| Mat Baim |
WE HAVE formulated a VISION with a view that by the year 2035 we will reach a standard of life among the best in the world.
This poses a question: What number is “among the best”? If there are 200 countries in the world, would the top five countries in terms of having a life of quality be considered as “among the best”? That means that we would want to be among the top five from the 200. Such a tall order!
However “quality of life” is only a perception in the eyes of the beholder. A quality of life in the eyes of a Muslim may be different from that of a non-Muslim. The Malays might look at quality of life differently from the non-Malays. So being the only nation in the world with the MIB Philosophy, what form of quality of life are we really looking for? Somebody should do a PhD study on this. Only then we could understand what sort of quality of life Bruneians want.
We, Bruneians, are a modest lot. We don’t want to be the best, just to be among the best.
Is that something we should be ashamed of? Not necessarily. It just means that we know how good we are. It also means that we are realistic about the level of our efficiency when it comes to carrying out the programmes, projects and activities that hopefully will realise that VISION.
If we consider that the ninth National Development Plan, with a total budget of $9.5 billion and a total of 39 sectors, to be a mechanism by which Brunei Vision 2035 will be realised, then if we are really not that efficient, and we admit our efficiency is still wanting, then the level of the finished product of Brunei Vision 2035 is also wanting. Instead of reaching a standard of life to be among the best in the world, we would be lucky of reaching an improved standard of life that is better than that at the present. Still, that is better than not improving at all.
In the meantime, shouldn’t we be striving to be more efficient? There is another 21 years to go before Vision 2035 materialises.
What seems to be our problem? Why can’t we be the best? Was it because we are not really confident in our own people? Let’s take a case, for argument sake.
When we invite a person from a foreign body to give us a talk or lecture on corruption, what is really the basis of our invitation? After all, we would want to hear something that could make our nation to be corruption free.
Now, Transparency International has issued the CPI (Corruption Perception Index) which measures the perception level of corruption of the Public Sector of 175 countries, for the year 2014. The top five in the list comprises four Scandinavian countries whilst the other country (actually the second in the CPI list) lies far to the south east to us.
Therefore, shouldn’t we be inviting somebody from one of the top five nations to tell how his country managed to be relatively low in the perceived level of corruption in its Public Sector, rather than inviting one from a country which is way down the CPI list? However, it might be better if we send one of our officers to go to one of the top five to learn how that country managed to be so. He can give a briefing of his findings after he comes back.
Once in a while, we should try to be less modest by being the best to bolster our confidence in our ability. Increasing the level of our confidence may increase our chance of reaching the Brunei Vision 2035.
We don’t seem to build-in the culture in our works that we can do it! We don’t practice the “Brunei Yakin” philosophy even though such motto have been spoken a number of times in the past.
I am confident we have the people who can deliver talks on various subjects if only we take time to identify them. Let us not prejudiced ourselves of not inviting our local talents just because they had been speaking too much or not at all. We should give our speakers the right exposures to be excellent deliverers of various topics.
Let’s stop, or at least let’s start reducing, this penchant for giving credentials or recognitions to foreigners as that will surely be to their advantage as the more we send out the invitations the more will their CVs will bulged.
Now, our relevant authorities have made a ruling that no one should spread the teaching of Islam in Brunei Darussalam without the permission of the authority. That is understandable. If some party wants to build an Islamic religious school in the country, it must get the permission of the relevant body. If someone wants to give a lecture to the public on some Islamic religious topics, he must have the authorisation from the relevant body to do so. The logic is simple: we don’t want to have a situation whereby something that is to be said is contrary to Islam, thereby confusing the public.
Confusion among members of the public over some issues relating to the Islamic religion may create unrest, and that is something we should want to avoid. If we want our nation, well known for being the “Abode of Peace”, to continue to be in peace and harmony we should support the authorities in this matter.
For example, we should refrain from inviting just any anyone to deliver a lecture on Islam even though he is well known in his country, unless the relevant body gives its approval. I would assume that, as part of the vetting procedures, the content of his talk would be checked to ensure its suitability.
If we agree to this line of reasoning, we should also consider vetting the content of an invited foreign speaker’s speech or talk if he wants to deliver the lecture, talk or a keynote address in Brunei Darussalam.
That means the contents of that person’s lecture or speech would need to be checked first less the lecture or keynote address would contain ideas that are contrary to our belief, or not in our interest. By doing the vetting, it will enable us to ensure that the talk or lecture is useful to us.
A report during the recent Land Transport White Paper on “zero traffic death” could be achieved through the use of a vehicle, the construction of which meets the requirement of a certain safety standard caught my attention. It was reported the cost of such “safe” vehicle would likely be high. There was also the question if such vehicle would be purchased at all. It was not reported if such vehicle had been constructed anywhere.
As Brunei Darussalam is an Islamic nation, we should want to consider “death” from the perspective of Islam. My understanding is that in Islam, death can occur anywhere, anytime. It is Allah the Almighty’s decision, and only His, when and where a person would pass away: on his bed, on the road, in a vehicle, in a river, at a hospital just to name a few places. Allah the Almighty may decide a person to depart instantly, in a week’s time, on Hari Raya day, on his birthday, or at any other time decided by Him. It is Allah who decides if a person should live till the age of 1 only or 100. We Muslims will just have to wait for our times of departure. It is not something to be discussed or debated. Of course we Muslims should seek Allah the Almighty’s favour to lengthen the duration of our life in this world to enable us to do more good deeds. The way to do this is by reciting “Zikir” to Allah the Almighty.
The suggestion of using a “safe” vehicle in order to achieve a “zero traffic death” raises a few questions;
(i) Would it guarantee the driver’s safety, that is, to escape death should the vehicle be involved in a traffic accident?
If it is Allah the Almighty who decides when and where a person should die, then there is no guarantee the driver will not die in the vehicle even if the vehicle was designed with “zero traffic death” in mind. To guarantee that the driver will not die just because he is driving a “safe” vehicle might be contrary to our Islamic teachings.
Because the content of the keynote address touched on matters relating to our religion, it should be vetted by the relevant authority in the first place. We should not leave any issue concerning our religion as a small issue and forgive a speaker for his naivety.
We must start doing corrections or explanations if what has been said by any person is ambiguous or wrong. It is not about being rude to an invited speaker, but more to safeguard the interest of our nation.
(ii) In order to achieve “zero traffic death”, the “safe” vehicle would need to be constructed. Who will do and bear the high cost of the construction?
Since the “safe” vehicle has not been constructed, not even, I presumed, by the well-known names in vehicle construction business, it would appear that is us Brunei Darussalam that is targeted to build the vehicle, with sweet talks that Brunei Darussalam could be the first country anywhere in the world to achieve “zero traffic death”.
Do we want to build such a vehicle? Well, would you?
My thinking is that there are far more important and useful thing to do to spent the money on. For example, spending a few million dollars to repair the broken down computerised vehicle inspection centre or to build new ones in all the districts. Good inspection facilities will enhance vehicle safety, thus contributing to reduction in road traffic fatalities.
It is fortunate that Bruneians, in this case, are modest in the level of their achievement that the relevant body that published the Land Transport White Paper does not include, I hope, the concept of “zero traffic death”, as its aim was only to “reduce” the death rate. We therefore should give our support to such realistic aim.
(iii) Was the content of the keynote address valuable to us?
Well, your view is as good as mine. If it was useful, then the White Paper should contain the suggestion. If it does not contain the suggestion, then make an amendment to the White Paper.
If it was not useful, then put it away. As in the Malay proverb “yang baik dijadikan tauladan, yang buruk dijadikan sempadan” (translation: make the good to be the example, take the bad to be the edge).
So, should we build something this is supposed to achieve a “zero traffic death” when death is “owned” and decided by Allah the Almighty?
This brings me back to my point about the Vision 2035.
As Brunei Darussalam strives to do things in line with the MIB Philosophy, the Vision 2035 should also employ the MIB Philosophy in arriving at its recommendations and objectives. After all, the objective of the exercise is to ensure the survival of Brunei Darussalam as the MIB nation.
l can safely say that only Bruneians know more about MIB than any other. There are among us who are experts on the subject. Talking about the survival of Brunei Darussalam, we should take a look at how the nation survived through the perspective of its history. I can think of two books (see footnote below) on the history of Brunei that raised the following points;
(i) How Brunei Darussalam was once a large and strong empire.
- ii) How internal squabbles which were taken advantage of by foreign hands led to the diminishing size of the empire.
(iii) The importance of having adequate finance to administer the country.
(iv) How Brunei managed to survive amidst the times of turbulences and trials.
(v) How patriotism among us steered the nation back to prosperity, peace and security.
On reflection, since we are taking about Brunei Darussalam to be forever an MIB nation, the Vision 2035 should give ample ideas on the followings;
(i) How to ensure the survival of the individual Bruneian,
(ii) How to ensure the survival of the Malay race.
(iii) How to ensure the survival of the MIB nation.
It is not an easy or simple job. But we have to do it to give us a chance of surviving. The Vision would be better achieved if we are more confident of the ability of our own people who will do the implementation. Vision 2035 is not strictly about getting things done and having the money to pay for the cost. It is about our future.
So let us pool our top brains; those who are experts on MIB, those who are knowledgeable on what actions are to be taken in order to survive and those who prepared the Brunei Vision 2035 but may be less knowledgeable on the other subjects; together to discuss the issues. May be then our objectives of being forever the MIB nation whose citizens are having a life of quality, will become a reality.
Footnote: The two books are:
(i) “Survival of Brunei” by Pehin Dato Seri Utama Haji Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri. (Published by Brunei History Centre, 2002)
(ii) “The Implementation of Melayu Islam Beraja in Brunei Darussalam’s Public Administration” by Awg Haji Duraman bin Tuah. (Published by Jabatan Penerangan, 2011)