Meet My Country: Brunei, With Hon. Iswandy Ahmad and Dr. Vanessa Teo
Season 2, Episode 5
Legislative Council member Iswandy Ahmad and agricultural entrepreneur Dr. Vanessa Teo talk about their homeland Brunei – the independent Islamic sultanate on the island of Borneo. Brunei boasts a well-educated population, excellent infrastructure, and a stable government. It is a member of the Commonwealth and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since the discovery of petroleum resources in the 1920s, Brunei’s economy has largely been dependent on gas and oil revenues, making it one of the highest per capita income countries in Asia. The government has recognized the need to diversify the country’s economy, a topic which our speakers are also concerned about.
3:35 Background information on Brunei
6:08 Iswandy and Vanessa’s views on Brunei, and where it stands today
9:43 The monarchy and its visions
19:36 The agricultural sector which is highly technology-driven
31:17 Iswandy and Vanessa’s recommendations on places to visit and food to try in Brunei
Your host: Denise Staubli, Program Manager, Asia Society Switzerland
Moderator: Simona Grano, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at the University of Zurich (UZH)
The Honourable Iswandy Ahmad, Member of the Legislative Council of Brunei as Person who has Achieved Distinction
Dr. Vanessa Teo, Founder of Agrome, an agriculture technology platform
Production: Denise Staubli
Chop Jing Chew (in Bandar Seri Begawan), a restaurant developed in 1946 which serves tea and toast, and is a melting pot of the younger and older population
Hiking trails e.g. in the Ulu Temburong National Park to watch the sunset
Nasi Katok: white rice, chicken and sauce
Asia Society Switzerland webcast A Closer Look at Brunei with The Honourable Iswandy Ahmad and Dr. Vanessa Teo, June 3, 2021
The Honourable Iswandy Ahmad is a Member of the Legislative Council of Brunei as Person who has Achieved Distinction. He regularly delivers capacity-building programs for leadership development for young Brunei leaders and is an active advocate in civil society. Among his voluntary social contribution are HIV & AIDS work on awareness & advocacy, youth mentorship, and employability among job seekers. He is also the Lead Trainer at Perspective Insan Academy (P.I), a capacity-building consultancy. In his role as a Member of the Legislative Council, among his area of policy interests are social enterprise, youth engagement, NGOs, socio-economic development, and volunteerism.
Dr. Vanessa Teo is the Founder of Agrome, an agriculture technology platform that provides digital farm certifications to ensure farm product quality and safety. She pursued her doctorate degree specializing in rice crop modeling and agricultural systems modeling. Her PhD research focused on utilizing modeling systems and algorithms to support in rice farming system optimization in Brunei. Her research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Brunei Darussalam, IBM ResearchLab New Delhi, Bangalore, Brazil and the USA and the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei.
Simona A. Grano is Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich (UZH) and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at UZH. She completed her Ph.D. in Chinese Studies at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. She has held research positions and taught China Studies and Taiwan Studies at her alma mater, at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and at the National Cheng'chi University in Taiwan. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong and is a research fellow of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), in Tübingen, Germany as well as a research associate of SOAS for the year 2021. Simona's regional expertise centers on the People's Republic of China as well as on Taiwan and Hong Kong. She is the author of Environmental Governance in Taiwan: a new generation of activists and stakeholders, which has been published in 2015 by Routledge. Her new co-edited monograph titled Civil Society and the State in Democratic East Asia: Between Entanglement and Contention in Post High Growth (Amsterdam University Press, 2020) analyzes the dichotomy between civil society and the state in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.