Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Brunei B100 Young Leaders Program To Create Secure and Strong Future Generation

Programme aims to create secure and strong future generation for the nation
on: January 31, 2017

| Danial Norjidi |

HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Chairman and Sponsor of the PENGGERAK Steering Committee attended the opening session of the Second Brunei Top 100 Leaders (B100) Programme yesterday.

His Royal Highness was greeted upon arrival by 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, as Co-Deputy Chairman of the PENGGERAK Steering Committee, alongside members of the PENGGERAK Steering Committee, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister of Education; Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar , Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office; Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, Minister of Development; Dato Paduka Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Deputy Minister of Finance, and Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohamad Roselan bin Haji Mohamad Daud, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’ Office as Head of PENGGERAK.

Also present were permanent secretaries and other senior government officials. The opening session, which was held at the Prime Minister’s Office, began with the recitation of Doa Selamat, followed by welcoming remarks delivered by Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Roselan bin Haji Mohd Daud, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office as Head of PENGGERAK.

In his speech, the deputy minister shared that PENGGERAK designed the B100 Programme to create leaders required to realise the three pillars of Brunei Vision 2035.

“Throughout this programme, learnings are specifically tailored to equip, enhance and amplify participants’ abilities and capacity to create a stronger nation. We do this by emphasising on the utilisation of Delivery Approach in the participants’ every day workplace, both in the public sector and private enterprises,” he said.

He noted that, based on the overwhelming response and successes that have been witnessed from the first cohort, he has great confidence that the B100 Programme will continue to spread the delivery culture of action-based strategies and outcome-oriented individuals.

“Since the inception of the delivery approach in Brunei Darussalam, we have seen remarkable improvements in our global standing in the Ease of Doing Business as well as valuable experiences on the ground with regards to improving the quality of education,” he added.

He emphasised, however, that 2035 is not too far away. “We have many more targets to hit and progress to make before we can confidently say we have created a strong and secure nation for our future generation.

“This is why we have participants this morning, brought together to take part in this landmark programme. The expected outcome is to take what you will learn here, from the delivery experts and our partners from Delivery Associates, and with everyone in the room here today, and apply them to your daily tasks and responsibilities with the hope to achieve what we need by 2035,” he continued.

“I am pleased to share that we received 220 nominations across ministries and the private sector. Upon which we have done a rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of external assessors and you make up the Top 100. This is a testament to your motivation to become high-quality leaders; your passion in achieving the Brunei Vision 2035; as well as the integrity you have shown.

As in the previous cohort, the programme will have international experts from Delivery Associates to act as the participants’ principal mentor to guide them throughout the year. There are also members from the first cohort who will be the participants’ in-house mentors. This the deputy minister said was in line with PENGGERAK’s endeavour to incorporate more local talents into the programme, where the combination of international and local mentors can give the participants the best possible learning experience.

“Brunei Darussalam will have a pool of workforce filled with delivery agents in the not so distant future and Insya Allah, Brunei Darussalam will build its own brand of delivery,” he concluded.

His Royal Highness the Crown Prince then delivered a sabda.

The B100 Programme is a capacity building initiative for public sector officials, which aims to inculcate the ‘Delivery Approach’ in their role in implementing delivering priorities and key performance indicators of Brunei Vision 2035 consistently and effectively in their respective ministries and agencies.

This is in line with the titah of 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 during the opening of the First Meeting of the 12th Session of the Legislative Council whereby it was emphasised that any strategies or initiatives must take a ‘Delivery Approach’.

The first B100 Programme was successfully conducted for public sector officials last year. This year, the programme will also involve participants from the private sector.

The opening session of the programme also saw a keynote address delivered by Leigh Sandals, Partner at Delivery Associates.

In his presentation, he defined ‘delivery’ as “a systematic process through which system leaders can drive progress and deliver results”. He highlighted that it enables a system to answer five questions rigorously: What is our system trying to do? How are we planning to do it? At any given moment, how will we know whether we are on track? If not, what are we going to do about it? How can we help?

He also said that developing a culture of delivery is key and requires ambition, focus, clarity, urgency and irreversibility.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

HRH Crown Prince Brunei: Realise Vision 2035

Nation should work as a whole to realise Vision 2035
on: January 31, 2017

| Danial Norjidi |

PARTNERSHIP between the public sector and private sector is crucial towards successfully managing challenges brought about by recent geo-political and economic trends, and requires working effectively together as a ‘whole of nation’ to ensure Brunei Vision 2035 is realised.

These points were highlighted by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Chairman and Sponsor of the PENGGERAK Steering Committee while delivering a sabda at the opening session of the Second Brunei Top 100 Leaders (B100) Programme yesterday.

“I would like to begin by congratulating all participants for being selected for the Second Brunei Top 100 Leaders Programme,” said His Royal Highness. “This programme has been developed with future leaders in mind, be they in the public sector or private sector.

“This year, both sectors are included as I believe their partnership is crucial in successfully managing the challenges brought about by recent geo-political and economic trends. Therefore, this calls for us to work effectively together as a ‘whole of nation’ to ensure we realise Brunei Vision 2035 for the lasting benefit of all Bruneians, whether now or in the future.

“A cohesive and harmonious working relationship between the two sides will result in greater synergies, and mutual understanding of each other’s strengths and needs,” said His Royal Highness. “We must collaborate together to further increase the dynamism and prosperity of our nation.

“Therefore, I urge all participants to fully use this B100 platform to have fruitful and constructive discussions, and to learn from each other to build networks within the government, as well as across the public and private sector divide.”

“This B100 programme is centred on the ‘delivery approach’, which is essentially to translate current plans into real, impactful actions. This is to ensure we reach the ultimate goal for our country: Brunei Vision 2035,” said His Royal Highness. “The evident accomplishments of this method cannot be ignored.

“Here, I would like to reiterate the titah of 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 in welcoming the New Year 2017,” His Royal Highness said.

His Royal Highness noted that, on the economy, through the hard work and commitment of champion groups, reforms have been implemented to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Brunei. In doing so, Brunei has been acknowledged as one of the most improved economies of all the 190 countries measured for the past two consecutive years.

On education, His Royal Highness said that the ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs towards refining the quality of teaching and learning have seen improvement in PSR students’ performance in 2016.

“Sixty-eight per cent of our Year 6 students achieved A-C grades, our highest ever results. This milestone indicates that with the delivery approach, we are on track to achieve our overall goal of having a highly skilled and accomplished people by 2035.

“In view of these positive outcomes, I am confident that all participants will find the programme tremendously enriching and useful in building your professional and personal capacity,” said His Royal Highness. “I have also used the success of last year’s B100 programme as a benchmark for the high expectations I have set for everyone present here.

“Due to the overwhelming goodwill expressed by the first cohort, I am glad to see that they have already made an impact,” continued His Royal Highness. “For example, I am pleased to see that some graduates from the first B100 programme have played a key role in setting up Delivery Units in their respective ministries to better attain their specific Brunei Vision 2035 goals.”

“Therefore, I want to see you build upon this momentum, and continue to socialise the Delivery Approach to your colleagues and peers,” highlighted His Royal Highness. “It is my expectation that the delivery culture is truly embedded to ensure that our efforts towards realising Brunei Vision 2035 is irreversible.”

Concluding, His Royal Highness said, “On a final note, I urge all of you to learn from the collective insights and experiences of all the potential leaders gathered here. And most importantly, enjoy your time and then strive to make an impact wherever you are. Eventually, we can all realise Brunei Vision 2035 for the present and future generations of Bruneians.”

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, January 30, 2017

MIB: Loyalty to His Majesty (MIB Series)

His Majesty during his coronation in 1968

MIB: Loyalty to His Majesty
on: January 30, 2017

| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong,
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

MANY historians in the Muslim world believe that the foundations of the world’s civilisation stemmed from their Islamic roots, and the stories of courageous leaders still motivate current generations to continue their forefathers’ legacy.

Among the illustrious Muslim leaders was Sultan Nur al-Din Al-Zanki of Syria, who conquered the principality of Antioch (today is part of Turkey and Syria), which was populated by Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians under the rule of Joscelin II of Edessa (present day Turkey).

Nur Al-Din was also a political figure, who formed an alliance with Iraq to strengthen and fortify his nation. (Islam is still the primary religion of Syria with Muslims making up 90 per cent of the population)

Similarly, Sultan Salahuddin Al-Ayubi of Egypt and his success in defeating the Christian crusaders made him a legendary figure throughout the Muslim world. After defeating the Zengids in battle, Salahuddin was proclaimed as the sultan of Egypt and Syria, but his most notable success was the Battle of Hatting when he conquered Palestine and claimed Jerusalem from the Christian crusaders.

Unlike other sultans, he bequeathed most of his wealth to his subjects. His generosity and courage made him a prominent figure for both Arab and Turkish Muslims.

Brunei is a small country, by comparison, and its history not as well-known to the rest of the Muslim world. But the Malay Archipelago has also had its fair share of prominent Muslim leaders. In the book, ‘Sultan Saleh Di Nusantara’, Hasanuddin Yusof recorded the histories of 24 Brunei sultans, of whom several contributed towards the spread and growth of Islam, while the rest devoted their energy to resisting the aggressive intervention of Western powers attempting to spread Christianity.

Sultan Sharif Ali was renowned for his devotion to Islam, as was Sultan Hassan who ordered the compilation of Brunei’s ‘Hukum Kanun’ (Islamic laws).

Their work was continued by Sultan Bolkiah, Sultan Abdul Kahar and Sultan Saiful Rijal, who were among those whose propagated Islam across Brunei and prevented it from dissipation during the Spanish invasion of 1578.

Their efforts and contributions gave strength to the Muslim community on the island of Borneo, particularly in Brunei Darussalam, which is preserved to this day.

These rulers’ legacy will be rewarded, as promised by Allah the Almighty in Surah An-Nahl, verse 97: “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do”

Alhamdulillah, records of modern Brunei history show that Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam and 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, were dedicated to Islam as a way of life, and responsible for its propagation. Given Their Majesties’ religious education, it is hardly surprising that they always sought the views and advice of Muslim clerics in all matters relating to the management and administration of state affairs.

Their devotion to Islam was a sign of their respect and reverence for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

According to the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam 2004 Section 3 (2) the Sovereign is the Head Official Religion of Brunei Darussalam. Established authority holds rule over Brunei Darussalam according to Chapter 4 Cerian (1) and (2).

Laws and regulations on the preservation and protection of Islam were outlined during the reign of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, which continue to this day. Among the policies carried out during Al-Marhum’s reign was the building of mosques, including the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque in 1958, one the most beautiful places of worship in Asia; establishing the Religious Affairs Department; creating the post of Mufti; establishing Arab and religious schools; and strengthening the position of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah in Brunei Darussalam.

Their Majesties’ contributions toward religion, culture and country were based on the understanding that authority is a challenging responsibility. The higher the rank, the more respon-sibilities that go along with it.

Allah the Almighty urges Muslims to obey authority, in view of the great responsibility to ensure the security of the state’s welfare and society. Based on the teachings of Islam and Brunei customs, we should obey our rulers and appreciate their commitments. As Allah the Almighty says in Surah An-Nisa’, verse 59: “O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and to those entrusted with authority (those in power) from among you. And if you dispute (dispute) in a case, then you must return to the (Book of) Allah (the Quran) and (Sunnah) Messenger – if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is better (for you), and more seemly in the end.”

As adherents of Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, we must be loyal to the Sultan, as long as it does not contradict the teachings of Islam. As citizens and residents, we should be grateful to Allah the Almighty for our sovereign, who is also known as the ‘Caring Monarch’.

His Majesty has carried out the mandate and responsibilities as an ‘Ulil-Amri’ (those with authority), and continues government policies as outlined by Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, while emphasising the importance of religion in societal and state matters for nearly 50 years.

Throughout His Majesty’s reign, the welfare and wellbeing of the people have always been an overriding concern.

His Majesty never tires of encouraging his subjects to live in peace, and not to disregard religion, society and state.

While improving the levels of society and economy, as well as preserving the peace and security of the country, His Majesty has also raised the people’s awareness of Islam.

This includes setting up higher Islamic education institution, launching the Mushaf Brunei, establishing the Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, providing Islamic education for Muslim citizens and constructing more mosques and religious schools, while providing assistance and the provision of infrastructure to increase the people’s devotion to Allah the Almighty.

The monarch’s role as contemporary leader is a highly challenging one, and this was most apparent when His Majesty stated that the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code “would liberate us all, including those in authority, from being questioned by Allah the Almighty on the Day of Judgment.”

The close ties between the monarch and the people, that have existed for thousands of years, should be preserved and maintained from dissent and defamation, so that Islam continues to grow at a fast rate and that the dignity of Muslims are protected within a secure state.

As the citizens and residents of this country, we should obey Allah the Almighty and His Messenger, aside from obeying the sovereign. In addition, we should be grateful to Allah the Almighty so that His grace and favours on us will be multiplied. Amin.

It is the will of Allah the Almighty that Islam, as a source of happiness and well-being in this world and the hereafter, will be the religion of future generations to come while preserving the sovereignty of Brunei Darussalam in an increasingly technological era, as a Malay Islamic Monarchy based on the principles of Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Brunei Chinese Celebrate Chinese New Year of the Rooster

Chinese Year of the Rooster kicked off with fervour and gaiety
on: January 29, 2017

| Achong Tanjong |

THE Chinese community in the country yesterday welcomed the Lunar Year of the Rooster with pomp and gaiety.

As beating of drums and clash of cymbals resonated throughout the Capital, hundreds of members of the Chinese community converged at the Teng Yun Temple to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

The biggest event of the Chinese calendar, it is customary for Chinese communities all over the world to start off their Lunar New Year’s first day with offerings and prayers at a temple, and the community in Brunei Darussalam is no exception.

Adding glitter to the celebrations was the lion dance. Amid cheers in a vibrant atmosphere, the Lion Dance Troupe from Chung Hwa Middle School entered the temple’s courtyard to kick off the celebrations, performing to a crowd who had gathered as early as 7am to witness the colourful and lively performance.

The troupe later made their way into the temple, where worshippers could be seen entering and exiting to pay respects to their ancestors and make offerings as part of traditional prayers for prosperity, health and peace.

Also present at the celebration yesterday was the newly-appointed High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice-Marshal Mahmud Hussain and spouse, who arrived in the country just two months ago.

Half of the roads in the capital were temporary closed down to give way to the performances that were held inside the temple premises and outside.

The celebration attracted several visiting tourists who took the opportunity to take photographs of the lion and dragon dance performances.

Also at the event were local shutterbugs from the Brunei Darussalam Photographic Society.

The Royal Brunei Police Force was stationed in the area to control the crowd and ease traffic.

The ceremony was also attended by the executive committee members of the temple who handed over red packets to lion dance performers for good luck. A large gathering of parents along with their kids were on the scene in high spirits to witness the celebration.

Chinese New Year celebrations showcase the nation’s multi-racial community, with people regardless of race conveying good wishes to their Chinese friends.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Brunei: Third Largest Social Media User in World

Bruneians 3rd largest social media users in the world
on: January 28, 2017

| Azlan Othman |

BRUNEI Darussalam has the third highest social media penetration in the world with 370,000 users, or 86 per cent of the total population, according to the new Digital in 2017 Global Overview report from We Are Social and Hootsuite released this week.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) topped the chart with 99 per cent social media use, said the report which also highlighted that more than half of the world’s population now use the Internet.

The latest data shows that eight countries around the world now have social media penetration levels in excess of 80 per cent, although it is possible that the penetration figures for both Qatar and the UAE are skewed by short-term fluctuations in migrant populations (for example, expatriates working in Qatar to help prepare the country for the FIFA World Cup in 2020).

Brunei Darussalam also fared very high in terms of penetration of mobile social media with 76 per cent using it, and is the sixth highest globally after Qatar, the UAE, South Korea, Aruba and Maldives.

In total, 10 countries have mobile social media penetration rates in excess of 70 per cent, but 43 countries have penetration rates of less than 10 per cent, the majority of which are in Africa.

This year’s report also highlighted that more than half the world now use a smartphone: almost two-thirds of the world’s population now has a mobile phone; more than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones; more than half of all mobile connections around the world are now broadband; and that more than one in five of the world’s population shopped online in the past 30 days.

The digital world experienced spectacular growth in 2016, with the pace of change accelerating across almost all key indicators versus 2015, the report noted.

According to 2017 statistics, there are 3.77 billion global Internet users in 2017, equalling 50 per cent penetration; 2.80 billion global social media users, equalling 37 per cent penetration; 4.92 billion global mobile users, equalling 66 per cent penetration; 2.56 billion global mobile social media users, equalling 34 per cent penetration; and 1.61 billion global e-commerce users, equalling 22 per cent penetration.

The report also stated that Facebook accounted for the lion’s share of total social media user growth last year, increasing its global footprint by 363 million monthly active accounts in 2016, and delivering year-on-year growth of 24 per cent. More than one billion people now use Facebook every day.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram – all reported strong growth over the year too, and while there is likely to be considerable user duplication across their platforms, Facebook Inc’s combined audiences now total more than 4.37 billion. Brunei has the highest social media penetration in Asean, more than double the global average, global digital media consultancy We Are Social’s Singapore office said in its report in October last year.

According to the report, Brunei Darussalam had 270,000 active social media users in the fourth quarter of 2015, representing 69 per cent of the population. The vast majority of these users – some 250,000 people – predominantly used mobile devices to access social media, representing an overall mobile social penetration rate of 64 per cent.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brunei Darussalam Year in Review 2016

The Oxford Business Group issued this report on 26 January 2017:


Brunei Darussalam Year in Review 2016

Brunei Darussalam Economy
Economic News
26 Jan 2017

A combination of tighter fiscal planning, a gradual increase in hydrocarbons prices and an improved performance by some non-oil sectors saw Brunei Darussalam shake off two years of contraction and lay the foundations for stronger growth in 2017.

Budgeting for the new year

The budget for FY 2016/17, which came into force on April 1, laid out total spending of BN$5.6bn ($3.9bn), $100m less than the previous financial year.

The plan targeted spending on areas seen as facilitators of economic growth and development. Infrastructure investments accounted for 9% of all spending at BN$523.56m ($368.9m), while education received the second-highest sectoral allocation, at BN$726.65m ($511.9m). The only sector to receive an enhanced budget was defense, with BN$564m ($397.3m), a rise of 4.7% over 2015/16.

Spending was pared back in many other areas due to the need for prudent spending amid lower oil revenues. Among the departments that saw the biggest reductions were the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism – which received BN$57.14m ($40m), a 30.5% decrease on the previous year – and the Ministry of Development, whose allocation was reduced by nearly 21% year-on-year (y-o-y) to BN$234m ($163.7m). The budget for the Prime Minister’s office was also curtailed by 20.8%, though at BN$566m ($398.8m) it represented the third-largest outlay in the budget.

In a statement issued at the end of September following its Article IV review consultations with the government, the IMF reported that the budget had provided an appropriate target for fiscal adjustment, but noted that it needed to be buttressed by tight spending controls, increases in non-oil revenue and improvements in public financial management.

Along with measures to address wage distortions and increase the attractiveness of private sector employment, the report said further steps were needed to curb state expenditure on salaries and reduce outlays on untargeted spending, including fuel subsidies.

GDP expanding but short of target

One area where the budget may have come up short was in its projections for GDP, with the government having forecast growth of 2.3% in FY 2016/17, a rebound from the 1.1% contraction experienced in FY 2015/16.

However, according to an IMF report issued at the end of October, the Sultanate’s GDP was expected to expand by 0.37% in the 2016 calendar year, making it unlikely the budget’s financial year target will be met by the end of March 2017.

Though growth was modest in 2016, the IMF expects the economy to gain momentum this year, expanding by 3.9%, before flattening to 1.7% in 2018.

A marked strengthening of growth is forecast for subsequent years, with expansion of 9%, 13% and 13.1% expected annually between 2019 and 2021, when a series of new downstream energy projects are set to come on-line.

Building a better business environment

To offset budgetary cuts, the government undertook a wide-reaching reform drive to bolster the role of the private sector by improving business regulation.

These moves included the introduction of an insolvency order in September aimed at engendering “a shift in insolvency culture, with a greater emphasis placed on company rescue and rehabilitation, and protection for all creditors and debtors”, according to a statement by the Ministry of Finance.

Such reforms would appear to have had an impact, with Brunei Darussalam named “most-improved global economy” in the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2017” report – climbing 25 places on the ease of doing business index to 72nd of 190 economies.

The Sultanate posted an improvement in eight out of 10 indicators, including getting electricity, where it rose 55 places on the previous year’s index to 21st; resolving insolvency, where it moved 40 places to 57th; and enforcing contracts, where a 22-place jump to 93rd was recorded.

The higher rankings saw the country placed fourth among ASEAN member states – behind Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – and 13th in the Asia-Pacific region.

Efforts to improve the business environment were also noted by the IMF in its Article IV consultation, which stated that authorities were successfully implementing measures to raise productivity, enhance efficiency and promote economic diversification.

Energy rebounds, inflation flattens

While Brunei Darussalam’s economy is diversifying, much of the country’s wealth continues to come from its hydrocarbons industry, which has seen revenues drop in recent years due to a sustained downturn in global commodity prices and lower oil production.

The gradual increase in global prices, combined with a steady rise in oil and gas output in 2016 will help support state finances, with production in both segments set to expand further in subsequent years, according to IMF estimates. Oil flow is forecast to increase from 133,000 barrels per day (bpd) currently to 137,000 bpd next year, and climb to 152,000 bpd by 2021. Gas production is also set to rise, with output to reach 45,300 cu metres a day by 2021, up on 33,900 cu metres per day in 2016.

While several macroeconomic indicators began to show signs of improvement towards the end of the year, inflation remained subdued throughout 2016, decreasing 0.8% y-o-y as of the end of November, according to most recent figures from the Department of Statistics.

The low cost of food products was a factor at play in the modest inflation rate, partly due to higher output from the agriculture industry, which posted 6.8% growth in the first quarter.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Brunei Passport 20th Most Powerful in World

Brunei passport 20th most powerful in world
On: January 21, 2017

| Azlan Othman |

BRUNEI Darussalam’s passport is continuing its powerful journey allowing its holders to move across borders without having to undergo the ordeal of a cumbersome visa application process.

Brunei holds the world’s 20th most powerful passport with a visa-free score of 134, according to the latest passport index devised by global financial advisory firm Arton Capital, which was revealed this week.

A passport from a country in good global standing is a powerful thing, allowing citizens to travel across borders without having to face a nightmarish bureaucracy and red tape.

Brunei passport is the third most powerful in Asean after Singapore and Malaysia.

The index saw Germany take first place with a visa-free score of 157.

The index, which was updated last week, saw Singapore and Sweden taking the second spot with a visa-free score of 156. Malaysian passport came in 5th place globally.

Singapore knocked off South Korea to become the highest-ranked Asian passport, Arton Capital said.

The third spot was shared by the UK, the US, Denmark, Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland and Norway with a visa-free score of 156.

Afghanistan sits right at the bottom of the index with a visa-free score (VFS) of only 23, Arton Capital said.

To determine the individual rank of each passport, Arton Capital looked at three factors: the country’s visa-free score – which includes visa-free and visa on arrival; the visa-free portion of their score versus visa on arrival; and the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index is used as a tie breaker.

“The higher the VFS score, the better global mobility its passport bearer enjoys,” Arton Capital said.

A total of 199 passports, consisting of the 193 United Nations member countries and six territories – Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican – are considered for the index.

Territories annexed to other countries, such as Norfolk Island, the French Polynesia and British Virgin Islands who do not issue their own passports are not considered as destinations, the index said.

Arton Capital, which updates the index every year, specialises in investor programmes for residence and citizenship.

The index shows that “the power of passports transcends the holder’s identity, opportunity, mobility and overall quality of life. United by our diversity, the passport is one of the most important documents we possess”, Arton Capital said.

In a similar ranking by the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index released last year, Brunei Darussalam was ranked 23rd in travel freedom with visa-free access to 151 out of 218 countries and terri-tories. Germany topped in Henley & Partners’ 2016 index as well.

In that Index, Brunei was also ranked third among Southeast Asian countries, behind Singapore and Malaysia that were placed fifth and 12th respectively in the overall ranking by the Henley & Partners’ Visa Restrictions Index.

Brunei’s rank of 23 was a drop from 18th place in 2015 and 17th in 2014.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, January 20, 2017

HM Sultan Brunei: Boost Training Standards at Officer Cadet School

Sultan calls for further boost in training standards at RBAF OCS
on: January 20, 2017

| Hakim Hayat |

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, yesterday praised the outstanding careers of several female Military Officers, while at the same time calling on the Officer Cadet School (OCS) at the Defence Academy Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) to continue producing high-calibre officers.

Delivering a titah on the occasion of the OCS Sovereign’s Parade Ceremony yesterday, His Majesty, who is also the Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the RBAF, noted that several female graduates of the OCS have produced outstanding efforts by venturing into male-dominated military career paths. “For instance, we now have a female military pilot and more recently, a female captain for our KDB (Royal Brunei Ship),” said the monarch.

A total of 29 Officer Cadets of the OCS’s 15th Intake were commissioned as Military Officers in yesterday’s ceremony, held at the Defence Academy in Kampong Tanah Jambu.

Receiving the Sword of Honour award was a female Officer Cadet, OCdt Raihana Samraa @ Lily binti Haji Abdul Rahman.

His Majesty also noted that two of newly commissioned Military Officers were outstanding students, as well as recipients of the Supreme Commander and RBAF Scholarship.

The monarch further noted that the OCS has produced around 336 high merit officers since its inception in 2008. “Some of them have become instructors in the Defence Academy, and have also been involved in international missions such as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao, Philippines and as an International Information Officer at Information Fusion Centre in Singapore,” said His Majesty.

His Majesty reminded that the amplification of training standards in the OCS is crucial to the constant turnout of high-calibre and prestigious generation of leaders, while also taking into account leadership values based on Islamic teachings and the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy.

His Majesty also highlighted the significance of bilateral exercises between OCS, RBAF and other Officer Cadet Schools overseas, stating that inter-military training with other national forces is beneficial for the early stages of military careers, especially in the Asean region. “Such a step is vital to our efforts to achieve security and stability regionally and internationally for the future,” said the monarch.

His Majesty also expressed hope that the RBAF would continue to produce excellent military leaders with skill and good judgement in formulating and shaping much-needed strategies for RBAF, which the monarch described as “the main pillar of the nation’s defence”.

In concluding the titah, His Majesty commended the Defence Academy and the OCS’s leadership and instructors for all their hard work in organising and implementing the successful 52-week training for the Officer Cadets; while also expressing appreciation to the parents, guardians and family members for their unwavering support.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Brunei-China Defence Ties

Brunei eyes big leap in defence ties with China
on: January 14, 2017

| James Kon |

BRUNEI Darussalam is poised for further bolstering defence exchanges with the People’s Republic of China.

“The defence relations between Brunei and the People’s Republic of China are currently on a good state and the Sultanate is looking forward to increase defence interactions of mutual benefit which can further boost security cooperation between the two countries,” First Admiral (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Tamit, Deputy Minister of Defence, said on Thursday.

He was speaking during a courtesy call with Lieutenant General Bai Wenqi, Deputy Political Commissar of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Northern Theater and Commander and Political Commissar of the Air Force, who is currently on a visit to the Sultanate, leading a goodwill visit of a Chinese PLA delegation.

Cooperation in the field of defence is seen as one of the important pillars of bilateral relations between Brunei Darussalam and China. This was cemented with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Military Exchanges on September 12, 2003, the deputy minister added.

“Activities symbolising the good state of defence and military ties include regular exchange of visits, meetings, courses as well as cooperation through various multi-lateral defence and security platforms,” he noted.

Brunei Darussalam and China marked their 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2016.

Also present during the courtesy call was Captain (Rtd) Abdul Rahman bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

Lieutenant General Bai Wenqi also paid a courtesy call to Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih bin Abdullah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF).

During the call, the RBAF Commander welcomed Lieutenant General Bai Wenqi and his delegation to Brunei Darussalam and expressed his pleasure to see the military-to-military relation between the RBAF and the People’s Liberation Army continue to progress in many areas of cooperation.

He also expressed his interest in holding more defence interactions as well as strengthening cooperation between the two in the future.

During his visit, Lieutenant General Bai Wenqi also made a separate call to the Commander of the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF), Brigadier General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Shahril Anwar bin Haji Ma’awiah.

The PLA delegation also watched the RBAirF static display at the Air Movement Centre.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, January 13, 2017

Brunei Legislative Council's New Members 2017-2022

New members of Legislative Council appointed
on: January 13, 2017

BY COMMAND of 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, following the dissolution of the Legislative Council (LegCo), it was announced yesterday that His Majesty has consented to the appointment of the new members of LegCo.

According to a statement issued by His Majesty’s Office, the Speaker is Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib.

The Ex-Officio Members (Prime Minister and Ministers) according to Section 1 (a) (1) of the Second Schedule of Article 24 (1) are:

1. 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, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

2. His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

3. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Home Affairs.

4. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister of Education.

5. Yang Berhormat 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.

6. Yang Berhormat 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.

7. Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office.

8. Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, Minister of Religious Affairs.

9. Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, Minister of Development.

10. Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism.

11. Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, Minister of Communications.

12. Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

13. Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, Minister of Health.

The Title Persons according to Section 1 (a) (ii) of the Second Schedule of Article 24 (1) are:

14. Yang Berhormat YB Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Hamid bin Bakal.

15. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam Dato Padula Seri Haji Hasrin bin Dato Paduka Haji Sabtu.

16. Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Putera Maharaja Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Ghani bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Rahim.

The Persons who have achieved distinction according to Section 1 (a) (iv) of the Second Schedule of Article 24 (1) are:

17. Yang Berhormat Haji Umarali bin Esung.

18. Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Arshad @ Haji Sabli.

19. Yang Berhormat Ong Tiong Oh

20. Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman

21. Yang Berhormat Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii

22. Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Ash’ari

23. Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad

The District Representatives according to Section 5 (1) of the Second Schedule of Article 24 (1) are:

24. Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon, Penghulu of Mukim Berakas ‘B’, Brunei-Muara District

25. Yang Berhormat Awang Naim bin Haji Kamis, Penghulu of Mukim Kota Batu, Brunei-Muara District

26. Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin, Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’, Brunei-Muara District

27. Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Mohaimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari, Village Head of Kampong Limau Manis, Brunei-Muara District

28. Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman, Village Head of Kampong Masjid Lama, Pekan Muara, Sabun and Pelumpong, Brunei-Muara District

29. Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin, Penghulu of Mukim Liang, Belait District

30. Yang Berhormat Hanapi bin Mohd Siput, Village Head of Kampong Labi I, Belait District

31. Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong, Penghulu of Mukim Tanjong Maya, Tutong District

32. Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit, Penghulu of Mukim Telisai, Tutong District

33. Yang Berhormat Haji Emran bin Haji Sabtu, Penghulu of Mukim Bokok, Temburong District

The Clerk to the Legislative Council is:

34. Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Jaya Dato Paduka Haji Judin bin Haji Asar

The date of appointment of the new members of LegCo is effective from Friday, 15th of Rabiulakhir, 1438 Hijrah, corresponding to January 13, 2017.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism 5 Year Plan

MPRT starts 5-year plan to create new jobs, boost GDP
on: January 10, 2017

| Fizah HAB |

THE Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has intensified efforts to create new employment opportunities and boost the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country as part of its ambitious 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.

The ambitious five-year plan for all departments under the ministry was officially launched yesterday by Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism.

The Strategic Plan is aimed at creating more jobs for the local people, in addition to boosting the productivity and export values of the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries through the use of high-tech methods, while also developing the tourism industry. To achieve those goals, including a significant growth in Brunei’s GDP by 2020, the ministry will work on increasing product yields from local agricultural and agrifood sector as well as aquaculture and seafood industries.

The Department of Agriculture and Agrifood is projected to create 4,800 new job openings within the next five years to meet the desired target.

Meanwhile, the Fisheries Department is predicted to generate 2,500 new jobs, with 360 predicted for the forest industry and 330 for tourism.

In his opening speech, the minister called on all MPRT officers to put in more effort towards realising the objectives of the newly implemented plan, reminding them of the need to change mindset in successfully accomplishing their tasks.

The 2016-2010 Strategic Plan carries the vision ‘Towards a Rapid Growth of Primary Resources Products and Tourism and Contribute to Economic Growth to Achieve Brunei Vision 2035’, with a mission to leading growth in the primary resources and tourism industry to become a contributor to growth in GDP by promoting investment both locally and abroad, improving product improvement and high-tech usage as well promoting exports.

The launching ceremony also witnessed the presentation of the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to the permanent and deputy permanent secretaries, by selected officers from all departments under the ministry.

Also among those present at the launching were Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin, the Permanent Secretary at the MPRT; and Wardi bin Haji Mohammad Ali, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Tourism) at the MPRT.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

MIB is Our Policy (MIB Series)

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien as a student at Kuala Kangsar

MIB is our policy
on: January 02, 2017

| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Md Melayong
Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |

THE struggle for the restoration of Brunei Darussalam’s sovereignty and MIB values was taken up by KMB and BARIP after World War II. Bruneian nationalists explored various means of direct confrontation with the British Empire, but Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam decided to take a diplomatic approach and negotiate with the British government for the restoration of Bruneian sovereignty.

Al-Marhum was aware of the desire to achieve independence through forceful methods. At the same time, he was contemplating several alternatives, as Bruneian youths lacked the necessary experience and skills in modern administration, politics, economics, diplomacy, education and religious matters.

Al-Marhum realised that reforms were needed, and that it was up to him as a leader to face the imposing task of modernising Brunei.

As a visionary leader with strong ideals, Al-Marhum’s efforts were well received by the citizens of Brunei, particularly on the importance of education and how it could lead to positive changes in the country.

With the ascendancy of Al-Marhum to the throne on June 4, 1950, several policies were put into place to restore Brunei’s status as a country with MIB values. Through the First National Development Plan (RKN) of 1954-1959, the development of the country’s infrastructure – mosques, schools, community halls, offices and governmental housing, healthcare and communication – was among the first steps taken towards that goal.

Socio-economic and politic development were the main initiatives of the First RKN, which was carried out with the help of Eric R Bevington, from the British Colonial Office in Fiji and appointed as the Development Commissioner to Brunei in 1954. Nearly $100 million was invested for the implementation of the First RKN.

With the country’s welfare and prosperity in mind, the programme was engineered to raise the standards of physical and spiritual development in Brunei. It paved the way towards independence, and even tapped into social, religious and cultural aspects as well.

Al-Marhum’s rationale helped him to shape a strategy that could unite the people and raise Brunei’s socio-economic status. This in turn led to the advancement of education, by sending local youths to Singapore, Malaysia, Egypt and the United Kingdom, to acquire the skills and knowledge for government posts once Brunei was fully independent.

In his youth, Al-Marhum pursued further studies at the Kuala Kangsar College in Perak, from 1932 to1936, and later served at the Forestry Department in Kuala Belait for three months. It gave him the opportunity to learn and experience the life of a commoner, in addition to understanding the nature of Brunei’s rainforests and vegetation. The experiences drove him to build a policy for the improvement of the people and the country.

As observed by an article on Al-Marhum:

“His Royal Highness Prince Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, now officially known as Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, returned from the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in Perak. He immediately joined as a cadet officer in the Forestry Departement. During his service, he undertook manual tasks such as digging trenches and cutting forest undergrowth. For his first assignment, he was sent to Bukit Puan where he took the working tools for himself to join ranks with the labourers.”

Al-Marhum’s working experiences, before assuming the formal duties of a Sultan, had helped him to understand the complexities and limitations faced by ordinary people. During the Japanese Occupation, Al-Marhum was assigned as an analyst for the ‘Civil Procedure Code And Criminal Procedure Code’, a regulation based on the state laws of Kedah and Terengganu.

Al-Marhum also worked together with Ibrahim bin Mohammad Jaafar, to manage the welfare of the people in Kampong Sungai Kedayan, an experience which shaped his ideals in the development of post-war Brunei. Similarly, the dark days of the Japanese Occupation formed his leadership methods as ‘the Sultan with the common touch’ (Sultan yang berjiwa rakyat).

Al-Marhum’s focus on welfare began in 1953, with the introduction of the Brunei Written Constitution (Perlembangan Bertulis Negeri Brunei) to ensure the security and preservation of Brunei as a country with Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) values.

The initiative was supported by R H Hickling, an expert in British law, who prepared a paper on the need for political development in Brunei, based on reports compiled by members of the ‘Tujuh Serangkai’ Committee.

For the past 60 years, many policies have been put into place, which is the enduring legacy from Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien for the people and residents of Brunei Darussalam. These policies were established to guarantee peace, harmony and prosperity for the people, as stated in the titah of 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, on October 5, 1967:

“…As Sultan, I will continue to strive towards achieving the ideals of my father in preserving the country’s peace, harmony and stability; in ensuring the prestige of Brunei Darussalam, by raising the living standards of the people through various schemes and projects which were started by my father. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, I will also protect and defend the religion of Islam, and Brunei’s traditional values.”
We should never forget that Al-Marhum and His Majesty have defended these ideals since World War II. This move was accepted by the British Government in the talks leading to the 1959 Constitution of Brunei (Perlembagaan Negeri Brunei). It was also agreed that Brunei should maintain her status as a Malay Islamic Monarchy, in 1957.

To ensure the integrity of the country’s main pillar, His Majesty has announced that MIB is and will always be Brunei’s philosophical basis. His firm conviction of MIB as a gift from Allah the Almighty, for the citizens and residents of Brunei, is currently being implemented towards achieving Brunei Vision 2035.

The MIB concept has been the basis of all Al-Marhum’s policies, including those on education, free healthcare, monthly allowances for the underprivileged and housing projects.

These privileges are still being enjoyed by the people of Brunei, under the leadership of His Majesty who has spent 49 years on the throne, continuing the legacy of his late father for the good of the people, as pledged 32 years ago in a titah:

“With the guidance and leave of Allah the Almighty, I will continue to work for the peace, security, welfare and happiness of my subjects.”

As citizens and residents of Brunei, we should always be thankful for what has been granted upon us from Allah the Almighty and the judicious leadership of His Majesty.

Courtesy of the Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, January 01, 2017

HM Sultan Brunei: Be Wary of Cyber Threats

Be wary of threats to peace, cyber menace
on: January 01, 2017

| Azlan Othman |

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 urged the nation to be wary of threats against peace and harmony as well as threats coming from the cyberworld.

In a titah delivered on the eve of New Year 2017, His Majesty said, “We are leaving 2016 with a thousand memories of enjoying peace and harmony in this fortunate nation… We are thankful and pray to Allah the Almighty for such a blessing to be enjoyed in 2017. Peace is paramount without which no development is possible. We should also uphold strong religious values, abide by the law, live in harmony and stay united.

“But we should bear in mind that elements that are against peace and harmony will always try to create chaos. Hence, we should be cautious with these elements and it is a big responsibility for all parties, especially those who deal with security affairs,” the monarch said.

“Efforts should also be undertaken to face cyber-threats, especially the danger posed by social media, by strengthening strategic partnership with international cyber organisations,” His Majesty added.

The monarch said the world is grappling with economic uncertainties. “However, we are happy with our reformation efforts and the whole-of-nation approach that have improved our global ranking in Ease of Doing Business by the World Bank.

“Our achievement is the by-product of our commitment and the firm cooperation among the government agencies and other stakeholders.

“But we should not be complacent, but be active in upgrading our achievement. We have been luring foreign investors to invest in this country, and Alhamdulillah several FDIs have already started making a foothold in the Sultanate. Various initiatives have been planned and implemented to assist local businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to make the country globally more competitive,” His Majesty added.

Touching on public service, the monarch said it needs to be productive. “I believe there are many areas that need improvement in upholding the core values of public service. I want the government machinery to be more disciplined.”

In education, the monarch said, efforts have been made to widen the streams and enhance quality of education to realise the Brunei Vision 2035. Priorities are to enrich the quality of teachers to make them high-performing individuals.

In the international arena, the ruler said, Brunei will continue to play a positive role towards ensuring regional and international peace. “Honestly, we hope that Asean will continue to be a respectable regional organisation due to its principled stand for regional peace and welfare.

“This year (2017), we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Asean and it is hoped that Asean member countries will continue their good cooperation in their bid to realise the Asean Community Vision 2025.”

As the nation will mark the golden jubilee anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne this year, the monarch said, “The celebration is of great meaning to us to appreciate history,” urging everyone to be moderate in commemorating the event.

“The celebration or festival should be a sign of history. History is the tongue of civilisation that will speak for generations without getting tired or bored. That is the value of history…Moderation means prioritising it.”

His Majesty concluded his titah by expressing hope that the people would strengthen their determination and efforts to be more proactive, creative in facing challenges with integrity.

“I would like to use this occasion to express my gratitude to all levels in the public sector, security personnel and members of the private sector for their sincere efforts in implementing their respective tasks throughout 2016.

“My family and I would also like to wish everyone a happy New Year 2017 and may Allah the Almighty shower all blessings, good health, peace and stability upon the nation.”

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin