Welcome to my private journal generally on Brunei issues. Any opinions expressed are in my personal capacity. All rights to the articles are reserved.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fare Thee Well Mr. BR by Emma Good Egg

DURING lunch with the girls last Thursday, amid being reminded what a lazy blogger I was, I learnt to my surprise that Mr BR of the local blog The Daily Brunei Resources at http://www. bruneiresources.blogspot.com has hung his blogging boots and called it a day.

My first thought was that the powers-that-be had impressed on him the need for self-censorship, but Mr BR, who prides himself as "fostering a better-informed Brunei society", had left a warm and final posting on his now-defunct blog informing his readers why he felt the need to bid the blogosphere farewell.

His reasons were good enough for me _ for they are reasons that all bloggers out there are familiar with. I was happy too that my first thoughts were wrong _ he did not leave because he was asked to, he left because he wanted to.

If one were to write a Wikipedia entry on the origins of blogging in Brunei, it is impossible to fathom that Mr BR and his blog would not have a prominent place in the entry.

So, my plans to write about the environment will have to be shelved as I muse over Mr BR, the impact he made on the Brunei blogosphere and most of all how he always played nice in cyberspace.

If you have ever read The Daily Brunei Resources you would know that Mr BR wrote mostly about the country we call home, as is pretty evident in his blog name. Postings about Brunei's history, culture and its people were his forte.

He helped redefine Brunei's blogosphere from the young who posted personal diaries, to those who blog about their hobbies, to old fogeys like me who jumped onto the bandwagon.

From the clues he dropped about his personal life, to whisperings on the grapevine, it became known to the public in cyberspace that the person behind the blog was in fact a senior civil servant.

In many other places, this fact would receive less than a blink of an eye, but in Brunei, I blinked at least thrice when I realised who Mr BR was.

My point, in case you missed it, was that a senior civil servant writing freely about Brunei was pretty big news. In a country where anonymous "surat layangs" (or "flying letters" complaining about Tom, Dick or Harry and disseminated in government departments and offices) are unfortunately all too common, and the most widely read Internet publication are the public Internet forums of Brudirect's (http://www. brudirect.com) Have Your Say and Bruclass (http://www. bruclass.com), it was a breath of fresh air to have a person of his stature pen a blog about this sleepy little hamlet.

And for him to do so without a cloak of anonymity is of some importance. Mr BR's postings were never incendiary, always justified and moderate. It was heartening to know that he could express his views without being called in and questioned.

Sure Mr BR writes under a pseudonym, but the thing about blogs in a small country such as Brunei is that it is fairly easy to determine who the writer is.

Personally, I believe that even if you write anonymously, you are still accountable for your views. This accountability makes for a courteous and reasonable blogger, of which Mr BR was a prime example.

I am sure Rano Iskandar, who has a comment box on his blog at http://www.ranoaddidas. com hopes for some intelligent discussion but can attest to the fact that conversations among his visitors often lead to vitriol. One can simply enter any one of our Internet forums and read how low we can go when hiding behind an anonymous moniker.

There is of course the other side of the coin in which the courteous blogger could be subjected to a certain amount of self-censorship. But as long as you are not making wild accusations, it is all in the interests of promoting free speech.

I have always felt that the writing behind the Daily Brunei Resources encouraged public openness and accountability, and encouraged the exchange of ideas. After all it is only when your opinions are tested can you say that they are valid.

Fare thee well, Mr BR, your presence in Brunei's blogosphere will be missed.

The writer invites readers to visit http://emmagoodegg.com, her blog. The Brunei Times

Note: This article written by a Brunei blogger calling herself Emma Good Egg was published in the Blogspeak column of The Brunei Times dated 30th April 2007

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