Its been a long twelve years since we have seen a National Football team succeed as the Youth team did on last Friday night’s tournament success. As everyone now knows, the Under 21 National Football team capped an amazing run of success by seeing off a strong Indonesian side, 2-0, in a superb showcase final. Thousands of fans in yellow for Brunei and red for Indonesia braved the possibility of rain and warmed the seats of the National Stadium, filling it to capacity, bringing great colour and excitement, with wave after wave of the Mexican variety. Thousands more sat outside, and on the Belapan football pitch, a plastic bottle throw away, watching the match on huge mounted screens.
On the way to the finals of the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy For Asean Youth Football Championship 2012, Brunei's young team beat traditional heavyweights like Malaysia and new footballing power, Myanmar. The lads’ road to success was not one without drama. Reports surfaced online about some bad behavior amongst the fans marring the semi finals match between Brunei and Myanmar.
But that's the thing about football matches; they sure do elicit strong emotions.
A number of posts, pictures and tweets concerning badly behaved Bruneians at the Semis went viral. It was all that anyone could talk about it seems. Everyone had something to say, but many were ashamed at the atrocious behavior of some of our bad apples. There is a particular photo that showed the queue lines for the Brunei fans and Indonesian fans. Orderly for the Indonesians and not so much for us. If anything, this has shown me, with proof, that Indonesians know how to queue better than Bruneians.
There is also a You Tube posting of fans of both Red and Yellow outside the Stadium throwing plastic drinks bottles at Brunei fans inside, having had bottles dropped on them from above in the first place. A twisted case of ‘have (ticket) and have not’? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It doesn't and it shouldn't take anything away from our lads who played well and with grace and determination emerging as first time winners, lifting the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy towards the stars that evening. Credit has got to be given for the hard work that they put into preparation, and the sportsmanship and good nature exhibited by these young heroes on the field should be an example to all of us off it.
For some of us who have been keeping up with the current Legislative Council debates, there were a couple of things that made one sit up and take notice. Least of not were the rumblings about the ownership of land through powers of attorney and trust deeds by permanent residents of Brunei and foreigners.
Whilst it is understandable that measures need to be taken to encourage ownership of landed property by citizens, and that they are not priced out of the property market, what caught the eye was the statement that existing trust arrangements (some of which may have been in existence for years) are to be converted into leases.
This type of retrospective action is to say the least, unusual. As I understand it, these types of transaction had in the past not been viewed with the same sort of severity. In other words, they were seen as acceptable. To now, with a stroke of the pen, invalidate these, or entirely “rewrite” a contract is not seen as something that is done in a just or civilized nation.
This kind of thing will not, in the long run, give investors very much confidence. It would have been healthier to have had discussion and notice first. Perhaps even a form of registration and a system of land and capital gains tax that would discourage these types of interests moving forward could be considered. There are after all, many ways to skin a cat.
For a small country, we don’t do as well as we should in the World Bank ease of doing business survey. The beauty of a small jurisdiction should be that it is easy to get things done. Shocks to investors' confidence such as this will not continue to help.
It should be noted that there have long been calls for a clear system of what can or cannot be registered at the Land Office rather than having an opaque system based on “policy”. It is hoped that confidence will quickly be restored, and that clear rules will emerge. It is all too easy to feel emotional about issues concerning the security of investments in the motherland, as it is when watching the football finals.
I hope that we can all strive towards climbing the World Bank Rankings, as we have done with the FIFA rankings.
And all that remains to be said is Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!
Illustration by Cuboi Art.
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