HM Sultan Brunei: Country Comes First

His Majesty: Country comes first
February 8, 2018

| 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 said yesterday that the Cabinet Ministers and government officials have to think about the long-term future of the country rather than focus on their own self-interest.

In a hard-hitting titah delivered at a special meeting with the newly appointed Cabinet Ministers at the Istana Nurul Iman, His Majesty said to be a good leader, one must strongly stick to the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) principle and not be a leader who is ‘intoxicated’ with power, who does everything for self-interest and not for the country.

His Majesty said among the signs of an ‘intoxicated’ leader is being cunning by setting up plans or strategies for selfish reasons such as cronyism and nepotism, and for the strengthening of position and power.

The monarch strongly wants to see the Cabinet team and government officials fulfiling their responsibilities better, without bringing unreasonable and disruptive problems that affect the implementation of the government’s administration.

“Cabinet Ministers and government officials who are given the authority should really focus on matters that are beneficial for the country and not for self-interest or for the interest of any parties. I know that many issues have been deliberately created merely to attract attention or for publicity,” he said.

“In the end this does not bring any benefit but actually causes losses to the government because well intentioned programmes are delayed or postponed,” His Majesty said.

“And there are those who are entrusted with such programmes, wanting to cancel them due to external or international pressures. But we are in fact being intimidated by the mere excuses of ‘globalisation’ or ‘internationalisation’ which are not relevant to the country’s interests and needs at all,” he said.

His Majesty said the tendency to use these external justifications is a sign of poor leadership or lacking in ideas, adding that with such leaders, we cannot expect the best.

“We need to remember that not everything we learn from outside the country is good – the knowledge, culture, mindset and perspective cannot all be practised wholly in this country even though they may be applicable elsewhere,” he said.

“This also applies to ideas or policies. Rather than imitating others, we must do some introspection to identify what we really need. This is a more wise and thoughtful way of getting things done, instead of merely mimicking what we see or hear without much consideration.

“We are a sovereign and independent nation; thus, we require to think and act as independent people and nation. Independence is more than mere pride; it becomes more purposeful when we are able to abide by it,” said His Majesty.

“How to accomplish that, and who should bear the task? The answer is none other, but ourselves. We have ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries, and it is their duty to achieve the concept of independence and make it more meaningful.

“And it must be achieved through hard work, commitment and perseverance. Do not shirk from your obligations; act out of duty to your country, not out of self-interest. For instance, those entrusted with the country’s economy are responsible for its development. They must support its growth, instead of placing limits or restrictions. We must also seek new ways of promoting economic growth and progress.”

“For those entrusted with the country’s development, they are required to carry out their responsibilities accordingly. The country needs proper design and construction. It does not need streets that are waterlogged because of bad drainage. Find the root cause of the problem. The relevant parties need to conduct more research and seek to resolve those issues.”

In terms of agriculture, His Majesty highlighted the need for more action and a proper approach. “It must be done in an orderly and systematic way, to produce the desired agricultural products for our country. Give the farming sector the attention and priority that it deserves, as this is the sector that will determine our continuity as a sovereign nation. We need to increase the production of rice, which is our staple food, so that we do not have to rely on foreign imports.

“In order to achieve that, it is not merely enough to set goals. We need to put in more effort and hard work, so that our rice production meets the desired target. If there is already a plan, then make sure that it does not get undone by opportunists. For instance, a government scheme for rice production should not be taken over by certain individuals, whether they are in high positions or formerly high-ranking officials with a substantial income from the government. This must not be allowed to happen.”

His Majesty also stressed the need to empower the country’s industry and energy sector. “What we have seen thus far is not satisfactory. We want to see more activity and a proper structure in place. In terms of industry, it is not enough to have small and medium entrepreneurs take part in overseas expos and showcase local products. There should be a follow-up, as to the results and outcome of these participations. Besides encouraging them through promotional campaigns, entrepreneurs must be assisted to develop. More importantly, they need guidance to start and manage their businesses until they succeed. This is crucial, as not all entrepreneurs possess the necessary business acumen. Up till now, I have not seen any initiatives taken through various means, as with other countries.

“The same applies to manpower, which is divided into two categories: common and professional, where the former should be given training and enough experience to develop further.

“But this is not the case. Those who are already experts in the field choose to employ a foreign workforce, while locals take on ordinary jobs. It has been decades and I have yet to see a local assume the post of managing director. And on the issue of unemployment, the usual way to solve this problem is by creating a vacancy.

“In an era where there is an oversupply of graduates, we cannot merely depend on the government for employment. Hence, it is necessary to find other ways. We cannot be too dependent on the government. We must learn how to stand on our own, develop the spirit of entrepreneurship and be like the farmers. We must provide guidance and encouragement to them. Have we done this?” His Majesty stated.

His Majesty urged the home affairs and health sectors as well as the other relevant agencies to clean up the country. Locations such as drains, rivers and markets must be cleaned not only when there is a campaign but all the time. This should be done by involving everyone.

His Majesty said education and religion must continue to move forward. “Education is not static. We should not ignore it, especially religious education. We must continually ensure that the people are interested in religious studies. We need to make sure that students in Arabic schools not stop halfway but complete their religious education,” he said.

“In my opinion, when students give up their religious studies, it is due to managerial or administrative problem. We are not sensitive to this problem and not putting any effort to overcome it,” he said.

The monarch urged all those involved in the communication, tourism, youth and sports sectors as well as in the foreign affairs to adopt a very clear sense of direction.

Take the path that we already have now, namely the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), which we have been practising for more than 600 years. Those who are disputing this are not bona fide Bruneians or they do not possess the heart of a Bruneian.”

His Majesty said that to be a leader, one must strongly apply the concept of MIB in his or her life. The person must not be distracted by any other ideologies. To be a good leader, one must put the country’s interest above self-interest.

He said that Brunei must remain as Brunei. “It has a beautiful charitable environment that must be preserved and not be tainted by elements such as dishonesty and falsehood. Brunei must be clean from all negativity,” the monarch concluded.

Earlier, His Majesty expressed his appreciation to those who served the country but were not reappointed. He also congratulated those who still hold the post and who are newly appointed. “I hope with such appointment, it would bring about bigger changes that are positive in the government,” he said.

Also in attendance at the special meeting yesterday were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ministers, Deputy ministers, Commissioner of Police, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries were also present.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin


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