Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Rated A- By S&P

S&P’s top rating catapults BIBD into global orbit
on: October 31, 2015

| Azaraimy HH |

GLOBAL ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has assigned an investment grade credit rating of A- with a stable outlook to Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), the largest bank in the Sultanate, its managing director announced yesterday.

The rating acknowledges the bank’s strong capacity to meet its financial commitments and makes BIBD the safest and top-rated financial institution in Brunei Darussalam, Javed Ahmad said.

With the top rating it received from one of the world’s leading credit agencies, the bank is now looking to bolster its operations in alliance with other major Islamic banks such as those in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and other countries, he said, addressing a press conference.

With this recognition, Javed said, “BIBD will be more than honoured in providing international financing services such as issuance of letter of credit to its clients, for which the bank had to seek the help of other financial institutions and pay them in the past.

“Brunei depends heavily on imported goods and importers generally ask us to issue letters of credit to guarantee payment to the suppliers. With the global rating, our customers will be able to use letters of credit issued by BIBD. Similarly, exporters can also be better served,” Javed said.

“We are extremely humbled to receive such a strong rating from Standard & Poor’s. This rating positions us as the highest-rated and safest bank in Brunei. It is also an acknowledgement of our capabilities, dedication and strong fundamentals that have enabled us to become Brunei’s top financial institution, as well as the market leader,” the managing director said.

“The factors that earned BIBD the A- rating are our solid capital position, strong liquidity profile, low financing-to-deposit ratio and sound funding capabilities. We maintain a robust asset quality as we adopt the principle of balancing sound risk management with growth opportunities, making BIBD a prudent yet progressive bank,” he added.

BIBD is set for brighter times ahead with the announcement of the A- credit rating which solidifies its position as one of the best in the Asean region. It also cements the bank’s position as the leading financial institution in Brunei which is on par with the highest-rated banks in Asean in terms of technology, product range, and customer service, Javed said.

“Backed by a strong and talented workforce, BIBD remains committed to its mission in upholding international standards and ensuring the bank’s sustainable growth for many years to come. Additionally, the ‘Bruneian at Heart’ concept allows the bank to have a better understanding of the local market to continuously help advance the nation and its people,” Javed said.

“We look to leverage this latest global recognition as it further showcases our strength, reliability, and resilience in leading Brunei’s banking industry,” he added.

As the market leader with the largest distribution network in Brunei, BIBD’s total assets have grown from $4.868 billion in 2010 to $7.6 billion in 2014.

Currently, the bank has a Tier 1 Capital Adequacy Ratio of 22.9 per cent, much higher than any other bank in the country. Its financing-to-deposit ratio stands at 50.8 per cent, which is a lot lower than any other Brunei bank.

Friday, October 30, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei Chairs First New Cabinet 2015-2020


Sultan chairs Cabinet meeting
on: October 30, 2015

| Danial Norjidi |

A CABINET Ministers’ meeting was held yesterday morning at the Istana Nurul Iman. It was chaired by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Also present was His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The meeting was also attended by Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Home Affairs; Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, the Minister of Education; Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance II; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; and Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office; Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, the Minister of Religious Affairs; Dato Paduka Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, the Minister of Development; Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism; Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, the Minister of Communications; Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports; and Dato Paduka Dr Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, the Minister of Health.

The new Council of Cabinet Ministers was sworn in for a five-year term in a ceremony at the Istana Nurul Iman on October 26.

His Majesty announced the reshuffle of the Cabinet on October 22 in a titah broadcast live on Radio Televisyen Brunei, which saw the transfer of several ministers to different portfolios, and some new appointments.

The titah also announced the creation of two new ministerial posts: Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, and Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Brunei Passport 18th Best in World


Brunei passport 18th best in world
on: October 24, 2015
| Azlan Othman |

DOES the size of a country matter? No, says Brunei Darussalam’s passport, continuing its powerful journey allowing its holder to move across borders without undergoing the bureaucratic ordeals of a cumbersome visa application process.

The Bruneian passport was ranked 18th best in the world in the latest Visa Restrictions Index published by Henley & Partners, global leaders in residence and citizenship planning. According to the index, holders of Bruneian passports can travel to 150 countries without visas.

A passport from a country in good global standing is a powerful thing.

The Sultanate shared the same spot with Argentina, Chile and Bulgaria in the index which was prepared after evaluating passports of 199 countries.In Southeast Asia, Singapore continues to lead the region, ranking 5th globally with visa-free access to 169 countries, followed by Malaysia with visa-free travel to 163 countries.

Germany and the United Kingdom shared the first rank, with visa-free access to 173 countries.

Marco Gantenbein, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners in Dubai, said, “Europe, the US and Canada, as the world’s economic powerhouses, continued to dominate the top 10 as we anticipated.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Brunei-Japan Joint Venture for Integrated Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG)

Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office pours concrete at the foundation laying ceremony. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

BSP JV to boost local employment
on: October 25, 2015
| Hakim Hayat |

A MULTI-MILLION dollar joint venture project between Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) and two Japanese steel giants for the provision of the country’s very first Integrated Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) supply and threading plant is expected to increase local employment and enhance Brunei’s capabilities, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar said yesterday.

The minister made this remark in his speech during the foundation laying ceremony for the OCTG plant’s construction site in Salambigar Industrial Park yesterday.

Signed in November last year, the 10-year renewable contract between BSP and Japanese firms Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC) and Sumitomo Corporation envisages mutual cooperation in a number of areas, including the supply of OCTG to BSP manufactured by NSSMC and the provision of related services, such as the rendering of local threading and supply chain management services in Brunei.

The B$62-million project, built on an approximately 24-acre land leased by the government through the Brunei Economic Development Board’s (BEDB) initiative, began construction in July this year and is slated to be ready by September 2016.

Two joint-venture companies for the project have been incorporated in Brunei – SC Tubular Solutions (B) Sdn Bhd (SCTSB), which is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation and also VAM BRN Sdn Bhd, a sub-contracting company for the local threading job.According to the minister, once the plant is set-up, it will create 164 direct employment opportunities, of which at least 70 per cent will be gradually localised. In this respect, he urged close cooperation between the companies and local training institutions to help tailor training programmes that would be aligned with the needs of the company.

“It is in our interest to ensure that we have locals with the required skills ready to undertake the job when the plant goes into operation,” said the minister, while reminding that the project should be seen not only as simply providing employment to locals – but also representing life-long meaningful careers for locals.

On local business development and content, the minister said the project will help boost the energy goods and services scene in Brunei and enhance the quality of our local content. “With the plan for the plant to supply goods regionally, we will be able to encourage others to develop more local goods and services of high quality and standard,” he said.

Another aim of the project is to increase the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Brunei, the minister said.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei: Make the Country Prosperous

QURATUL-AIN BANDIAL
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Friday, October 23, 2015

THE new government cabinet should work as a team with a single objective: make the country prosperous.

In a titah announcing the cabinet reshuffle, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, stressed the importance of teamwork and being open to ideas and criticisms from subordinates.

“Although they are of different ministries, they are still members of a team having a common objective: to make the country prosperous. Working as a team, each one of them is expected to contribute or at least lend support to any idea or proposal for the good of other ministries and for the sake of the country,” the monarch said.

“It is my hope that the next line-up of leaders will not ignore the ethics of being fellow members in a team. They are expected to be wise in making decisions and weighing up any matter that has to do with the country and the government.”

His Majesty said Brunei has a unique system of administration which has brought about progress and development for the nation, as well as peace, harmony and prosperity.

“The question is will we be able to preserve and continue to enjoy these favours? It is here where the issue lies.

”Our religion has provided the guidance that such favours could be preserved, but it still all depends on our own attitude,” he said.

His Majesty said anyone appointed to a position of leadership has the obligation to be just to the people around him.

“Justice is to be delivered on the people, not for oneself. Justice for self-interest is not justice but (a form of) cruelty. That’s why at times readiness to listen to good ideas from others below you, or listening to complaints or grievances from others could be deemed to have satisfied the need to be just.”

He warned that the interpretation of justice should not be according to one’s whims, but based on religious teachings, laws and ethics.

The Brunei Times

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His Majesty's text of his speech in full in Malay:

Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillah Rabbil ‘Alameen, Wabihiee Nasta’eenu ‘Alaa Umuuriddunya Wadden, Wassalaatu’ Wassalaamu ‘Ala Asyarafil Mursaleen, Sayyidina Muhammaddin, Wa’alaa Aalihee Wasahbihee Ajma’een, Waba’du.

Negara Brunei Darussalam telah dikenali sebagai sebuah negara yang mempunyai sistem pemerintahannya yang tersendiri. Sistem pemerintahan kita ini, alhamdulillah, telah terbukti menghasilkan pembangunan dan berjaya mencipta keamanan, perpaduan dan kemakmuran.

Apakah yang lebih bermakna dan lebih dihajati oleh semua orang kalau bukan keamanan, perpaduan dan kemakmuran?

Kita telahpun menyaksikan, beberapa banyak negara di dunia ini tidak berpeluang menikmati keamanan, perpaduan dan kemakmuran itu, kerana faktor-faktor tertentu. Tetapi kita alhamdulillah, telah ditakdirkan dapat mengecapnya tanpa sebarang masalah. Tinggal saja lagi, apakah kita mampu untuk terus memelihara dan mengekalkannya?

Di sinilah persoalan itu.

Ugama kita telah memberi pertunjuk, bahawa nikmat itu boleh kekal, tetapi masih saja tertakluk kepada ‘pembawaan’ kita sendiri.

Allah mengurniakan nikmat, sementara kita berkewajipan mensyukurinya. Syukur itulah pemangkin segala nikmat dan keberkatan. Tanpa syukur, nikmat akan hakis, tidak dapat bertahan lama.

Bagaimanakah caranya bersyukur itu? Di samping mengucapkannya dengan lidah, kita juga dituntut untuk bersyukur melalui ‘urustadbir’ di dalam kehidupan. Kerana itulah kita memerlukan kerajaan, dan dalam kerajaan itu pula terdapat jentera yang terdiri daripada para pemimpin dan pegawai-pegawai serta kakitangan di bawah mereka.

Di tangan merekalah, terutama para pemimpin, kewajipan untuk membawa negara ini menjalani amalan bersyukur, iaitu melalui pimpinan dan urustadbir mereka dalam kerajaan.

Salah satu dari ciri bersyukur itu ialah dengan melaksanakan keadilan. Kerana keadilan adalah segala-galanya. Tanpa keadilan, semua kebajikan akan jauh atau menarik diri daripada kita.

Oleh itu, satu peringatan perlu disebut di sini, bahawa sesiapa jua yang dilantik atau dipilih menjadi pemimpin, mereka itu adalah berkewajipan untuk menjalankan keadilan. Tempat tumpahnya keadilan ialah keatas rakyat, bukan kepada diri sendiri. Adapun untuk kepentingan diri sendiri, itu bukanlah keadilan tetapi kezaliman.

Sebab itulah kadang-kadang, bersedia mendengar suara orang di bawah, atau menerima idea-idea yang baik, atau keluhan atau rintihan mereka dapat dianggap sebagai ciri melaksanakan keadilan.

Dalam pada itu, mesti pula diingat, bahawa tafsiran keadilan itu bukanlah mengikutkan kata hati, tetapi mesti berpandukan lunas-lunas yang betul daripada ugama, undang-undang dan etika.

Selain itu, turut perlu difahami, bahawa kabinet adalah ibarat sebuah perahu dan para manteri pula adalah pekayuh-pekayuhnya. Sebagai pekayuh, mereka adalah satu pasukan dan berperanan untuk pasukan, bukan untuk diri masing-masing.

Kerana itu, walaupun berlainan kementerian, namun mereka tetap di dalam satu pasukan yang mempunyai satu matlamat yang sama iaitu untuk memakmurkan negara. Sebagai sifat satu pasukan, mereka diperlukan agar turut menyumbang atau sekurang-kurangnya menyokong apa-apa jua gagasan atau rancangan yang baik bagi sesebuah kementerian itu semata-mata bagi kebaikan negara.

Beta berharap, barisan pemimpin akan datang, tidaklah akan mengabaikan etika berpasukan serta juga dikehendaki supaya bijak membuat perhitungan atau tafsiran mengenai sesuatu perkara yang ada kaitan dengan negara dan kerajaan.

Dengan bertawakal kepada Allah serta memohon pertunjuk-Nya, maka inilah Beta umumkan rombakan keahlian Majlis Mesyuarat Menteri-Menteri Kabinet dan beberapa lantikan lain, seperti berikut:

1. Beta sendiri menyandang jawatan sebagai Perdana Menteri, Menteri Pertahanan, Menteri Kewangan dan juga Menteri Hal Ehwal Luar Negeri dan Perdagangan.

2. Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, sebagai Menteri Kanan di Jabatan Perdana Menteri.

3. Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong sebagai Menteri Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri.

4. Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman sebagai Menteri Pendidikan.

5. Pehin Orang kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abd. Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim sebagai Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan ІІ (Kedua).

6. Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng sebagai Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Hal Ehwal Luar Negeri dan Perdagangan ІІ (Kedua).

7. Pehin Datu Singamanteri Kolonel (Bersara) Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar sebagai Menteri Tenaga (Energy) dan Perindustrian di Jabatan Perdana Menteri.

8. Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Othman sebagai Menteri Hal Ehwal Ugama.

9. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah sebagai Menteri Pembangunan.

10. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong sebagai Menteri Sumber-Sumber Utama dan Pelancongan.

11. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat sebagai Menteri Perhubungan.

12. Pehin Datu Lailaraja Mejar Jeneral (Bersara) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof sebagai Menteri Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan.

13. Dato Paduka Dr. Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi sebagai Menteri Kesihatan.

14. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar sebagai Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri.

15. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Roselan bin Haji Mohd Daud sebagai Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri.

16. Laksamana Pertama Dato Seri Pahlawan Awang Abdul Aziz bin Mohd Tamit sebagai Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan.

17. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hisham bin Haji Mohd Hanifah sebagai Timbalan Menteri Kewangan.

18. Dato Paduka Dr. Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah sebagai Timbalan Menteri kewangan.

19. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof sebagai Timbalan Menteri Hal Ehwal Luar Negeri dan Perdagangan.

20. Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar sebagai Timbalan Menteri Pendidikan;

21. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud sebagai Timbalan Menteri Hal Ehwal Ugama; dan

22. Dato Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar sebagai Timbalan Menteri Pembangunan.

Perlantikan adalah bermula daripada hari ini, Khamis, 9hb., Muharram, 1437 bersamaan dengan 22hb., Oktober, 2015 bagi tempoh selama 5 tahun.

Beta dengan ini juga sukacita memaklumkan bahawasanya jawatan Mufti Kerajaan dan Peguam Negara adalah sebagai jawatan bertaraf Menteri.

Perlu Beta ingatkan bahawa lantikan-lantikan ini adalah amanah. Amanah itu sifatnya adalah sangat berat, kerana ianya merangkumi tugas dan kewajipan bagi menegakkan keadilan. Ke arah itu, ianya perlu dipikul dengan penuh tanggungjawab, jujur lagi ikhlas dengan penuh taat lagi setia.

Untuk akhirnya, Beta tidak lupa merakamkan penghargaan dan ucapan terima kasih kepada mereka yang tidak lagi dilantik di atas khidmat dan jasa mereka yang disumbangkan selama ini, semoga Allah jua yang akan membalas mereka dengan ganjaran pahala serta kebahagiaan yang berterusan.

Sekian, Wabillahit Taufeq Walhidayah, Wassalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Brunei New Cabinet Ministers 2015



At around 2.20 pm today, His Majesty announced the long awaited new Brunei Cabinet commencing 22nd October 2015 as follows:

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His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, The Crown Prince
Senior Minister at the PM’s Office

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong
Minister of Home Affairs

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman
Minister of Education

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim
Minister at PMO and Minister of Finance II

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng
Minister at PMO and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II

YB Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar
Minister of Energy and Industry at PM’s Office

YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Awang Haji Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Othman
Minister of Religious Affairs

YB Dato Paduka Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah
Minister of Development

YB Dato Paduka Haji Ali bin Haji Apong
Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism

YB Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat
Minister of Communications

YB Pehin Datu Laila Raja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Halbi bin Haji Mohammad Yusuf
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

YB Dato Paduka Dr Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi
Minister of Health

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YM Dato Paduka Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar
YM Dato Paduka Haji Md Roselan bin Haji Daud
Deputy Ministers at Prime Minister's Office

YM First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit
Deputy Minister of Defence

YM Dato Paduka Haji Hisham bin Haji Hanifah
YM Dato Paduka Dr Hj Md Amin Liew Abdullah
Deputy Ministers of Finance

YM Dato Paduka Haji Erywan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Jaya Haji Md Yussof
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

YM Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar
Deputy Minister of Education

YM Dato Paduka Haji Abd Mokti bin Haji Md Daud
Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs

YM Dato Paduka Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gapar
Deputy Minister of Development

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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sungai Liang: A Quiet Getaway




HAFIIZAH MAIDEEN
BELAIT

Sunday, October 4, 2015

DEEP inside Jalan Kecil Sungai Liang, one can find another of Belait’s many ‘backyard beach’ located just next to Sungai Liang Recreational Park.

The recreational park is mostly used by the nearby community of Sungai Liang, populated by different ethnic groups from Malays to Dusun, Iban and a handful of mixed Chinese, who live there for more than 40 years.

To experience how the residents in the area spent their afternoon at the coastal park, I followed the lead of a 23-year-old resident, Mizi Rosman and his younger siblings who live less than a minute drive from the attraction.

Rather than taking the typical or what they say a ‘normal, boring main route’, Mizi lead us to our destination with a litte bit of adventure, crossing a small road at the back of their house and into the woods. There, we had to walk across rickety wooden planks to cross a small river. Mizi admitted that he has only used this way to the beach for a total of five times this year, as he works in the Brunei-Muara district.

When asked about crocodiles, Mizi said there have been sightings of the large aquatic reptiles, but none longer than two metres.

“There are never any serious cases with crocodiles in (the place we’ve been),” he said. “People would see it on sunny days and would just take safety precautions.”

After the patch of wood, we were welcomed by the blue and white views and sounds of ocean waves. The first thing that we saw was a run-down hut, built by some of the villagers who used to live much closer to the coast. Despite the hazy weather that has been afflicting the country for weeks now, there were no signs of smoky tinge in the air.

Upon a closer look at the beach, I noticed one difference which made the beach distinct from other areas. The beach is slightly raised before it meets the sea, due to the excess deposition of sand and silt occurring more often than erosion of the coast. This makes the ground spongy, which can be a challenge for joggers.

From the beach, we walked for a rough one kilometre along the coast to the west to reach Sungai Liang Recreational Park. There were no one else except us. I also noticed that the beach is clean with the exception of some empty bottles.

“It’s is secluded and only the residents come here, so that could explain why it’s almost spotless,” said Mizi. During the walk, he explained the course of our route; which is to go through another section of the woods, cross a stream before we can reach the outskirts of the recreational park.

The walk to the park from the beach was less worrying, since we went through a field of long grasses and tiny flowers, which makes for a nice photoshoot for shutterbugs. And although we had to walk on another shabby wooden bridge, it was more stable as compared to the rickety planks on our way to the beach.

The first physical sign of the park, which is visible from where we came, is the colourful playground. A few distances away from the playground, we saw teens playing and performing tricks at the mini skate park despite the limited space.

Aside from the playground, the park has a large space for community functions, toilets and parking spaces amongst other amenities. As you would expect, there are barbecue spots strategicly placed at various areas of the park, and a court for people to play basketball and futsal.

Recalling recent activities at the area, Mizi shared the story of when they celebratedAdau Gayoh(one of the festivals celebrated by Dusun community) as well as Gawai, celebrated by Iban community at the recreational park.

“We had a gathering here with our fellow Sungai Liang community (mostly related) during a celebration last August.”

In addition, every year, Brunei Methanol Company, which is based at Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK), would hold a joint celebration with the community, where they have performances, lucky draw prizes and also a feast for the special occasion .

“It is common for people to organise family functions or gatherings at this place, especially when it comes to ethnic festivals,” said Mizi who added that scouts have also celebrated family day at the park. However, not all is nice and dandy at the secluded recreational park. One of the inconveniences, which is common at less cared-for areas, is the unkempt grasses that surpasses half a metre at some areas. Although at times, the grass is cut, they easily grow again after a short time.

For those who want to take the usual route to the park, they may drive straight along Jalan Kecil Sungai Liang, and turn left at the junction at the end of the route. The park can be seen on the right driver’s side, with ample parking spaces, though on busier days, the cars will be parked along the road. To go to the beach, visitors can opt to drive further down the road, though they have to walk across a bridge before reaching the coast.

The Brunei Times

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Brunei Still Vigilant Despite Low Terror Threat

Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office and Dato Paduka Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar, Permanent Secretary (Security and Enforcement) at the Prime Minister’s Office with other senior officials in Kuala Lumpur. – COURTESY OF PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

Terror threat low; Brunei still vigilant
Posted date: October 03, 2015

THOUGH the threat of terrorism in Brunei Darussalam is currently low, the government continues to remain vigilant against any act of terrorism happening in the Sultanate, the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office said.

As Brunei Darussalam is an Islamic country, some members of the society may be vulnerable to radicalisation due to the present humanitarian situation affecting Muslims in the conflict areas in the Middle East which may lead to feelings of sympathy and a deep sense of responsibility to alleviate their suffering, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar said.

The minister was speaking at the Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism (SAMMRRVE) yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

The meeting was held back-to-back with the 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) and its related meetings.

The SAMMRRVE was chaired by Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Malaysia.

During the meeting, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin shared Brunei’s experience in dealing with radicalisation and violent extremism. Brunei Darussalam adopts a whole-of-government approach in tackling and preventing radicalisation through community engagement, community outreach programmes and campaigns, he said.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin also stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between Asean member states and Asean dialogue partners in sharing of information, knowledge, experience, best practices, and most importantly, intelligence sharing in countering the threats emanating from terrorism-related activities of radicalisation and violent extremism.

he meeting deliberated on three main issues, namely, the Challenges in Dealing with Radicalisation and Violent Extremism; Rehabilitation/Reintegration; and Regional Cooperation and Counter Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.

Following extensive deliberations and sharing of experiences, the meeting agreed on the following issues:

(1) To speak up against and reject extremism and support moderation;

(2) Counter radicalisation and violent extremism in all forms and manifestations that lead to terrorism;

(3) Place strong emphasis on the aspects of rehabilitation and de-radicalisation;

(4) Conduct analyses and studies on the factors that create a conducive environment for the spread of radicalisation and violent extremism;

(5) Develop programmes to counter violent extremism as well as to build trust and strengthen cooperation between communities vulnerable to radicalisation and the police;

(6) Develop and implement, together with relevant Asean sectoral bodies, comprehensive regional communication campaigns to counter terrorist narratives through all information and communication technologies aimed at denying radicals and extremist proponents the means and opportunities to pursue extremist/terrorist activities and promote their misconstrued ideologies;

(7) Strengthen cooperation with Asean dialogue partners and related international organisations through exchange of experiences, views and ideas including best practices in handling the issues of radicalisation and violent extremism.

These initiatives should focus on community-security force relations and community-police relations, the meeting agreed.

Additionally, Asean member states should also develop more community-based approaches to countering radicalisation and violent extremism, it was agreed upon.

Other members of the Brunei delegation included Dato Paduka Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar, Permanent Secretary (Security and Enforcement) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as well as senior officials from the PMO, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Internal Security Department.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Brunei Combats Human Trafficking

Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar (2nd from left) in a group photo with Asean ministers at the official opening of the 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. – COURTESY OF PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

Brunei intensifies combat against human trafficking
Posted date: October 02, 2015

BRUNEI Darussalam has intensified its efforts to combat human trafficking and tightened rules to effectively stem the menace.

The Sultanate is currently amending the Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order 2004 for the implementation of the Asean Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and the Asean Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, said Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar.

Speaking at the 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (10th AMMTC) and its Related Meetings, the minister said this includes provisions for enhanced penalties in aggravated cases of trafficking in persons, assistance for victims of trafficking in persons, immunity from prosecution for victims of trafficking and increased powers of investigations for enforcement agencies.

The 10th AMMTC which began on September 28 and was chaired by Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Malaysia, concluded yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

At the meeting, Brunei, represented by the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office, and other Asean member states adopted and signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration in combating Transnational Crime, which is the renewal of the Asean Declaration on Transnational Crime 1997.

The meeting also adopted the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Irregular Movement of Persons in Southeast Asia.

Delivering the minister’s statement, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin reiterated Brunei’s unwavering commitment to work with all Asean member states and its partners to strengthen international cooperation in the common fight against transnational crime.

In the long term, AMMTC/SOMTC (Senior Official Meeting on Transnational Crime) should be adopting the 4Ps – which are Prevention, Protection, Partnership and Prosecution – in all areas of transnational crime under the purview of AMMTC/SOMTC. These will not only address the root cause but also protect the vulnerable groups, and most importantly, educate the public against either committing the crime or becoming a victim of it, he said.

In a joint statement, the meeting agreed to endorse a treaty against illicit trafficking of wildlife and timber as two new areas under the purview of AMMTC/SOMTC. The ministers also endorsed the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (APA).

In the 7th AMMTC Plus Three (6th AMMTC+3) Consultation, the ministers agreed to further strengthen efforts to prevent and combat transnational crime, including addressing of new forms of transnational crime.

In the 4th AMMTC Plus China (4th AMMTC+China) Consultation, the meeting welcomed the intention of Asean and China to develop a new Memorandum of Understanding between Asean and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation in the field of non-traditional security issues for the period of 2015-2021 to further strengthen the existing security cooperation between Asean and China.

The Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office co-chaired with Japan the 2nd AMMTC Plus Japan (2nd AMMTC+Japan) Consultation. The meeting decided to intensify their effort against terrorism and cybercrime. The meeting also took note of the SOMTC+Japan Work Plan for Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Crime (2015-2017).

Other members of the Brunei delegation included Dato Paduka Haji Hamdan bin Haji Abu Bakar, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Immigration and National Registration Department.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei: UN has no equal

The United Nations News Centre on 30th September 2015 reported the following news:

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‘UN has no equal,’ Sultan of Brunei tells Assembly, praising scope of new sustainability agenda


30 September 2015 – Despite what some people may say about its effectiveness, the Sultan of Brunei today told world leaders in the General Assembly that the United Nations has no equal, and 70 years of existence is a testament to its relevance.

“With a membership of 193, the expectation is inevitably high on what our Organization can do to address ever-increasing range of issues,” said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah. “So, I am pleased that our new development agenda has encapsulated most if not all of these concerns.”

The Sultan was referring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all 193 UN Member States last Friday to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

“Brunei Darussalam firmly believes that tolerance, compassion and social harmony are essential for lasting peace and security,” the Sultan of the Southeast Asian nation continued. “This has resulted in the close-knit community we have and enjoy today.”

He noted that in his region, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States share principles of territorial integrity, non-interference, rule of law, and good governance which guide efforts towards closer cooperation for peace.

“It is these national and regional experiences which constitute our contribution to the UN as part of the multilateral process,” he explained. “And it is through the UN, that I envision the creation of a close-knit global community with similar values and principles, which can unleash our potential to work and achieve greater things together.”

He proposed that one way to achieve this is through cultural exchanges to foster greater understanding and empathy with one another, and which could also help prevent new conflicts.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah also underlined that according to the World Bank, the average cost of civil war is equivalent to more than 30 years of [gross domestic product] growth for a medium-size developing country.

“So, preventive diplomacy is a cost-effective means of addressing conflict and certainly an integral part of conflict prevention efforts,” he added.

On the issue of terrorism, he stated that since the last General Assembly, the global community has witnessed tragic loss of lives caused by “inhumane” terrorist acts in various parts of the world.

“It is crucial for us to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism in a comprehensive manner,” the Sultan declared. “We need to ensure that irresponsible parties do not exploit others' despair and suffering to fuel their own extremist agendas.”

Noting the numerous challenges facing the world, from armed conflicts, terrorism and poverty to infectious diseases, climate change and natural disasters, President Choummaly Sayasone of Lao People’s Democratic Republic called for strengthening the UN.

“I am of the view that we must enhance our political will, mutual assistance and cooperation under the banner of the United Nations in order to collectively address the challenges facing us,” he told the Assembly, urging comprehensive reform “so as for the UN to be able to respond to the emerging challenges in a more effective manner.”

He hailed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and voiced hope for success of the climate change conference to be held in Paris in December.

Brunei's Economy Rebounds Q2 2015


Brunei economy rebounds
Posted date: September 30, 2015

| Azlan Othman |

SECTORS across the board turned around in the second quarter of 2015 (Q2 2015) presenting a rosy outlook for the economy in the days to come.

Oil & gas, non-oil & gas, agriculture, forestry & fishery, industry, construction and services sectors all performed well in the quarter, brightening the economic situation.

In the second quarter of 2015, Gross Do­mes­­­tic Product (GDP) at current prices was es­­timated at $4,540.1 million compared to $4,585.4 million in Q1 2015, the Department of Economic Planning and Development said.

In terms of GDP growth at constant prices, Q2 2015 recorded a positive growth of 1.5 per cent year-on-year. This was mainly attributed to the increase of both oil & gas sector and non-oil & gas sector by 0.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

The increase in the oil & gas sector was spurred by the positive growth of oil & gas mining by 0.2 per cent and manufacturing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methanol by three per cent.

In Q2 2015, the agriculture, forestry & fishery sector grew by 7.7 per cent due to the increase in fishery by 29.8 per cent and production of vegetable, fruits and other agriculture produces by 10.2 per cent.

The industrial sector increased by 1.7 per cent after a decrease of 7.2 per cent in Q1 2015. This was mainly driven by the increase in the oil & gas mining by 0.2 per cent and manufacturing of LNG and methanol by three per cent. Construction posted the highest increase of 27.1 per cent followed by manufacturing of food and beverages at 7.2 per cent.

The services sector also posted an increase of 1.1 after a decrease of 5.9 per cent in Q1 2015.

Air transport recorded the highest growth of 8.5 per cent, followed by wholesale and retail trade by six per cent and finance by 5.8 per cent.

GDP by expenditure approach also posted an increase. Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE) grew by 0.1 per cent, Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) increased by 9.4 per cent and Gross Capital Formation (GCF) rose by 8.8 per cent.

However, exports and imports of goods and services posted a decline of 9.6 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively.

GDP is a measure of the total value of goods and services produced in a particular period after deducting the cost of goods and services used up in the process of production. The GDP full report for the Q2 2015 is available from JPKE’s website, www.depd.gov.bn.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

HM Sultan Brunei: Addressing Terrorism's Root Causes



RASIDAH HAB
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Thursday, October 1, 2015

HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, yesterday underlined the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism and extremism.

In a titah at the 70th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly General Debate Session at the UN Headquarters Building in New York, the monarch said: “We need to ensure that irresponsible parties do not exploit the despair and suffering of others to fuel their own extremist agendas.”

His Majesty touched on several issues such as Brunei’s commitment to peace and stability, the need to address root causes of terrorism and extremism, the need for preventive diplomacy and fulfilling the UN member states’ national and collective responsibilities.

“With a membership of 193, the expectation will inevitably be high on the effectiveness of our organisation in addressing the ever increasing issues that affect the lives of the people we represent. So I am pleased that our new development agenda embraces most, if not all, of these concerns. Its inclusiveness signifies the trust and faith that we have in our organisation,” he said.

The monarch said the admission of Brunei into the UN in 1984 was a global endorsement of its sovereignty and territorial integrity as a fully independent nation.

“Since then we have benefitted extensively from this membership. The UN has provided us with a platform to enhance our bilateral and multi-lateral relations with our friends and partners. Through the UN, we have also been able to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to the maintenance of peace, stability and development. Brunei firmly believes that tolerance, compassion and social harmony are essential for lasting peace and security. This has resulted in the close knit community we have enjoyed to this day. Such values have been the foundation of our country’s stability and prosperity which has provided an enabling environment for development,” he said.

His Majesty added that in ASEAN, the member states shared principles of territorial integrity, non-interference, consensus, rule of law and good governance which guide efforts towards closer cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity.

“It is these national and regional experiences which constitute our contribution to the UN as part of the multilateral process. It is through the UN that I envisioned the creation of a caring global community, with similar values and principles which can unleash our potential to work and achieve greater things together,” he said.

“To bring us closer together, we should nurture more cultural exchanges to foster greater understanding to live as a family of nations. In this manner, we may be able to prevent a new conflict from happening and better utilise resources of socio-economic development, he added.

With the World Bank putting the average cost of civil war as equivalent to more than 30 years of GDP growth for a medium-sized developing country, His Majesty reiterated that compassion and social harmony were essential for lasting peace and security.

“The cost of peacekeeping during and after civil wars is extremely high and above all else, it is impossible to place a value on the loss of lives. Preventive diplomacy is therefore a cost-effective means of addressing conflicts and certainly an integral part of conflict prevention efforts. This is a long-term process and a worthwhile investment in which the UN has made some headway. However, more can be done to enhance conflict prevention,” he said, adding that officers of the Secretary General (Office), special envoys and resident political missions were some of the key tools of preventive diplomacy.

His Majesty shared UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s view on the need to strengthen the partnership between the UN and regional or sub-regional organisations.

“Such organisations have a unique influence and easier access to crises situations in their respective regions where the UN should be able to leverage on these strengths to diffuse tensions before it escalates into conflict,” the monarch said.

“Through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN member states along with other member participants have long worked together towards creating an atmosphere of trust and confidence. Two years ago, ASEAN adopted a work plan on preventive diplomacy and its implementation has made significant progress and contributed towards maintenance of peace and security of the region. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the UN for providing coaching and training programmes to help ASEAN implement this plan,” he said.

His Majesty believed that UN is in the best position to promote the necessary cooperation and partnership based on mutual respect, understanding and tolerance that prevent wars and conflict, religious prosecutions, violent ideological confrontations and terrorism.

The monarch also reiterated support for all efforts by the international community to prevent and eliminate all forms of terrorism.

He said a lasting peaceful solution for Palestine is long overdue.

“This is why we need to resolve the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters which remains as the core of conflict in the Middle East. For over 60 years, Palestinians have struggled to achieve self determination. In this regard, I am pleased to see that Palestine has been accepted as a member in various international bodies and this has been reflected to the historic decision of the General Assembly to have the flag of Palestine flying proudly together with flags of other sovereign and independent nations of this world body. All of which are positive developments that should contribute towards attaining recognition for rights of the Palestinian people to statehood,” he said.

His Majesty reiterated the commitment to continue working with others to ensure that UN remains a strong force for peace, security and human rights.

He said the success of the organisation lies in their own collective efforts that formed UN’s true strengths.

The 70th anniversary is not only an occasion to celebrate our achievements as well as to reflect on matters that require our urgent action.

The UN’s existence for the last 70 years is testament to its relevance. It has become the world body we look up to on all aspects of (immunity) and it has no equal, His Majesty said.

Established in 1945, in the wake of the mass destruction brought about by the Second World War, its main focus was restoring peace and security. Today its mandate has grown hugely to include emerging challenges and evolving threats such as the proliferation of weapon of mass destruction, climate change, pandemic diseases, terrorism and violent extremism.

His Majesty said, “As part of a comprehensive global mandate, it is also being tasked to address multi-dimensional socio-economic matters. We recognised the UN is not a panacea for all the world’s woes but this has not diminished its overall success. On that note, we commend the roles of all the UN agencies and their valuable works to improve people’s lives around the world.

One profound achievement, His Majesty noted, was on the containment of pandemic diseases which posed a serious threat to the world’s population.

The Brunei Times

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