by Jia Ying Chia
As we make our way carefully through the throng of people and automobiles, my thoughts are disrupted by the road of revving engines. It’s a procession of sleek Nissan GT-R’s leaving the BRIDEX parking lot which creates a frenzy of phones being hastily whipped out, and happy, grinning faces everywhere. Like many people in Brunei, I’m here to partake in the nation’s biggest car exposition, the Borneo Kustom Show.
Debuting in 2016, organiser Asmalee Hj Ariffin had the intention to build a platform for motorhead youth to display their creativity, products, services and personal collections. Amongst a crowd of almost 20,000 this year, the highest attendance ever recorded in the showcase’s history, the event’s appeal to a car-crazy nation is certainly evident attracting even automobile social influencers from abroad. “With the continuous support from everyone over the past few years, it has grown from a very local event to an internationally recognised one for Asia,” explained Asmalee of the history behind Borneo Kustom Show.
This year, rare cars like the Holden Commodore SS (VR) and Datsun 1300 stood proudly alongside some unique customisation jobs, including a chrome purple BMW that looked like it belonged in a movie than the road. He added that they “hope to receive support from the private sector and government so they we can keep doing this event annually to build the creative industry in Brunei Darussalam”. Asmalee himself is a bonafide enthusiast passionate about the classic cars and motorcycles, and owns a local bike workshop, saying “(It) made me realise that in Brunei there were no platforms where I could promote my business … most exhibitions in Brunei are usually household and food-related”.
Borneo Kustom Show worked closely with Brunei Tourism this year to pull over hundreds of international participants from Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, and is hoped to help the country become a tourist fixture in Southeast Asia.