Speech of Dato Paduka Haji Md Roselan bin Haji Md Daud, Deputy Minister, Prime Minister's Office at the Forum on Strategic Foresight and Horizon Scanning for Policy Making organised by Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) on Monday 2nd May 2016.
1. First and foremost, I’d like to convey my warmest appreciation to the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies or CSPS for organising this Forum and inviting me to present the Keynote Remarks as Guest of Honour for today’s Forum entitled "Strategic Foresight and Horizon Scanning for Policy Making".
2. Let me also take this opportunity to give my warmest welcome to our overseas guest speakers; Dr. Jose Ramos from Australia and Ms. Cheryl Chung from Singapore.
Ladies and gentleman,
3. We have seen many changes over the last few years. Oil prices have dropped from a very high above $100 price per barrel to today's barely above $40 per barrel. We are continuing to see the global economy still being sluggish. This is nothing new but a harbinger of more things to come.
4. In fact, the next two decades will pose considerable challenges for Brunei Darussalam in its efforts to sustain and promote growth and development. There will certainly be more uncertainties and complexities in global politics and economy and national development would be more closely tied to the forces of globalization in the fast changing technological era.
5. We all have come to realise the unpredictability of the future as evidenced from past happenings around the world, some examples include the Asian Financial Crisis, SARS, H1N1, the Global Financial Crisis, Ecological Challenges and Climate Change, Tsunami, to name but a few. This clearly shows that the 21st Century is an era full of challenges and uncertainties.
6. Brunei as a sovereign nation in general and the Brunei Civil Service in particular, should therefore be prepared to face those challenges and see them as a catalyst that encourages undertakings of more meaningful efforts to bring about more prosperity and stability.
7. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his titah in conjunction with the New Year 2016 has stressed for Brunei Darussalam to continue to move towards economic growth that is steady and competitive, whilst being aware of the great challenges arising from the global economic uncertainty,” His Majesty has also emphasized that increased economic growth can be achieved by giving priority to increasing productivity through research and use of the latest technology.
8. We need to look to beyond the normal 'Business as Usual'. We need to look ahead. We need to plan ahead and we need to see things from a multi-dimensional perspectives instead of a linear one.
Ladies and gentleman,
9. Foresight studies and the use of Horizon Scanning has gained significant recognition by policymakers, executive leadership teams and strategic planning departments throughout the world as we realize increasingly that the world is actually quite unpredictable and risky. Indeed, in view of its relevance and usefulness for policy making, I am inclined to emphasize a well-known observation that "the only permanent thing is change itself".
10. Brunei, as I have indicated earlier, is not free from these often unanticipated challenges. In addition to our current difficulties from the oil crisis, there are unfortunately a number of emerging trends and issues which we as policymakers need to address. Brunei has to face, among others; paradigm shifts in patterns of work and employment, a large ageing population, erosion of traditions and past, accelerating pace of technological change, rapid and inevitable inter-connectedness and globalization, rapid obsolescence of knowledge and skills training, increased scientific unpredictability, and, severe climate change as well as environmental destruction.
11. The impact and pervasiveness of such emerging issues may not have been anticipated fully in the past so we cannot rely on policies that have worked in the past only.
12. As aptly observed by Professor James Allan Dator, the Director of the Hawaii Research Centre for Future Studies, University of Hawaii, we may think we know the future but the belief that the future will be just like the present is most often naïve.
13. Indeed, a good driver must look through their front windscreen and assume each street will be different. In the same manner, a good policy maker must be able to challenge our assumptions about the future to make the correct strategic decisions.
Ladies and gentleman,
14. We are facing many challenges, and Foresight can support visionary policy, working both nationally and internationally to develop ‘wise' futures. Our era demands that we “step up” to a higher level of thinking and action for our national development efforts to be successful.
15. From my own analysis, I understand that Foresight and Horizon Scanning is like a radar system for policy making allowing early detection of opportunities and threats. This awareness of change opens up opportunities for intelligent interventions that policy makers otherwise would not have known about, or would not have time to act on, equipping ourselves with early warning allows policymakers to strategically leverage change for success, rather than being victims of change.
16. Foresight analysis therefore creates alternative futures by making basic assumptions problematic. In questioning the future through the analysis of emerging issues and scenarios, the objective is to improve our current scenario by creating options for new and more desirable futures, especially those based on our Wawasan 2035 objectives.
17. In this context, I applaud CSPS’s new mandate to be an "Internationally Recognized Foresight Think Tank", in addition and as a value add dimension to its flagship as the premier think tank for strategic and policy studies for Brunei Darussalam. This is especially so as there is currently low Foresight capacity in Brunei.
18. In its future plan, I note that CSPS is aiming to carry out five major tasks in pursuit of this new endeavour. Firstly, CSPS aims to build foresight capacity into its existing policy research and advisory role. Secondly, it aims to build expert knowledge and capacity in the application of foresight and horizon scanning methodologies that can be disseminated across Brunei. Thirdly, it aims to support the application of foresight in policy making by running foresight workshops with government and the community. As its fourth task, it aims to develop a CSPS based foresight network that can address specific strategic challenges for Brunei. And finally, as its fifth task, CSPS aims to collaborate with futures researchers and experts locally and from around the world to build a more international outlook, to build up its expertise with alternative foresight understanding.
19. In establishing itself as an internationally recognised Foresight Policy Centre, I believe that CSPS will support organizational innovation and the design of Anticipatory Governance strategies that fit CSPS’ mandate and serve the needs of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei.
20. I therefore wish CSPS success with this worthy endeavour and I hope that all of our stakeholders will collaborate and participate in this important national development effort.
21. In conclusion, I look forward to listening to the presentations by our Foresight and Horizon Scanning expert speakers. I hope that this Forum will provide a useful platform for discussion and exchanges in this very timely and relevant topic for Brunei.
Wabillahi Taufiq Walhidayah,
Wassalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh