnah Hj Ibrahim, Acting CEO of Brunei Economic Development Board (centre) with the top 3 winners of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015 and the judges. The event took place at Design & Technology Building at Anggrek Desa.
 

Open concept, yes!!! I love it. I believe this is a great way to share and give more exposure on the concept to students and potential start-ups on how pitching and presentations are done. The public will also get to understand the prototypes or ideas presented by the finalists of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge. This is the 8th edition of the business plan competition organised by Brunei Economic Development Board and iCentre and it was previously under the brand name of “ThinkBig” before it rebranded to “Ignite”.

I favoured the idea that the competition only lasted in less than 3 months. Otherwise, the competition could get draggy as it was a few years ago. During the press conference of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015 back in mid September, the organisers shared that they were looking for validations and commercialisation of their ideas and concepts and not just focusing on Brunei market but abroad. Forward to the present moment, chief judge Soon Loo, local partner and co-managing director of Seri Venture Capital Management Sdn Bhd, commented that all the finalists yesterday demonstrated high quality of ideas but lacking the execution should they explore outside Brunei. It was also the first time that the announcement of the winners was build in a more suspense manner initiated by the chief judge where usually the announcement were done by the emcee. So I am happy to see new changes in the format of the finals of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Perhaps another obvious difference is that the co-organisers decided to remove the student category and allow the students from high schools, tertiary and university institution to compete among the big players. This competition alone drew 51 submissions during the preliminary round (48 for Open and 3 for International). By October, only 22 submissions were shortlisted. By November, six teams made it to the finals for the Open Category and 1 only for International. I’m quite happy that there were all new faces so it gives me a more refreshing feel. Furthermore, the average age of the team is pretty young and not all of them have business background to begin with.

 


Anxious moment for the finalists as Soon Loo was announcing the top 3 winners.
 


Team Neogene was one of the finalists. They centred their idea of geology and market it with a tourism angle. I like their idea actually and this can bring loads of revenue to the economy if proper execution. But it’s true what the judges said that it will take years to reach that milestone.
 


Jodie Lim was the first presenter yesterday. Her team Nurture Enterprise proposed the idea of installing solar chimneys and earth tubes in any building and by doing this, it will reduce electricity costs, resulting in the cooling of greenhouse gases. The chief judge shared that this concept can take off if they can apply for the IPO.
 


One of the most confident presenters in the finals. Team Adi Iskandar Basri came up with the idea of a “Skipping” app. That’s right. A skipping app where you can skip queues. He gave examples about those queueing in banks. I’m quite impressed with his delivery as he believed in the product. Even my peers were talking about it on the group chat. Perhaps the judges were looking for something more of a substance. Keep it up, buddy! #dontgiveup
 


@ghazi.jo and his team of KreatifTech during their presentation of the special device for vehicle in emergency cases. During the interview, he shared the idea of the app came about when his friend Syazwan passed away in a tragic accident end of last year. It was also the first time their team joined the Ignite competition and they were recommended by their friends to join. He thanked all the finalists and they all deserved to be in the finals.
 


The best part of the finals is that the public was more than welcome to watch it live through webcam. The audience watched the whole presentation at the auditorium room. I hope this trend will continue for next year’s Ignite. Good job, BEDB!!
 

 

From what I can see is that “Ignite” is aiming to aspire the public that any idea that you have in mind can be made possible. It’s not about the winning the competition. It’s about embarking the journey of embracing your ideas and experiencing the process – writing an executive summary, creating a team, running surveys and focus groups, attending workshops and learn from seasoned mentors, creating presentation slides, pitching your ideas, networking and there are just many possibilities that you can learn by just participating Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge. The biggest value that I learn from this competition is the value of courage and I applaud to all the 51 teams that submitted their business ideas to the organisers.

Even Soo Loo commented that it’s not about winning or losing. He experienced of not being placed in a business competition but his idea materialised in the real business environment and it has become a success. The same can be said for PHMD MindPlus who came 3rd in Ignite Open Category 2012 and now their expanding operations in Indonesia. So to the other finalists who weren’t placed, do not be discouraged. You all did the best you could yesterday and I was impressed by all the presenters, even with their ideas. Who knows you can apply for grants in BEDB or AITI and you can turn your ideas or prototypes into reality. So don’t feel defeated but feel appreciative and honoured because you made this far.

Thank you, BEDB for giving me this opportunity to watch all the finalists and I’m pretty sure those who showed up yesterday felt privileged to witness all the presenters.

The prizes were presented by Hajah Hasnah Hj Ibrahim, Acting CEO of Brunei Economic Development Board.

 


Jamie Liu of Inncee (Singapore) was the only team that made it to the finals in the International Category. Her company provides analytical services to help businesses improve their revenue by gaining data. They have simulated one of the businesses in Singapore. Well done on winning the International category.
 


Team Guru consists of two awesome tennis players who came up with the idea of connecting coaches/trainers to sport enthusiasts through means of the Guru apps. They also joined the competition because it was an idea they had in mind for a long time but never materialised. So what a way to introduce their idea through the Ignite competition. Is this app doable in Brunei? I would believe so with proper implementation and marketing strategy. Keep it up, ladies!! Proud of you!!
 


The Runner up for the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015 – Team Nurture Enterprise and they received BND 15,000
 


The winner of the International Category with BND 10,000 – Team Inncee
 


The 2nd runner up, Team NewGate Plus, who won BND 10,000. They are now heading in Malaysia as they were selected to represent Brunei in the ASEAN Impact Challenge 2015 in Kuala Lumpur and guess what? They are now in KL for the event. They came up with a noble cause app that ensures that there is enough supply and demand of blood storage for the community. The judges shared that they scored the highest for social impact but will need a strong support from the Ministry of Health to make this app sustainable in a long run. Good luck in KL and congratulations in finishing Top 3.
 


Zharul Ghazi Jomari and his team, Kreatif Tech, received the winning prize of BND 25,000 from Hajah Hasnah Hj Ibrahim, Acting CEO of Brunei Economic Development Board.
 


The most enterprising judge that I’ve come across and Soon Loo has given a different dimension in the judging department. He is one busy man who travels at least a few times in a month alone and he claimed that he doesn’t even have a frequent fly programme. His biggest milestone or one of them is was being awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World award in 2013.
 


All is not lost for other finalists as local SMES still want to engage with participants on their ideas. Here we see Mr. Ang of 3G Media talking to one of the finalists of the Guru App mobile application.
 


Radi El Fassed, Acting Head of Product Development, Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd, was amazed with the presenters and hope to work with some of the finalists for future opportunities. He was one of the judges of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015
 


A Singaporean lady giving some tips to the Neogene team.
 

 

 

19
Nov

Blue is the warmest colour

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News

 

Congratulations SGRA 
 


This morning we witnessed a young team, SGRA, who were crowned the champion of the Ignite Entrepreneurship Challenge 2015 and they were rewarded with a winning prize of BND 25,000. The team was led by Ghazi Jo and the mock cheque was presented by Acting CEO of Brunei Economic Development Board, Hajah Hasnah Hj Ibrahim. More stories tomorrow on blog.
 

 

 

Free Entry 
 

 


Can DPMM FC clinch their maiden S•League title this weekend? Image courtesy of S•League Facebook Page.
This is it!! It’s down to the wire… DPMM FC has another chance and in the driving seat to win the S•League for the first time ever.. Yes, first time ever.. The final game will take place this Saturday evening 21st November at Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium. They will take on Balestier Khalsa the team that have defeated DPMM FC twice this season with a 2-1 score line. It will be the toughest and also the most crucial game for DPMM FC. It’s a must win.. Simple as that..

The other team in the race for the title is Tampines Rover FC. They will face Harimau Muda in the final day of the season too. DPMM FC can still clinch the title if the host draw with Balestier and Tampines only win by a single goal. But of course, a win is much better.

T-shirts will be handed out to spectators on a first come first serve basis, and there are also 25 lucky draw prizes up for grabs including three return tickets – with the destination yet to be determined – sponsored by Royal Brunei (RB). Furthermore there will be NO ENTRY FEE for the final match between DPMM FC and Balestier Khalsa FC. Good news to all DPMM FC players.

Good luck and I shall be covering the match this Saturday too.

 

 

The Sexy Audi TT 
 


Look at the new Audi TTS. Sleeker and powerful. I love everything about this car.
 


I took the Audi TTS for a good spin yesterday
 

My experience: Pretty awesome!!! The closest thing I drove as a sports boutique car. It felt pretty low and it was pretty stable when I took it for a test drive. I had the privilege to drive the beautiful blue Audi TTS edition, courtesy of T.C.Y. Motors yesterday.

What impressed me is the Audi Virtual Cockpit. This is something new introduced in Audi models and now you don’t need a digital dashboard as everything appears behind the steering wheel. The 12.3 inch display monitor is enough to give enough information to the driver and you can even switch modes by clicking the menu on the steering wheel. I haven’t really explore the Audi Virtual Cockpit but looks impressive so far.

I remember seeing the first edition of the Audi TT a couple of years ago. Yes, it did look sexy back then but now the latest design and body give a sexier feel and I love the sporty kit on the Audi TTS edition. For the TTS model, you will also enjoy the sound system of Bang & Olufsen. I’m still bummed that I wasn’t able to make it to Denmark for the Bang & Olufsen’s event back in October.

If you want to check out the Audi TTS version, head over to T.C.Y. Motors during office hours. It’s the best Audi TT model among the lot with 310 horsepower output with a new generation of quattro all-drive system (4 wheel drive). I hope to get another test drive again 😀 (Thanks, John).

 


Handling is superb even in corners
 


The interior of the Audi TTS
 


The Audi Virtual Cockpit is innovative
 

 


The blind spot light alerts off incoming cars from the side
 

A modern classic, redesigned and reborn: The third generation of the iconic Audi TT arrived on the global market in 2014, and it continues to fascinate with the driving dynamics of a sports car. It’s operating concept centered around its digital cockpit sets new standards of excellence.

Design and body
Audi designers reinterpreted the lines of the original 1998 TT and added dynamic facets to the design. Audi offers headlights with LED technology or Matrix LED technology. Dynamic turn signals are another feature of the lighting system. The headlights are designed with a pattern of divider bars that emit the daytime driving lights. The tail lights also contain continually illuminated bars of light.

The body of the TT represents a new evolutionary stage of the Audi Space Frame (ASF). The occupant cell plus all the components of the outer shell and attached parts are made of aluminium. The TT 2.0 TFSI with 6-speed S tronic transmission sets the new benchmark for low weight at just 1,260 kg (without driver). With the S line exterior package, it attains a low Cd figure of 0.29.

Drive system
Audi Brunei is offering the new generation TT with the 2.0 TFSI with 169 kW (230 hp) and 370 Nm (272.9 lb‑ft) of torque paired with a six-speed S tronic and a new evolutionary stage of the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system (for the TTS).

Chassis
Clutch management is incorporated into the 5-mode Audi drive select. This system lets the driver control the operation of key technology modules in a variety of different modes. These modules include the adaptive damper control system Audi magnetic ride (optional).

Other chassis highlights include progressive steering, four-link rear suspension and electronic stabilization control (ESC). ESC functions include torque vectoring, which is activated in fast cornering – it optimizes handling as necessary by means of very slight brake interventions on the unloaded wheels at the inside of a curve.

Interior and controls
The interior of the new Audi TT has light, sporty styling. Viewed from above, the instrument panel resembles an airplane wing. The round air vents, a classic feature of the TT, incorporate all of the controls for the air conditioning system. The newly developed lightweight sport seats are mounted low. The luggage compartment of the 2+2 seater has a capacity of 305 to 712 litres (10.8 to 25.1 cu ft).

In the user interface concept, which is entirely focused on the driver, the Audi Virtual Cockpit replaces both the analog instrument cluster and the MMI monitor. The driver can toggle the 12.3-inch display between two different viewing modes. In the classic view, the speedometer and tachometer take center stage. In Infotainment mode, more space is given.

The physical buttons of the MMI monitor have been limited to six in number. The top-of-the-range version also incorporates the MMI smart touchwheel – the round rotary touchpad in the top of the rotary/push-button control. The menu structure was inspired by a smartphone and includes a free-text MMI search function. The voice control system understands a large number of expressions from everyday speech.

Assistance systems and infotainment
The line-up of driver assistance systems for the new TT extends from Audi Side Assist to Parking Aid with display of the surroundings and a rear-view camera (for the TTS).

The Bang & Olufsen Sound System (for the TTS) utilizes a newly developed algorithm to reproduce audio signals with an even greater sense of space and precision.

The new Audi TT won the top overall award in the “Connected Car 2014” poll conducted among readers of Auto Bild and Computer Bild magazines.

Audi Brunei will offer the new TT in 3 variants: the base model with 18” wheels, an S line version and the top of the range TTS with 310 bhp output, new generation of the quattro® permanent all-wheel drive system with Audi TT-specific configuration and exclusive 19” wheels.

 

 

 

 

 


The Audi TT S Line model
 


The Audi TT base model
 

 

21
Sep

Wake up call

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News

 

Brunei Travel Fair
 


Mark your dates this weekend and plan your travels 😀
 

 

 

The cracks are showing
 

[Edited]: Is Brunei going through a recession? It’s still early days to say for that but I know that some of my friends’ businesses are feeling the pinch(es). These are just from my observations as well as business environment shared by my peers. Let’s not forget some of the outside factors as well as policies that can influence the Brunei economy.

Let’s lay down some scenarios here from my knowledge. I know there could be more (factors) but I will just based them on my findings. First is the falling of oil prices. I remember once a top senior official said that such fluctuating prices won’t affect the Brunei economy earlier this year. However, I’m pretty sure it did (affect) in a long run as oil prices hasn’t been encouraging and it has a detrimental effect on the Brunei economy. Furthermore, at some point, Brunei’s export on crude and oil hasn’t been blossoming like the old days. Have the oil prices affected oil production in Brunei? Earlier this year, it was reported that Brunei’s exports went down by 39% (source: Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE).

 

 

It’s no big surprise that oil prices is a big factor here (weaker demand, higher supply). Imagine the previous year that the price of oil was at least USD $113 per barrel and now it’s averaging at USD $50 per barrel. It was also reported in Reuters that despite the improvement in prices, worldwide production won’t be producing last much as it’s “uneconomical” if oil prices are at USD $50 or below.

With low demand for export and also lower oil prices, this will mean that money flowing into the Sultanate will be lower than usual. This would also mean less activities or projects coming from Brunei Shell Joint Ventures or any companies relating to Brunei Shell.

Early in March 2015 during the Legislative Council, the Ministry of Finance that Brunei will be in the deficit in terms of spending (BND 1.58 billion) and this is related to the fall in oil prices. Did you know that 90% of the export of Brunei is oil and gas? So this is what we always mean when we say that we are relying too much on oil and gas.

 

Now I have touched on oil prices. How about other factors? One thing that has affected Brunei is the recent policy introduced by Authoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) – the total debt service ratio or loan cap (at 60 per cent for those earning a minimum net salary of $1,750). So who will be affected because of this policy? Not the consumers but the car dealers as sales has seen a drop of at least 15% and it keeps dropping every month ever since the introduction of the loan cap in June 2015.

If the car dealers are affected, this would also affect the finance companies such as Baiduri Bank and BIBD At-tamwil who finance the hire purchase of the cars. NBT (Toyota) used to sell an average of 300 units every month but recently the figures have gone below 200 units. Back in 2012, at one stage, cars sold in a month would break the 1,500 mark but recently it has lesser numbers (1,137 cars in July 2015 and 1,005 cars in August 2015). Last weekend, I even bumped into an NBT roadshow at The Mall (which is quite rare) and one of the representatives said that business wasn’t good so they needed to do more roadshow and promotion.

Yes, the business side of the automotive industry is feeling the pinch but the idea of the policy by AMBD is to ensure that the residents of Brunei will have enough savings and finances instead of using their disposable income for loan repayments. With the current situation of oil prices, such move (of the policy) has not benefited the local economy as loans are hard to come by especially those in the lower tier income group. In a long run, the TDSR or loan cap will be good for the country as people will have more disposable income than rather ending up using majority of their salaries to pay off loans. Remember the credit card policy? That really worked well, right? and this shouldn’t be a problem. It will just take time to adjust to the new financial environment. Car dealers will have to come up with better deals or promotions just like how Boustead are currently executing with their promotions with Suzuki and Nissan (tablets and smartphones respectively) to attract customers.

 

Another theory that cannot be discounted is the fact that the Malaysian ringgit has caught interest of Bruneians. The exchange rate now is BND 1 to RM 3 which is a real steal for us. For many Bruneians, Miri is still considered a shopping paradise. Just imagine this – It was reported that over two million arrivals from Brunei to Miri alone in 2013. I’m pretty sure the statistics will be even more in Year 2015 with the current weak currency of the Ringgit. Shopping will be cheaper and they will even buy their groceries across the border as it’s a cost saving measure.

So who are at the losing end? Of course, our local retailers and the department store owners. I interviewed two sources on how the supermarket business in Kuala Belait and Bandar and both gave similar responses – “people prefer shopping and spending across the border.” One commented that usually after Hari Raya season, their supermarket business is slower but this year, it’s even quieter and slower than last year. Even the extension of the opening hours across the border is not helping the Brunei economy.

Now that I have laid some of my findings based on reports and interviews, it’s not too premature to say that Brunei is undergoing a small recession – budget cuts, deficits, lower car sales and lower revenue in local supermarket as some of the effects.

 

Need action, less talking: I have attended many lectures, talks, keynote addresses, you name it,  for the past 10 years and the same topic remains – “Diversification” and we all have become accustomed to the over-abused word but it has only become a mere phrase than a means to an end. From the progress of Brunei, we have taken baby steps to diversify by creating new industries – pharmaceutical, the halal brand and also the Mitsubishi Gas Chemicals and Itochu Corporation from Japan for the methanol plant at the Sg Liang Industrial Park (SPARK). These are all good signs to come as it creates more job employment.

Even earlier this year, Brunei Economic Development Board and South Korean company DongYang GangChul, said that the BND 107 million project at the Bukit Panggal Industrial Park in Tutong will be a major boost to Brunei’s economy. The idea is the plant will produce billet and aluminium extrusion and export back to Sout Korea. I’m not really sure what are the status of this project as I have not seen any updates.

My biggest curiousity is the Pulau Muara Besar (PMB) project. There have been many mentions of the PMB project but as far as I know there is very little happening as the big players such as Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd, a petrochemical firm, will only begin their refinery operations by early 2017. Of course, this is no easy project and it requires intensive homework and making sure all the criteria are met. This is perhaps the biggest project for the Brunei economy as the refinery will cost at least BND 4 billion. But now it’s more of a waiting game until early 2017.

From the looks of it, Brunei needs a good number of Foreign Direct Investment, just similarly like Hengyi Industries. It’s never an easy task to bring foreign investors to pump in money into the economy. I believe that Brunei is a very ideal hub for this kind of industries and of course, the foreigners will need our vote of confidence in order to succeed. The PMB project would have been talking point (with action) if nothing was delayed and the refinery plant up and running by now. Maybe I’m just tired listening to the same old phrase and the emphasis of “diversification”.

On a positive spin, what’s trending (and booming now) are the influx of food and beverage outlets such as Rack & Brew, The Library Cafe, Ner|Dee Cafe, Chatime and coming soon (end of the year), Cinnabon. If you are thinking of opening a business, then F&B is a better approach as we still have the culture to dine out or even limteh. And let’s not forget the upcoming travel fair by Royal Brunei and we Bruneians love to travel (so maybe, just maybe, people are saving to spend on traveling).

What’s my outlook on Brunei 2016? It’s hard to say. I just hope that we can help one another and let our egos down that Brunei needs a wake up call. Our voices can be a stimulus and hopefully the Government of Brunei and the private sector can work together to tackle a growing (bad) seed before it can turn to a plant.

This article doesn’t represent the opinions of others apart from my own. I typed this because I feel it’s very relevant to our community and I also want to help to contribute to the betterment of our Brunei economy. If you have any queries or comments, you can drop me an email ranoadidas gmail and I’m more than happy to hear from your end. Sources of facts: The Brunei Times.

 

 

11
Sep

Snippets for the week

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News

 

Snippets of the week
 


Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Retired) Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy, the Energy Department, at the Prime Minister’s Office, as the guest of honour with the presence of Andrew Faulkner, Managing Director, Brunei Shell Petroleum, Haji Kamaludin Haji Bungsu, Deputy Managing Director and Human Resource Director, Brunei Shell Petroleum and this year’s BSJV scholars (42 of them) during the signing ceremony for the BSJV Scholarship Students 2015 at the Royal Berkshire Hall, Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club. I shall be posting more on this tomorrow.
 


This is a great shot of Datin Paduka Hjh Adina binti Othman in a go-kart taken by Media Permata. She recently handed prizes for the third series of the Brunei Darussalam Karting Championship which was held at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last Sunday.
 


The word got around that both Bruneians Hamsul Sulaiman and Ahmad Fathi Junaidi participated in the recent Swimrun World Championship in Sweden. It’s a duo team effort and this is tougher than the Ironman or Ultramarathon. They will have to run on a tough course that includes slippery rocks and swim to another island. The event is called ÖTILLÖ. However, despite their participation, the Brunei duo didn’t finish the course. Nonetheless it’s awesome for Bruneians to participate in this event and furthermore, both were featured in the Al Jazeera news as they were being interviewed.
 


TCY MOTORS as the local dealer for the Audi brand will once again organise its annual charity golf event, the 6th Audi quattro Cup Brunei 2015 from October 16 to 18 at the Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club, Jerudong. Winners of this year’s Brunei tournament will play at the World Final at the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course in Mexico. For more information, please visit Audi Kiarong showroom or call 2442333 ext 31 during office hours.
 


Citadel Alfaro, General Manager of Fitness Zone and Louis Loo Kee Lee from business development of Plus+ Magazine. It was a contract signing where Fitness Zone and Plus+ Magazine renewed their membership for the second year running. Well done, Loo. Image courtesy of Adib Noor of The Brunei Times.
 


Recently there was a photo shoot of the residents in Brunei Darussalam taken at Piccolo Cafe. They will be featured in the upcoming Plus+ Magazine soon.
 


Recently Wu Chun hosted local celebrities during a press conference for the upcoming High-Tea Amal Belaian Kasih which will feature the likes of Aziz Harun, Eia, Fakhrul Razi, Ju Ju, Hani S, Flora and Zoe. Tickets are priced at $100 per person or $1,000 per table (10 people). Tickets are available at all The Coffee Bean Brunei outlets and at Fitness Zone. The event will take place at Indera Samudra Grand Hall of The Empire Hotel & Country Club this Sunday from 2pm to 5pm. Image courtesy of Louis Loo.
 


KFC Brunei has launched its latest innovation – the new Super Jimat Box and Zinger Hot Box. The new KFC Super Jimat Box and Zinger HotBox will be on the menu permanently and is now available at all KFC restaurants in the country.
 


A picture taken during UBD’s 27th Convocation. More pictures to be published this weekend. Stay tune.
 


Proud to see my buddies – Gerald Goh, Julius Hong and Pranika Lama – graduating recently. As for Iskandar, he is part of the UBD Guilds so hence he was also wearing a robe :p
 


Izzah Jomari, Assistant Manager of Innovation and New Initiatives, Brunei Economic Development Board, Sabrina Shofry, Manager of Innovation and New Initiatives, Brunei Economic Development Board, and Azri Razak, Incubation Manager of iCentre, Brunei Economic Development Board during the launch of the 8th IGNITE Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Design & Technology Building, Anggrek Desa. This is the yearly business plan competition and there will be no students category. Hence only Open Category (1st prize BND 25,000) and International Category (1st prize BND 10,000). First submission of the executive summary will be 28th September. I shall be posting more on by Monday.
 


Bomi Oh was recently featured in the The Brunei Times for opening a new Korean convenient store, Hallyu Mart, at Batu Bersurat. She said that more stock will be coming in early October as the responses have been overwhelming. I’ve been addicted to the Paldo (barley) drink.
 


Collective Arts have been very busy lately and they created a cool theme party for my neighbour’s birthday party last Sunday. Hope you had a good one, Aman 😀
 


The Fruit Festival was a success at the Jerudong Park Playground. Image taken from JPCC Playground Facebook Page.
 


I miss you Atsuko. My high school best mate during our Geelong Grammar School days. I hope to see you perhaps in 2016 in Melbourne. It has been 15 years since we last met and this was our last photo taken together.
 


Like WWE would say – This is bad for business. Bruneians will shop more across border.
 


The Haunted Hospital at Times Square Shopping Centre until this Sunday
 


Are you ready to be entertained by them at the Haunted Hospital?
 


The Keynote for the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple TV and the powerful iPad Pro. My targets – iPhone 6s and Apple TV.
 


Some employers in the private sector are taking advantage of their workers through illegal practices that violate the Employment Order such as long working hours without overtime pay. Taken from The Brunei Times.
 


Known as the High Element and this was one of the activities as part of the Blue Bazaar organised by National Service Programme (PKBN). I saw a few brave kids that attempted this last weekend:D
 

 

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