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Lucky Little Lad...

My buddy James was asking me the other day to name 4-6 most influential people in Brunei Darussalam's IT development. It was food for thought and I thought long and hard about this over the last few days and James, if you're reading this, below are my nominees:

HRH Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Bilah - Senior Minister, Prime Minister's Office

HRH is very IT savvy and like all the younger generation, is very comfortable with ICT. I had the honour of presenting HRH with a PDA once and he took to it immediately, and I set up wireless internet both in his office at MFA and in his room at the palace so that he could access the internet from his PDA.

This was some years ago when wireless was still a novelty. But from this interaction, I could already imagine HRH being the architect of a globalised Brunei (Cyber-Brunei?) where the knowledge economy would thrive.

Pehin Dato Adnan - Minister of Home Affairs, former Director of Immigration & National Registration

When he was Director of Immigration and National Registration, Pehin was the champion who pushed ahead to computerize the Immigration and National Registration system and for the adoption of the smart-card national identification card.

Not many people know this, but Brunei was already using the smart-card when other countries in ASEAN were just discussing plans to adopt its usage. The national smart-IC will be the nucleus for citizen-centric delivery of e-services in the future.

Pehin Dato Hj Hazair - Deputy Minister of Health, Former Chairman of EGPEC

As chairman of the E-Government Program Executive Committee (EGPEC), Pehin was the prime-mover for the strategic planning for and the adoption of IT in government. Through his leadership, the government was able to put together a strategic IS/IT plan which still serves as the road-map for IT adoption in our government today.

Hj Mahmud Hj Daud - Current Director of IT and State Stores, Ministry of Finance

Hj Mahmud was a key figure behind the scenes for the adoption of IT in government and played a vital role in putting together the first public-private sector partnership initiative in the form of a joint-venture company between the Ministry of Finance and an international IT services firm. The JV company has grown from strength to strength in providing employment in the IT sector to our young Bruneians.

Wallace Koh - Senior Manager, AiTi, Former Head of Brunet, JTB

Wallace was the dude who assigned to put together the core of our present internet gateway. Of course during those days, it was dialup access at 14.4, then 28.8, then 56k. Ridiculous by today's minimum of 512kb on e-speed. But during that time, people like me who had just returned from abroad were suffering from internet withdrawal and any access was better than no access. That early exercise was the foundation for the "cyber-Brunei" that we have today, with Bruneians like LSM, Maurina, Emma, and Rano putting their mark on the blogosphere.

Some dude named "BKiD" - Channel Manager of #Brunei @ Undernet. The largest IRC network in the world.

OK this is the self-promotion bit lah hehehe. Back in 1996, there was this dude who had just returned from abroad and missed his Internet Relay Chat buddies. So after discovering Brunet, he proceeded to register the #Brunei channel on the Undernet. This was the early manifestation of "cyber-Brunei" which still lives on to this day.

At its peak, #Brunei would have upwards of 1000 users on the channel at one time, mostly Bruneians at home and abroad, communicating via the internet and exchanging the latest goss and news, much like MSN or Yahoo is being used today.

So there you have it James, my own "most influential Bruneian IT figure" list. This is of course, my personal opinion, and I stand to be corrected from every perspective. The whole idea here is to stimulate some kind of discussion on this topic.

Comments and inputs welcome on the photo too... Heheh, cool bananas...

Also relevant: Check out s@s' piece on the IT industry in Brunei


  1. awu karit op tu si bkid ah hahahahahaha. *bitter*

  2. Wow Wallace got a mention... way to go Wallace! don't forget Dato Buntar.

  3. Sash: Gee you can hold a grudge girl! Heheheh! What's wrong with Prince Charles by the way? *wink*

    Vixennova: Yes of course, Dato Buntar, Director of JTB at the time when Brunet was finding its feet. Without him, Wallace would have had to work with Monopoly money heheheh!

  4. LOL. PRINCE CHARLES IS BUTT UGLY..if u havent noticed it already. lol. yatah cali wanda sykes atu. hahaha. are u still an active irc user btw? do u still have admin rights to the channel?

  5. Sash: yeah I'm still the channel manager :) #Brunei celebrates its tenth year this year... heheh

  6. aaaahh good ol #Brunei. I was in the scene back then when there was only probably about 10 people in the channel max. I had just came back from abroad then. I even joined a gathering once, one of the early ones. Happy 10th anniversary #Brunei!

  7. "The JV company has grown from strength to strength in providing employment in the IT sector to our young Bruneians."

    Proud to be a BAGian - we're young, hip and Bruneian :D. Thanks for the mention Bkid.

    I just realised that I discovered the Bruneian section of bloggers through you! Even thought Brunei Resources was you, once. Heh heh...

  8. hey... I just did an entry on Brunei's IT industry.. hehe!

    But its just a brief one :)

  9. Mate, you've mentioned lots of familiar names, Wallace, know him personally, Dato Buntar, know him too, but, you should also mention the individuals who actually succeed in this industries, one for sure, the owner of the DeHeritage Company, can't remember his name, he wrote a books for primary students, which somehow, a very good effort. And then there is this bloke from the Apple Centre Brunei, who's been bringing us Apple Computers here in Brunei. Then there are IT company owners, people from syabas technologies and etc... Just giving you my opinion. But I still think the inventor of the internet, is the Lucky Little Lad here, Mr.Vint Cerf whom without his invantion, internet would be just dreams....

    Thanks for having a read.


  10. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the valuable feedback. I'm sure James is watching this post heheh.

    Cikgu Hj Kamsani of course, the ITB lecturer with entrepreneurial spirit. Hats go off to him for penning all those IT books for kids.

    Parvinder, the Apple Center man and fellow Canon 350D user heheh.

    Mr adventure, Shaikh Abas, one of my mentors, is definitely a top figure in Brunei's IT industry yup yup.

    Yes credit must also go to the early players in the IT industry (although I feel they tended to benefit more in monetary terms than anything else heheh! Jangan marah, me also in the same boat!)

    Keep em coming people!

  11. IRC ... #Brunei .. wah is it really 10 years alrady ??

    That means .. it's been 10 years that i've known this fellow called _BKiD_ .. the one who loves rama-rama .. Huahahaha

    .. It was late 1995 .. when I "founded" or shall I say .. got hold about this internet thingy .. #brunei was not even registered .. no @x .. no @w ... just _BKiD_ from OZ huahaha .. then me from UK.... and some few others whom we knew quite well thru the net n "reality" ...

    bah _BKiD_ I think we ought to have e-mail addresses of the previous ops .. just to get some networking ...

  12. Gaaawd!! You remember Rama-Rama eh! That was me and I was looking for Kupu-Kupu heheheheh! What a blast from the past!

  13. anakbrunei: Yes, I'm watching this post ;-) I think this can spark off a rich discussion of how to decide on the TOP 5-6 ICT leaders of Brunei - both from public and private sector. I guess it's important to first agree on what critieria to use to make this decision. Perhaps it can be based on who has made most impact to the country (in terms of touching most lives, bringing most benefits, introducing most innovative solutions, giving most support, creating the most conducive environment, etc etc) through ICT. Does this make sense? Any other criteria you can think of? Other nominees?

  14. Great to see the good response on "Most influential person in Brunei's IT development". Perhaps we can expand this to include the "Most promising young Bruneian" so as to be able to stir the youth of today to do something useful for the country. Do we really have anyone in this category and if not how do we go about to ensure that there will be one in the future? What say you?

    By the way, I really like this site!

  15. Anonymous: thank you I'm glad you like this site.

    Great idea on Most promising young Bruneian although we'd have to first agree on the selection criteria.

    But yeah, its a challenge I think my fellow bloggers and I would not be averse to, since between us, we practically rate and review almost anything anyway! Heheh!

    Perhaps you could also play a role Mr/Ms Anonymous (small request: next time you comment, don't be shy, put your name la heheh)

    Thanks once again :)

  16. you forgot yakub menudin and john de cruz at bsp. they were on the y2k committee of shell worldwide preparing the computer systems for the new century and to make sure the IT systems did not crash and wipe out all the Shell data of the last century;
    and the dudes from rba, hsbc and citibank. don't think orang bukit and government bigwigs equals IT in this country. The Shell people are far ahead. Ask anyone or venture down to Seria and check it out yourself.

  17. Nameless one: I normally do not give much credence to anonymous commenters but in this case I make an exception because Yakup is a dear friend and we have worked together on several projects before.

    I absolutely agree with you on his contribution as well as all the other players from the private sector in influencing our beloved nation's IT development. So once again, I salute our IT heroes from the private sector!

    Thank you very much indeed for your valuable input. Its people like you that make this site lively and interesting. Do keep coming back!

    One small request, perhaps next time you could state your name and email? Its friendly and polite to do so dont you think? :)


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