5 things you should know about Thai cave rescue mission (Poni Divers explain)

David Beckham posted this heartfelt message calling the Thai boys “heroes”. He also thanked all those who risked their lives rescuing them. According to him, it was “such a positive, uplifting story.” (Photo courtesy @davidbeckham)

After spending OVER TWO WEEKS trapped in a cave in northern Thailand, all 12 youths of a football team, whose ages range from 11 to 16, and their coach have been rescued.

Narongsak Osatanaskorn, the former Thai governor who led the rescue, made the official announcement at 10.45pm (Brunei time, July 10), after a tense few days of rescue missions. “I never imagined this could happen – but we did it. We completed Mission Impossible,” he was quoted as saying in an online news report.

Sadly, there was one casualty – a former Thai Navy SEAL who died after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along the exit route. Saman Gunan (alternatively spelled Kunan) has been remembered by his family and people around the world as a true hero.

Complex rescue mission

(Source: The Sun Graphics)

On July 4 (last Wednesday), The Sun Graphics uploaded the infographics (above) onto its Twitter feed detailing the THREE possible rescue options:

(1) Diving – fitting them with full-faced masks and carefully pulling them out one by one.

(2) Draining – pumping water out of the caves enough to allow the boys to wade or float our with life vests.

(3) Waiting – leaving them there with supplies for months until the rains subside.

Poni Divers’ thoughts on rescue mission

Wong Thye Sing, the founder of Poni Divers, Brunei’s largest dive centre and only watersports centre in the country, with Anna Aziz, the Business Development Director of Poni Divers (Photo: Lance Thoo)

“We’ve been following the story about the rescue mission intently. We are so pleased that the operation went well,” said Anna Aziz, the Business Development Director of Poni Divers, Brunei’s largest dive centre and only watersports centre in the country.

On July 11, the ‘Neue’ team sat down for an interview with Wong Thye Sing, the founder of Poni Divers, to hear his thoughts about the ‘miraculous’ rescue mission in Thailand.

The following answers are his response to our questions:

Question 1: What’s it like to dive inside a cave like the one in Thailand?

File photo shows a girl in Cenote Suytun at Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico (Photo: Shutterstock)

That particular cave in Thailand is not really a cave where people would normally go cave diving.

One of the top locations for cave diving in the world is in the ‘cenotes’ in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (see photo above). The water is still, there is barely any current, it’s freshwater, and you can see over 50 metres ahead of you. The water is still because it comes from rainwater that has seeped through limestone slowly and has been filtered naturally.

This particular cave is a seasonal cave, so it’s made up of water from monsoon rain flooding through in a few months of the year, so its quite dirty with sediments and silt and it is zero visibility. There is strong current and the water is cold. So nobody would be dive in waters like this except for in specific rescue or recovery situations.

It would be like diving in the dark at night where you can’t see your own hand in front of your face and you would be moving by feel of touch, so it is hazardous and dangerous with sharp rocks and potential entanglement hazards. It is also physically exhausting to have to swim against the current.

Question 2: What can go wrong during such a rescue operation?

Rescue workers move scuba tanks through the cave system (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)

Many things can go wrong:

(1) More rain can come and more unexpected water causing stronger currents.

(2) Divers have to plan according to the amount of time they have underwater which is limited to how much they exert underwater swimming against the current, how much air is in the tank, and how much nitrogen their body would absorb from the air. Many of these variables can change depending on weather & water conditions.

(3) Parts of the cave could collapse, lines could break, equipment could fail, the air in the bigger cave camp bases could become hypoxic (low oxygen levels).

(4) People can panic and do very irrational things, and plans can go terribly wrong.

(5) Rescue teams could miscommunicate or coordinate wrongly or there may be too many teams not working together. There were over 90 on the dive rescue team, 40 local and 50 overseas with many more hundreds of volunteers assisting with carrying and food and so on. So it was a BIG operation, but from the photo coverage of their base camp, the area actually looked surprisingly well organised.

Question 3: What kind of measures or procedures are taken when oxygen is low during a cave dive?

This question hasn’t been very clear in media and can mean something very different to divers and non-divers.

The media keeps referring to “oxygen tanks”. However, scuba diving is commonly done on air tanks.

The air in the scuba tank is normally just compressed air.

What’s compressed air?

Compressed air is normal breathing air that is 21% oxygen, and 79% nitrogen.

What’s Nitrox?

A tank with a higher level of oxygen, a 32% or 36% oxygen mix, is often used for scuba diving as well, and is called Nitrox or enriched air and allows us to spend longer time at depth.

How about an emergency kit?

Divers can also have an oxygen tank that is part of the diver emergency kit. This is normally medical grade 100% oxygen that can be used as treatment in case of a diver emergency.

Technical divers (divers trained for diving deeper and staying down longer, using mixed gases) may use 100% oxygen tanks underwater at six metres or shallower to off-gas (remove nitrogen from the body) so they can safely ascend without facing DCS (decompression sickness).

Often misquoted in the media!

As you can see, the media often quote from one another and use the words ‘air’ and ‘oxygen’ interchangeably. So this question could be referring to air levels or oxygen levels, and it could refer to the air levels and oxygen levels above water in the cave or underwater while scuba diving.

As an example of this, one media source quoted that a rescue diver died because he ran out of air, while in the next paragraph, the same media source said his oxygen supply had run out.

There’s a difference!

Those are actually two VERY DIFFERENT things.

If he was diving on a scuba tank, he could run out of air as he consumes it, but he could not run out of oxygen as a scuba tank is just filled with compressed air which can’t have decreased oxygen levels. The only way he could run out of oxygen was if he was on a rebreather unit. Some of the overseas rescue divers were actually photographed wearing a rebreather unit.

A rebreatheris a diving unit that recycles the air. The rebreather basically recycles the same air, removing C02 while adding oxygen, allowing the diver to breathe the same air back in.

A scuba diver with a closed circuit rebreather (Photo: Shutterstock)

While diving on rebreathers, if the rebreather dive computer or oxygen sensor or equipment doesn’t work properly, the air can become low on oxygen as the rebreather head unit doesn’t inject more oxygen into the air to return it back to 21% oxygen. Qualified technical divers are trained to regularly check their dive computers and O2 sensor readings to reduce incidents of lower oxygen.

So the frequent references to oxygen levels in the cave being low in the media likely refers to the oxygen levels above water.

The cave where the 12 students were trapped became low on oxygen as the oxygen levels decreased over time.

The cave where the other volunteer rescuers were using as a base camp also faced decreased oxygen levels as rescuers work round the clock.

Underwater diving scenarios

For underwater diving scenarios, to avoid a low-on-air situation during a cave dive, a rule of thirds is used, one third to go in, one third to come out, and one third reserve, so divers have to be disciplined to stick to this rule, to always have enough air and to plan their dives properly and to know when to go back or end the dive if circumstances have changed. Also, divers must be trained not to panic and to control their breathing and stay calm to not use up more air than they normally would.

When a cave is low on oxygen above water, like at the rescue mission, they considered actions like allowing less people in, setting up an intake pipe with oxygen or air access, and bringing in more oxygen tanks to increase o2 levels back up to 21%.

Question 4: What’s the difference between diving and cave diving?

Scuba diving normally refers to recreational diving, that is diving no deeper than 40 metres or diving where decompression stops on the way up is not required or where there is no obstacle overhead to block your route to the surface.

Technical diving is deeper than 40 metres, or where decompression stops are required, or diving with mixed gases, or where there is an overhead environment, such as cave diving.

For cave diving, because you cannot just surface and breathe in an emergency, more training is required, more equipment and planning is also required. You will need underwater lights, proper air planning, and more durable diving equipment for the hazardous environment.

Question 5: Are there any courses on how to survive such a scenario?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The Thai youths trapped in the cave had a much lower chance of making it out as they didn’t know how to swim and also didn’t know how to dive.

There are MANY courses in Brunei that people can sign up for to be better prepared for such a scenario.

For starters, they can learn how to swim by taking swimming lessons or learn to scuba dive by taking diving classes, such as Poni Divers (@ponidivers).

Being in a cave requires use of lines and climbing equipment, so they can go rockclimbing at the local rock climbing gym, such as Up Climbing Centre (@up_climbingcentre).

Overseas, they can go potholing or caving (exploring in caves) with a certified guide or instructor.

There are also various survival guide resources available that discuss how to survive in such scenarios by keeping a level head, and how to stay safe and secure, and how to make the right decisions.

However, the most important one probably is prevention. And that is to try to prevent some thing like this from happening.

The easiest way to do that is simple things like always find an expert to bring you into new places and to be familiar with the hazards of your activities and to inform people where you are going.

Other than that, stay fit and take up some adventure sports for that day when you may need some of those adventure skills!

We’d love to hear from YOU!

Is there a question you would like to ask Poni Divers? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via social media.

Poni Divers has as part of its mission, an initiative to give back through educational and sponsored programmes. Its focus is on increasing the awareness of the wonder and beauty of the marine ecosystems and to encourage others to protect and maintain these fragile environments.

If you would like to learn more about Poni Divers, click here to visit their Facebook page or click here to reach out to them via Instagram. Alternatively you may visit their website by clicking here.

Is society doing enough to help charities in Brunei?

The joy of giving: You too can put a smile on their faces

‘Neue’ was recently invited by the International Women’s Club of Brunei Darussalam (IWCB) to attend their Hari Raya celebration for Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam (Pusat Ehsan), a non-government charity organisation committed to providing quality education, rehabilitation and training programmes for individuals with special needs.

As I drove to Pusat Ehsan in Bengkurong last Friday afternoon (July 6), I thought to myself, “Is society doing enough to help charities in Brunei?”

It had been a couple of years since I last visited Pusat Ehsan as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity.

A lot has changed since then, such as the construction of the new Pusat Ehsan Rehabilitation Block, which was built at a cost of over a million dollars.

The majority of the funding was contributed by Her Royal Highness Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, Chairperson of Pusat Ehsan; Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah; and the Patron of Pusat Ehsan.

Senior Trustee of Pusat Ehsan Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Alimin bin Haji Abdul Wahab (right) receiving a donation on behalf of Pusat Ehsan from the President of IWCB, Ungku Datin Hajah Fanzah binti Haji Osman (centre) and Supinya Suwanpradhes (left), the wife of His Excellency Biravij Suwanpradhes, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Brunei Darussalam during the Hari Raya celebration (Photos: Lance Thoo)

It’s not just about donating money, it’s about volunteering your time

As I walked into the hall of the Rehabilitation Block, where the IWCB’s Hari Raya celebration was being held for Pusat Ehsan, I saw a cheerful elderly man playing away at the keyboards near the main stage.

“Does he work for Pusat Ehsan?” I asked a member of the IWCB.

“Most of the people you see here today are volunteers, such as people who are on their pension and ex-military officers,” said Cecilia Teo, the Treasurer of IWCB.

As she drew my attention to the energetic keyboardist who was now breaking into song and dance, she said, “You’d be surprised how young at heart the elderly can be. People like him are volunteers who wholeheartedly give their time to supporting people in need.”

Bringing joy to others is priceless

Handing over Hari Raya ‘Ang Pow’ to students of Pusat Ehsan
All smiles during last Friday’s Hari Raya gathering at Pusat Ehsan

Last week, ‘Neue’ published a story on how much people should give when handing over Hari Raya ‘Ang Pow’ (small packets containing money) .

That story came to mind as I saw Pusat Ehsan members receiving money packets during last Friday’s Hari Raya celebration.

One particular moment that was etched in my mind was when I saw a cheerful youth in a wheelchair being embraced by the President of IWCB, Ungku Datin Hajah Fanzah binti Haji Osman (see main photo at top of page).

It was this exact moment that I realised that events such as these weren’t just about “giving money away”. But rather, it’s about making time for others.

Money helps, but it’s not everything.

How can people working for the Brunei Government help?

According to the Department of Community Development (JAPEM), Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, alternative channels have been prepared to enable officers and government employees to donate (through payroll deductions) to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) for People with Special Needs through holding accounts prepared by the Ministry of Finance.

NGOs for People with Special Needs that have been identified are:

(1) Association of Handicapped Children (KACA)

(2) Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam

(3) Association for Autism in Training, Education and Resources Brunei Darussalam (SMARTER)

(4) Learning Ladders Society (LLS)

(5) Association of People Wheelchair and Disabled Persons Member (PDA)

(6) Association of the Visually Impaired Persons National Brunei Darussalam (BDNAB)

(7) Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD)

(8) National Association of People With Hearing Loss

For more information on how to contribute to these NGOs, click here for details on payroll deduction.

I don’t work for the Brunei Government, but how can I help?

According to Naz Rashid, the Vice-President of IWCB, the community can make a donation by stocking up on food for ‘The Kitchen’ that can be found at the new Pusat Ehsan Rehabilitation Block.

She told ‘Neue’ that items and equipment that can be found in ‘The Kitchen’ were donated by the IWCB.

Students of Pusat Ehsan can pick up cooking skills at ‘The Kitchen’. Items and equipment here were donated by the IWCB

Naz Rashid, who is a lawyer by profession, explained that students of Pusat Ehsan learn how to cook here.

“The community can get in touch with us (the IWCB) and we’ll try to arrange something,” she said, adding that the IWCB is a registered club with lots of international ladies who are all volunteers committed to helping others.

When asked what she hoped to see more in future, she said “more participation from the community”.

Give your time

As mentioned before, you can give something much more valuable than money, and it won’t cost you a dime. Your time at the centre, to connect with the youths and adults there, would impact the community in a wonderful way. Whether it’s an hour a week, or two, or a weekend, your presence can make a world of difference.

Talk to them. Listen to them. Share life with them. In a community-driven society like Brunei, let’s cultivate a sense of duty to one another and build an all-inclusive community that celebrates individuality with care and understanding.

So, if you’re interested in supporting any Pusat Ehsan charity events, becoming a volunteer or making a donation, you can send an e-mail to huda.ahm@pusatehsan.org.bn

We hope this article provided some insight for people who are interested in helping out associations such as Pusat Ehsan.

Do you think society is doing enough to help charities in Brunei?

Hari Raya ‘Ang Pow’: So how much should you give?

*The following article was written by our local friend, ‘The Savey Fox’, who manages a blog that aims to become a resource as well as a community for savvy investors, frugal savers and smart spenders alike.

We are not all Warren Buffet!

‘Ang Pows’ (small packets containing money) are usually given to children during Chinese New Year. It has also been incorporated into Hari Raya celebrations in the form of ‘green packets’ (although these days they come in a myriad of different colours).

I believe that if money was not an issue, people would be giving out ‘Ang Pows’ to everyone! However, not everyone is Warren Buffet. This is why some will feel the pinch if they start getting too generous when giving out ‘Ang Pows’.

Tips on how to NOT break the bank:

1. Set a budget.

One of the last things we think about during celebrations is setting a budget. But setting a maximum you’re willing to spend, and working within it will make your wallet and bank account sing praises for you.

I’ve personally gone through the shock of how much just ‘Ang Pows’ cost when it comes down to it. All those $1’s and $5’s add up in a blink of an eye! And this is excluding things like decorations, food and drinks!

2. Don’t be afraid to go small.

In my younger years whenever I received ‘Ang Pows’ of $1 and $2, I’d be a little disappointed. It’s only now that I understand: NOT EVERYONE can give you huge amounts especially if you’re some random kid. Looking back now, I think those ‘smaller’ money packets were more heartfelt in hindsight.

3. Amounts given can differ.

An example of how much to give in an ‘Ang Pow’ (for illustration purposes)

Want to micromanage your budget a bit more? No problem! You can plan out some sort of hierarchy for the ‘Ang Pow’ you give. It’s not a must to give everyone $5 or $10 ‘Ang Pows’, you know. Like I said previously, people who do not have a close relationship with you really just take ‘Ang Pows’ as a blessing (well, mostly). So you could give more to family and probably less for friends and the minimum for strangers.

This is meant to be a celebration of blessings but objectively, I do not believe anyone should SUFFER FOR TRADITION.

4. You can be selective on who to give.

If you really, really can’t give out MORE ‘Ang Pows’ due to budget constraints, know that there’s no harm in not giving to random people altogether. It does take a certain level of swallowing one’s pride, though. That’s where I can see people folding and giving anyway, because “that’s what you’re supposed to do!”

But if it puts you in a bad spot financially, I don’t see what’s there to lose (other than your hard earned cash).

Mind you, this should only apply if you don’t have budget for it and not if you’re simply feeling stingy! (Though it works the same way if you just want to save cash too.)

Final thoughts:

The festive season should be about celebrating family and the successful month of fasting during Ramadhan. Giving out ‘Ang Pows’ is fine but really, if it hurts you financially, can you really say it’s okay? I hope that ‘Neue’ readers find this article useful.

Selamat Hari Raya, everyone!

What would you like 'Neue' and 'The Savey Fox' to look into next?

 

*You can follow @thesaveyfox on Instagram by clicking here. To visit ‘The Savey Fox’ blog, click here. If there is a financial topic that you would like us to look into, drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to us via Neue’s social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram.

 

Cross border just for groceries? Not worth it!

Is it worth it?

Is it worth the trip to Miri, Limbang or even Kota Kinabalu from Brunei Darussalam just for groceries? No!

But is it worth the trip for a relaxing weekend of shopping combined with leisure? If it’s a combination of these things, then the answer is a resounding Yes!

Well, this is according to the findings of a survey (see photo below) that was featured in our article – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – that had received over 6,000 page views, as of June 20, 2018.

Price check

Facebook user ‘Zair Zairin’ noted that the products that were featured in the article – “Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri?” – did not reflect what an average Bruneian family would purchase in Miri.

Our readers also asked us to compare prices for items aside from “junk food”.

The most requested items were baby diapers, butter, cooking oil and fizzy drinks, specifically Coca-Cola (Coke).

Two shops in Brunei where we surveyed prices were Sim Kim Huat (SKH) and Hua Ho.

While in Miri, we visited Emart and Boulevard, which are popular among Brunei shoppers.

Prices of selected items in the table (below) were noted down by the ‘Neue’ team around mid-June.

People who say it’s WORTH it

Responding to our question if grocery shopping was worth the trip from Brunei to Miri, Facebook user ‘Saifull Rizal’ said at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re buying and that it’s important to buy in bulk for items such as diapers and baby formula milk.

Facebook user ‘Kharen June Operiano Charles’ said shops in Brunei were “super overpriced”.

“Same price but different currency … how is that possible?” she asked.

Another user ‘Ny Izd’ pointed out that every dollar saved in Miri goes a long way. “If you can save at least 1 Brunei dollar for each item that you guy in Malaysia … Imagine how much you would save if you buy more groceries?”

Facebook user ‘Fira Rish’ said she prefers going to Miri for facial treatments because shops there use the same skin care products as what you would get from a spa in Brunei. In short, same product but you pay less in Miri.

People who say it’s NOT worth it

According to Facebook user ‘Fandy Osman’, even though things are cheaper across the border (outside Brunei), one has to consider things like “indirect costs” and “opportunity costs” such as fuel, risk of travel mishaps, toll fees, time spent travelling and accommodation.

As far as he is concerned, these hidden costs make the trip to Miri not cost-saving at all.

Another Facebook user ‘Paul Dominique Galvez’ said a value should be put on EFFORT spent by people travelling across the border just for groceries.

According to him, if you were to factor in travel time and effort, the price difference of items that you can find in Brunei and Miri would be negligible.

Shop in Brunei! Let’s support local businesses!

Facebook user ‘Jasmine Xia’, on the other hand, hoped to see more Brunei shoppers help our own country to improve LOCAL businesses.

“People love to shop in Miri due to the favourable exchange rates. Bruneians spend a lot in neighbouring states and this does NOT help our own economy,” she said.

“Considering the subsidies that the Brunei Government provides for the people, we should take steps to help our OWN country to improve LOCAL businesses,” she added.

According to her, if you were to factor in fuel expenses and other what-nots, you’re not saving.

When asked if changing people’s mentality was frustratingly difficult, she said: “Yes definitely! But at the end of the day, people have the right to choose what they want to do with their hard-earned money.

“Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) need the support of Brunei shoppers be it for groceries, restaurants, electronics, clothing, hardware, house renovations, etc.

“Without the purchasing power of locals in Brunei … without their support, businesses locally won’t thrive.

“Imagine, even for groceries, people don’t want to shop locally! But they are enjoying the subsidies in Brunei.

“These are just my two cents. We don’t have to border hop for everything. Let’s help the government create a better economy! Locals have that power if they can just stop turning to Miri for everything.”

Before and after GST

We wrote the story – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – earlier in the year when shoppers in Malaysia were charged GST (Good & Services Tax).

Soon after the Neue website was launched, Malaysia’s newly elected prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a surprise announcement scrapped the 6% GST in the country.

We asked Facebook user ‘Mii Nineteens’ about his thoughts on whether more Bruneian shoppers would be rushing across the border following news that GST in Malaysia would be scrapped.

“I doubt anything big would change. It would still be the same regardless (with or without the GST). People will still go to Miri since it’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone – you get to enjoy a vacation (sightseeing) once a month, while at the same time, shop for stuff and enjoy cheap food,” he said.

What do you have to say about this?

Drop us a message in the comments section below or via Facebook and Instagram.

For our next story, what would you like us to compare?

Is it true? 1 trolley in Brunei = 2 trolleys in Miri

Our story “Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri?” stirred up a debate in the comments section.

For our experiment, we wanted to see what we could get with just 50 Brunei dollars (about RM150) at grocery stores in Brunei and Miri, Malaysia.

In the comments section of Neue’s Facebook post, some people said that the items we bought for the social experiment were “not groceries”.

People say that you should never go into a supermarket without a shopping list. And now we know why.

This was probably why we bought so much junk food for our last story!

Before we proceed with the story, we invite you to take part in the survey below:

What you get with 1 trolley in Brunei, you can get twice as much in Miri for the same amount of money. Do you agree?

 

A Brunei family who got in touch with us said they would only go to Miri once every two months for their grocery shopping.

They said, “Making the trip to Miri for groceries is worth it.

“From our own personal experience, we can confidently say that 1 trolley full of groceries in Brunei is equivalent to 2 trolleys full of groceries in Miri from stores such as Emart Supermarket

“Furthermore, those 2 trolleys full of groceries would be able to last our family for about a month,” they added.

Unable to compete with retail prices in Malaysia

A business owner in Brunei reached out to us in hopes that we could help him share his point of view with the general public as to why people are more inclined to do their shopping across the border.

He requested that we keep his identity confidential as he wasn’t sure if people would take too kindly about what he had to say.

Some shoppers think that business owners in Brunei inflate the prices too much

The business owner said, “It is true that groceries are much cheaper in Miri than Brunei.

“I’m not sure if it’s because import taxes in Brunei are high or suppliers in Brunei have high profit margins because of the lack of competition.

“But as a business owner, I can tell you that some of the products we get supplied from distributors in Brunei are more expensive than the retail prices in Malaysia.

“That said, this is one reason why business owners such as myself are unable to compete with prices in Malaysia, or in this context, Miri.

“The general public do not understand this. They think that business owners inflate the prices too much.”

What do you have to say about this?

Have a good debate about this with your family and friends, especially over the Hari Raya festivities.

Trust us! It’ll be a good topic to bring up to dodge those “kawin dah?” (have you married?) and “kraja mana dah” (where are you working now?) conversations as you visit open houses around Brunei (or across the border).

Drop us a message in the comments section below or via our social media platforms.

Car shopping: Should I buy or rent?

Getting a car is a big decision to make.

Some people say that it’s better to get it first-hand, while others say you’re better off buying a secondhand vehicle. There are also those who prefer leasing (renting) one.

A survey was recently conducted by the ‘Neue’ team to see what people in Brunei thought about car shopping.

We posed this question to them: What advice would you give a fresh graduate who recently got a job that pays around 1,000 BND a month who is thinking of buying a car?

1. Buy first hand. But pay cash!

According to a retired couple, when it comes to buying cars, it’s best to just pay everything upfront in cash.

“We should not be paying for interest in cars unnecessarily. If you have the money, it’s best to settle all payments immediately,” they said.

2. I need a loan to get a new car!

A man in his 30s said he prefers getting a brand new car but he doesn’t have much savings.

“For my peace of mind, I prefer getting a first-hand car from the official dealer. However, as I do not have much money in the bank, I would opt for a bank loan. Seven-year bank loans are quite popular in Brunei where in some cases, people don’t even need to put down a deposit,” he said.

3. Don’t be silly, get a 2nd-hand car!

According to a fresh graduate who earns a salary of 1,500 BND, buying a brand new car is a terrible investment.

“A brand new car depreciates instantly as soon as you drive it off the lot. That said, this is why I would rather buy a 4-year old car off a secondhand car dealer. In some cases, you can get it for about half the price of a brand new one,” he said.

4. Go for a BETTER deal. Lease it instead.

An expatriate working for the private sector in Brunei said he has heard so much about BETTER Sendirian Berhad, a local car leasing company in Brunei. And after doing the math, he decided to opt for this service.

“As I have a short-term contract with a private firm here in Brunei, buying a brand new car doesn’t make sense to me. I do not want to be worried about selling off the vehicle before I leave Brunei in a few years time. I’d prefer just returning the leased car after 4 years. Even though the repayment is higher than what you’d normally pay for a brand new car, but I’m impressed with the fact that the company will provide me with free tyre and battery replacements for every 30,000 km travelled,” he said.

We conducted our own survey of prices for a Toyota Vios saloon vehicle in Brunei. And this was what we learnt:

 

*Price was noted down from the website of Honey Carsmart Sdn Bhd, a used car dealer in Brunei. Current mileage of this vehicle was 274,363 kilometres.

Leasing:
According to the ‘BETTER’ app, it will cost you 406 BND per month to lease a Toyota Vios (4 years / 10,000km annual mileage plan).

Contract:
(All inclusive contract)
Free regular service maintenance
Free tyre every 30,000 km
Free battery every 30,000 km
Free brake pad every 60,000 km
Free Takaful (insurance) every year
Free vehicle license every year
Free 24-hour road side assistance

(Optional insurance)
Passenger liability
Windscreen and window
Flood and special perils
Excess buyback

Conditions:
Excess mileage charge is 0.31 cents
Purchase 500 km mileage bundle at 136 BND
Purchase 1,000 km mileage bundle at 261 BND

What are your thoughts on buying a brand new car?

You can cast your poll below:

Spreading rumours on social media: Why do people do it?

“Forward this to everyone on your contact list! Tolong viral-kan!” (Please make this viral, in English)

I’m sure that you have seen a similar message in one of your WhatsApp group chats.

But before you hit that ‘forward’ button, take a minute or two to consider how spreading unverified information on social media could have a profound impact on social harmony.

Information can spread quickly on social media (Photos courtesy of Pexels)

Just don’t do it!

There, I said it.

This is what I’ve always wanted to scream at the top of my lungs whenever I receive a message from that “overly enthusiastic” WhatsApp group chat member.

If you are like me, I’m sure that you are part of a WhatsApp group chat that is known to have “all the latest gossip and rumours”. It could be a work group chat or even a family group chat.

Think twice before hitting that ‘send’ button on WhatsApp.

You read about it too often in the local newspapers. More often than not, the authorities would issue a press release informing the public that a rumour that was spread on social media was unfounded.

The following question has always fascinated me: Why do people enjoy spreading rumours?

I recently had coffee with a long-time friend who has had her fair share of being the target of unfounded rumours.

According to her, the three main reasons why people would do this is:

(1) For attention

Information is power, or at least that’s what people say. By being the first in the group to spread a piece of new information is your ticket to becoming Mr or Miss Popular … even if it’s just for a brief moment.

(2) For control of power

People naturally want to be on the top of the corporate ladder. By spreading rumours or gossip, they can reduce another person’s status.

(3) Out of boredom

Some people just cannot stand it when everyone is happy and getting along just fine. To create “drama”, people will say the nastiest things about other, whether it’s true or not, to get a reaction.

What are your thoughts on this? We’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever received unverified information in any of your WhatsApp group chats?

Are you drowning in debt?

It’s the end of the month, and it’s finally pay day!

But after paying your monthly car loan, minimum payment on your credit card, personal loans, electricity, water and telephone bills … you’re barely left with anything.

The biggest joke is … it’s just the beginning of a new month. And it’s another 29 days until your next pay cheque.

This has been the reality for most of my friends, who are between the ages of 20 and 40, who have been working hard to make ends meet for years.

For most people, debt is a part of life (Photos: Shutterstock/Pexel)

There will be 2 groups of people who will be reading this story – one who can relate with this story and the other who are fortunate enough to live a life where money is never a problem.

The following are some of the things I’ve heard over the years:

(1) People say, “My life will improve if my salary becomes bigger.”

I have heard this time and time again.

It doesn’t matter how much more money you make, but rather how much you save.

If you are living a lifestyle that is beyond your means, then it’s a recipe for disaster.

Live within your means, and make it a point to save a portion of your salary each month – no matter how small it may be.

(2) People say, “I would rather spend my spare money on cigarettes than on good food.”

Let’s face it – If you’re a smoker, it’s going to be tough to kick the habit.

Some people would rather spend their spare money on cigarettes rather than on good food.

I pity them, and I understand what they’re going through … for I too am a smoker.

While I do sympathise with them, they need to realise that smoking is just burning your money.

If you can’t afford it, don’t do it.

(3) People say, “I need to gamble more on 4-D” (This is popular a lottery game in Malaysia)

I have seen families broken because of financial struggles.

One of the most common things I’ve heard from people drowning in a sea of debt saying that they would bet their last 10 dollars on a 4-digit lottery game (usually in Miri, Sarawak), hoping to strike the jackpot.

More often than not, these desperate people end up losing their last 10 dollars and walking home with nothing.

So if you’re thinking of gambling hoping to get out of debt, don’t do it.

(4) Make an appointment with your bank.

The concept of a debt consolidation loan is simple: An applicant applies for a loan to cover the costs of his existing bills, and repays the loan at a better rate and over a longer period of time.

In some scenarios, you may be able to clear all your credit card debt with a personal loan.

What are your thoughts on people drowning in debt? We’d love to hear from you.

Would you be interested in consolidating all your loans if there was a special interest rate offered by banks?

Do you have a gambler at home?

While gambling may be a socially acceptable behaviour among Asians, losing control and having a problem with it is not.

“If I had not gambled so much in the past, we would have had enough money to own blocks of apartments.”

This was said by a now-retired senior citizen who gambled his family’s fortune away in the early 1980s.

In the early 80s, fortune befell him when his lucky numbers struck the big jackpot in a 4-digit lottery played in Malaysia.

But ever since then, he has been placing even bigger bets (at times, at the expense of his family) to chase that high of striking jackpot again.

It’s been 20 plus years, and he still has not won as much as he did in the early 1980s.

(Photos courtesy of Pexels)

In an interview with Neue, the now-reformed gambler, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Gambling is fun, but the minute you lose control, it becomes a sickness.”

When asked if he had any regrets, he said, “Words cannot express how grateful I am that my wife stuck by me when I was at my lowest point in my life.

“She’s a strong woman. She’s the rock in our family’s foundation. She never gambled. She saves whatever money she can for the good of the family.

“One of my biggest regret was when I was suffering from a gambling addiction was withdrawing my wife’s savings from a joint account I had with her. I did not win. Instead, I lost it all.

“The look on my wife’s face is something that I’ll never be able to erase from my mind.

“It gets complicated when you borrow money from friends and family. Or worse still from loan sharks.”

I could not help but wonder if this senior citizen had been part of a support group back in the 80s or 90s, would life have turned out differently for him.

I wondered how many families were suffering in silence because of a loved one who has a gambling problem.

On a side note, with the 2018 World Cup just around the corner, I sincerely hope that people who are planning on betting their entire life’s savings over football matches would think twice before doing so.

According to an article published by Priory, a leading independent provider of behavioral care in the United Kingdom, the thrill of gambling is linked to the natural high that comes with risk-taking.  The effect in some cases is similar to that of stimulant drugs.

If you are worried that you or a friend or a relative has a gambling problem, here are the main symptoms and patterns of behaviour to be aware of:

  • Spending lots of time on internet gambling sites.
  • Loss of interest in other hobbies.
  • Increasing bets to recoup lost money.
  • Spending significant amounts of time in betting shops.
  • Constant interest in gambling articles and literature.
  • Unexplained debt.
  • Stealing money to enable gambling.
  • Mood swings.
  • Becoming more secretive and concealing time spent betting.

What do you think of this subject? We’d love to hear from you.

You can drop your comments below.

Have you been personally affected by a family member who had a gambling problem?

When was the last time you had a good night’s rest?

If you can’t stop hitting that snooze button in the mornings, chances are you did not get enough sleep the night before.

For those of you who enjoy sleeping, this may be a story you may be interested in sharing with your friends and family (or boss) in your groups chats.

Who knows? Perhaps your workplace could introduce a mandatory nap time?

The last time I checked, it’s not a crime to have wishful thinking.

We scoured the world wide web to compile a list of benefits of sleeping.

Happy reading!

Hit that snooze button! Stay in bed (Photos: Shutterstock/Pexels)

(1) Memory boost

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or practise skills learnt while you were awake (a process called consolidation).

“If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”

In other words if you’re trying to learn something new, you’ll perform better after sleeping. (Source: Health.com)

(2) Look beautiful!

There is an old saying about getting enough ‘beauty sleep’. The fact is chronic sleep loss can lead to lack-luster skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes. In addition, when you don’t get enough sleep your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen – the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep also helps with normal tissue repair. (Source: Maonui.co.nz)

(3) Do it for your heart!

A regular sleep pattern can help to lower the levels of stress and inflammation to your cardiovascular system, which in turn can reduce your chances of a stroke or heart condition. (Source: Dreams.co.uk)

(4) Think clearly!

Have you ever woken up after a bad night’s sleep? Chances are you’ll be feeling fuzzy and easily confused.

“Sleep loss affects how you think,” said Jodi A Mindell, PhD, a professor of psychology at St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and author of ‘Sleep Deprived No More’. “It impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making.”

Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they’re well-rested.

“They’re also more likely to make odd mistakes, like leaving their keys in the fridge by accident,” she said. (Source: Webmd.com)

(5) Keep depression at bay!

Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleep disorders.

It has been estimated that 90% of patients with depression complain about sleep quality.

Poor sleep is even associated with increased risk of death by suicide.

Those with sleeping disorders, such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea, also report significantly higher rates of depression that those without. (Source: Healthline.com)

We’d love to hear from you. Do you think you’re getting enough sleep?

Do you think you are getting enough sleep?