2 Billion in Deficit


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Today’s big news popping up on everyone’s feed is about how oil prices continue to be at an all time low (still dropping in fact) and how we are in deep deep shit.

Why is it only scary today? Surely we already had this conversation when oil was $100 a barrel? This day will come, and it is here.

Now that it is here, honestly what can we do about it? What can you as an individual living in this 90% oil dependent country do about it? 

You cannot change the price of oil- you are scared. You are wondering about the future of Brunei. 

Some people even say, the answer is to cut 50% of the salary of ministers. I’m not great at maths but Brunei barely have 10 ministers in total, their spendings I don’t believe reach up to a billion. 🙂

The answer lies with us. We simply need to be awesome.

We need to start to live a green, self sufficient, and socially responsible life.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are u still throwing rubbish on the ground in public places assuming someone will pick it up? Do you know how much we as a nation have to spend hiring workers, facilities, services in order to pick up after rubbish that YOU couldve just picked up for free? I don’t have exact figures, but I can bet that it’s more than a Minister’s salary in a year.
  2. Are you recycling? Save resources by finding ways to repurpose and reuse. Do you realise how much government spend just to maintain our rapidly growing (no sign of becoming smaller) disposal systems? 
  3. Are you using green materials as far a possible and disposing them properly? Do you compost?  Are your  actions hurting the environment? 
  4. Are you saving energy? Electricity. This is something which is highly subsidised. Everytime u switch on a light, the government is paying a portion of the bill. So if you keep it off, you save your money as well as the government’s. So use electricity in a more strategic way. If you’re not in the room, why do u need lights?
  5. Are you saving water? Same concept as above. Shorter showers, also is less strain on the wallet. Especially if you shower with the heater on.
  6. Do you eat local produce or eat in restaurants that support local produce? Do you support local farmers, local businesses? This is a no brainer. When we are self sufficient, we rely less on the government. Do u know the food crisis is one of the scariest realities of living in this world today? We constantly import from foreign countries, and prices actually increase every year. We still pay the same price, so it’s the subsidy that is increasing every year. So yes, buy local.
  7. Are u trying to eat less meat? Cow rearing is expensive. Chicken rearing is expensive. I’m not saying cut out meat from your diet but why not eat it less? Find out where your meat comes from? How much subsidy goes into them?
  8. Do u try to use less harmful chemicals in your washing? It goes without saying, these chemicals are harmful to our environment. We depend on nature to provide us with food, water and if you ruin it with your daily chemicals, we are the ones who will lose. If your land is polluted, you cannot grow your own food, rear animals, and how can you become self sufficient?
  9. Are you kind to your neighbors, friends, and helping them do the above? It is true that in this dire times, it is very easy to become selfish, to each their own. But reach out to your heart, and you will see that we rely on each other. Be kind to each other. Share this world.
  10. Do you carpool with friends and family? Or do u want to try use the public transport more? Fuel subsidy is a mega expense that we mere mortals are too small to even imagine! With all households owning at least 2-3 cars it’s not difficult to imagine why. Carpool once in a while. Why do u need to drive that big ass 4 wheel drive to work when it’s just you in the car? Are u going off road? No, a saloon car would do just fine. With every drop of fuel, you are increasing the country’s debt.
  11. If you are in the public sector, do you work to simply earn money or do u want go make public life better for everyone? Do you think you are sufficiently serving the people? I’ve seen excellent public servants, so it is not an urban myth. But I’ve also seen terrible ones. Let’s just be excellent and awesome. 
  12. Are u saving money? With this economic climate, anything can happen. Layoffs, perhaps? Or some companies may decide to close down due to bad business. So save money, in case it happens to you. Especially if you are the breadwinner. Know that you have a safety net, just in case you need to restart from scratch. 
  13. Do you take care of your health? Do you eat healthy, maintain a healthy lifestyle? Do you know that the government spend BILLIONS to develop human resources, acquire drugs, build hospitals, etc? Do you know the top 3 killers of Bruneiand are stroke, diabetes and cancer? These are all diseases that is highly correlated with lifestyle. So be fair to the country, start living a healthy life!
  14. Do you support local charities and their initiatives? Support the local charities. No matter how little you think you have, there is always someone out there who is less fortunate than you. Some have very little joy, and perhaps you can be the one to give it. Volunteer your time, energy.

As an individual, your job is to consume less, so it encompasses all facets of your life, and you need to persuade and cajol others to consume less. 

If you are in a position of power, this is when you can take willful action. Perhaps in your office you can print less, consume less. Reuse.

Less is more. 

Sharing is caring. 

I don’t know what difficulty the government is facing – but I know the steps above can be done by anyone no matter where they work, no matter age, gender, or whatever they do. 

Not 2 billion I guess, but just my two cents. 

9 thoughts on “2 Billion in Deficit

  1. Good read and I agree with the ideas of car-pooling, eating less meat, consume less energy etc. Although I am guilty of leaving massive carbon footprints, I have been my best to be eco friendly with my daily routine (yes, I do car pool with my family to work, I switch off the lights at work, I stopped using the heater and wear layers to beat the freeze in our office). I believe that with a great awareness we can slowly change people’s life style. So, keep doing what you do and I am 100% supportive of that. BUT we are missing the bigger picture here which I hope you you would address this in the future – if you agree with me, of course. While we are all about being eco friendly etc, we forgot that Brunei needs to start promoting tourism in this country. I shall quote an article form BT in March 2014 (a bit outdated but not voided) – BRUNEIANS who visited Singapore in the first nine months of 2013 spent $82.9 million while in the neighbouring city-state… “Many Bruneians come to Singapore and spend money mostly on accommodation, food, concerts, sports, marathons, sightseeing and of course shopping,” May I highlight – food, concerts, sports, marathons, sightseeing and shopping. I am one of those many Bruneians who spend their money overseas, sight seeing etc. The question is why? Well, I don’t think I have to spell it out. It’s self-explanatory. People still go to Miri despite all the complaints they make about roadblocks, toll etc. Bruneians go to KK for the seafood and some watersports at the resorts. Why? Can’t we do all these in our own beloved country? Well, you tell me.

    The government has to change and adapt. We have a voice but we are scared to stand up and use it. Even with a voice, we are hardly heard. What Brunei needs is to do is to LISTEN to its people. We need to start promoting local talents, local products and support each other esp in this time of economic crunch. I am not saying that we should open clubs or pubs but why ban restaurants or cafes that give you a little entertainment like basking, singing, karaoke etc? Can I go somewhere to enjoy our local talents play the guitar or sing their hearts out to Adele’s song? Can I see people dancing in the street? No. Let’s not start on religion. But did I not see a great party at a Bank’s annual dinner a few days ago? You have to hunt or be invited to private parties for this. And even before that they have to go through all sorts of filtration before they are given the “green light”. And of course, they put a lot of restrictions on this – men are not allowed to perform with their long hair down. They have to hide it by tying it in a bun. Women can’t wear tights when all I care about when she’s on stage is her voice – talent. We can’t even have fashion shows in Brunei even when most of the audience are women! I don’t want to go off the tangent here but how can we keep Bruneian’s money in Brunei? How can we instil Bruneians to stay in Brunei when the government is not helping them flourish? They have to rethink of their plans and actions more. They have to develop more creative minds in our youth. We need to promote Brunei, promote tourism, promote talents and make Brunei recognise internationally – not because we are one of the richest countries (yeah, right!) but because we have unknown treasures i.e it’s amazing people. US.

    I travel the world to see and experience things in life. I refuse to compare us with other countries but Brunei has to learn and observe from other countries. We need to start working on how to make Brunei less dependant on oil. We need to start making our own people buy our products. Like Malaysians and their Protons. Like Japan and their gadgets. We all can do so much but with a better mindset (not dependant on oil), Brunei will change to a new direction.

    Another last point I would like to make is your view in particular to cutting 50% of Ministers budget. I don’t think it’s a bad idea after all. Yes, their spendings may not reach to a billion but why should we maintain their less-than-billion-expenses when that could be use for something better? Perhaps we could use that to fund an organisation for stray animals which is independently funded by our people? How about providing more workshops for our local talents/young and new entrepreneurs? Wouldn’t that be great? Their business class tickets, BG cars, maids, drivers, 5 start hotels etc can be compromised just like how you want us to compromise on the food we eat, we drive to work etc. I think to be a great nation we all have to be in it together. But are the heads i.e. Ministers in this with us?


    1. Love your opinions 🙂 although i believe no sane minister would want to give up their benefits. I’m not on their side, but its not me who can make that decision.

      Yes it is true we need to boost tourism, diversify economy, etc. Again these are things that are already discussed when oil was $100 per barrel. Again this is not something that is in our power as individuals to change overnight. We shouldve done it dari dulu sudah.

      Change to me needs to begin at a cellular ground level, what is in our power to change and improve? If im a student, i change by coming to school everyday and really absorb everything taught to me, if im a director, i change by creating films in brunei that shows how awesome brunei is.

      Me? As a writer i change by doing and persuading with my words. As a marketing officer, i change by creating awesome promotions with local businesses.

      It’s easy to simply point out the problems we have and say ministers are at the root of it all. But i feel its so much better to take action and just do.

      Im saying that we are just one, but together we can acheive greatness.


  2. Salaam 🙂
    Great advice Maurina. May your words have an impact to those who are reading this. Especially for our talented Bruneians.

    It goes without saying that we’re too good at creating fancy slogans like “Brunei boleh” and “Brunei Negara Zikir”. It’s high time we start to walk the talk and practice what we preach. What’s more important is that Brunei is negara Islam. It should have been I.M.B instead of M.I.B. in the first place…(just personal opinion).

    Islam teaches us to be moderate and not waste. Islam teaches us manners and faith. Islam teaches us to be kind and respectful of our neighbours..that’s both people and the environment! Islam teaches us to be healthy. Islam teaches us to be truthful and just in our work and businesses. Islam is so much more than what we do in the masjid, how we dress or limited to religious holidays and such. Islam is so much more than that. Allah gave us the gift of islam as a way of life and a way of being and mindset. The One who created us surely knows what is best for us, right?

    Allah teaches us in the Quran that He will not change the condition of a people unless they themselves commit to change. And what you wrote totally rings all the bells. It definitely starts with the individual. We have to believe we can make a change. It’s no use just complaining lah… No need to wonder why someone doesn’t do something about it…when WE should strive to be that someone. We all have a role to play…

    May Allah guide and protect our beloved nation and May we come out stronger from the trials to come…

    Disclaimer: I’m no Ustaz. All comments and advice is a reflection for myself too. We’re all struggling to change for the better. Ambil yang baik….tinggalkan yang kurang baik.


  3. 400+k people doing all of this, yet none will give a big impact on the problem. Try removing the 1000+ Royal Santap and benefits. But then again, who dares to say anything…


  4. Assalaamualaikum.
    What a great read! Those questions you’ve got there, I love them- I’m guilty of a few but in shaa Allah, I want to change that ‘few’ to ‘none’ and strive to be better.
    Thanks for sharing your opinions, Maurina. Totally sharing this to my fb-feed.
    Hope you don’t mind if I share my thoughts on this, please excuse the tint of emotions in the text too.

    One of the scariest headlines I’ve read up isn’t about the falling oil prices, it’s about Bruneians’ lack of interest to save up on (finite) resources, like money, water, electricity, fuel, etc. Our people should start realizing that all these challenges that our country is facing aren’t supposed to be scary, instead we all should take it as a wake-up call.

    It IS time to make a change- time to wake the heck up! It’s late but better late than never.
    Time to start saving, and keep it up. Jangan (h)angat-(h)angat tahi ayam; jangan save now and then once fortunate, lupa tia kan save atu….(that’s a personal reminder for me too). With these falling oil prices, it’s no surprise that subsidies are prolly going to be taken away and market prices are going to mark up slowly- there’s no time for ‘okay karang tuu…’ or ‘nanti tah saja…’- because once the real shit hits, it’ll hit us hard.

    There’s also the issue on the rising trend of unemployment. And especially to the kind of individuals who’ve I met (and also, ada yang I’ve eavesdropped) whose answers kinda boils you down to the core: ‘Inda payah lah, still got my parents.’ ‘Ada kraja karang tuu…nanti tah ku apply…’ ‘Waiter? Bida jua tu kan jadi waiter.’ Ever noticed that on several eateries and retail shops, less than half of the employees are Bruneians? I hate to say it but ‘several’ is prolly an understatement there. And to top it all up, most of the unemployed Bruneians are leaving readily available work vacancies (cashiers, waiters, cleaners, plumbers, carpenters, brick-layers, etc) to foreigners. Sure you’ve passed your academics and made your family proud- but, guys, seriously? Losing a job to foreigners who were prolly less fortunate to get better education? W o w. Kudos to individuals who took their time and effort to utilize their creative talents for a cause or maybe start up businesses, I salute you people!

    About salary cuts, I’m feeling mixed when people started debating to the Ministers’ 50% cut- why the salary cut though, why not take away their exclusive privileges saja (which MM mentioned BG cars, business class tickets, etc). Salary-cuts are….quite cruel, for individuals who worked their way up the career-salary ladder (in whatever way they did)- but privileges…..sound like extras which can be discarded and the funds can be used for a better use.

    Last but not least, we should feel grateful and indebt to the Gov’t for so many privileges since 10ever; the subsidies, healthcare, education, kampung roads which are actual bitumen roads, preserved greenery and soooooo much more! Still feeling lucky to be Bruneian, and still feeling guilty for not repaying Brunei enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems like we share same perspective! 🙂 I too am not perfect but i do try to save save and save and change few to none.

      We as a nation is also afflicted with the “thats not my job, the govt should do xxxx to improve xxxx” disease but actually so many of us work in the govt and thats kinda our job. Truth is, a leader is only as good as its team. Thats why, i also have mixed feelings about ministers taking all the blame.

      Share away!


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