Forum gathers youth to envision Brunei’s future

Danial Norjidi

The 13th edition of the Brunei Chevening Youth Forum (BCYF) took place at The Core, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.

It was hosted by Chevening Alumni Brunei, the Brunei Youth Council and the Young Professionals Network Brunei (YPN).

Highlighting the theme ‘Smart Youth for a Smart Nation’, the forum saw Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof attending as guest of honour and delivering a keynote address. This was followed by a conversation with youth participants, moderated by Director of ASEAN and Corporate Affairs at the UK-ASEAN Business Council and Chevening alumnus Allen Lai.

The one-day forum featured six key sessions, including a panel discussion on ‘Realising the Smart Nation Together’, while breakout sessions in the afternoon focussed on entrepreneurship, employability and future-ready society, during which participants were given the opportunity to envision the transformation that they could anticipate joined by leading entrepreneurs and social innovators as speakers.

The forum also had a ‘Perspektiv’ open mic session where participants were provided the space to collectively re-imagine and deliberate the future of Brunei.

In addition, the forum featured presentations on the Digital Economy Masterplan by the Smart Nation Office and National Youth Policy and Strategy (DBNS) 2020-2035 by the Brunei Youth Council.

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari. PHOTOS: DANIAL NORJIDI
British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe

Legislative Council member and President of Chevening Alumni Brunei Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari officiated the forum and delivered welcoming remarks.

“The theme this year, ‘Smart Youth for a Smart Nation’ truly resonates with the needs of the youth today,” she said. “The past year has been a challenge for all of us, globally, but at the same time it has pushed us to challenge ourselves in exploring new opportunities and drove digital transformation in the country. The use of BruHealth as well as online learning has been crucial in increasing awareness and urgency to master digital literacy. Suddenly it’s possible to have meetings online and to do work remotely.”

She added that the theme is also a response to Brunei’s current transformative phase of socio-economic development driven by digital transformation underpinned by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which calls for youth to be leaders and co-creators in the realisation of a Smart Nation.

“We are already seeing digital transformation in action. The increase in e-commerce activities, online learning and e-sports has demonstrated the capacity in which society, especially our young generation, is capable of expanding in the wake of digital revolution,” she said.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe, as a special guest, said, “The United Kingdom (UK) Government is delighted to support the forum through our Chevening Alumni Fund. It is fantastic to see so many Chevening alumni here today as well as members of the YPN and Brunei Youth Council.

“You have chosen a great topic for this forum. Young people are at the forefront of our digitising world. Governments and businesses need to respond to your priorities, needs and concerns.”

The high commissioner described the BCYF as “a great platform that brings together young leaders to discuss how you, the smart youth, can build the Smart Nation of the future”.

The forum gathered over 250 young people from across all districts and featured more than 25 speakers, moderators and facilitators.

Founder and Convener of the BCYF Fatin Arifin said, “The theme is quite an exciting one this time for us especially at this juncture where Brunei is actively adapting and seeking to transform into a Smart Nation as part of our national aspiration to be globally competitive.”