Youth and socio-economic development go hand in hand: minister

|      Danial Norjidi      |

EVERY youth has special and meaningful potential to shape their countries’ socio- economic development, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports said.

He was delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation GR3EN Workshop at the Radisson Hotel yesterday.

“Brunei Darussalam, like any other country, strives hard in our youth development,” he said.

“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 places much emphasis in building up the young generation and their capabilities to actively participate in national development and instilling their confidence to venture into different fields domestically and beyond our borders. In this endeavour, we are always grateful for the support we receive,” he said.

He expressed his deepest appreciation to the US government and specifically Craig Allen, US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, “in providing this great platform for the Asean youths to equip them with the much needed knowledge and skills that could develop them to venture into this growing eco-business.”

Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation GR3EN Workshop at the Radisson Hotel yesterday. - BAHYIAH BAKIR
Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation GR3EN Workshop at the Radisson Hotel yesterday. – BAHYIAH BAKIR

“The United States continues to be a strategic partner, both to Brunei Darussalam and Asean, and through YSEALI programmes such as this, many young people of Asean have already benefitted in many different ways,” the minister said.

The minister said, “We all know that every youth, no matter where and who they are, have special and meaningful potential to shape the socio- and economic-development of their own respective countries and the world in general. His Majesty’s Government, with a whole of government approach, has implemented a number of initiatives to identify and develop youth potentials and future.

“In this regard, as the ministry responsible for youth affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) introduced a new format in celebrating Brunei’s National Youth Day, by bringing together over 1,000 youths who have positively answered His Majesty’s call to capitalise youth development and empowerment programmes, including programmes of entrepreneurship to spur Brunei’s economy.”

The MCYS actively promotes entrepreneurship as one of the ways to engage talented youth to explore newer and innovative ideas in developing Brunei’s future economy.

“We also recognise that there are many different types of youths, who have different talents and abilities and believe entrepreneurship can be one of the avenues in creating employment as well as bringing success to them,” the minister said.

The Youth Development Centre, which is under the purview of the MCYS in collaboration with other government and private sectors, focuses on youth that did not meet educational requirements to further their studies, he said.

The minister said the centre offers programmes to hone their technical and vocational skills and provides them backdrops to consider entrepreneurship through business start-up programmes such as ‘Program Belia Berdikari’ or ‘Youth Self-Reliant Programme’.

“Not forgetting those who are of special needs, Brunei Darussalam ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) last year and is currently working on appropriate steps in implementing it,” he said.

“One that is of interest to us is the promotion of opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, development of cooperatives and starting one’s own business,” the minister said, noting that the ministry’s own Pusat Bahagia Unit continues to promote social entrepreneurs by providing skills training to develop and showcase the capabilities of their special needs students, as well as assisting them in marketing their products.

The minister said the youth’s role in development is not confined to national border.

“In Asean context, youth constitutes 60 per cent of the total Asean population in general and thus is recognised to be an active contributor in regional leadership roles and present valuable contribution in shaping and building the Asean Community,” the minister said.

He noted that this year, Asean will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its establishment.

“Throughout the 50 years of Asean, one of the common features that have been emphasised is the importance of youth involvement and participation in the building of the Asean Community. The current Asean Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 through programmes on entrepreneurship, employability, people-to-people exchanges, competency and resilience as well as volunteerism serves as a nurturing and grooming process to prepare youths to meet future challenges,” he said.

From these perspectives, the aims of the workshop and YSEALI programmes are justified in line with Asean’s aspirations, he said.

The minister said he was happy to note that the YSEALI Generation GR3EN workshop will teach participants how to turn challenges into tremendous opportunities, whereby they will be in tune with the needs and challenges of the world; the knowledge, skills and experiences of experts; and new solutions in the form of initiatives and possibly productive business ventures that will also save and protect the environment.

“This, I believe, is a step in the right direction. This will provide solutions to achieve a more sustainable growth and development in the long term and ensure future generations can enjoy the fruits of both economic growth and high quality of life.”

“At the same time, those activities that concern saving and protecting the environment or similar causes, often connote the spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy-altruism, as a truly caring and sharing community.”

“Culture of volunteerism is something Brunei Darussalam is spearheading on, both nationally and regionally,” he said.

He shared that at the national level, Brunei Darussalam supports and observes the United Nations International Volunteer Day annually.

The minister said the ‘Day of Action’ provides opportunities for organisations throughout the country to conduct voluntary community activities and services including donation and cleaning campaigns of public spaces.

These whole-day activities received an overwhelming response and support, he said.

“In Asean, we also advocate volunteerism to support exchange of learning experiences, develop capacity, enhance cross-cultural understanding and forge a sense of regional identity while making a sustainable difference to communities across Asean.”

Volunteers from the Society for Community Outreach and Training (SCOT) has partnered with the Organisation for Building Community Resources Cambodia to strengthen the Asean Community relations by assisting in infrastructure project that provides basic facilities in Cambodia and building English Language competency among the Cambodian children.

“I urge all the participants to take full advantage of this workshop and to put into action what you have learned, and to maintain the networking you have established here in the spirit of friendship for future undertakings in your respective countries,” he said.

“It is our fervent hope to see more youth to come forward making bold moves and innovate themselves to take up challenging projects in creative and green businesses as well as sustainable projects which have high impact and export potential,” the minister added.

“Please remember what you are doing now will also inspire those behind you to look beyond themselves and see their bigger role in contributing towards their countries and regional development and prosperity.”