A fan of art goes to an art show (UBD Impact and Spectacle)

This post hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

This year was my third time visiting the UBD art & design graduation exhibition, known in 2017 as Impact, and in previous years as Spectacle.

Forgotten Sight by Nuratikah Mohd Harunthmarin, UBD Spectacle 2016


This is a write-up and reflection of what I’ve seen in these exhibitions.

Read more…

May 2017
POSTED IN Critical Me

Lateness Culture, and making it a little better for everyone

This post hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

Illustration for Lateness Culture - Traffic - Commissioned from Ibrahim

You see all those cars around you? Yeah, it’s traffic. Yeah, you’re late. (Illustration: Ibrahim Yussop)

So, this one time, I was half an hour late, and no one else was late, and being late actually mattered.

It involved underestimating 5pm traffic, and forgetting that I’m not too familiar with Kota Batu. The event was full of formally-dressed people. The event only kicked off only after my arrival. I was mortified.

And yet, I do not know if this is unusual in Brunei. I do not know how often instances of lateness are met with shame. You would even say that lateness is unashamedly rampant.

In some social circles, 5 to 15 minutes’ lateness may be accepted. But I’m amazed at how tolerant we are, when:

  • “late” means half an hour late, or even an hour late
  • a latecomer to a meeting doesn’t let you know they’ll be late
  • a rehearsal or a launching starts more than an hour after the stated time.

Surely this can’t be normal. I’m not talking one-off lateness, I’m saying that perpetual lateness is a habit. I’m talking about how we perpetuate this unnecessarily in all our social and work groups.

How are we constantly letting others wait for us? How can we be happy to throw around the excuse “Janji Melayu”, allowing it as a cultural habit, and masking that it’s actually an inconsideration to others? Read more…

Criticism and Continuity in Brunei

This post hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

A long post follows. Read-o-Meter says it may take you over 20 minutes. There are three main sections, each broken into a further 3-4 subsections. Thank you for reading.

This is a post which took me a while to do, as I rewrote it many times, over several months. I wanted to promote criticism, which meant two things to me:

  • that we should encourage the writing of informed critiques about the development of various fields in Brunei, such as art, technology, business, and so on;
  • to encourage a culture of being able to question others, in a civil way, while at the same time being able to be questioned by others, and also respond in a civil way.

However, part of me feels that I have waited too long to write this. When I began, I believed that criticism in itself is not really a cause for concern for a Bruneian that wants to question something. I believed that their chosen approach in offering the criticism, and their topic of choice, are the factors that determine whether their voice would stand the threat of censorship. Hence, I felt safe in writing this post.

But in recent times, my belief has been challenged. The government is not to be disrespected, despite the multitude of channels – existing long before Tumblr, Disqus or Whatsapp – where people write all manner of things that insult their neighbours, other nationalities, and the government. Rational comments, calling for clarification and assurance, can be seen as rebellious. Questioning rules or policies can be seen as a rejection.

Also, if my post had been written half a year ago – before the news reports began to closely follow the Syariah law implementations, before we saw a deluge of commentary around the topic – I still think the core of my points would have been the same. But now, posting this seems to be highly coloured by those events, even though it hadn’t been my intention. I regret that it should be the case.

My post below continues, nonetheless. What can I say? I’m a young, stupid idealist.



There is a culture in Brunei around criticism that has puzzled and frustrated me. The local media is not very critical – or not openly so. And because open criticism does not appear in the media, it is instead carried out in mostly “non-official” capacity: breakfast conversations over teh tarik, private groups on Whatsapp, anonymous or pseudonym-credited comments on websites and forums. You may argue that some of those are private spaces, while others are not. Those who are bolder, or less concerned about their identity, write to their newspapers, or comment on Facebook groups and pages with their short names. There are few blogs with significant readership that present criticism.

Read more…

Mar 2014
POSTED IN Critical Me
DISCUSSION 16 Comments

LegCo 2012: Thanks for the Update

This post hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

(I originally wrote a much longer LegCo post, but felt that I was making two different points, so I separated them. The other post is about the public expectation of LegCo to be about “debate”, and the response from concerned citizens on Twitter about the relevance of issues raised.)


As a young opinionated citizen with no background in politics, I would like to share my personal opinions and observations regarding the ongoing 8th Legislative Council proceedings in Brunei.

I write without having ever sat in a LegCo proceeding (yet!), or being in the shoes of a Minister.

I am also secretly (cough, cough) a civil servant.

Here goes. Read more…

Mar 2012
POSTED IN Critical Me

LegCo 2012: Word of the day is “Expectations”

This post hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

(I originally wrote a much longer LegCo post, but felt that I was making two different points, so I separated them. The other post is about LegCo becoming a platform for updating on progress, and I felt that I would prefer more meat to such updates.)


This year, the 8th Legislative Council (LegCo) session got a Twitter hashtag: #legco8As noted on ProjekBrunei.com, the Bruneian Twitterverse was keen to take up on this. The comments in the #legco8 feed on Twitter this year show concerned citizens being skeptical, snarky, sometimes appreciative, but most likely frustrated with the reports on the LegCo proceedings.

I have a feeling that there may be a disconnect between what the Government expects LegCo to be, and what the public expects it to be.

Expectations of “Debate”

There is a perception that LegCo is about “debate”. From the official website of Jabatan Majlis-Majlis Mesyuarat, the functions of LegCo are given as:

  • Merundingkan dan meluluskan undang-undang
  • Mengenakan sekatan-sekatan kewangan
  • Meneliti polisi-polisi Kerajaan dan lain-lain perkara berkaitan dengan perjalanan Majlis Mesyuarat Negara

(Source: Fungsi Majlis Mesyuarat Negara)

Read more…

Mar 2012
POSTED IN Critical Me