Archive for February, 2009

Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund has set up an online petition urging netizens to join in the campaign to stop the construction of the 4.5-star Novotel Interhill hotel in Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states on Borneo Island.

In a statement, the Fund urged ACCOR, Europe’s leading hotel group, to withdraw from the project as its Malaysian tropical timber company partner, Interhill, is responsible for the destruction forest in Sarawak.

“Interhill has been logging Sarawak’s tropical rainforest since the end of the 1980s and bears decisive responsibility for the ongoing destruction of the very basis of the Penan’s existence”, said Lukas Straumann, Director of the Bruno Manser Fund.

“We are shocked by ACCOR’s cooperation with Interhill, since it is completely at odds with ACCOR’s ecological and social standards.”

The 388-room and 23-storey hotel is currently under construction.

Besides Bigfoot, Sarawak is Now Home to 30-meter Long Giant Snake

Written by Jaxon S on Friday, February 20th, 2009 in Borneo Odds And Ends.

It seems that Sarawak, the other Malaysian state on Borneo Island, is home to a host of mythical creatures.

From the legendary centurion crocodile, Bujang Senang, to Bigfoot and giant snake, the biggest state in Malaysia is abound with myths and legends.

The whole of Sarawak was abuzzed last year following discovery of two giant footprints believed to those of the mythical creature Bigfoot. It turned out to be a hoax.

Now another sighting of no less gigantic proportion is reported, this time a 30-metre long snake swimming along the Baleh River.


Of course, the sighting is no different from the discovery of Bigfoot’s footprints last year — a hoax.


No Way Sipadan Can Become One of New Seven Wonders of Nature!

Written by Jaxon S on Thursday, February 19th, 2009 in Uncategorized.

[UPDATE: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said an official supporting committee has already been set up. He told The Star that the committee, set up two weeks ago, is headed by Sabah Tourism chairman Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmud.

It's good to know that something is being done about the OSC. Now we can all vote for Sipadan]

Orginial posting:

I hate to pour cold water on the people’s enthusiasm about Sipadan Island but this is something I’ve just got to do.

By now, many people would have already aware that Sipadan Island is in the running for the New Seven Wonders of Nature title.

But no matter how many votes Sipadan Island is getting, there is no way — I repeat, no way — that the tropical island can become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, unless the authorities in Sabah do something to support the island’s nomination.

You know why? Because as of today, no one has set up an official supporting committee (OSC) to back the island’s listing. Without an OSC, Sipadan Island will become ineligible for the next stages of voting.


Destined for elimination?

There are several stages to the voting process, the first being to select 77 out of 261 nominees, voting of which is under way until mid-July this year.

From the list of 77 nominees, only those “officially supported” are eligible to participate in the next round of voting, that is to shortlist 21 nominees.

Of the 21, seven will be selected as the New Seven Wonders of Nature, results of which will be announced in 2011.

Not too late to form official supporting committee

I’ve explain the need for official support in my previous entry, but to emphasis the importance of an official supporting committee, let me reproduce some of the points:

As of today, there is no official supporting committee for Sipadan yet. According to the campaign organiser:


To become an official support committee, one “must be authorised by a legitimate national, regional or local government or public authority with responsibility for the nominee location.”

An official supporting committee can be set up by filling up a form which can be downloaded here.eport

You think Sipadan Island can be as iconic as Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Sinai and Kalahari Desert?

Seven wonders of nature

Sipadan Island off the east coast of Sabah on Malaysian Borneo, dubbed one of the top three diving spots in the world, is in the running for the New7Wonders of Nature, an Internet campaign in search of the New7Wonders of Nature of which online voting is underway.

The tropical island — listed No 3 on this blog’s own list of “The Seven Wonders of Borneo” — is competing against 261 nominees around the world to select 77 nominees, from which 21 will be shortlisted for another round of voting to select the ultimate list of the New7Wonders of Nature. You can vote by clicking on the widget on the right.

Thirty islands of the world

Sipadan is among 30 islands in the running for the title, including the Galapagos Island, Bora-Bora Island, Cocos Island, Bikini Atoll (is Spongebob Squarepant living here? Nah… that’s Bikini Bottom), the Maldives, Ko Phi Phi Island and Tierra del Fuego. Iconic islands, I must say.

But, hang on… no support for Sipadan?

As of February 13, the date the ranking was last updated, Sipadan Island is listed as “not yet officially supported“.

According to the New7Wonders website, without an official supporting committee, a nominee cannot participate in the next stages of the New7Wonders of Nature Campaign.

What’s up?

Why hasn’t the authority set up an official supporting committee? Can this blogger start the ball rolling? No, he cannot because to become a supporting committee “You must be authorised by a legitimate national, regional or local government or public authority with responsibility for the nominee location.”

I guess, that would make the Bajau Laut chief of Semporna eligible, the way the Hualapai Indian tribe support their nominee, the Grand Canyon. They can set up a supporting committee by filling up the form here.

Malaysia’s Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage is from Semporna. I think he can start the ball rolling. It’s not too late as the voting to select the 77 nominees will run until July 7 2009.

Other categories

Other categories are landscapes and ice formations; mountians and volcanoes; caves, rock formation and valleys; forests, national parks and national reserves; lakes, rivers and waterfalls; and seascapes.

I wonder why Mulu Caves, the biggest caves in the world, did not make it to the list. Maybe nobody made the nomination or it could have been eliminated in preliminaries.

Rhino Species Thought To Be Extinct, Captured On Tape In Borneo

Written by Jaxon S on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 in Borneo Wildlife.

Hmm… okay, I have two kids; that would make their children cousins, and their grandchildren, second cousins, and their great-grandchildren, third cousins.

I guess, one can only sustain the business of being cousins to one another for about a century, or at the most two centuries, before the generation losses track of the genealogical lines or the sense of purpose in the whole exercise.

By then, the family tree would have branched into complexity that the whole exercise of tracking one’s cousinry would be rendered less than useful; unless of course, in the event of the descendant rising great men and women.

I would not, however, underestimate the power of association. You see, people are sometimes powerful merely by being associated with someone powerful.

Powerful by association

fuadSo, when I read a Manila Times article, “Royal cousins: Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei and Sultan Fuad of Sulu“, my brain’s crap detector was all abuzz and red flags were everywhere.

The article says, Sultan Muhammad Fuad Abdulla Kiram I (picture), whom the Malacanang Palace addressed as the Sultan of Sulu and Sabah, mind you, attended a state dinner hosted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Manila recently. Also in attendance was the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Royal cousins

The article describes the meeting as a meeting between royal cousins.

sultan-hassanal-bolkiahThe article says, “Sultan Fuad Kiram told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview that he was pleased to meet Sultan Bolkiah especially when he shook the hand of the ruler of Brunei, and greeted him the Muslim greetings ‘Assalamu Alaykum [Peace be with you] your majesty.’ He said Sultan Bolkiah responded to him ‘Alaykum Wassalam [Peace be with you too] your majesty’.”

Peace be upon me

Of course, if someone said “hi” to me at a dinner, I should summon all my intellectual prowess to find out if the greeting could be interpreted in any other way other than it being a mere greeting.

The article concluded that “the meeting of Sultan Fuad and Sultan Bolkiah in Malacanang last week was considered as historic among royal cousins, and was indeed a sort of family reunion.”

Gee… I wouldn’t write that if I were the reporter unless if I want to put my credibility at stake.

Here is the article:

Royal cousins: Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei and Sultan Fuad of Sulu
Meeting of two Sultans makes history
By Julmunir I. Jannaral, Correspondent
Darul Jambangan, Sulu: The historical bilateral relations of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) and the Sultanate of Brunei where based on historical account indicating the two have blood relations would have more chances of being revived as the rulers of the two Sultanates met for the first in Malacanang Palace last week.

Sultan Muhammad Fuad Ab­dulla Kiram 1st, the 35th de jure reigning ruler of the Sultan of Sulu and Sultan of Sabah had personally met His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah during a state dinner in honor of the latter hosted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the First Gentleman lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo held in Malacanang recently.

Aside from the Sultan of Sulu and Sabah, senior officials of the Philippine government and Brunei also attended the state dinner. Among them were Chief Justice Reynato Puno; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; House Speaker Prospero Nograles; Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano; business tycoon Lucio Tan; Office on Muslim Affairs Executive Director Datu Ali Sangki; members of the diplomatic corps as well as members of the Senate and the House of Representatives; and cabinet members. Brunei Foreign Minister Pehin Lim Jock Seng who was also among the official entourage of the Sultan of Brunei that attended the exclusive state dinner.

Sultan Fuad Kiram told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview that he was pleased to meet Sultan Bolkiah especially when he shook the hand of the ruler of Brunei, and greeted him the Muslim greetings “Assalamu Alaykum [Peace be with you] your majesty.” He said Sultan Bolkiah responded to him “Alaykum Wassalam [Peace be with you too] your majesty.”

Based on the genealogy, the two Sultans are related by blood as one family because their common ancestor was Brunei Sultan Muham­mad Hassan whose reign was from 1582 to 1598. The genealogy further stated that Sultan Muhammad Hassan had a wife who was a Brunei princess and that the past sultans of Brunei originated and finally descended down to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

On the other hand, Sultan Muhammad Hassan also had another wife who was a princess from Sulu where the past Sultans of Sulu and Sabah had also originated, and descended eventually to Sultan Fuad Kiram as the current 35th reigning Sultan of Sulu and Sabah.

The historical account also stated that Palawan and North Borneo, which is now the timber and oil rich Sabah were gifts by the Sultan of Brunei to the Sultan of Sulu in 1658 after the Sulu Sultan helped the former quell rebellion in Borneo. Thus, Palawan and Sabah became properties of the Sulu crown from 1658 up to this day.

Prior to Spain’s invasion in 1521, the place that is now the Philippines was a Muslim dominion with the Sultan of Brunei ruling Luzon, while the Sultan of Sulu ruled Visayas and Mindanao. In a joint force, the Sultans of Brunei and Sultan of Sulu fought the Spanish invasion together that lasted until 1690.

However, from 1691 up to 1898, the Sultans who ruled the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah fought the Spaniards single-handedly. Thus, the meeting of Sultan Fuad and Sultan Bolkiah in Malacanang last week was considered as historic among royal cousins, and was indeed a sort of family reunion.

As this developed, according to Prince Omar Kiram, the grand prince and prince marshal of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, the official invitation by President Arroyo to Sultan Fuad to attend the exclusive state dinner, where he was formally acknowledged as the “Sultan of Sulu and Sultan of Sabah” was an official recognition of Sultan Fuad as the legitimate ruler of the Sulu Sultanate.

Prince Omar also emphasized that the momentous event attended by Sultan Fuad should now put to rest the issue as to the rightful owner of the present and only throne as claimed by other members of the royal family in Sulu.

If scent can be digitised and sent as an attachment via email or downloaded from a site, I would definitely want to download or be emailed the samples of a fragrance named after Borneo, the world’s third largest island where I was born.

borneoThe Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens seems to be so unique that the smell can only be described if one utilises fully all the writing techniques he or she may have in his or her disposal.

One reviewer, for instance, wrote that Borneo 1834 “takes the sweet winey effervescence of patchouli and layers it with silkiness of chocolate and darkness of resinous woods.”

Another reviewer says Borneo 1834 has “something that has been long-forgotten, bone dry but still powerful…”

The perfume is Paris-exclusive as of 2005, the year the perfume was created by Serge Lutens.

However, there have been reports that the perfume will ship for the export market sometime in the fall of last year, which is sometime during the third quarter of 2008.

Still, I think the brand is too exclusive to make to the mass market, let alone to the remote island it is named after.

Perhaps there is indeed a bottle or two of the fragrance, tuck away somewhere in the mansions of the rich and powerful in Borneo.

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