Call to keep up with rapid technological advances

James Kon

Senior government officials are urged to promote progress and keep up with the ever-changing environment, particularly with the rise of rapid technological developments, said Minister of Defence II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof during the 16th Executive Development Programme (EDP) on Public Policy and Management for senior government officials yesterday.

“We are well aware that change is inevitable. In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, we are seeing rapid changes in the area of communications and technological advancements. There is urgency for us to keep pace and adapt in an already complex environment,” the minister said.

Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi recalled excerpts 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 during the country’s 37th National Day celebration, saying, “His Majesty stressed that an independent nation must keep abreast of development and create progress.”

He continued, “The progress which His Majesty stated is in the physical and spiritual development, and both must go hand in hand to fulfil the nation’s needs in which His Majesty viewed that, ‘we need quality human capital that is determined and educated in worldly and spiritual aspects as well as capable in meeting all challenges’.

“This particular titah underlines the importance of being holistic and balanced in our development, reminding us that in an ever-changing environment, we must always develop ourselves, grow and adapt to take advantage of new opportunities, while ensuring relevance in the face of challenges to remain independent, secure and resilient,” the minister added.

Minister of Defence II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof speaks at the ceremony. PHOTO: JAMES KON

On the challenges in facing the COVID-19 outbreak, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi said, “It has been nearly two years since the outbreak, which brought another layer of complexity, affecting social, economic and security aspects of the society. With the recent rolling out of national vaccination programmes, we hope to see a semblance of normalcy and begin to move towards a recovery phase.”

Given the growing uncertainties, he said, “governments continue to face difficulties in balancing priorities for the benefit of the people and nation within the constraints of resources, thus reinforcing the need for a whole-of-government and nation approach”.

The Ministry of Defence (MinDef), he said, “will undertake a holistic defence strategy as we pursue to be a formidable armed forces and reliable partner, in the approach to achieve the national development agenda and realisation of Brunei Vision 2035.

“As elaborated in the recently launched Defence White Paper 2021, there are much to explore through collaboration, especially by leveraging on science and technology, as well as strengthening collaboration in research and development to remain steadfast, and future-ready”.

Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi also touched on the importance of the Policy Exercise Papers (PAE), saying, “I am delighted to see varying coverage of policy areas from social, economic, security, financial, cyber and media as well as transport and environment. I am most encouraged that key stakeholders continue to be consulted and engaged throughout the process. I believe this approach provides a significant contribution to national conversations relating to the country’s development.”

With the active participation of representatives from different ministries and wide backgrounds along with military friends from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, he expressed, “I am certain this opened up broader perspectives and enriched the learning experience.”

The minister also called on each EDP participant to keep in mind and appreciate the process of dialogue, practice and embed the approach as a government and nation, as well as be sensitive and pro-active to achieve positive changes.