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 yesterday described 2020 as a challenging year for Brunei and the rest of the world, with the spread of the coronavirus, which has significantly impacted global socio-economic growth.
In the titah broadcast nationwide from Istana Nurul Iman on the eve of the New Year, the monarch said, “Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, we managed to contain the virus from further spreading, thanks to the integrated efforts of the relevant parties, together with the involvement and cooperation of the country’s citizens and residents, in consistently practising the teachings of our faith as a ‘vaccine’.”
His Majesty said, “Regarding matters of security, in August 2020, I gave my consent to the establishment of Cyber Security Brunei, as a national cybersecurity agency to safeguard against incidents and cyber-threats.
“Brunei is also elated with the development of digital transformation, towards achieving the aspirations of Brunei as a Smart Nation.
“To reach this aspiration, the expansion of continuous strategic cooperation between the relevant parties is vital in ensuring the provision of human capital that are skilled in reaching the development of a Smart City.
“On the matter of local employment, Alhamdulillah, in 2020, 9,317 locals were hired in the private sector, compared to 9,066 in 2019.
“The government, through the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), will enhance efforts through JobCentre Brunei (JCB) and the public and private sector, in expanding more job opportunities for locals.
“It is my hope that those employed in the private sector will observe a working culture of high integrity, responsibility and in adherence to the laws.
“Diminishing morals and ethics in carrying out a trust can become the reason for corruption, breach of trust or power abuse for personal gain. I am convinced that if these elements are eradicated, Insya Allah, this country will be secure and constantly blessed.
“My government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), has also formulated an economic blueprint as a pathway towards resilience in economic development.
“This aspiration can be achieved with the strong support from the relevant parties. I would like to see this economic policy capable of boosting national productivity through effective innovation and coordination.
“The issue of food security is also our main agenda, in ensuring a basic food supply that is adequate.”
As Brunei takes on the helm of ASEAN Chairmanship in 2021, the monarch said, “The country and its regional partners must work together to transform and strengthen economic, education and security sectors, while also giving more opportunities to boost ASEAN citizens’ skills.
“In 2021, Brunei Darussalam will assume the Chairmanship ASEAN, with summits carrying the theme of ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’. This theme reflects the focus on the welfare of the people of ASEAN.
“Priority will be given for the implementation of initiatives that enable ASEAN member countries to be more agile in maintaining the welfare of the people of their respective countries, especially in the face of any future crises or disasters.”
“At the same time, the people of ASEAN must be given the opportunity to enhance their skills and capabilities, so that they will be more prepared to meet challenges, and quick to seize opportunities amid rapid technological advances and global transformation.
“In this respect, Brunei should work shoulder-to-shoulder with its ASEAN partners to make changes through the strengthening of the state, economic, educational and security systems, based on issued blueprints, master and strategic plans, whether on the ministerial or national level.”
His Majesty concluded by saying, “I would like to express my profound appreciation to all civil service staff, private sector employees and security teams, as well as volunteers, for carrying out their respective duties and responsibilities throughout 2020.
“My family and I wish the citizens and residents of this country, including those stationed abroad, a Happy New Year 2021. May Allah the Almighty continue to bless us all, and may Brunei Darussalam remain secure and safe under His protection. Aamiin.”