| Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Muhammad Melayong, Senior Special Duties Officer, Secretariat Office, MIB Supreme Council |
DRUG abuse has always been one of the more obvious social ills in a developing country. On a personal level, it affects families, while collectively, it affects the entire nation.
Addicts will do almost anything to obtain drugs, including borrowing from loan sharks and trapped by unsolvable debts, they often revert to theft. In addition, the problems intensified by rapid advances in communication technology have made drugs even more accessible to the public.
The government has implemented laws and imposed severe penalties on those involved with drug abuse, whether as a dealer, pusher or addict. But these are reactive actions that can only take place once the persons have been convicted. In terms of prevention, pro-active action is needed to ensure that no one can be influenced by the allure of drug abuse.
Some addicts start out as thrill-seekers seeking entertainment, while others may not be well-informed on the psychological, physical and financial consequences of drug abuse. Certain individuals may also be influenced by their friends or in some instances, by peer pressure.
The eradication of drug abuse should begin with early education at home, as well as in schools, workplaces and community centres.
Another common social issue in Brunei is teenage pregnancy, which can be reduced with the introduction of programmes to teach youths about the consequences of this particular issue, or sex education. Furthermore, drug addiction, premarital sex, prostitution and gambling should always be open for discussion, to promote more awareness of social issues among people of all ages.
While families and friends play a major part in curbing drug abuse, the less popular route is to embrace Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) values and allow our Malay Islamic ways to influence our social lives.
This was among the topics of discussion during the National Anti-Drug Association (BASMIDA) seminar of January 1, 2016 at The Empire Hotel & Country Club in Jerudong, during which Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman was present as the guest of honour.
The theme of the seminar was ‘Prevention of drug abuse through MIB values’, and the Secretariat Office was invited to present a working paper alongside three other speakers, in addition to a keynote address presented by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.
In her opening remarks, Her Royal Highness said, “The embodiment of values enshrined within the concept of MIB should strengthen one’s personality and mental fortitude from being easily drawn to and influenced by social evils and addictions, including drug abuse as well as other controlled substances.”
In line with the theme of the seminar, the author was invited by BASMIDA to present a working paper on ‘Melayu Islam Beraja’, on the values that have become the way of life for the Brunei society and its role in curbing social problems.
The seminar began by focusing on Brunei’s practice of MIB, acknowledging its heritage and identity as a daily way of life.
The second part of the discussion shifted towards the values found in all three components of Malay Islamic Monarchy, while the final part of the paper summarised the values of MIB as an essential part of daily life.
These values includes loyalty to the sovereign, respect for the elderly, maintaining family bonds, religious, patience, truthfulness, generosity, sincerity, integrity and forgiveness, to avoid menace, to be ashamed of begging, to be courteous, honest and noble, to be collaborative, innovative, creative and empowered.
All of the other three speakers agreed that the practice and acknowledgement of MIB values was a good way of preventing social ills.
In his keynote address at the seminar, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz said: “BASMIDA has voiced out an approach, which is the prevention of drug abuse through MIB values.
“Prevention is needed for the general public and treatment is required for the healing of addicts. Are we in agreement on this approach? In general, I fully agree. However, I would also propose this as a treatment for addicts, in addition to preventing drug abuse.
“If this suggestion is accepted, then it should read thus: The Prevention of Drug Abuse and Treatment for Drug Addicts through MIB values.
“If prevention methods are only being highlighted, then we are only preventing the problem, not treating it. The residents of the Rehabilitation Centre are already struggling with addiction, so prevention is no longer the issue here, but what is required for their treatment.
“The implication here is that prevention is general in nature, while treatment is specific in nature for addicts. However, both are essential: prevention for the general public and treatment for the recovery of those struggling with addiction.”
Curbing drug abuse requires the involvement of all parties. Statistics between 2014 and 2016 show a drop in the number of drug arrests made by authorities.
While the number of arrests may not come up to one per cent of the total population of Brunei, it is still a cause of concern for everyone. We do not want this disease to become more rampant and create a negative environment that deprives us of peace in community life. Furthermore, it is a burden to the society and the government which has to bear the costs of prevention, recovery and rehabilitation.
The very existence of drug abuse shows the lack of MIB values in the lives of certain families and members of society. Environmental factors such as peers, family, society, inadequate socio-economic conditions (unemployment and financial crisis) are also part of the root cause.
Family, society, the private sector and the government, NGOs and the citizens of this country have a duty to come together in the prevention of social ills such as theft, robbery, rape, murder, alcoholism, gambling, adultery, infidelity and prostitution.
These ills have long been present in Brunei since World War, when the country began adopting the western way of life of drugs, alcohol, gambling and moral decadence. The reality of this disease continues to exist within the public sphere in Brunei, and there is no remedy other than the adoption of MIB values, while strengthening our faith in Allah the Almighty.
From a titah by 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:
“We need to work harder to curb all negative influences, while making great effort to cultivate positive values, in line with the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy.”
We continue to hear news reports about social evils such as theft, burglary, drugs, fraud and other practices that go against Islamic values, even during the month of Ramadhan. As a Malay Islamic nation, we all carry a sense of responsibility towards our respective obligations; and Insya Allah, we can protect and heal the country with MIB.