The defence budget for the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) allocated for the Financial Year 2020/2021 is BND606,027,220.00, an increase of 0.27 per cent from the previous financial year.
This was highlighted by Minister of Defence II Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof at the fourth day of the 16th Legislative Council Meeting yesterday.
Highlighting that defence is a public good enjoyed by the people from all walks of life, the MinDef reaffirmed its commitment to fulfil its mission to “Defend Our Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and Uphold the Constitution and the Malay Islamic Monarchy Philosophy”.
Faced with a complex geopolitical environment, the minister reinforced the three pillars which are Deterrence and Response, Defence Diplomacy and Holistic Defence in addressing the dynamic challenges, which include the South China Sea and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As part of the Deterrence and Response pillar, the minister asserted that special attention is given to defence capabilities, armaments and the training required as MinDef continues to realise its development plans comprising maritime capabilities and the establishment of a Defence Cyber Unit to fully equip the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) in tackling global threats that are dynamic, rapid and borderless.
Reliable and trained human resource remains a key priority for the MinDef, and the minister shared that the the Officer Cadet School, Defence Academy RBAF produced 523 officers, and the recent opening of a new RBAF Recruitment Office building last year to ensure sustainable recruitment.
On defence diplomacy, MinDef remains active and committed to the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and its related meetings, and will look to co-chair the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group in Military Medicine with Australia for a three-year period.
Engagements in the form of peacekeeping operations, involvement in international missions, participation in exercises, joint working defence committees, humanitarian aid and contributions shape MinDef’s diplomatic endeavours in promoting regional peace and stability.
As for the third pillar in holistic defence, MinDef highlighted the need to advance the country’s direction towards leveraging the current technology in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
This is exemplified by the publication of the Defence Digital Strategy Framework and the Defence Science and Technology Policy Framework, including cooperative pursuits in research, innovation and technology with Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Universiti Teknologi Brunei.
The minister concluded his speech to highlight that the three pillars will be integrated with long-term defence strategies.
These policies and plans will be elaborated further with the release of a new Defence White Paper on the 60th anniversary of RBAF in 2021, during which Brunei Darussalam will also take the helm as ASEAN Chair.