The Scoop

The way of the Waykana: why you’ll fall in love with a low-key high-powered health tea from the Amazon

2 days 3 hours ago

Begawan Athlete Enterprise is known for organising Brunei’s most thrilling ultramarathons since 2018. This April, however, the sporting event company will be trailblazing in an entirely new and refreshing way. As a distributor of Waykana Amazon Guayusa Tea, Begawan Athlete introduces a traditional drink from the rainforests of Ecuador to Brunei and the rest of ASEAN. The key ingredient is guayusa. Much like its more popularised cousin, the yerba mate, guayusa tea is made from the highly caffeinated leaves of a holly shrub named ilex guayusa. Cultivated mostly by the native kichwa people who consume the tea as a natural energy source, the drink offers an impressive list of other benefits. Natural kick. Along with elevated concentrations of caffeine, guayusa tea is steeped in other marvels such as amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. The amino acid L-theanine, in particular, makes the tea an appealing brew of choice as it helps to release caffeine more evenly. That means drinkers will get that caffeine buzz while avoiding the spikes or crashes typically associated with coffee consumption. Stimulates and calms. While you get all the benefits from caffeine such as alertness, guayusa tea also contains polyphenols and amino acids that improve the mood […]

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Ain Bandial

BIBD to launch merchant portal by Q3 2021

2 days 15 hours ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) will soon launch its merchant portal that allows micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to manage online payments and monitor their business operations. Announcing the new online tool in a press conference on Friday, BIBD Chief Marketing Officer Hjh Nurul Akmar Hj Mohd Jaafar said MSMEs will gain insights into their day-to-day business activities and track their banking transactions through the portal. Slated to be ready by the third quarter of 2021, the portal aims to provide the bank a better understanding of businesses’ specific needs and build new products to reach them more effectively. About 80 percent of BIBD’s corporate customers are MSMEs, said Hjh Nurul Akmar. MSMEs that subscribe to the merchant portal will have access to the bank’s SME360 platform, which has a dedicated relationship management team and provides financial solutions and digital payments. Hjh Nurul Akmar said BIBD’s ecosystem of digital payments, powered by the BIBD NEXGEN platform, extends to partnerships beyond the banking sector. The portal is part of the bank’s initiative to support the government’s aim to become a “Smart Nation”. To promote a cashless society, BIBD recently partnered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

Vertiv expands business presence with new partnership in Brunei

4 days 2 hours ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Vertiv (NYSE: VRT), a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions has announced a new partnership with Sphere Technologies Sdn Bhd in Brunei. Sphere Technologies will add Vertiv’s full range of solutions to its portfolio, including uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions, thermal management solutions, and IT and edge solutions for core and edge data centers.    Sphere Technologies provides data center consultancy, design, construction, installation and management services, as well as support and maintenance of data centers and other IT services. The partnership allows Vertiv to further expand its reach across more customers in the region – in the areas of retail, banking, healthcare, education, and government, among others – by tapping into Sphere Technologies’ local expertise and market knowledge in Brunei. Similarly, the partnership will allow Sphere Technologies to take advantage of Vertiv’s Partner Program to grow their business in Brunei.   “The new partnership with Sphere Technologies is a great way to kick off 2021,” said Teoh Wooi Keat, country manager of Vertiv in Malaysia, including Brunei. “This is particularly timely with the surge in demand for IT solutions as many businesses – both enterprises and small business – move online to cope with the new normal. […]

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Ain Bandial

HM: Stay vigilant during Ramadhan as COVID-19 pandemic is not over

4 days 15 hours ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — As Brunei welcomes the fasting month, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah reminded Bruneians to comply with COVID-19 guidelines even though the outbreak has been brought under control in the country. In a titah broadcast from Istana Nurul Iman on the eve of Ramadhan, His Majesty said it is still necessary for Brunei residents to comply with public health control measures. “Do not neglect these precautionary measures for as long as the situation requires. “We are not sure when this pandemic will end, no one can predict it. Thus, we should continue to practise the duty of care,” he added. Brunei welcomed the first day of Ramadhan on Wednesday, as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. The sultan said it is important to stay vigilant during social gatherings or shopping in markets and other crowded places, adding that COVID-19 rules should be observed as long as they are still in place. “We should continue the new normal, for our safety and health. Health is very important, especially for us to fast. It is also appropriate for us to be determined to fast for a full month, InsyaAllah, our good intentions will be accepted […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

Standard Chartered Securities now offers Syariah-compliant investments

6 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Standard Chartered Securities, a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank, is now offering Syariah-compliant investments after establishing the first Islamic banking window in Brunei. Standard Chartered Securities is the first capital market service license holder in the country to be granted approval by Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and the Syariah Financial Supervisory Board (SFSB) to conduct Islamic investment business through an Islamic window. Islamic window is a separate department or section within a conventional bank, which operates under strict guidance from a Syariah body to develop and offer Islamic financial products. During the launch of the Syariah-compliant investments on Monday, Chairman of Standard Chartered Securities Pg Aki Ismasufian Pg Hj Ibrahim described the formation of the first Islamic window in Brunei as a significant milestone for the bank and financial sector. Pg Aki, who is also CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, said discussions began with regulators on how they can start offering Islamic investments after the establishment of Standard Chartered Securities in 2016 and taking into consideration that Brunei is a Muslim-majority country. “However, we don’t have an Islamic license. We are a conventional bank globally, [but] we do have our Islamic banking arm in certain […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

Brunei population falls for first time due to fewer foreigners

6 days 16 hours ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s overall population has shrunk for the first time as COVID-19 restrictions forced employers to hire fewer foreigners last year. The population dropped 1.3 percent to about 453,600 between 2019 and 2020, according to the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics’ (DEPS) latest mid-year population estimates report. The rising number of Bruneians was not enough to offset the population decline after a 10.9 percent fall in “temporary residents”. DEPS said COVID-19 travel curbs had resulted in fewer foreign residents from 94,200 in 2019 to 83,900 last year — the first time Brunei reported a decrease in foreign workers since records began. “A number of foreign workers have left the country as their contract had expired, but only a limited number of new foreign workers are allowed to enter the country for certain sectors and jobs,” the report stated. In March last year, the home affairs ministry suspended the issuance of foreign worker permits as part of coronavirus control measures. At present, only foreign workers deemed essential are allowed to enter the country. Data shows upward trend in number of Bruneians The number of citizens continued its upward trend, rising 1.3 percent from an estimated 331,800 people […]

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The Scoop

Brunei-China trade up 72.5%, says Chinese envoy

1 week 1 day ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei’s trade volume with China climbed 72.5 percent last year, the largest growth among ASEAN member states, said Chinese ambassador to Brunei Yu Hong on Saturday. She said two-way trade grew “against all odds”, reaching US$1.91 billion in 2020 compared to US$1.1 billion in 2019. The envoy was speaking at the Logo Design Competition awards presentation ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei.  She added that China’s investments in Brunei cover various areas, including the oil and gas downstream sector, port operations, while providing local job opportunities and contributing to Brunei’s efforts in achieving economic diversification. China’s Hengyi Industries is the largest foreign direct investment project in Brunei, exporting 9.46 million metric tonnes of petrochemical products worth US$4.08 billion since its oil refinery started operations in November 2019. Yu said both countries have shown support to each other amid the COVID-19 outbreak. “When most countries were faced with severe vaccine shortages, China donated vaccines to Brunei despite its own strong domestic demand, which fully reflects the solidarity and friendship between China and Brunei,” she said. China gifted 52,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Brunei earlier in February […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

MoH: AstraZeneca suspension out of ‘abundance of caution’

1 week 2 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Health (MoH) said the decision to halt the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was done out of “an abundance of caution” after reports of rare blood clots were found in younger people who took the vaccine overseas. The government “temporarily paused” the use of AstraZeneca in its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Tuesday evening pending a review from the Vaccine Technical Committee. The decision came just four days after authorities began a nationwide campaign to inoculate at least 70 percent of the population, beginning with use of the Oxford and Sinopharm vaccines. When asked why the ministry did not delay the rollout of AstraZeneca when the blood clot issues had been widely reported, the head of the Disease Control Division said while MoH is confident in the vaccine’s safety, the halt was a precautionary measure until international regulatory agencies released more detailed findings. “As new evidence emerges, we’re following the science to decide how we move forward,” Dr Justin Wong said in an interview with media on Wednesday. “We don’t just operate at a normal level of caution here, we are being hyper-cautious.” MoH released an advisory on April 3, the first day of […]

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Ain Bandial

DST unveils revised Easi and Mobi plans with more data

1 week 3 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Good news for DST Easi and Mobi subscribers! The telco announced on Thursday that its prepaid and postpaid mobile plans are getting data upgrades. After launching its new Infinity broadband plans last week, the telco is back with more SUPER upgrades for its Easi and Mobi subscribers. DST CEO Radin Sufri Radin Basiuni introduced DST’s new entry-level postpaid mobile plan — the Mobi 18 with 6GB of monthly data, unlimited calls and unlimited SMS. All customers, including non-Bruneians will be paying an $18 registration fee and another $18 for the deposit when they subscribe to the Mobi 18 plan. Two of DST’s postpaid mobile plans — Mobi 50 and Mobi 30 — received a data boost without subscribers paying additional charges. No changes were made to the Mobi 80 unlimited plan. Existing Mobi users will automatically be upgraded to the new plans starting from April 9. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd (@dstbn) Mobi 50 Mobi 50 users will now enjoy more data from 20GB to 30GB. “You get an additional 10GB of data, which is 33 percent more data than before,” said Radin Sufri. Mobi 30 The monthly […]

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The Scoop

COVID-19: Gov’t halts AstraZeneca rollout pending review

1 week 4 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Just four days after the government kicked off its nationwide inoculation campaign, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced Tuesday evening that it would “temporarily pause” the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine pending a technical review. Citing recent reports of unusual blood clotting in a handful of patients in the UK, the ministry said it would conduct a review of scientific data before resuming the use of the Oxford vaccine. ⠀ “This is a precautionary measure until the Technical Committee has had a chance to complete this review and are able to make evidence-based recommendations on the use of the AstraZeneca. “In the meantime, the vaccination programme will continue using the Sinopharm vaccine.” A number of countries have reported rare blood clots affecting primarily younger people with low levels of platelets. The UK has reported clots in 30 people from the 18 million vaccinated by March 24. Of the 30 cases, seven people have died, although it is not clear if this is a coincidence or a genuine side effect of the vaccine. “At present, a number of international regulatory authorities including WHO and the European Medicines Agency are of the view that the vaccine is safe […]

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Ain Bandial

BSP launches solar park in turn to renewable energy

1 week 5 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) has launched a 3.3 MW solar plant to power its Seria headquarters as it seeks to lower its carbon footprint. HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, launched the flagship solar plant on Tuesday in his capacity as chairman of the Brunei Shell Joint Venture Companies. Located at G11 along Seria’s Jalan Tengah, BSP’s solar park is the second solar plant in Brunei after Tenaga Suria Brunei began operations in 2010. Almost 7,000 solar panels were installed on four hectares of land, with the plant producing electricity from March 30. Taking over seven months to complete, the solar power will be integrated with BSP’s domestic grid, offsetting some of the power used at the BSP headquarters on Jalan Utara. The solar power generated is equivalent to the electricity consumption of about 600 households a year, and will help contribute towards Brunei’s target of producing 100 MW of renewable energy by 2025. Solar seems to be picking up momentum, with the government recently announcing plans to build three new solar farms in Tutong, Temburong and Kota Batu. Speaking at the launch event, BSP Head of […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

Muslims can start paying zakat online this Ramadhan

1 week 6 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Muslims in Brunei will be able to pay their zakat fitrah online this Ramadhan with the launch of the eZakat digital platform on Monday. Through a collaboration between the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), Datastream Digital (DST) and Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), members of the public can use two online payment methods — DST’s eZakat platform and BIBD’s QuickPay. The services will go live on the first day of Ramadhan and stay open until the 28th day of Ramadhan.  During the launch of eZakat, MUIB’s Acting Secretary Hj Abdul Aziz Hj Akop said the outbreak of the pandemic pushed officials to accelerate plans for digital zakat payment. Plans had already been in the works for a few years, but studies had to be conducted to see if it was permissible under Islamic law, he added. DST said following the challenges posed by COVID-19 and physical distancing, it worked with religious authorities to ensure the product was Syariah-compliant. eZakat will allow Muslims to pay alms at any time, although the traditional means of collecting zakat through amil (collectors) will still continue at mosques, surau and religious halls. “The act of paying zakat online is completed when […]

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Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

Brunei kickstarts 5G pilot project to boost digital transformation

1 week 6 days ago

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei kickstarted its 5G pilot project on Saturday, with 5G mobile networks deployed at five testing sites. Implemented in phases, the pilot project has identified five indoor and outdoor venues to study the potential of 5G in Brunei. The locations include outdoor coverage at The Airport Mall, Mulia Hotel, Universiti Teknologi Brunei as well as indoor coverage at The Mall’s ground floor and the Design and Technology Building in Anggerek Desa. Spearheaded by the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI), the pilot project aims to test the feasibility of high-speed 5G mobile communications and raise awareness in accelerating 5G adoption. In a press statement, the ICT regulator said 5G technology has the potential to improve productivity, enhance virtual experiences and achieve digitalisation towards becoming a Smart Nation. During the launch of the pilot project, AITI Chief Executive Hj Jailani Hj Buntar said 5G is more than just a faster network as it will redefine communications and set new wireless speed and bandwidth standards. “5G is about tomorrow, so we need to prepare ourselves for the journey ahead by addressing any issues at hand. “It promises to be the standard that facilitates the giant leap to a […]

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