Bagito Group show

Abdurahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid

Abdurahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid

I DON’T’t understand why in this reform era Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) members were so upset with the performance of the noted Bagito comedy group after they mimicked President Abdurrahman “”Gus Dur”” Wahid on the Gebyar BCA program broadcast on the evening of Oct. 23 by Indosiar. They seemed to forget that Gus Dur himself is a humorist, a democrat and an easygoing person.

NU executives “forced”” the group to directly apologize to NU members and Gus Dur, a move broadcast live several hours after their performance. What a shame!

]We still remember that in a talk show with Jayasuprana on TPI, rebroadcast the night after Gus Dur was sworn in as President, Gus Dur said that it was natural in the United States that a president becomes an object of fun.

Several years ago, he even defended Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, when many Muslims in the country were upset and accused the British author of humiliating the Prophet Muhammad and his family. Prophet Muhammad is the most respected Islamic figure. Muslims all over the world, especially NU members, pay the highest respects to him every year on the occasion of his birthday celebration.

Bagito Group in a TV program 'Hitam Putih' hosted by Deddy Corbuzier.

Bagito Group in a TV program ‘Hitam Putih’ hosted by Deddy Corbuzier.

Some legislators even chanted salawat badr (prayers for Prophet Muhammad)when Gus Dur was elected as the fourth President at the General Session of the People’s Consultative Assembly. Gus Dur also criticized some Muslims who demanded that the license of the Monitor tabloid be revoked after the tabloid gave Prophet Muhammad a rank (10th) under its editor Arswendo Atmowiloto.

So, where were NU members’ voices when their most respected figure (Prophet Muhammad) was insulted? Why did NU members not try to follow their leader’s stand? It’s strange.

The Bagito group usually presents fresh ideas and objects of fun by introducing social phenomena and criticisms. I fear that such sensitivities as shown by NU members could kill creativity and freedom of expression in the country. But, as far as the Bagito show is concerned, I hope not all NU members share the same reactions.


The Jakarta Post
Wed, October 27 1999

Regular troublemaker at Anggrek Desa food court

LAST Friday morning we went to the Anggrek Desa food court in Berakas to try a hot porridge which a friend of mine said was delicious.

When we almost finished our porridge, suddenly, a 1.70m tall Malay man, bald with moustache, beard and visual acuity, joined in our table, roughly asking “Pa ada?” (What’s up?). Then, we were involved in a weird chat because from his responses we’re aware that there was something wrong with this guy.

I thought he was crazy but his every response to our statements was fast and rather arrogant, showing that he was not an insane guy. At the end he asked us to buy him porridge, but ridiculously he ate only a spoon.

After asking anything, he asked how do we get there and asked to join in the car. We tried to avoid him, but he always followed us anywhere we went, including to toilet.

While waiting for one of us still in the toilet, he impolitely asked whose car it was. Because of his rough performance, I spontaneously said that there was nothing to do with him as to who the car’s owner was. But he insisted that he wanted to join in the car.

When I said I refused him to join, he said: “Aku tumbuk!” (I hit you!). When I responded loudly, I hit him too, he said “Tak peduli!” (I don’t care!). When I said loudly, I didn’t care too, he abruptly rolling down his body, while in a squatting position, he sang: “Tak peduli…” mimicking an Indonesian pop song of Desy Ratnasari’s Tenda Biru. I was amused watching this guy, asking in my mind, “Am I insane too?”

Both of us left him while my friend was still in the toilet, but the guy then followed us. We went to the porridge stall’s staffers and chatted with him, while “the tough guy” watched from a distance. Meanwhile, my friend who was in the toilet was already in the car, ready to drive.

The porridge stall owner gave us a sign, then we ran to the car. We saw him tried to chase us.

Several visitors and staffers of the food court told us that this guy always makes trouble there. He often asks anything of them and they give what he wants.

But, I still don’t understand why they do not report the troublemaker to the police.

DA, Gadong

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Steel on the street

I HAVE a simple but annoying problem. At Jalan Gadong in Menglait, the place where I live, there is a steel pillar excess that sticks out from the pavement in front of the parking lot between TK Tea Restaurant and Court Furniture shop, close to the flyover for pedestrian.

The pillar excess is about five centimetres long with a diameter of eight to ten centimetres. When I walk pass this area at night, my foot bumps against it several times. There is not enough street lighting in this area. The only lighting comes from the restaurant and a street lamp in the boulevard. Fortunately, my foot is OK because I wear leather shoes at that time, and hitting the steel excess has torn my shoes apart.

Until now, I still haven’t recovered from my shock of the incident. I believe that there are many Gadong residents out there who have the same experience as mine.

I once read a hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said that removing a spine, fish bone or other dangerous things on road, like a nail or a cut of steel as I mentioned above, is equal with giving alms (sedekah). I want to do as the Prophet endorsed to remove the steel, but I can’t. The steel is planted on the pavement.

I do believe it is the authority’s duty to remove it immediately before more people get hurt.

Gadong, BSB

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanks for removing steel rod

DEAR Editor,

Last November I wrote in this forum about a steel rod sticking out about 5cm from the pavement in front of the parking lot between TK Tea Restaurant and Court Furniture shop, close to the flyover for pedestrian in Menglait, Gadong (“Steel on the street”, The Brunei Times, November 10. 2009)

When I walked pass this area at night, my foot has bumped against it on several occasions. I believe that there are many pedestrians who have passed there and experienced the same pain I have. I suggested to the authorities to remove it before more people get hurt.

Yesterday, when I passed through the site I found that the steel rod, with a diameter of about eight to 10 centimetres, had already vanished. I’m glad that the authorities had removed it.

Let me — also on behalf of the other victims — express my appreciation and gratitude to the pro-active authority.

Gadong, BSB

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

E-books and printed books

e-book_reader_iStock_000019239173XSmallDear EDITOR,

I JUST want to underline a statement of Dr Mataim Bakar, Director of Research, Development and International Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. In his speech at the workshop on library recently, he said that “electronic-books should not be seen as a threat to printed books in libraries as they can mutually complement one another to produce a knowledgeable society” (The Brunei Times, July 20, 2010, A6).

I think the real threat to the library is lack of space, bad information management as well as library service and hospitality. The latter ones had already been mentioned by Dr Mataim.

He was right when said that the digital books are not a threat because they come from scanning process of the printed books. The existence of both of e-books and printed books can mutually complement each other but the thing is they have positive and negative sides with its respective characteristics.

One of the benefits of digital book is that it can save space of a library instead of collecting the printed books and documents which require a larger area. For institutions with small space, these e-books are definitely very helpful. Even, people can bring hundreds or thousands of e-books in their pocket through a digital gadget.

Unfortunately, there are not many e-books available on certain themes, especially those which linked to Brunei and its history.

However, two years ago I downloaded free an e-book on Bruneian culture by senior author Yura Halim from an Asean website. The book apparently was scanned from a book entitled Adat Mengulum Bahasa published by the Language and Literature Bureau of Brunei Darussalam (Second edition, 2006).

However, e-books are not very convenient to read as they depend on gadgets and not many people have these sophisticated gadgets. Besides, they put strain on eyes. One feels exhausted after reading an e-book because of the rays emitted from the computer, laptop or other digital gadgets.

On the other hand, printed books can be read anywhere, even while in toilet or on public transport, or while laying down somewhere in bedroom, park, beach, etc. This is the positive side of the printed book which can not be replaced by the digital one.

In short, a research or finding info/data out can be conducted through both of e-books or Internet and the printed books. The info/data not available in the printed books/physical library, can be found through e-books/Internet or vice versa.

Hopefully, it’s better for some institutions in Brunei, particularly educational, to have many e-books for their libraries to mutually complement each other as said by Dr Mataim Bakar.

Yusuf Iqbal,

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Inconvenienced on RBA flight

Dear Editor,

LAST September, I flew BSB-Jakarta return by Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA). But I was disappointed with its services.

Firstly, I booked a return ticket of BSB-Jakarta flight on July 13 at a travel agent in Gadong for September 4 with scheduled time of 12.10am. On August 18, 2010, the travel agent informed me that RBA had delayed the schedule for 30 minutes to 12.40am. It was ok.

But several days before the flight schedule, I was told by my colleague that all passengers of the flight were delayed to 1.25pm flight. I went to the travel agent office to ask for confirmation but they couldn’t give any reason of the delay. I was given a revised ticket. This sudden removal made me smile though I felt bitter because it reminded me of public bus drivers in hectic Jakarta who often arbitrarily move their passengers to other buses.

Not only that. When I returned to BSB from Jakarta on September 14, the flight was also delayed for six hours. The flight was supposed to leave at 4.45am but it was delayed to 11.05am. Again and again the RBA officers at the Soekarno-Hatta airport couldn’t give any clarification. They only shrugged in response. Many passengers from out of Jakarta were disappointed with this delay because they had already gone to the Jakarta airport early in the morning without having breakfast. Unfortunately, RBA didn’t offer any compensation for the delay although they did provide a light snack and a cup of water.

Later when entering the boarding room, we bumped into some passengers who were disembarking from the RBA aircraft. They told us that they were coming from Jeddah and that their departure had been delayed. They did not give any reason.

If RBA wants to be competitive in the global aviation industry, I think it should improve its services and respect its passengers regardless of their background.


The Brunei Times
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Royal Brunei replies

Dear Editor,

WE refer to the letter from DA that was published in The Brunei Times on Thursday, 30 December 2010.

Flight schedule changes can occur for various reasons, including weather, operational requirements, commercial considerations and fleet utilisation. Royal Brunei endeavours to ensure that when such changes do occur customers are made aware. On occasion, last minute changes are necessary for the reasons mentioned above. This was the situation encountered by the reader for the flight from Jakarta to Brunei on 14th September.

In such situations, information on revised operating timings are provided to the affected passengers. It was unfortunate if DA did not receive this information. We will work with our Jakarta airport team to ensure that this aspect of our customer handling is improved upon.

We thank the writer for the feedback and allowing us to explain.

Corporate Communications Section,
Royal Brunei Airlines

The Brunei Times
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Touched by news report on paralysed Bruneian

Dear Editor,

I WAS touched when reading news about a 23-year-old paralysed young man who expressed his tragic experiences through writing (The Brunei Times, April 3 & 4, 2011). Not everyone has the ability to do this. What he has written should open the eyes of others to the terrible consequences of motor accidents.

Mohd Zairol Azmeer Mohd Rozaimey

Mohd Zairol Azmeer Mohd Rozaimey

‘s great spirit to write a manuscript by expressing his experience of a traffic accident and the process to revive his spirit and recovery is really amazing.

I’m also glad to read that the Language and Literature Bureau (DBP) is considering to publish his manuscript and hope that it will be realised soon.

If the manuscript is published as a book and read by public, hopefully it could give spirit and motivation to Bruneians, especially the normal younger people, to encourage them to write about things that they have experienced. It should more importantly teach them to understand the value of being careful when driving for their own safety and that of others.

DA, Gadong

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Winterbottom spices up British Film Festival

Michael Winterbottom

Michael Winterbottom

Darul Aqsha

TWO films by acclaimed British director Michael Winterbottom — Wonderland and The Claim — highlight the British Film Festival, which runs here until April 21 before moving to Bandung and Surabaya.

The 41-year-old Michael Winterbottom made his feature film debut with the Butterfly Kiss (1995), a road movie centered on lesbian lovers on a fatal trip through Britain. The movie, a British-styled Thelma & Louise (1991), is enlivened with music by The Cranberries, Bjork and PJ Harvey.

But his name only entered the global movie industry with his semi-documentary film Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), based on the true story of British correspondent Michael Nicholson, who wrote the book Natasha’s Story about his experiences in war-torn Sarajevo in 1992.

In the film, Nicholson becomes Henderson, who gets involved in helping a refugee girl named Emira escape Sarajevo to London. The movie received a warm response at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, though it did not receive any awards.

film mic wonFor the British Film Festival, two of the director’s dramas were selected. Wonderland looks at the life of a lower-middle class family. The family comprises the parents, their four children, grandchildren and two sons-in-law.

The parents, Eileen (Kika Markham) and Bill (Jack Shepherd), are extremely bitter. Eileen is frustrated with her retired husband, who is getting tired of her gloominess and desperation.

One of the couple’s three daughters, Nadia (Gina McKee), a waitress in a cafe, looks for love by placing personal ads.

Her sister Debbie (Shirley Henderson) is a single mother who sometimes brings men back to the beauty parlor she runs to have sex. The third sister, Molly (Molly Parker), is expecting her first child and her husband Eddie (John Simm) has been fired from his job as a furniture salesman.

Their son, Darren (Enzo Cilenti), cannot stand living at home, so he runs away and never makes contact with his parents again.

Though Wonderland focuses on the lives of ordinary people, the movie’s quality cast, strong screenplay, minimum use of music and fast-moving camera make it no ordinary film.

The movie, with its examination of the lives of Eileen and Bill, their neighbors and Londoners in general, may remind moviegoers of the work of Iranian directors Jafar Panahi and Abbas Kiarostami.

film mic claimThe second Winterbottom film at the festival, The Claim, has a wonderful story, popular actors and music by Michael Nyman (The Piano). But all of these factors cannot save the movie, which as a whole is flat and not at all touching.

The movie is adapted from British author Thomas Hardy’s novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, transferred to an Old West setting.

The film centers on Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan), a prospector who sells his wife and daughter to another gold miner for his claim to a gold mine. Two decades later, Dillon has turned the gold mine into a town called Kingdom Come, where he lives with a young mistress, Lucia (Milla Jovovich).

The sudden arrival of his dying wife, Elena (Natasha Kinski), and daughter Hope (Sarah Polley), along with Dalglish (Wes Bentley), a wandering railroad surveyor, changes everything.

Haunted by his past, Dillon leaves Lucia and remarries Elena, promising to bequeath the town to Hope. At the same time, Dalglish becomes a menace to Dillon with his plan to build a railroad line crossing through the town.

The Claim fails to reflect Winterbottom’s kinetic skills as a filmmaker. It’s not as intense as many of his previous films, such as Butterfly Kiss, Jude (1996, also adapted from a Thomas Hardy novel), Welcome To Sarajevo and Wonderland.

However, moviegoers, especially Winterbottom fans, can look forward to the release of the director’s two latest films, 24-Hour Party People and The Silk Road, this year. Will they be as successful as his earlier films? Just wait and see.

The Jakarta Post
Fri, April 19, 2002

Bill Saragih: “It’s a true business”

Bill Saragih

Bill Saragih

WHAT’S in a name? It’s money. Oops, not really. But for veteran jazz musician Bill Amirsyah Saragih, a name has a lot to do with business. That is why he changed his name to Bill Simatupang.

“Simatupang is Siang malam tunggu panggilan (Waiting for order day and night),” Bill joked during the cocktail party held in conjunction with the 17th anniversary of The Jakarta Post at The Regent hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Bill said he has become “a high-class unemployed man” since he stopped performing at pubs in the city recently and started to take orders from companies, “including state-owned pawnshop company Perum Pegadaian”.

But now he prefers to sing at Chinese wedding parties.

“It’s a true business,” he said. At such parties, he only sings one or two songs, but receives quite a nice sum of money.

One day, he said, after he sang one line of a song at a wedding party, suddenly there was a blackout. Not too long afterward, the family of the bride came to him and handed him a receipt to sign. He could not believe it. “It’s big money,” he said. — Darul Aqsha

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Apr 30 2000

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