Kampong Ayer in Brunei and Borneo

Dato Paduka Dr Hj Abdul Latif (L) speaking during 2nd Borneo History Seminar as session chair Dr Hj Morshidi Hj Mohamad looks on. Picture: BT/Sally Piri

Saturday, October 22, 2011

THE roles and process evolving in the historical village on stilts of Kampong Ayer were discussed in a session during the last day of the 2nd Borneo History Seminar held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Berakas yesterday.

Dato Paduka Dr Hj Abdul Latif Hj Ibrahim, former assistant to vice-chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), presented a talk on the similarities and differences of Kampong Ayer in Borneo.

In the past, Bruneian community who moved out from their origin in Kampong Ayer built new villages also on stilts in their new settlement such as in Sabah.

Dato Paduka Dr Hj Abdul Latif said that the Brunei's 500-year-old village on stilts played significant roles in boosting the economy, spreading the teachings of Islam and promoting the culture. "It was also where the administrative centre located."

However, Kampong Ayer now is only a residential area, he added.

"Kampong Ayer in other places (other parts of Borneo) still function as a place for commercial activities," he said.

He went on to say that there are also differences in physical aspect between Kampong Ayer in Brunei with those in Borneo. "In Brunei the Kampong Ayer is located in the middle of the river, while Kampong Ayer villages in Borneo are located on the banks of the rivers.

"Efforts that should be sought now is how to make Kampong Ayer become a place which has an enthusiasm, so that people want to live there," he told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the event.

Brunei's Kampong Ayer remain a big village now with a population of some 30,000 people and 2,000 houses. "It becomes a landmark — representing the life of Kampong Ayer — that still remains in Brunei until now and Bruneian should preserve their culture," he said.

With regards to preserve the tradition and culture in the village on stilts, he stressed the need of ensuring the continuity of life in Kampong Ayer where it should not only become residential area but also house other activities.

The seminar, which concluded yesterday, was one of the efforts aimed at supporting the establishment of Borneo Research Centre. It is also aimed at instilling the Brunei spirit in the younger generation by preserving the nation's historical heritage. — Sally Piri

The Brunei Times