Thursday, September 29, 2011


Checking-in at Brunei International Airport
Alhamdulillah, we are safely back in Penang today. All missions in Brunei Darussalam were accomplished. Our knowledge about zakat in the country has been increased, and networking has been established with Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) through Academy of Brunei Studies and Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) through Madhab Shafi'i Research Centre.

In consequence, I am thinking aloud to establish a research team on Malay Islamic Monarchy (Melayu Islam Beraja) concept of the Brunei Darussalam, consisting of academic staffs of ISDEV, UBD and UNISSA. For the beginning, perhaps at least four research concentrations could be undertaken, viz, development, institutional management, zakat, and Islamic banking. The present state of the four could be observed and their potentials could be prescribed in strengthening the realisation of the Malay Islamic Monarchy concept.

In memory: At one of the three buffet restaurants behind our hotel that we used to have our dinner
In memory: The Palm Garden Hotel, our accommodation at Kiulap, Brunei Darussalam
In memory: While waiting for our connecting flight to Penang, working at one of the restaurants at LCCT, Sepang
In memory: While flying back to Penang, Dr Zakaria and Dr Zahri reading and commenting on the thesis of ISDEV graduate students

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


With the Director Dr Siti Norkhalbi Haji Wahsalfelah (1st right) and students of the Academy of Brunei Studies of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam during the Eid Celebration at the Academy
On our fourth day in Brunei today, we carried out three tasks. The first was attending an Eid celebration lunch of the Academy of Brunei Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam; the second was a discussion with the Dean/Director, Deputy Deans and lecturers of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA); and the third was another Eid celebration dinner at Dr Zahri's friend residence in Tutong - about 45 minutes drive outside Bandar Seri Begawan. Below are some of the recorded activities.
With Deputy Director of the Academy of Brunei Studies Tuan Haji Mohd Sharol Amira bin Abdullah (1st left) and two expatriates from United Kingdom and Japan at the Academy (1st and 2nd right)
With Programme Leader Tuan Haji Mohammad Rafee Shahif (1st left) and Deputy Director Tuan Haji Shahrol (3rd left) of the Academy of Brunei Studies at the later's office
Discussion with the Deans, Deputy Deans and lecturers of  Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) on the zakat in Brunei and the UNISSA-ISDEV possible cooperation, chaired by Acting Director of the Madhab Shafi'i Research Centre Dr Abdul Nasir bin Haji Abdul Rani (1st right)
After the discussion at UNISSA: (L-R) Dr Zahri, Dr Zakaria, Dean of the Faculty of Usuluddin Dr Husin, myself, Acting Director of the Madhab Shafi'i Research Centre Dr Abdul Nasir bin Haji Abdul Rani, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Shari`ah and Law, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, lecturer Hajjah Ros Abdullah and expatriate from Sudan
Receiving a gift from UNISSA's Madhab Shafi'i Research Centre Dr Abdul Nasir bin Haji Abdul Rani
Eid celebration at the residence of Dr Zahri's friend in Tutong

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The intellectual discourse at Academy of Brunei Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, chaired by its Director Dr Siti Norkhalbi Haji Wahsalfelah
Our third day in Brunei Darussalam today was spent at Academy of Brunei Studies of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UDB). We had an interesting intellectual discourse with the Director Dr Siti Norkhalbi Haji Wahsalfelah, Deputy Director Tuan Haji Mohd Shahrol Amira bin Abdullah, Programme Leader Mohammad Rafee Shahif, lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mikio Oishi and few others.

The topics ranged from the state of the rich and the poor in Brunei, the management of zakat in Brunei, the state philosophy Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB), the position of zakat within the MIB philosophy, and possible cooperations between the Academy and ISDEV.

For the latter, coincidently, three undergraduate students of the Academy are now in USM and taking my Principles of Islamic-based Development course via a student exchange programme. We agreed that this could be the start of our cooperation, followed possibly InshaAllah by the participation of the academicians from the Academy in ISDEV 5th IDMAC11 to be held in December 2011 at USM, academic visits and exchanges, and research collaborations in the near future. If these are realised, a MoU will be signed between ISDEV and the Academy, InshaAllah, for a longer collaboration.

The Director expressing her points
The participants of the discourse


Datuk Haji Khairil Anwar Surbakti
While here in Brunei, I got a very surprising SMS from Pak Irfan and later on from Pak Syam in Medan this morning, informing me that ISDEV PhD graduate Datuk Khairil Anwar has passed away early in the morning, possibly due to a heart attack. We have just met him less than two weeks ago, when he was at USM in the Monthly Graduate Supervision on the 15th September. He seemed to be very healthy then.

Datuk Khairil is a hardworking student, rarely missing any of ISDEV Graduate academic meetings either in Penang or Medan, and has completed the first draft of his thesis (except the Conclusion chapter). Everytime ISDEV fraternity were in Medan attending Islamic Development Workshop (WAPI), he never missed to treat them for a dinner at his residence. But definitely Allah SWT loves him more and has taken him this morning. May Allah SWT accepts his study as a jihad fisabilillah and bestows him with rahmah, InshaAllah.

Datuk Khairil Anwar at ISDEV Monthly Graduate Supervision in June 2011
Datuk Khairil is the second ISDEV graduate who passed away in the midst of his study. The first was Pak Wim Ansory of Jakarta. Another ISDEV member who has passed away was Dr Salim of Medan, but only after years of the completion of his PhD. May Allah showers all of them with His mercy and love.

Monday, September 26, 2011


With Dr Baharuddin having dinner at a Malaysian restaurant near Times Square
Just came back from a dinner treatment given by Dr Baharuddin Arus of Universiti Brunei Darussalam. The venue was a Malaysian-owned prestigious restaurant near the Times Square of Bandar Seri Begawan. There were Malaysian foods such as Mee Bandung Muar as was taken by Dr Zakaria Bahari, Nasi Goreng Pattaya taken by Dr Zahri Hamat, Mee Goreng taken by Dr Baharuddin, and Nasi Sup Ayam taken by me. We also shared murtabak together, and our drink was Radix. According to Dr Baharuddin, there are a lot of Malaysian restaurants in Brunei Darussalam. Most of the customers seem to be a middle-income class. After the dinner, we were brought around to tour the city of Bandar Seri Begawan by Dr Baharuddin.

Talking to a father of a graduated MBA student from Jengka Pahang who is in Brunei to attend his son's Convocation Ceremony at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam on Thursday 29 September.


Programme brochure
Our first task in Brunei Darussalam went on as scheduled, Alhamdulillah. We were at Brunei Darussalam Ministry of Religious Affairs this morning, discussing about zakat in the state with officers of Zakat Collection and Distribution Section (ZCDS) of the Department of Islamic Religious Council. The photos below explain the activities this morning.

The discussion in progress
With some of the Islamic Religious Council's staff involving in the discussion
With the Secretary of the Islamic Religious Council (2nd left)
After solatul zohor at Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque near Kuilap
Outside the Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Arriving at Brunei Darussalam's airport
Alhamdulillah, we have landed safely at Brunei Darussalam airport at about 3.45 pm. We were ferried to Palm Garden Hotel of the Bandar Seri Begawan - our accommodation in Brunei - by Jom, the hotel driver. Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei Darussalam seems to be quite and peaceful.

After maghrib prayer, he had our dinner at a buffet restaurant beside our hotel. Buffet restaurant style is a unique trend in Brunei, according to Dr Baharuddin, a former USM lecturer who is now teaching at Universitit Brunei Darussalam for the last 12 years. He came to visit us at our hotel at about 11.00 pm just now.

One communication facility that is absent in Brunei is the pre-paid mobile line. Unlike in Malaysia and Indonesia, we could not buy a sim card and use it instantly. Instead we need to register for a fixed line, says Jom the driver. As we are going to stay here for just five days, we decided to use our existing Malaysian line rather than registering for the Brunei fixed line.


Arriving at LCCT by 8.15 am flight from Penang
I am on a long journey again today. The destination this time is Brunei Darusssalam. The aim is to undertake a round-up visit for the research on Zakat Accounting in Southeast Asia. The team, as usual, consists of Dr Zakaria Bahari and Dr Zahri Hamat. They are travelling together with me, as shown in the photo above.

This posting is published at LCCT in Sepang. We arrived from Penang by 8.15 am flight just now, and at the moment waiting for 1.10 pm flight to Brunei Darussalam. Beginning from tomorrow, we will be visiting Brunei's Ministry of Religious Affair, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali, InshaAllah. We will be leaving for Penang on Thursday 29 September 2011.

While waiting for 1.10 pm flight to Brunei Darussalam, working at Taste of Asia Restaurant at LCCT.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I am quite surprised to find out today that my letter to the Editor of the News Straits Times on the abolition of Internal Security Act (ISA) has been published on Tuesday 20 September 2011. I missed the daily on the day of the publication for two reasons. Firstly, I was quite busy with my routine teaching and administrative commitment; and secondly, I did not have a high hope to see it published, thus did not really put an effort in checking it.

I feel surprised also for two reasons. Firstly, this is my first try writing to the daily; and secondly, it took just a few days for the Editor to publish it. Although the writing has been shortened and edited by the Editor, the gist of my writing is still there. It clearly indicates an availability of another channel to express my idea, now in English, apart from the other Malay dailies in Malaysia and Indonesia that used to publish my writings prior to this.

Below is the shortened and edited version of the said writing that appeared in the New Straits Times on Tuesday 20 September 2011.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 02.37 PM 

Repeal of ISA: Focus on replacement laws

THE repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the eve of Malaysia Day was welcomed by many.

It was especially welcomed by those who suffered under the law; people who were either arrested and jailed, as many of my friends in the mid-1990s were, or those like me, who had been warned and threatened with arrest and detention under the act.
One interesting thing was the response of pro-government supporters and backers of the opposition. The statements and attitudes of some of them were naive.

Not many of those in the pro-government and opposition camps showed curiosity about the laws that are going to replace the ISA, although they are more pertinent to our future.

We should be anxious about how the new laws will ensure a balance between avoiding oppression and safeguarding the security of Malaysia and Malaysians.
Everyone should focus on this and contribute to this now.