Royal call for RBPF to set bar high for training policies

Lyna Mohamad

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 emphasised the need for the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) to set high standards for its training policies, during an unscheduled visit to the Special Operations Squad (PGK) Complex in Kampong Sungai Akar yesterday.

“The PGK is an elite force and the pride of the RBPF. The squad’s preparedness, vitality and prestige should be given priority, so that it is capable of performing its assigned duties and responsibilities,” said His Majesty.

“The PGK must be constantly aware of the people’s high expectations for its personnel in carrying out their responsibilities towards the peace and security of this country.

“The RBPF has obviously undertaken a number of initiatives and efforts to increase and bolster the fitness level of the PGK personnel, through improving the training and requirements, particularly in terms of logistics and infrastructure, in addition to maintaining the overall image of the force, following my previous visit (in October 2019).”

His Majesty said, “Nevertheless, there are still issues and problems that require appropriate attention and action.

“In my view, it is vital for the RBPF to have an outstanding training policy, which, among other things, determines the selection of officers and personnel who are qualified to undergo any type of mandatory training within the force.

“PGK should give priority to the standards of training; therefore the RBPF needs to set standards for each type of training to be carried out. The methods used to determine these standards should be up-to-date and internationally recognised.

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 a visit to the Special Operations Squad (PGK) Complex in Kampong Sungai Akar. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
His Majesty at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) at Old Airport

“I do hope that the PGK has the current expertise for the establishment of such standards. If so, then who is responsible for deciding their proficiency in this matter?

“All this while, how has the PGK been making sure that the training is up to the established standards?

“I would like the Operations Department to make operational movement plans or operations for the short term and the long term, which should set the policy and standards related to PGK training.

“I am delighted to learn of the joint exercises between the PGK and the Special Forces Regiment of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), which allows both sides to exchange views and knowledge, as well as improve proficiency and promoting professionalism.

“I welcome the PGK’s plan for involvement in joint training with elite squads on a regional and international level, as well as locally,” His Majesty said.

On leadership, the monarch said, “All organisations need to have a competent leader – particularly when in charge of an elite team – who is disciplined, willing to look after the welfare of personnel and listen to the problems of subordinates. These are some of the most important qualities in leading an elite team.

“Selfish behaviour such as the arbitrary adjustment of existing policies, according to personal capacity, is inappropriate. So too is issuing orders and penalties, which change according to whim and not following proper procedures.

“Standard operational procedures (SOPs) definitely need to be carried out, such as the fitness training set out for the PGK personnel. The complete 3km run in special PGK gear has been replaced with a 1.6km run with the personnel wearing only vests.

“This should not be allowed to happen. Moreover, it can compromise the personnel’s performance standards and physical strength.

“It is my view that the RBPF should make plans for the immediate replacement of leadership at the PGK. The candidates must not only be mature, but also qualified and possess leadership qualities that are apposite to the awarding of the PGK Barrett and badge. They should not be chosen due to partisanship or cronyism.

“It is my hope that the PGK will have the right officers in the right posts.

“I would also remind the superiors to be committed in the handling of personnel issues and the infrastructure at the PGK Complex such as water problems, building construction and the shooting range, as well as the expansion and restoration of the obstacles course area to ensure quality and effective training. If the equipment and infrastructure are all in good condition, then surely this would guarantee the safety of the personnel and boost their morale when undergoing training.

“In ensuring safety during training, are there any training safety regulations within the RPBF in the PGK?

“Aside from this, particular attention should be made to other operational assets such as vehicles, which are reportedly insufficient in number.

“It is surprising if the PGK only has a few operational units to the extent of borrowing vehicles from the Department of Criminal Intelligence.

“If this is true, then it will affect the effectiveness of the PGK’s operations in carrying out its roles and responsibilities. How can the PGK perform according to expectations if it lacks vehicles that are functioning properly?

“I would like these issues to be addressed in an appropriate manner, by the relevant parties. Any amelioration plans for PGK, such as human resources development, the acquisition of equipment and assets, as well as the maintenance of infrastructure, should not be done only on paper. These issues should be noted and all developments reported back to me.

“The relevant parties must give their cooperation in ensuring the effective functioning of plans so that the PGK can perform its duties and responsibilities as an elite squad on par with its regional counterparts,” the monarch said.

During the unscheduled visit, His Majesty took a closer look on the squad’s equipment and weaponry.

The PGK was previously known as the Special Section during its establishment in 1974. In 1980, the section was named Pasukan Gerak Khas (PGK) or Special Operations Squad, with the role of safeguarding His Majesty and the royal family members, in addition to combatting terrorism, criminals and militants.

His Majesty also made an unscheduled visit to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) at Old Airport, after concluding his visit at the PGK Complex.