Minister tells Red Crescent Society to increase preparedness

James Kon

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong yesterday called on the Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to explore the possibility of expanding its membership, especially among students and youth to create greater awareness and understanding of its vision and mission in helping the community.

“Living in a world of uncertainties, facing constant changes and challenges and with a small population, everyone is an asset,” he said.

The minister as the guest of honour at the colloquium on International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the basic principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) at the newly launched Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent National Headquarters and Academy at Upper Level, Bunut Post Office yesterday also underscored the importance of further engaging youth and students.

Highlighting the importance of preparedness during the coronavirus outbreak, the minister said, “We have experienced natural disasters and calamities in the region for many years. The outbreak of coronavirus is the latest issue to affect the world.

“It is therefore important to maintain and strengthen preparedness, enhance our capacity and capability in responding to disasters and to strengthen the resilience of the community. This requires closer cooperation and collaboration between government agencies, NGOs and the community.”

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong during the event. PHOTO: JAMES KON

The minister also noted the activities of the BDRCS and its role as an auxiliary of the public authority in promoting and disseminating IHL.

Since 2010, it has been increasingly involved in Southeast Asia’s regional activities and hosted regional events particularly on organisational development and disaster preparedness.

The BDRCS also undertakes a range of activities and programmes at national level. Some activities are focussed on serving the community, for example first aid, strengthening volunteerism and disaster management and preparedness, he said.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar also expressed that the BDRCS has been working closely and continuously with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) Brunei Darussalam under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As a strategic partner of NDMC, the BDRCS has participated in national initiatives in collaboration with the NDMC, he said.

“Among them are providing assistance in receiving and record-tracking public donations to the NDMC following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, providing assistance to the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) in flood relief and rehabilitation activities and successfully preparing the Disaster Preparedness Coordinator (DPC) Programme organised August last year. In this connection, on behalf 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 Government and NDMC in particular, I wish to extend our appreciation to the BDRCS for the support and cooperation in these programmes.”

ICRC Kuala Lumpur Regional Delegation Deputy Head of Zurab Burduli said the world has become more polarised than ever and the global humanitarian landscape had drastically changed in the past 20 decades.

“If we want the RCRC Movement to continue to be relevant, we need to adapt to the changing environment while maintaining our unique identity and remain guided by our fundamental principles,” he said.

Burduli said it is important for leaders of the national society, particularly members of the council and the board to set the vision of the national society and be the champion of the main humanitarian issues in the country.

“The Board steers the development of the national society to be able to provide humanitarian services in the most efficient and effective way,” he said.

Burduli praised the Brunei Government for the continuous commitment to IHL and noted that Brunei is one of the few countries in the region party to the four Geneva Conventions 1949 and to additional protocol I and II of the Geneva Conventions.

Since ratifying these treaties in 1991, Brunei Darussalam has not stopped committing to IHL. In September 2018, Brunei signed the treaty on the prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which outrightly bans the use, stockpiling, transfer and production of nuclear weapon, guaranteeing the safety of this generation and generation to come, he said.

He also hoped that Brunei will be part of the first 50 states to ratify the TPNW bringing it into force expeditiously as TPNW requires at least 50 states to ratify the treaty before coming into force.

Participants also attended session on introduction and overview of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, IFRC, ICRC & BDRCS and History of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement of IFRC, ICRC and BDRCS.