Bandar Seri Begawan: The Sultanate’s decision to implement Syariah Criminal Code has been met with mixed reaction from the public not just in the country, but the global community as a whole, ©BRUDIRECT.COM reported.
His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and the Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stated in his titah during the official opening ceremony of 10th Legislative Council (LegCo) Meeting, that “the decision to introduce Syariah Law is one significant aspect of our development and is not what some have claimed as being backward or archaic”.
The monarch called upon his subjects to “display solidarity because solidarity is a natural foundation”.
His Majesty also noted a number of other issues and progress that has been made thus far including economic diversification and steps that are being taken to achieve financial independence away from petroleum, welfare of those working in private sector, the importance of youth entrepreneurs as well as additional funding to help the country’s development.
“We should not be too concerned of what people are saying about Brunei as they do not really understand who we are and how our country is run” said the monarch as a respond to the negative comments the country has received regarding the implementation of Syariah Penal Code Order 2013.
“But what is important is that we Bruneians must truly be Bruneian and we unite, we must be united as Bruneians regardless of our race or belief”.
“Be the way Bruneians are. We have a government and therefore govern the way of Bruneians. We are a monarchy, or of leadership and therefore, we must exist as Bruneians that look up to monarchy or of leadership with undivided loyalty”.
“The implementation of Syariah Law is our responsibility as the people of Brunei Darussalam and we must be as one in supporting the Syariah Law” continued the monarch.
With the attention that the Sultanate has been receiving from the international community, His Majesty said: “Please respect us the way we respect you”.
Shifting away from the defensive rhetoric, His Majesty then proceeds to announce that more funds, amounting to BND$1.65 billion, will be allocated for his government to help meet the people’s needs.
His Majesty announced that as part of a “spontaneous response”, an additional BND$68 million has been set aside to support the country’s mitigation projects to reduce the occurrence of floods and an extra BND$35 million to repair public infrastructure and government assets that have been damaged during the January incident.
The monarch also shared that he has consented to the setting up of a new unit under the Prime Minister’s Office whose responsibility will include indentifying priorities, which are to be carried out by the relevant agencies.
“This unit will work with these agencies in formulating plans, monitor implementations and also provide advice as well as assistance,” explained His Majesty.
As part of its plans to encourage the growth of foreign investments, His Majesty also said that the government has allocated a number of “suitable” sites for major investments especially for accommodation of the needed infrastructure.
“However, each plan will be in need of implementation and if it deviates or is not conducted within its time frame, then the source of these issues must be identified and solutions found” said His Majesty.
The monarch then focuses his attention to private sector, described by many as the backbone of any economy whereby His Majesty emphasizes on the importance of providing the necessary support needed for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and those public service agencies “should multiply their efforts in making the country pro-business especially for SMEs”.
His Majesty then urged members of LegCo to discuss further the welfare and concerns of individuals working in the private sector, and state that though the gathering of government officials and people’s representative is now in its tenth year, the majority of discussions have highlighted issues related to government staff and officials and very little on those in the private sector.
“In my opinion, through development and productivity in this sector, it is hoped that they can contribute towards improving the country’s socio-economic standing”.
Apart from reducing excise tax on low-capacity vehicles to make them more affordable for the benefit of those in the low-income group, the government’s concern for those in the private sector, highlighted His Majesty, can be seen in the form of nation’s Employee Trust Fund (Tabung Amanah Pekeraja; TAP), the Supplemental Contributory Pension scheme (SCP) as well as the Housing Fund Scheme.
The Majesty then touches on the youth, saying that they “must improve upon their skills and knowledge as this, Insya Allah, will encourage creativity and make them more competitive”.
The Ministry of Education and other government agencies are lauded by His Majesty for their efforts in shaping the country’s young generation into a business literate generation whereby entrepreneurship skills are incorporated into the educational curriculum.
“It is time for the country to produce even more successful business people among our locals and the unique advantage in the form of peace and stability, which needs to be preserved, will encourage the country’s growth”.
“It is important for us to develop without having to rely on the export of oil and gas and though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted economic growth for the year 2014, there are still risks that can compromise any economy”.
“For Brunei, the government will continue to strengthen its micro-economic stability through prudent spending that will stress on value for money and accountability, whilst at the same time, efforts to diversify economic activities will become the country’s priority”.