Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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20th Legislative Council Session
Live Updates

Minister highlights importance of LegCo

Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman emphasised the need to utilise respective capacities to ensure the Legislative Council (LegCo) remains relevant in strengthening the unity of the people in the country.

He said this in an adjournment speech at the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday, adding that it is crucial to make people aware that LegCo is part of the country’s dynamic administration and is evolving in a solidarity-centric way.

On this matter, the minister hopes that higher learning institutions in the country will contribute through providing knowledge and understanding encompassing the law and the history of nationhood, emphasising the country’s status as an independent Malay Islamic Monarchy.

The minister also underlined the roles that can be beneficially played by executive parties, such as ministries, through the membership of appointed LegCo members according to their respective categories. For instance, he said, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Brunei Islamic Religious

Council can engage a number of LegCo members in committees related to public matters such as zakat (tithe), waqaf (endowment) and Baitul Mal; haj and umrah, mosque affairs, religious education and dakwah. – Rokiah Mahmud

Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

LegCo meeting testament of concerted effort towards Vision 2035

The participation of Legislative Council (LegCo) members in delivering ideas and suggestions underscored a collective effort to support 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’s vision of a developed country, said Special Advisor to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Di-Raja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim at the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.

In his adjournment speech, he said the suggestions from LegCo members represented the Sultanate’s citizens and will act as references, allowing the government to formulate and implement polices, strategies and initiatives that contribute to socio-economic development.

He also noted that it is crucial for the needs and expectations of stakeholders and citizens to be met with hopes to heighten public confidence in the government’s efforts.

He said the new national budget will focus on efforts to enhance the quality of life among the people through infrastructural development, economic growth and diversification with the aim of reducing dependency on oil and gas, while having an education system capable of producing a skilled workforce. – Rokiah Mahmud

Special Adviser to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Di-Raja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

‘Imperative’ to review MoE’s ICT curriculum

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Chong Chin Yee in her adjourned speech on the final day of the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday stressed on the importance of inter-ministerial collaboration.

She highlighted, “Such synergy is essential to prevent counterproductive policies that could impede collective government initiatives. I am eager to witness a more cohesive alignment among all ministries, reinforcing our foundation and propelling us towards our shared objectives with greater efficiency and productivity.”

On other important aspects, she noted, “As we aspire to transition into a smart nation, it is imperative that we consider a fundamental review of the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) information and communication technology (ICT) curriculum from the primary school level.

This initiative is crucial to equip future generations with necessary skills and knowledge to navigate and contribute to an increasingly digital world.”

Yang Berhormat Chong shared her concern on the effective use of social media by government agencies. Given the increasing reliance on social media by government agencies for public announcements and engagement, coupled with the significance of surveys in comprehending public opinion for policy-making, she said, “There’s a notable concern regarding the effectiveness and professional management of these platforms. Despite their best intentions, it appears that the current social media methods may not adequately capture or engage the desired demographics,”

While some departments have made commendable efforts, ineffective social media communication, she iterated “may lead to public misperception of stagnation or lack of progress, thereby undermining the diligent efforts of our officers. “Therefore, it is recommended that government agencies outline measures to enhance the ability of officials in all ministries to manage social media and conduct surveys more effectively”. – James Kon

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Chong Chin Yee during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
The Legislative Council meeting chamber. PHOTO: BB FILE

Findings, policies, regulations should be transparent, says LegCo member

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim expressed hope that feedback from LegCo members will be received with an open mind, positively and constructively, so that any policies formulated are more solid, robust and are supported by the people.

He said this during his adjournment speech on the final day of the LegCo meeting yesterday, adding that any findings, policies and regulations agreed on during the meeting will be publicised to enable the public, the business community and stakeholders to engage and participate in national development towards Brunei Vision 2035.

He also hoped that the 12th National Development Plan will provide the business community and foreign direct investors with confidence of the potential of the Sultanate. – Rokiah Mahmud

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

LegCo meeting ends 2024 session

The 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting came to a close yesterday, with adjournment speeches from LegCo members and over 700 questions posed over the course of 18 days.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Isa bin Pengiran Haji Aliuddin said he “emphasised on efforts to diversify the economy, especially agriculture, transportation and tourism, fishing, downstream oil and gas”, which needs quick, continuous action and cooperation with the private sector.

Among the highlighted issues were the bus transport system, housing and food security.

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Salleh Bostaman bin Haji Zainal Abidin said that he is “aware of the response from the public who followed the LegCo meeting” and assured that despite not being reported in the media, answers to issues raised were received at the later stage. LegCo member Yang Berhormat Hajah Safiah binti Sheikh Haji Abdul Salam called for efforts to boost sustainable economic growth for quality lifestyle towards attaining Vision 2035.

“By empowering the economy towards sustainability, we can control social issues plaguing the nation and identify weaknesses to enhance the efficiency of services,” she said.

She also said civil servants need to be open, especially those rendering welfare services, by considering the perspectives of skilled people, including youth, graduates and prospective public servants.

Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the Legislative Council and Legislative Council members in a group photo. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Suyoi bin Haji Osman summarised the essence of 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’s titah at the opening of the LegCo meeting: increasing employment; improving people’s well-being; reducing poverty; maintaining health; ensuring a clean, unpolluted and sustainable environment; and strengthening national security.

He expressed confidence that “every ministry will use the allocated budget prudently to develop the country.”

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Dr Haji Mahali bin Haji Momin said, “Monitoring expenses is crucial, and it is important to adhere to its implementation to avoid any shortfalls. Any government projects should have a positive impact on the welfare of the people.”

He added that education should adapt the latest technologies and speaking on the construction of a new Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) campus in Labu, Temburong District, urged the acceleration of the process as the building has the potential to become an iconic symbol not only for Temburong but also the country.

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Amran bin Haji Maidin believes LegCo members must “go to the ground” to realise the national vision as the people are looking for answers to issues such as public facilities and unemployment.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Awang Mohammad bin Abdullah @ Lim Swee Ann said there are issues raised annually, but have not been tackled appropriately by the authorities. Thus, he called on LegCo members to focus on these pressing issues, while acknowledging that not all issues can be solved amid the current financial constraints.

He also said it was high time for Belait to be named the second district as it is the source of oil and gas and that the Client’s Charter should be closely followed as some applications are still slow in implementation.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Sulaiman bin Haji Nasir said, “In this digitalisation era, we need to diversify services and demolish the use of paper.”

He also said festivities such as ‘Temburong Bisai’ should be further supported while calling for the issue of low wage in the private sector to be addressed.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Othman said, “Guidance on the latest technologies must be made to boost production and the farmers subsidised.”

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Mohamad Ali bin Tanjong called for support for local products and grassroots efforts to boost initiatives such as One Product, One Village (1K1P). – Azlan Othman

2024-2025 budget table

PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE (PMO)
PMO – BND60,480,990
Adat Istiadat Dept – BND3,004,840
Audit Dept – BND5,853,900
Council of States Dept – BND3,366,500
Radio Television Brunei – BND40,289,270
Information Dept – BND8,251,450
Public Service Dept – BND24,158,750
Management Services Dept – BND2,485,350
Public Service Commission – BND4,886,410
State Mufti Dept – BND6,498,810
Legal Division – BND721,820
Attorney General’s Chambers – BND12,506,540
State Judiciary Dept – BND10,997,350
Electrical Services Dept – BND164,973,450
Civil Service Institute – BND3,826,560
Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah – BND4,290,720

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE – BND796,304,785

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – BND114,964,750

MINISTRY OF FINANCE & ECONOMY (MoFE)
MoFE Dept – BND40,298,140
Royal Customs and Excise Dept – BND14,713,030
Economic Planning and Statistics Dept – BND7,471,380
Treasury Dept – BND19,387,310
Miscellaneous Services – BND878,536,200

MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS (MoHA)
MoHA Dept – BND13,332,980
Municipal Dept BSB – BND15,223,790
Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Dept – BND6,978,060
Tutong Municipal Dept – BND2,120,330
Labour Dept – BND6,093,830
Brunei-Muara District Office – BND10,512,610
Belait District Office – BND4,247,440
Tutong District Office – BND4,372,630
Temburong District Office – BND3,796,190
Immigration and National Registration Dept – BND20,860,670
Prisons Dept – BND12,749,350
Fire & Rescue Dept – BND29,897,640

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION (MoE)
MoE Dept – BND570,969,920
Universiti Brunei Darussalam – BND72,060,410
Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali – BND25,927,070
Universiti Teknologi Brunei – BND26,191,590
Politeknik Brunei – BND25,405,410
Institute of Brunei Technical Education – BND50,619,950

MINISTRY OF PRIMARY RESOURCES & TOURISM (MPRT)
MPRT Dept – BND6,858,360
Forestry Dept – BND7,891,940
Fisheries Dept – BND12,571,520
Agriculture and AgriFood Dept – BND36,966,570
Tourism Development Dept – BND3,104,810

MINISTRY OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS – BND269,081, 960

MINISTRY OF DEVELOPMENT (MoD)
MoD Dept – BND17,168,820
Housing Development Dept – BND13,312,470
Public Works Dept – BND144,148,360
Town & Country Planning Dept – BND3,854,710
Land Dept – BND10,398,450
Survey Dept – BND13,359,260
Environment, Parks and Recreation Dept – BND19,890,860

MINISTRY OF CULTURE, YOUTH & SPORTS (MCYS)
MCYS Dept – BND19,189,720
Language & Literature Bureau – BND10,496,920
Youth & Sports Dept – BND19,069,720
Museums Dept – BND9,412,740
History Centre – BND3,859,100
Community Development Dept – BND23,248,430

MINISTRY OF HEALTH – BND573,064,540

MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT & INFOCOMMUNICATIONS (MTIC)
MTIC Dept – BND22,329,370
Civil Aviation Dept – BND26,333,370
Land Transport Dept – BND10,029,400
Meterological Dept – BND3,324,100
E-Govt National Centre – BND51,568,040

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT – BND500,000,000 – Azlan Othman

LegCo members pass BND6.25 billion budget

A BND6.25-billion budget for the 2024-2025 financial year was passed unanimously by Legislative Council (LegCo) members at the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.

Before the budget was passed, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah elaborated on the 12th National Development Plan (RKN 12).

The minister said the Executive Committee of National Development Plan, chaired 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 passed 305 projects in the RKN 12, costing BND4 billion to be implemented until 2030.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew also shared the progress of 221 projects under the RKN 11.

“Some 153 projects under RKN 11 will be brought to RKN 12, while 54 projects have been completed. These projects will contribute to improving the people’s quality of life; increasing economic activity and providing job opportunities for locals; and increasing accessibility of basic facilities and productivity in terms of efficiency and the success of the country,” he said.

An aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan. PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI

The projects include phase two of the opening of commercial rice cultivation areas covering 500 hectares in Kandol, Belait District; the reconstruction of Sultan Hassan Secondary School in Bangar, Temburong District; additional building of Menglait Secondary School; construction of a flyover on Muara-Tutong Highway/housing intersection in Kampong Lugu; 10 electrical projects to strengthen the 11kV/415V system network for the Gadong market area and the 11kV network system from substation 66kV/11kV at Pasir Puteh to PWD Serambangun unit package in Mukim Tanjung Maya, Tutong District.

Others include the construction of Jubli Perak Sengkurong Health Centre and Primary Health Care block; phase two of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium upgrade; water pipe replacement projects and detailed study and management of the non-revenue water division; and digital transformation projects for the National Welfare System (SKN) and Central Account Password Privilege Management Platform.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said 72 projects are in progress, with 57 postponed to the RKN 12.

Seven human resources projects are no longer provided under the RKN due to them being funded under recurring expenses of relevant ministries.

The projects include the i-Ready programme under the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), one civil service leadership project under the Public Service Department and one vocational technical education scholarship project under the Ministry of Education.

Some 95 projects are in various stages of preparation, with 86 postponed to the RKN 12. The remaining nine projects have not been postponed, taking into account changes in planning or absorption into other projects via consolidation and reviews of implementations.

“As a continuation, the RKN 12 will focus on eight visionary and flagship projects as well as long-term goals to ensure the well-being of future generations, such as those that have the potential to change the socio-economic pattern and help the country achieve Brunei Vision 2035,” the minister said.

“BND4 billion has been approved to finance 305 projects for the RKN 12, including BND1.7 billion for 153 postponed projects and BND2.3 billion for 152 new projects.”

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew added that for 24-25FY, BND500 million has been allocated to finance projects under the RKN 12.

“Despite the current challenging fiscal situation, the large provision provided under the RKN 12 is intended as ‘investment in our future’.

“The projects will increase the efficiency and productivity of the parties concerned, in addition to reducing expenses in the long term,” the minister said.

The minister detailed the breakdown of the BND4-billion cost for the RKN 12 as well as the allocated budget for 24-25FY:

BND974.1 million will be used to boost national security, with BND134.8 million allocated for 24-25FY; BND472.3 million to improve educational access facilities with BND43.6 million allocated for 24-25FY; and BND400 million for improving electricity supply with BND34.9 million allocated for 24-25FY.

Meanwhile, BND309.8 million will be provided to improve housing, with BND41.9 million allocated for 24-25FY, and BND257.7 million for increasing food security, with an allocation of BND43.7 million for 24-25FY.

Another BND256.5 million will be provided for health infrastructure, with BND3.2 million allocated for 24-25FY; BND243.5 million to improve the quality of public services with BND10.9 million allocated for 24-25FY; BND233.9 million to strengthen information and communication technology infrastructure with an allocation of BND55.5 million for 24-25FY; and BND226.6 million for ensuring clean water supply with an allocation of BND43.1 million for 24-25FY.

Some, BND114.8 million will be provided for public facilities, with BND23.4 million for 24-25FY; BND93.7 million for improving the efficiency of the transport system, with BND20.7 million allocated for 24-25FY; and BND64.3 million for strengthening the development of Islamic eminence with BND10.1 million allocated for 24-25FY.

Other expenditure includes BND62.5 million to address the risk of natural disasters with BND6.3 million allocated for 24-25FY, and BND52.6 million to deal with climate change, with BND526,100 allocated for 24-25FY.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew added that a research budget of BND48.4 million has been provided with BND1.9 million allocated for 24-25FY; BND43.8 million for industrial development with BND1.1 million allocated for 24-25FY; BND36.4 million for developing the tourism industry with BND7.2 million allocated for 24-25FY; and BND34.5 million for upgrading and increasing the sewerage system and maintaining water quality at rivers with BND4.2 million allocated for 24-25FY.

Additionally, BND19.2 million is provided to achieve environmental sustainability with BND692,900 allocated for 24-25FY; BND13.8 million to prepare master plans for sanitation and sewerage for Brunei Darussalam, the Brunei-Muara District, with BND271,800 allocated for 24-25FY.

Another BND6.6 million is provided for human resource development with BND66.1 thousand allocated for 24-25FY; and BND1.5 million to strengthen quality assurance centres and accreditation with BND150,000 allocated for 24-25FY.

The provisions under savings ideas are provided BND33.6 million with an allocation of BND11.7 million for unexpected but immediate needs.

“The RKN working committee will monitor the progress of these projects, including visits to project sites,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

“With the increase in the number of projects from 221 projects in RKN 11 to 305 projects in RKN 12, all parties, including the private sector have been given an opportunity to contribute to the development of the Sultanate.

“Therefore, the successful implementation of the RKN 12 requires cooperation and cohesion between all ministries as well as non-government agencies, including the private sector, in working together to ensure projects runs smoothly with high quality and guided by standards and best practices.” – Azlan Othman

Rural connectivity, public transportation, energy usage brought up at LegCo meet

Rural telecommunication services, public transportation and energy management in schools came to the fore when members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) deliberated on the budget set for the 12th National Development Plan (RKN 12) during the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said the Unified National Network Sdn Bhd (UNN) has extended its fibre optic network to remote regions in the country.

However, it will “take time” to complete the installation, he added, adding that the Sultanate’s connectivity has surpassed the 90-per-cent mark, with improved latency and adoption of 5G network technology.

The minister was responding to a query from LegCo member Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Sulaiman bin Haji Nasir on connectivity in rural areas.

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Haji Awang Suyoi posed the question of energy usage in schools, with some buildings being at least 30 years old.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

In response, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said that under the RKN 12, BND50 million will be used to kick start energy and water conservation in buildings, and should the budget be insufficient, “we will find other ways”.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Othman called for improvement to the electrical service, citing power outages during lightning storms.

The minister noted that electricity supply falls outside of the RKN 12. However, he shared that a BND400 million project has been initiated to ensure reliability and stability of the national electricity supply.

Yesterday also saw a query by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Isa bin Pengiran Haji Aliuddin regarding plans to beef up the public transportation system, citing public grievances over long waiting time at bus stations or stops, and calling for public transportation to be more elderly-friendly.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha responded by noting the cancellation of a public transportation project in the previous RKN.

He also cited a recent survey where “1,570 participants reported low dependence on public
transportation”.

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Haji Mohd Yusof asked if measures will be carried out to overcome flaws in government construction projects, such as unsatisfactory quality and delay.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew responded by sharing that monitoring of construction projects is done through ad-hoc meetings between government agencies. – Azlan Othman

Utmost emphasis placed on patient confidentiality, says minister

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has put utmost emphasis on patient confidentiality, particularly for those dealing with mental health issues, said Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

The minister was responding to a query from LegCo member Yang Berhormat Hajah Rosmawatty binti Haji Abdul Momin on measures that have been taken to ensure the confidentiality of patients with mental illnesses as they work in establishing normalcy in their daily lives.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also underlined that patients’ medical records can only be accessed by those directly involved in treatment care, such as doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, adding that the only access granted to those outside of the treatment team is the viewing of basic information such as appointment schedules, diagnoses and prescriptions.

For external agencies “to gain access to the psychiatric record, a letter of consent must first be obtained from the patient”, the minister added.

He also highlighted that Bru-HIMS system, which has the capability of tracking access to diagnostic information, and said “any unauthorised or repeated access would prompt further inquiry by the ministry to ascertain the reason behind the action”. – Rokiah Mahmud

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar; and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Hajah Rosmawatty binti Haji Abdul Momin during the 20th session of the LegCo meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
PHOTO: INFOFOTO

DUI offences on the decrease

There has been a decrease in the number of people found driving under the influence (DUI), said Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha, citing data from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) from 2019 to 2023.

He said in 2023, there were three cases of driving under the influence, compared to five in 2022, two in 2021, eight in 2020 and 14 in 2019, adding that drivers caught driving while being affected by alcohol or drugs for the first time face a BND10,000 fine and two-year jail term, while for subsequent offence, a BND20,000 fine and four-year jail term.

Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary was responding to a call by Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Sulaiman bin Haji Nasir to review the penalty for driving under the influence during the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.

The LegCo member also suggested the use of an automated traffic enforcement system at strategic locations to promote road safety, to which the minister said some 287 CCTVs have been installed along the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge. – Rokiah Mahmud

PHOTO: ENVATO

LegCo member calls for delivery service to ease MPC congestion

A call was made to include door-to-door postal delivery service to ease congestion at the Mail Processing Centre (MPC) during the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Zainol bin Mohamed added that such a service would not only improve the efficiency of postal service but also create job opportunities.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha in response said the processes of the MPC are currently being studied with a goal of streamlining the back-end system. At present, he said, the centre can only process mail from abroad after it has touched down on the Sultanate.

Once the mail has undergone x-ray screening by the Royal Customs and Excise Department, it will either be stamped with a green or red label.

He added that green-labelled parcels are delivered directly to customers’ homes, while the red ones can only be collected at the MPC as they require further inspection by customs personnel. – Rokiah Mahmud

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha; and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Zainol bin Mohamed at the 20th session of the LegCo meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Minister highlights accessibility to dementia care

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar underscored the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) commitment to provide accessible and comprehensive healthcare services, including individuals with dementia, during the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

The minister emphasised the importance of early detection and intervention addressing concerns raised by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman regarding dementia prevention, detection, treatment and care.

“Dementia encompasses various types and is typically identified initially by general practitioners or primary healthcare doctors, who would refer the patients to specialised clinics such as neurology, geriatric, or psychiatric clinics,” he said.

The minister also said while treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is available, specific medications for other types of dementia are still being developed. However, he stressed that the focus of dementia care is not only on curing the disease but also on slowing its progression and stabilising patients’ conditions.

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar; and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman during the 20th session of the LegCo meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham emphasised the role of healthy lifestyle habits, including physical and mental activities such as reading, in reducing dementia symptoms.

He highlighted the connection between dementia and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like stroke, diabetes, and hypertension, emphasising the importance of controlling these conditions to reduce the symptoms of dementia.

“To enhance dementia care and support, the MoH commits to providing health surveillance and training for volunteers to offer advice and services to individuals with dementia, their families as well as caregivers.

Recognising potential gaps in current efforts, the ministry plans to increase collaboration with volunteers and stakeholders to address these challenges,” the minister said.

“The ministry, through the Health Promotion Centre, will collaborate with government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Demensia Brunei, to raise awareness about dementia and implement intervention programmes and activities to support individuals affected by the condition,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham added.

Additionally, activities and roadshows have been organised in collaboration with Demensia Brunei, including dementia screening sessions within the community, nationwide health talks at Senior Citizens Activity Centre (PKWE) and WARGAMAS Association, which have received a positive response from senior citizens, the minister said.

Mass media campaigns through radio and social media platforms have been conducted to raise awareness on dementia. In 2023, an international dementia conference in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) was held in Brunei, with local and international participants sharing their knowledge.

Meanwhile, media briefings and banner distributions were conducted in conjunction with Dementia Day 2023 at government offices, department stores and in the private sector.

“The MoH will continue to enhance collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and dementia associations to promptly address dementia-related issues.

“The MoH has devised both short-term and long-term strategies to address elderly care issues, not limited to dementia alone,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said. – Rokiah Mahmud

Minister welcomes suggestions for nurses at schools

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar yesterday welcomed Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Zainol bin Mohamed suggestion on the provision of full time nurses at schools during the 20th session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.

This can be seen at international schools in the country with full time nurses, the minister said.

“This helps students as well as parents if they are sick. However, at the moment, priority is given to hospitals and clinics based on the current size of human resources at the ministry,” the minister added.

Yang Berhormat Awang Zainol said, “This is in line with a number of programmes by the Ministry of Health at schools, while ensuring continuous optimum healthcare for students.”

Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Dr Haji Mahali bin Haji Momin raised a query on the accreditation and the marketable status of students at the JPMC College of Health Sciences (JCHS).

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the college is recognised by the Brunei Darussalam National Accreditation Council (BDNAC), which indirectly means the JCHS is internationally recognised.

JCHS is in the process of arranging accreditation with the American Nursing Board, so that its nursing degree can be recognised in the United States.

“This means those who studied at the college, especially foreign students, can pursue their career abroad,” the minister added.

In 2022, 63 students enrolled at the college, with an increase to 208 students registering the following year. Of this, 137 students are pursuing the Foundation in Science certification and 71 students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. – Rokiah Mahmud

ABOVE & BELOW: Legislative Council (LegCo) members Yang Berhormat Zainol bin Mohamed; and Yang Berhormat Dr Haji Mahali bin Haji Momin. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
PHOTO: INFOFOTO

 

Efforts continue to ensure a safer cyberspace

The National Cyber Security Committee (JKKS) will continue its efforts towards ensuring a safer cyber space and address aspects closely related to cybersecurity – namely people, processes and technology, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha said .

He said this during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday, delivering his welcoming remarks highlighting his ministry‘s budget for 2024-2025 financial year.

It is also established to monitor and update the National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) to ensure its implementation runs smoothly.

“The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) is committed to ensuring a safe and secure digital environment for all users.

“BND8.75 million has been allocated for cybersecurity management for the 2024-2025 financial year,” the minister said.

Among the efforts by Cyber Security Brunei (CSB) to create a resilient digital ecosystem is the implementation of the Cyber Security Order, 2023.

“This will be one of CSB’s main focuses for this financial year, while Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) will focus on the provision of a legal framework for the protection of personal data,” the minister added.

“Public awareness campaigns through BruCERT through various delivery channels including TV and radio as well as social media, will continue, so that no community group is left out in knowing the safety risks in the use of various platforms available online.”

Meanwhile, the Content Advisory Council (CAC), which the MTIC through AITI and the Prime Minister’s Office as joint secretariat is responsible for monitoring content distributed via the Internet or social media, will take regulatory action including legal action, if necessary.

AITI works closely with telecommunication providers in Brunei and related agencies to avoid short message services and websites being used as online scam activities.

The public is advised to report any alleged scams to BruCERT via 2458001, WhatsApp at 7170766 or via email at reporting@brucert. – Azlan Othman

PHOTO: ENVATO

Application for alternative local airline mulled

The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) is considering the application for an alternative local airline by Gallop Air Sdn Bhd and AeroAsia Holdings Corporation to be based in the Sultanate, considering it is now at the pre-application stage.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha revealed this while delivering his ministry’s budget during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Their application received local media coverage and MTIC through the Department of Civil Aviation is considering the proposal to increase the number of flights, passenger movement and cargo towards optimising the Brunei International Airport capacity at present and its expansion, if needed.

Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary added that the proposer should acquire Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO).

“To obtain AOC, the proposer needs to undergo five assessments in the aspect of safety, business modality, efficiency, operational preparedness and aircraft type approval to meet the standards of civil aviation and Brunei Aviation Requirement which are based on International Civil Aviation Organisation standards,” he said.

For the type of aircraft approval, the reference standards used for aircraft possessing certificates is issued by recognised agencies such as Europe Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA US) or Canada. – Azlan Othman

PHOTO: ENVATO

BND138,394,150 budget allocated for MTIC

The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) was allocated a budget of BND138,394,150 for the 2024-2025 financial year during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha said BND113,584,280 will be used for normal expenses including staff salaries and recurring expenses, while the remaining BND24,809,870 will fund expenses under the 12th National Development Plan (RKN 12) which is 14 per cent of the RKN 12 Plan Price.

The minister also shared that in the 2023-2024 financial year, departments under the MTIC contributed more than BND33 million to the government’s income while the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) contributed a revenue of BND20.9 million.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam (MPABD) contributed BND50 million from accumulated income in recent years.

He said following the establishment of statutory bodies – AITI and MPABD as regulators – the MTIC can be seen as capable of adding value in terms of improving the quality and efficiency of services and also increasing government revenue to contribute to the national economy. – Azlan Othman

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Automatic transmission driving test in the pipeline

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha 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 has consented to the amendment of the Road Traffic Order Schedule to introduce the 3A vehicle driving license category, giving the public the option and facilities to drive cars with automatic transmission.

He said this during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

He added that in the Land Transport Department’s (JPD) continuous efforts to modernise the existing regulations, those choosing the 3A driving license class are not allowed to drive vehicles with manual transmission to enhance focus on safe driving ethics and training.

On public transportation, Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary said the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) and JPD are discussing the previous strategic plan that is sustainable and viable, taking into account the connectivity and reliability of public bus services on core network routes to widen the preparedness of on-demand services, establish performance standards and to introduce a management system focused on vehicle monitoring and passenger comfort.

The requested proposal for the provision of public transport services for the core routes is targeted to be issued mid-year, the minister said.

“In order to support these efforts, an allocation of BND11.7 million under the 12th National Development Plan has been prepared as an initial step.

This will upgrade public transport infrastructure by repairing bus stop facilities on core routes according to guidelines of bus stop design standards,” he said.

Meanwhile, other efforts include the Smart Transport System Project (STS) with an estimated cost of BND7 million to create a technology-based transport network management and operation system.

Increasing the reliability of public transport services through the provision of real-time information, cashless payment options and on-demand transport (e-hailing) services were also highlighted.

The minister said this project will be able to increase the effectiveness of enforcement on commercial vehicles (public transport and heavy vehicles) and improve traffic safety. – Azlan Othman

Attendees during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

No ‘official discussion’ yet on proposed Trans Borneo Railway, says minister

There has been no official discussion at the government level on a Trans Borneo Railway in which Malaysian media recently reported that a cross-border rail study will begin this year, said Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha during the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

He said this in response to a query from LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Salleh Bostaman bin Haji Zainal Abidin on the news agency’s report.

He added, “Even though there has been no official discussion at government level about it, at the ASEAN level, there is an ASEAN Railway SubWorking Group which discusses matters related to railway connectivity within ASEAN so this matter may be raised in the future.”

The minister said his ministry is aware of the aspirations of the companies to provide train services within Borneo but it still requires further study, especially in terms of feasibility, investment, liability and commitment from interested parties including commitment at the government level. – Azlan Othman

MTIC records drop in fatal accident cases

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha said there has been a drop in the number of fatal cases due to road accidents, from 20 cases in 2022 to 14 cases in 2023.

The cases resulting in injuries due to road accidents increased to 364 in 2023, he said.

He said this at the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

The minister added that “every accident is one too many” and it is recommended that all parties, especially road users, cooperate in ensuring the safety for all. Additionally, the National Road Safety Council (MKKJR) will continue to implement integrated efforts with agencies concerned to make the roads safer for all.

Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary added several initiatives were launched to continue supporting existing strategic planning, including: Implementing road safety co-curricular activities in schools to foster a culture of road safety for all users; Creating a framework in collaboration with non-governmental organisations in managing programmes to further improve road safety; and conducting the International Road Assessment Programme (IRAP) on highways and main roads in the Sultanate.

Meanwhile, other efforts include providing the 2023 edition of the Highway Code which has been updated to focus on behaviour while driving and carrying out enforcement activities. – Azlan Othman

The 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting in progress. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Minister highlights achievements

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad yesterday outlined progress achieved in the past four years during the 20th session of the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The minister said 862 out of 1,965 (over 40 per cent) individuals registered at JobCentre Brunei have secured employment. From this figure, 39 per cent or 337 individuals, received assistance from the Community Development Department (JAPEM), the Zakat, Wakaf and Baitulmal Affairs Department, and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Yayasan).

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi said 160 individuals registered under JAPEM are engaged in entrepreneurial activities while 209 aid recipients have joined training and capacity-building programmes conducted in collaboration with Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) and the Youth Development Centre (PPB).

The minister said 77 families living in hardship or affected by mishaps have received temporary housing assistance. The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS) also collaborated with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Development (MoD), the Zakat, Wakaf and Baitulmal Affairs Department, and Yayasan to build and repair 68 houses since 2020.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad during the 20th session of the Legislative Council meeting. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi said with the amended Old Age and Disability Pensions Act, individuals receiving two assistance – old age pension and persons with different abilities (OKU) allowance – increased from 152 to 728. Of the 5,900 OKU allowance recipients, 1,200 also received care provider allowance.

The minister also noted an increase in youth engagement with over 50,000 participants in capacity-building programmes. There was a four-per-cent increase in engagement activities led by the youth as well as 30-per-cent rise in business start-ups by youth generating income amounting to BND930,000.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi said 13 youth are engaged in agriculture, cultivating 55 hectares of land to help increase rice production by 208.28 tonnes valuing over BND550,000.

The minister noted that there has been a 22-per-cent increase in national athletes with over 800 athletes participating in capacity-building programmes annually. Achievements include 13 elite athletes securing 18 medals – five gold, five silver and eight bronze – in various regional and international competitions.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi said there had been an increase in community capacity-building activities benefiting over 156,000 participants since 2020.

Some 8,925 materials and reference sources covering language, literature, Jawi script, heritage, culture and history were published. Of the publications, 63 per cent were published by the Language and Literature Bureau, 23 per cent from the Brunei History Centre and 14 per cent by the Museums Department.

The minister also noted that the 40th National Day celebration saw over 41,000 participants, highlighting unity, patriotism and support for Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).  – Rokiah Mahmud

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