| Azlan Othman |
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 said the nation will see better economic growth in 2019 but urged his countrymen not to be complacent or satisfied as many challenges lie in wait.
In a New Year 2019 titah aired over RTB last night, His Majesty said the nation is thankful to Allah the Almighty for being able to step into year 2019 in peace and prosperity while people in other parts of the world are grappling with various catastrophes.
“Without doubt, this is a special reward from Allah the Almighty to us. We are obliged to be thankful,” the monarch said. “In the economic context, Alhamdulillah, the forecast for growth for 2019 is predicted to be better. But we should not be complacent or satisfied as there are many challenges that lie ahead.”
Among the main concerns is the fourth industrial revolution. The effective way to deal with the economy is via our participation in global networks to upgrade our productivity and opportunities, by ensuring that we fulfil the prerequisites for standards and regulations, besides being able to adapt ourselves with digital technology, His Majesty said.
The monarch added that this requires Brunei to enhance cooperation with other nations. In the global economic network, Bruneians need to take the existing opportunities, including in the ASEAN region whereby ASEAN e-trade has the potential to increase from USD30 billion in 2016 to USD200 billion by 2025.
The technological developments brought about by the fourth industrial revolution will however challenge our conventional skills and require us to enhance our existing skills and undergo lifelong learning, His Majesty stressed.
“From such far-reaching economic effects, we need to provide appropriate policies to forge regional and international cooperation, especially in the context of networking in the ASEAN region, where we need to strive towards an ASEAN Community. By doing so, we are able to ascertain the success of the present and future generations,” His Majesty said.
“The ASEAN region is growing fast economically. It is expected to be the fourth-largest economy globally by 2030. Towards this, we need to step up efforts to empower intra-ASEAN trade,” the Sultan added.
The ruler added that domestically, steps to advance the nation are not neglected.
“We continue to march forward to attain our targets, in other words, the needs of the nation and people are prioritised,” the monarch said. “We see this with a broader perspective for the long-term. For instance, when we talk about ‘Green Earth’, we mean towards self-sufficiency in agriculture. This is our target or aspiration. We will uphold it until we succeed.
“The relevant authorities in the government need to understand this without any excuses to ignore it. We must be consistent to march forward and not step backwards. This is what we mean by developing with full spirit and determination. It is very crucial to ensure that the people are not plagued with ‘lazy syndrome’.”
His Majesty also pointed out that it is important that Bruneians not stray from decent values that have become our foothold for centuries, an example of which is the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy.
“In conclusion, to mark this New Year 2019, I urge citizens and residents to strengthen their determination and efforts to become a more proactive and productive society with integrity to face future challenges,” His Majesty added.
“I also express my appreciation to all levels of staff in the public service, the security services and the private sector for their sincere efforts in executing their tasks and responsibilities throughout 2018.
“My family and I also wish a Happy New Year 2019 to all citizens and residents, including those working abroad, and we pray for Allah the Almighty to bless us all with strong faith, health, peace and prosperity for all.”