Sultan Brunei: Greater Engagements Between Governments and People

Izzan Kassim

Saturday, October 11, 2014 - HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam called for greater engagement between governments and people in combating the challenges of the 21st century.

Challenges of the 21st century, such as economic inequalities, pandemic disasters or transnational crime, require the people to be contructively engaged by their government, His Majesty said in a titah delivered during the opening session of the Seventh Bali Democracy Forum (BDF).

His Majesty said that political, economic and social development can “promote greater interaction between the government and its people”. The resulting partnership should be peaceful, inclusive and consultative.

His Majesty associated good governance to “a partnership which recognises and supports the roles and responsibilities of all its stakeholders and is based on trust, dialogue and concensus”.

ASEAN has taken steps to reach out and involve its citizens, along with those in the private sector, academia, youth and civil society, he said, adding that dialogues between the government and these groups are a constant feature of the ASEAN process.

The dialogues play an important role in helping governments in the decision making process, but more work is needed to fully realise a people-centered ASEAN.

“We can utilise technology to both listen to the views of our people and to share information with them on how they can benefit from our regional cooperation,” said His Majesty at the Bali International Conference Centre.

He urged government and non-government sectors to prioritise their work, and focus on issues that directly affect the citizens, such as disaster management, human trafficking, drug abuse and the effects of climate change.

His Majesty also called for countries in the region to listen to each others concern and work collectively for the common good of all its people.

His Majesty shared his observations of the changes in regional landscape over the past three decades which have altered the way governments engage their citizens.

“This past year, has brought us rapid development and positive improvements in the quality of governance required to reflect the growing expectations of our people,” His Majesty said, adding that substantial progress in the socio-economic area has the global population enjoying higher standards of living, better healthcare as well as education,

His Majesty was impressed by the combined economic output of the Asia-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia, which amounts to 40 per cent of global growth and one-third of the world's trade.

“The size of our affluent middle-class is increasing and most importantly, the development drive has lifted a substantial number of our people out of poverty.”

He also noted the progress made towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals by 2015 stating that it boded well for the current generation.

“This strongly advocates the critical importance of human development, that is inclusive, people-centered and sustainable,” said His Majesty regarding the United Nations’ transformative post-2015 development agenda.

However, ASEAN still has to overcome a number of challenges. His Majesty pointed out that accomplishments made in the last 15 years have eluded a sizeable proportion of people in the many parts of the world where poverty, inequality and social injustices still exist.

Many still struggle with each negative impacts, His Majesty said, adding that rapid growth and development has also had impacted the natural environment negatively.

To deal with these challenges, His Majesty urged ASEAN to consolidate and build on its achievements over the past few decades.

“We (ASEAN) need to clarify what we hope to achieve through people-centered development and reflect clarity in our strategies and programmes for the future.”

Peace and stability in the political sense should mean that the basic security of citizens are met, the monarch said, while economically, rapid development means gaining material benefits and at the same time narrowing disparities in wealth and alleviating poverty. Globalisation should nurture equitable growth whilst also preserving human dignity.

In the titah, His Majesty congratulated the Indonesian President, Prof D Hj Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for hosting the Seventh BDF.

He praised Yudhoyono on his 10-year tenure as president, where he led Indonesia through significant economic growth and development, and mentioned that convening the series of democracy forums is a testament to the president's farsightedness.

His Majesty added that the smooth and successful elections in Indonesia this year augur well for both Indonesia and the region, where it has helped inspire confidence in continued peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia.

His Majesty expressed confidence that under Yudhoyono’s guidance, the president’s successor, Joko Widodo, Indonesia will continue to be a beacon of progress for the region.

His Majesty also said that he is looking forward to working with the new president for the betterment of the region as a whole.

The Brunei Times



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