Monday, May 24, 2010


 The last week had been eventful. Had some time off. Some interesting items in the news. Some of us were waiting for some big news that never came, for now.

One news that made headline was the so called destruction of the mangrove area, the habitat of the proboscis monkeys aka Bangkatan. One side claiming we are destroying the Bangka tan’s habitat. Another claiming we have done everything we can not to disturb the Bangka tans. Who is right?

My guess is, nobody is 100% right. Both have sound arguments. One looks after forest and its habitat. Bangkatan is an endangered species. Apparently they can only survive in Borneo and not many of them left. Being rare, and their habitat in Brunei is accessible within a short boat ride, it became a tourist attraction. No wonder the tourism people cry foul when they heard of the clearing of the mangrove area.
On another side are the people trying to alleviate flooding. I am not going to bore everyone with the technical details. Suffice to say they need to widen and deepen the existing river. They did their environmental impact studies and proposed mitigation actions that have minimum impact on the mangrove vegetations and the habitat of the Bangkatans. In short, leaving their habitat on Pulau Luba untouched. The few Bangkatans that ‘migrated’ across the river now must move back to the island.

So the choice goes down to either helping thousands of people in the flood prone area or the few Bangkatans? It is not an easy decision but an obvious one. Choices had to be made. That’s a fact of life.

Talking about choices, another recent headline was the introduction of new regulations on the type of number plates for cars. I may have missed it but I did not hear any explanation on the need to change. Please correct me if I am wrong.  Everyone must change before the end of the year.

Apparently, at the moment only two companies are licensed to produce the new number plates. Lucky them. In the next few months it will be a windfall to them. At $38 per car and with around 180,000 active vehicles in the country, that works out to be almost $7million within 7 months. Cool $1million per month. That’s not including the new cars, around 20,000 annually. I wonder how much is the investment to set up  the number plate business.

Today is Energy Day in Brunei. SOS is the mantra. Switch Off unused lights and water heaters. Set the air conditioner to 24C. Hopefully, we do this not just today but everyday. Make it a habit.  We can make the choice and start saving energy and other green initiatives.

We will also be paying the commercial rate for our petrol today. Double the normal rate. Overheard some complaints already. Nobody likes any price increase. It’s human nature to want everything on the cheap or free whenever possible. Long queues seen at some petrol stations yesterday. Imagine if the increase is for a longer period. May be next year we can try this out for a week especially during long weekends.  Wonder if the queues at the border crossings will be as long.

Hopefully, out of this, our people appreciate better our energy and the subsidy we are getting. Around $200 millions of subsidy annually. We are a lucky lot indeed. But the more important thing is for us to start living responsibly. Realising our resources is limited and scarce. By doing this, we may just secure the future of our future generations.

Sadly, subsidy if not appreciated, admittedly, in most cases will make us ‘misbehave’ and ‘irresponsible’.  

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