Although I keep blogging about Brunei, it has been nearly ten years since Mr K-E and I left for the UK. I do realise that maybe my opinions are based on a Brunei that has since moved on. I'm sure that lots of things have changed so I apologise if I am "ketinggalan zaman"*.
For example, when Mr K-E and I were living there in Bandar Seri Begawan**, we sometimes thought that Brunei (and by extension, Bruneians) was a bit of a cultural wasteland - lacking in artistic stimulus, social awareness and creativity. I'm sure that we were not the only ones who felt this way.
A quick browse through Brunei's blogs and I have never been so happy to be wrong! Its obvious now that what we lacked was a medium to express ourselves. To those of us who grew up in Brunei's tightly controlled and stifled society, it's fantastic to be able to discuss issues comparatively freely. Okay, so it's not 100% risk free - some measure of self-censorship is required unless you want find yourself in prison for offending the wrong person.
Just to illustrate, when I was in secondary school (late 1980s, early 90s), the school yearbook would often be published six months late. The reason? We were told that the yearbook had to pass through 10 or 12 government departments for "approval" before it could be officially published. This collection of class photos, lame jokes and compositions written by 12 year olds had to be read and "cleared" by each department. Like the Bomba! (The fire department!!!Yes, seriously!!) Just in case, you know, the story entitled "My life as a Parker Pen" written by B--- Y---, Primary 5B, contained subversive elements that would lead to widespread chaos, disaster and the downfall of our nation.
Compare that to blogging these days where we can post about our interests, our favourite foods or stuff that just pisses us off. Mr K-E's favourite Brunei blog is You Parking Idiot. His pet hate in Brunei was people who would park in front of the Yayasan*** doors because they were too damn lazy to walk 20m.
So for all my fellow Bruneians, wherever you may be, (as the song goes) express yourself, don't repress yourself.....
* ketinggalan zaman - behind time
**Bandar Seri Begawan - the capital of Brunei Darussalam
***Yayasan - a mall in downtime Bandar Seri Begawan