As the Future Catches Brunei

When I first joined the agency, my PS showed me his favourite book entitled 'As the Future Catches You' written by Juan Enriquez, a Harvard Professor. It's a very interesting book, the typefonts different on every page and every few sentences and every few words, sometimes certain pages only have a few words but most importantly emphasising the important materials and points that are discussed and yet surprisingly it's an Economics book. It talks about how countries now facing a series of changes, be it political, economic or scientific, if we do not catch up with these 'future' changes, we will be left behind, and that only those with knowledge to sell will be the winner. Interestingly enough, it spends a couple of pages on Brunei. The descriptions unflattering but very painfully close to home. I don't want to get into trouble so I won't go into details but if you get hold of the book, read those bits and reflect.

I remembered the book as yesterday, interestingly enough, I received an email which talks about Reflect and Act. I thought it was a useful read for us here in Brunei as we reflect about our future. You might learn something, even though, strictly speaking we are not the target of this email. But take away the oil wealth, this email might be speaking to us:-

The difference between the poor countries and the rich ones is not the age of the country. This can be shown by countries like India and Egypt, that are more than 2,000 years old and poor. On the other hand, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, that 150 years ago were inexpressive, today are developed countries and are rich.

The difference between poor and rich countries does not reside in the available resources. Japan has a limited territory, 80% mountains, inadequate for agriculture and cattle raising, but it is the second world economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from the whole world and exporting manufactured products. Another example is Switzerland, which does not plant cocoa but has the best chocolate in the world. In its little territory they raise animals and plant the soil during 4 months per year. Not enough, they produce dairy products of the best quality. It is a small country that transmits an image of security, order and labour, which made it the world's safe.

Executives from rich countries who communicate with their counterparts in poor countries show that there is no significant intellectual differences.

Race or skin colour are also not important: immigrants labelled lazy in their countries of origin are the productive power in rich European countries.

What is the difference then?

The difference is the attitude of the people, framed along the years by the education and the culture.

On analysing the behaviour of the people in rich and developed countries, we find that the great majority follow these principles in their lives: (a) Ethics, as a basic principle, (b) Integrity, (c) Responsibility, (d) Respect to the laws and rules, (e) Respect to the rights of other citizens, (f) Work Loving, (g) Strive for Savings and Investment, (h) Will of Super Action, and (i) Punctuality.

In poor countries, only a minority follow these basic principles.

We are not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature is cruel to us. We are poor because we lack attitude. We lack the will to comply with and teach these functional principles of rich and developed countries.

If you don't forward this message, nothing will happen to you. Your pet will not die, you will not be fired, you will not have bad luck for seven years and also you will not get sick.

If you love your country, let this message circulate, for a major quantity of people could reflect about this and CHANGE, ACT!!


Anonymous said…
BR, I certainly support the principle that attitude dictates whether a country succeeds or fails in its continuing strive to become one of the accepted elites. And I have always believed that the strength of a nation lies with its people. People with right attitudes can even make deserts turn into the most fertile lands one can ever imagine. Just look at Sierra Nevada, it was once ignored by the Romans as being a desolate sterile land. When the Muslim Moors came, they converted what was once a desert into a beautiful green landscape.

Good post.
Anonymous said…
"If you don't forward this message, nothing will happen to you." Hehe! Good humour for the morning.

But yes, attitude sets your personality, characteristic and shape the person you are.

I remembered a statistic by Readers Digest on etiquettes and they gave a list of countries with bad manners.

But I wonder if the countries mentioned received 'bad' reviews too.

Hmm.. I should get that book later.

Thanks for sharing :)
Anonymous said…
We had a guest speaker once who was a foreigner, and what he said which struck me because it's so true was that "Brunei Darussalam could be a world class country if it wanted to be"
Anonymous said…
cudnt agree with you more,BR!!
Anonymous said…
Yep, it's always the attitude and mindset of people!
Anonymous said…
Yeah, so true, and that's why I'm really glad to read thought-provoking entries like these, knowing a lot of other fellow citizens are reading it too. With this awareness, we can work on forging a great future for our country=)

Rather than being lazily recumbent, we enjoy leisure as a form of reward for our hard work. Rather than being completely reliant on a welfare state, we work to ensure that we can contribute to our own welfare regardless.

So maybe we can be a world class country if we wanted to be=)
Zul-Fadly said…
"The Time is Now!!" I don't recall who said it. But we need to 'really' start thinking about the future.

I personally cannot see how our young ones are going to turn out. With the limited market, oil and gas, that we have; I find it very hard to see if we will ever be able to develop further.

I agree with what anonymous1 said about 'being a world class country'.

Attitude change will go far in this country. Lets just take baby steps and slowly we shall reap the benefits. If other countries can do it so can we.

In the words of Bob the builder, 'Can we do it?'

Everyone answers 'Yes we can!'
Anonymous said…
Great post.

Ultimately the collective mindset and attitude of a nation's people is what dictates her progress and world standing.

Stand up, speak up, and be counted.
Anonymous said…
This is really a very good topic. I remember one firman which said that "Allah tidak akan mengubah nasib sesuatu kaum kecuali mereka mahu untuk mengubah nasib mereka sendiri" Well basically the author has managed to explore the basic principle which has been stated in Al-Quran. We need to ask ourselves are we work hard enough to make sure the SURVIVAL of our country for our future generation? Let us all reflect back what have we achieved? This sort of topic should be included in our education curriculum, to open up the minds of our children. Please keep on posting this sort of topic. Excellent work for BR.

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