Saturday, November 01, 2014

Brunei: Drop 3 places in World Economic Forum Global Gender Ranking


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Saturday, November 1, 2014 - BRUNEI dropped a few ranks, placing it at 36th in the world in economic participation and opportunity for women according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap report.

Last year, WEF placed Brunei at 33rd out of 142 countries.

Brunei’s 36th ranking is primarily due to its estimated earned income, one of the sections in the Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index used to measure the overall gender gap index.

The WEF caps measurement of estimated annual earned income at US$40,000, putting Brunei’s rank alongside top performing countries such as Denmark and Australia.

Despite this, pay inequality still exists in the Sultanate.

Women were estimated to earn US$51,805 while men were estimated to earn nearly double that at US$92,299 annually, according to data from the WEF report.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index also includes sections on Labour Participation; Legislators, Senior Officials and Managers; and Professional and Technical Workers.

In terms of labour force participation, Brunei places 92nd with a female-to-male ratio of 0.71. This is drop from the previous year’s ranking of 83rd.

For legislators, senior officials and managers, Brunei is ranked 84th out of 142 countries, a lower rank compared to 75th last year.

When it comes to gender equality for professional and technical workers, Brunei is ranked 89th - also a drop from 84th place last year.

Overall, the Sultanate is ranked 98th in the world when it comes to gender equality.

According to the World Economic Forum analysis, the Brunei is among the top performing countries when it comes to equality in tertiary education, with 51 per cent of students enrolled

In Brunei Darussalam, 51per cent of student enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies are female and 49 per cent are male.

Brunei boasts one of the highest percentage of graduates in STEM studies well as PhD graduates compared to men, said the WEF.

However, Brunei Darussalam ranks 126th on the Health and Survival sub-index.

This is mostly due to a very low score on the Healthy life expectancy indicator. Finally, Brunei Darussalam is the lowest-performing country overall on the Political Empowerment sub-index.

This is due to the fact that there are no women in the parliamentary equivalent and is among four countries with no female minister, said the WEF analysis.

According to the WEF, In Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines remains the region’s highest-ranked country, followed by New Zealand (ranked 13) and Australia (24). These nations are regional outliers, however, as only one other nation, Mongolia (42), places in the top 50.

In the report, WEF said: Singapore, the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos and Thailand come next in 59th, 60th and 61st place, respectively. Japan climbs one place to 104th; China falls 18 places to 87th, largely due to its very low sex ratio at birth; and India slumps to 114th, making it the lowest-ranked BRICS nation and one of the few countries where female labour force participation is shrinking.

The 2014 Global Gender Gap Index assesses 142 countries on the gap between women and men on health, education, economic and political indicators.

The Brunei Times


Keep a Language, Save a Culture

Waqiuddin Rajak

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Friday, October 31, 2014 - PRESERVING the native language, together with its various dialects, is important in ensuring the continuity of race and culture in the country.

This was said by Hj Mohd Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos, Permanent Secretary of Media and Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office during a prize presentation ceremony for competitions held by the Language Literature Bureau at Balai Sarmayuda yesterday.

He said losing a language could lead to the loss of culture of a community, especially among the ethnic groups in Brunei whose unique dialects reflect their varying cultures.

Among the primary reasons for the decline of using native languages is the current patterns of life where the younger generations are more exposed to other languages including English in striving for academic success and excellence, said Hj Mohd Rozan.

“Exposure to other languages besides the native language is limiting the youth to practice and understand their own language and dialects and language that such had become less relevant to them,” headded.

“Less focus was also given towards the (shaping of) identity and personality development (and) such had been a concern amongst the elders who hoped that their language could be passed down to the younger generations,” he stressed.

Referring to a research conducted by the National Geographic Society, Hj Mohd Rozan said that if no immediate actions were taken to address the matter, the world would lose one language in every 14 days.

“And about 3,500 languages around the world will be extinct by the year 2100 if they are not spoken,” he said.

“Most importantly, we do not want an ethnic group that remained registered in the Brunei Nationality Act and is also something that is often talked about, to lose its language and dialects,” he added.

The Permanent Secretary of Media and Cabinet at the PMO also expressed his hope that the DBP will continue its effort to document ethnic languages available in the country.

“Such effort would be able to (cultivate) the capability to understand and conserve the language and its dialect amongst the younger generations (in the country), teaching them to appreciate such,” he said.

“I believe that such efforts would be able to help preserve and save the native language – and its dialects – in the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, winners from the “Pertandingan Batuturan Dialek Kitani” (roughly translated as speaking in our own dialect competition) were awarded by the Permanent Secretary of Media and Cabinet during the event.

The competition was divided to the seven ethnic dialects of Brunei, namely the Melayu Brunei, Belait, Bisaya, Dusun, Murut, Kedayan and Tutong; under each were two sub-categories A and B.

The first place in category A of Melayu Brunei, Belait, Dusun and Tutong received cash prize of $400, the second place received $350 and the third received $300 whereas the winners in category B in the same dialect categories received $500, $450 and $400 respectively.

No winners in the categories for Kedayan, Murut and Bisaya however, nine participants were presented with prizes as incentives.

In the Pre-University category, , the first place received $800, the second place $650 and the third place received $600 while three participants received consolation prizes of $200 each. In the University category, first place received $900 while the second place received $750 and third received $600; three other participants received consolation prizes of $250 each.

The Brunei Times

Friday, October 31, 2014

Brunei Down on Ease of Doing Business

Fitri Shahminan

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Thursday, October 30, 2014 - BRUNEI is now placed at 101 in the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2015, which lists a total of 189 economies.

This is 42 notches lower than its 59th ranking in the previous year.

The Sultanate ranked lower in terms of registering property, getting credit and resolving bankruptcy.

The Washington-based lender said entrepreneurs will need 101 days and go through 15 procedures to set up a new business in the Sultanate.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs in Singapore - which is one of the easiest places to run a business according to the World Bank report - only need 2.5 days to open a business, 31 days to get electricity and four days and $440 to import a container.

Businessmen also need 298 days and go through seven procedures to register a property in Brunei.

In comparison, entrepreneurs who dobusiness in other countries in East Asia and Pacific region will only need 78 days and go through five procedures to register a property. In Singapore, it will only take 4.5 days and four procedures to register a property.

In terms of getting credit, economies are assessed based on their credit reporting systems and the effectiveness of collateral and bankruptcy laws in facilitating lending.

The legal rights index ranges from 0 to 10, with higher scores indicating that those laws are better designed to expand access to credit.

In this regard, Brunei’s score of four is relatively low compared to the average six by other countries in East Asia and Pacific as well as member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

On the plus side, Brunei has improved across two of the 10 indicators that were reviewed by the World Bank.

The World Bank said Brunei has made dealing with construction permits easier by consolidating final inspections.

Businesses only need to wait 88 days and go through 17 procedures to obtain a permit for construction activities. This is shorter than the average 134 days in other countries within East Asia and Pacific region, although the number of processes on average is fewer at 14.

The World Bank added that Brunei has also made paying taxes easier for companies by allowing joint filing and payment of supplemental contributory pension and employee provident fund contributions and by introducing an online system for paying these two contributions.

Brunei’s total tax rate on businesses amounts to 15.8 per cent.

In contrast, businesses in Malaysia - which ranked second in ASEAN and 18th globally - pay a total tax rate of 39.2 per cent.

The ease of doing business indicators are: starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; registering property; getting credit; protecting minority investors; paying taxes; trading across borders; enforcing contracts; and resolving insolvency.

The top 10 performers in World Bank’s Doing Business Report, in order of ranking, are Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Denmark, Republic of Korea, Norway, United States, United Kingdom, Finland and Australia.

For the Doing Business Report 2015, the World Bank has introduced several changes in methodology and scope of assessment from a heavy focus on the efficiency factors towards the assessment of the quality of legal infrastructure within an economy and how they promote efficiency in the delivery of services.

The revision of this methodology, which shifted from the ordinal system based on percentile to cardinal metric ranking system, sees a new scoring structure based on the ‘Distance To Frontier (DTF)’ from the Best Performers / Practice of participating economies.

The use of aggregate values of the overall DTF scoring across 10 ease of doing business indicators is now the basis of new ranking for each of the economies.

Based on the new methodology, Brunei’s rank in the Doing Business Report 2014, was revised to 98th, which means the Sultanate only slipped 3 notches.

The World Bank gave Brunei an overall DTF score of 61.26 in this latest ranking update.

The Brunei Times


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sultan Brunei: Muslims Must Be Courageous

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Saturday, October 25, 2014 - HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday urged Muslims to be brave and dedicated in upholding and preserving the sanctity of Islam, and make sacrifices in doing good deeds for the sake of Allah SWT.

“By doing so, we will find that (in return) Allah SWT will definitely come to our aid; and this is His promise, verily, Allah SWT’s promise is absolutely true and it will be honoured and never will it be broken,” the monarch said in a titah to mark the Islamic new year 1436 Hijrah.

In the titah, His Majesty noted that Muslims today were weak and have become afraid to show the goodness of Islam and its teaching, placing themselves in a position that is no longer worthy of becoming the best of ummah (community).

This is why it is important for Muslims to learn valuable lessons and examples taught in hijrah — the migration of Prophet Muham-mad SAW from Mekah to Madinah. “Hijrah reveals to us how vitally important it is to have courage (and) the spirit of sacrifice and loyalty,” the monarch said.

“If there was not any courage or if the spirit of sacrifice and loyalty were absent (in Prophet Muhammad SAW and his companion), the great migration would not have become an integral part of the Islamic history.”

The migration from Mekah to Madinah took place in a manner that was most extraordinary – where the journey was beset by a multitude of obstacles and hardships. It is an event full of divine barakah (blessings) as it was done following the command of Allah SWT in order to protect the Islamic aqidah (belief) brought by Prophet Muhammad SAW, and not simply to flee from persecution.

“Just imagine, there were just two persons — Prophet Muham-mad SAW and his companion, Sayyidina Abu Bakar RA — setting out on a journey, whereas their enemies were large in number, persistently pursuing and searching for them everywhere,” said the monarch.

Due to their courage and willingness to sacrifice anything in addition to their strong faith and belief in God, Allah SWT delivered them from danger and enemies. Without Allah SWT’s protection, the hijrah would have met with failure along the way.

The monarch said that a spider would not have immediately weaved its web and pigeons would not have built their nests at the entrance of the cave (indicating that the place had not been entered by anyone) where the two had used as a hiding place, without help and protection from Allah SWT.

In such context, His Majesty emphasised that it is crucial for Muslims to truly understand the concept involved in the event, as it entailed many things that test one’s resolve in leading a truly religious life.

“If we do not have the attitude of such great figures in the history of Hijrah, it is feared that Muslims of today would (continue to) become weak and marginalised, despite the fact that Allah SWT had recognised us Muslims as the best of ummah because of our habits in inviting others to do good and advising against doing bad deeds,” His Majesty noted.

Commenting on this year’s new year celebration theme, “Be Unified in Support of Allah SWT’s Law”, the monarch said that such a powerful and noble phrase needs to be uttered with courage and honesty.

“Celebrating and welcoming the new year in the Islamic calendar is a tradition in this country to reflect on the historical accounts of Prophet Muhammad SAW’s migration from Mekah to Madinah,

(And) I am thankful to Allah SWT for being able to celebrate the coming of new year 1436 in an atmosphere of comfort and harmony,” His Majesty added.

Wishing Bruneians a “Happy New Hijrah Year 1436”, the monarch hoped that Allah SWT will place the nation and its people under His divine help and protection; that Brunei will also be blessed with peace, tranquility; and the people will continue to live together in harmony and solidarity. — Waqiuddin Rajak

The Brunei Times


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Brunei Antiques

Brunei antiques can be quite addictive if one is into it. Take me for instance. I started off with a few pieces handed down by my mother who first got into the habit sometimes in 1980s. She kept them aside and dug them out during my youngest sister's wedding to make way for wedding door gifts in the store room. I realised how much I like them and have continued to the collection since then.

These ones are the latest to be delivered to me at the house which consisted of 6 periuks, 2 pelitas, one table pelita as well as several celapas of different sizes.

Inspirational Quotes