I wasn’t around in 1929… but 8 decades on?

7 03 2009

THE ROARING 20’s in the Land of Dreams, America… Thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, the Abode of Peace was still a very backward Malay village community on stilts on the Brunei River.

Brunei then was a tiny patch of territorial anonymity amongst the most virgin jungle-covered land on the Borneo Island (said to be the third-largest island in the world). Of the few thousand inhabitants then, only a handful of Bruneians had the opportunity to get truly proper formal education. And even then the things they learned by rote on stone tablets were leaning more toward Islamic religious education rather than a secular one.

In 1929, the first oil for the country was struck by the then British Malayan Petroleum Company in Seria. The same year that the Great Depression set in over the horizon in the United States. That was one of the  gloomiest economic situations in the American history and also in the history of the rest of the world.

For an undeveloped economy like Brunei, 1929 marked the turning point in its history because of the discovery of the ‘black gold’ which would later shape the country into one of the richest oil and gas producers, many years and decades to come.

Now almost 80 years after Brunei had largely derived economic gains from its oil and natural gas production, a similar US recession is rearing its ugly head when some of its biggest financial firms are filing for bankruptcy. Its rippling effect has been spreading like wildfire all across the globe!

As a means of escaping from the harsh realities of the so-called global financial meltdown, most people would turn to the entertainment industry to lift up their de-motivated, hopeless spirits…

During the roaring ’20s and rolling ’30s, a God-given talented iconic legend by the name of Charlie Chaplin must have cheered up and made stressed and depressed world citizens then laugh and smile to a multitude of frenzy silent films of his slap-stick comedy trademark! Amongst Charlie Chaplin’s greatest movie-making and acting feats was his top box-office film, “Modern Times”, in which he composed this theme song with great lyrics to move the down-hearted to tears:

tho’ your heart is aching

even tho’ it’s breaking

when there are clouds in the sky

you’ll get by
if you
smile through your fear and sorrow

smile and maybe tomorrow

you’ll see the sun come shining thru for you.

Light up your face with gladness

hide ev’ry trace of sadness

altho’ a tear maybe ever so near

that’s the time you must keep on trying

what’s the use of crying

you’ll find that life is still worth while

if you’ll just smile.

Still, Brunei Darussalam and the Asian region were hardly affected by the 1929 economic debacle in the US. It was a great coincidence, though, that one of the legendary icons in the Malay film industry, the multi-talented Tan Sri P Ramlee was born on March 22, 1929.

Like Charlie Chaplin, P Ramlee was the most popular actor, director and songwriter to have made millions of his fans in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and even Indonesia laugh and cry with his unique, versatile and class-act performances on and off-screen. The late P Ramlee died on 29 May 1973 (when the oil boom reached its peak which had benefitted the Malay world economies since Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei were producers and exporters of the ‘black gold’).

I’m digressing from the 1929 US economy depression topic but the thing is how recession-proof is our national economy in Brunei Darussalam was what I should’ve asked rhetorically in view of the current global economic outlook? Will the recession pose little or no effect to our country’s economy? Maybe our oil and gas exports are not so badly affected, I guess…

2009 is now the year of the ‘Great Recession’ as opposed to the ‘Great Depression’ year of 1929.

Incidentally, my late father was also born in 1929. He did have a colourful life, albeit in poverty, but rich in his kindness toward his kindred. May Allah bless the souls of those who have passed away… Amin Ya Rabbal Alamien — AL-FATIHAH.






3 responses

15 03 2009

Another lucky oil-rich nation with the starting capital letter B on the Equator..

Brazil oil find may hit 8b barrels
By Joe Carroll | 2009-3-14 | (The Shanghai Daily)

EXXON Mobil Corp’s oil discovery off the coast of Brazil may hold enough crude to rival the nearby Tupi prospect as the Western Hemisphere’s largest find in three decades.

Exxon Mobil’s Azulao-1 well tapped a reservoir that could contain 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, said Luiz Lemos, a partner at TozziniFreire Advogados, a Brazilian law firm that represents foreign energy companies with projects in the South American nation.

The size of the discovery will intensify interest in Brazil’s offshore region among United States, European and Chinese producers amid a dwindling supply of untapped oil basins outside the Persian Gulf and Russia, said Lemos, a former general counsel for a unit of Brazil’s state oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

“This is very huge,” Lemos said on Thursday in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from Rio de Janeiro. His firm’s clients include Texas-based Exxon Mobil, Norway’s StatoilHydro ASA and Devon Energy Corp of Oklahoma City.

Exxon Mobil, which pumps more crude than every member of OPEC except Saudi Arabia and Iran, in January announced the discovery of petroleum in the Azulao-1 well in an offshore region designated BM-S-22. The company operates the project on behalf of partners Petroleo Brasileiro, known as Petrobras, and Hess Corp.

Petrobras triggered a flood of interest in Brazil’s offshore crude deposits with the November 2007 announcement that Tupi may hold the equivalent of 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That would make it the largest find in the Americas since Mexico’s Cantarell field was discovered in 1976.

The floating drilling rig began boring a second well, called Guarani, into the reservoir in BM-S-22 earlier this week, said Patrick McGinn, a Houston-based spokesman for Exxon Mobil.

30 03 2009

Hey there.

To say that “our oil and gas exports are not so badly affected”, I think it’s a “maybe” too. Haha. Though amidst the current low prices (which might be too low), Brunei’s major revenues (through oil, gas, etc.) may be significantly reduced.

Then there’s the issue of greatly weakening (or weakened) global demand for goods, among which oil/gas should be related to, if not included. By “related to”, I mean goods such as those manufactured, transportation vehicles, food and more which require oil/gas. Whether the decreasing global demand for goods be due to tighter budgets or higher environmental awareness, we really don’t know how much reduced the global demand is for our oil/gas.

And my opinion is that Brunei will never go into recession, at least not in the midst of the current financial turmoil. But I think it is certain that we are not spared from being affected by the crisis, even if it’s by just a little.

p.s. Just thought a comment would do good, though I don’t really know enough.


30 03 2009

Thank you ever so much, Noknok for your kind input. Yes, indeed, you are right! You know much more than I do about this economic and technological stuff, Noknok. What I’ve been writing all along all this while were merely words from the heart. Whereas yours have been well thought out by your God-given brilliant mind, Noknok. Please do link me to your own blog, if you have one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: