| Danial Norjidi |
BRUNEIAN innovators should try to invent things and provide solutions that can be useful and help improve the quality of life at a local level before looking for success at a broader, international level.
This was said by renowned Islamic scholar Professor Dr Salim Al-Hassani, speaking to the Bulletin shortly after giving a presentation at the iCentre yesterday.
He is the Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and currently an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester, as well as the Chairman of the Foundation of Science, Technology and Civilisation, founder of academic portal www.MuslimHeritage.com and the Chief Editor of the ‘1001 Inventions’ global education initiative.
In his presentation, Professor Dr Salim discussed lessons learned from 1,000 years of innovation to help inspire young learners and business leaders. He spoke on the history of innovation, detailing various inventors and their inventions, as well as how a number of them have not been highlighted in the history books.
Asked by the Bulletin if he had any advice for Bruneian innovators, the Professor said, “If they can start to be inventors and try to solve problems and provide solutions in Brunei, there are many inventions to be made in the Bruneian homes, schools, hospitals, roads, forests and so on. If you can find an existing idea and improve upon it, it’s an invention. You take what you have and then you improve upon it.
“It’s good to have an invention that is recognised internationally, and if you happen to make a big market out of it, that’s fine, you can do that,” he continued, adding, however, that this “is difficult and can result in people getting disheartened and losing interest”.
“There are many things that you can do for Bruneian society. If you examine everything around you, there is always room to improve upon it. Start off locally.
“Also, because (Bruneians) are predominantly driven by religious ethos, that can help, because inventions are aimed at improving the quality of life, not about making money,” he highlighted. “To make money is not the aim. The money will come, but the aim must be higher. It should be to improve life.
“Anything you look at that you are trying to improve upon can actually be considered as part of an expression of your faith, because you are doing something useful for mankind.”
While Brunei is a small country, he asserted that as long as it can produce high quality people, it can be much more effective than countries with populations of millions abroad.
“For example, if you look at someone abroad who lives in a corrupt society, it takes a lot of energy and money to make him or her into a good person, whereas here, (people) are coming out good.”
He said that Bruneians are good people, and should think of a way to use their faith to produce useful things.
“When you want to do something, you have to intend to do so. That means you have an objective, you plan and make preparation, then you execute it. That’s how life is. It needs an objective, planning, and then you execute.”
He explained that to make it useful means to produce something good, and not something poisonous or bad for society.
“The scientist who is driven by good ethics and moral conduct will probably not come up with anything that will harm innocent people, and the Muslim is told that if you destroy the life of one person it’s like destroying the life of the whole human race.
“Therefore, I think that the Bruneian people here are so nice, with positive qualities and only need to use their heads to make their output in resonance to the needs of the society,” he shared. “Their aim would be to improve the Bruneian society and through this, improve the world community.
“Brunei may be very small, but they can actually become very significant by concentrating on the quality of the individual, ie human resource development. That’s what you need.”
Professor Dr Salim went on to affirm that 1001 Inventions can help the country with this, as it will inspire people, give them role models and, in an interactive manner, allow people to embrace technology so that they feel that they are a part of this modern civilisation; that they are not strangers to it.
1001 Inventions is an international educational organisation that produces programmes, books, block-buster exhibitions, live shows, films and learning products, all of which are dedicated to the encouragement of innovation based on the history of science and technology.
1001 Inventions uncovers a thousand years of scientific and cultural achievements of Muslim civilisation from the 7th Century onwards and relates those contributions to the foundations of our modern world.
Manager of iCentre, Jeremy Chua, spoke on the professor’s talk, describing it as “a great opportunity” for members of the engineering and startup communities to learn and share their ideas with Professor Dr Salim and to assist them in the future development of their ideas, products and services.
Among those present for the talk yesterday was the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chief Executive Officer of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin as well as senior BEDB officials.
Earlier this week, the professor met with iCentre incubatees for both pitching and discussion sessions. Speaking on these earlier sessions, Hj Rushdi El-Hakim Dato Hj Ibrahim of start-up company Halbase said that the talks were inspirational and provided insights from an Islamic perspective. He also said that the organisation will be assisting in networking opportunities for Halbase’s future products.