The Yayasan - symbol of His Majesty's generosity for people of Brunei
By James Kon & Azaraimy HH

On October 5, 1992, the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation) - famously known as the Yayasan - was established, to serve as the channel for charitable endowments by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and members of his family, and as a symbol of His Majesty's care and affection toward his subjects.

According to the managing director of the Yayasan, Dato Paduka Haji Ali Hashim bin Hj Daud, in an exclusive interview, the Yayasan operates on the basis of five principles, namely: education, welfare, religion, development and finance.

Touching on the principle of education, Dato Hj Ali Hashim said, "We are now in the progress of building a secondary school. Secondary classes were established a few years ago, and soon they will be housed in their own campus, which is due to be completed by the end of December, and located at the same site as the Yayasan School."

The cost to build the secondary school is around $14 million, Dato Hj Ali Hashim revealed. Currently, there are some 900 students at the Yayasan School, comprising of 300 in kindergarten, 500 at primary level and 100 at secondary.

Regarding scholarship, the managing director said, "We provide scholarships to students who are in need of assistance with regard to payment of school fees, and the purchase of books, stationery, uniform et al. This applies especially to needy families with financial problems.

"Sometimes, parents sent their children for overseas studies but encounter financial difficulties; the Yayasan will assist with the final year fiscal needs, just so the students could complete their studies.

"The Yayasan also provides financial assistance for research and development projects by institutions of higher learning like UBD, ITB and technical colleges. For example, the Yayasan once helped fund a UBD conference," Dato Hj Ali Hashim said.

This year, His Majesty consented to provide educational scholarships to three outstanding students to continue their studies in top schools in the UK, Dato Hj Ali Hashim said proudly. "In terms of education, it was the most prominent achievement of the Yayasan so far. His Majesty the Sultan's Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship in Brunei."

The Yayasan is intended at improving the quality of life and the well-being of His Majesty's subject, by providing assistance to alleviate the suffering of the less fortunate, such as the needy, the disabled and victims of disasters, Dato Hj Ali Hashim said.

"Lately, we provided some victims of fire with funds for their daily needs, as well as to help their homes," the Yayasan MD disclosed. Possibly, the Yayasan's welfare assistance is best exemplified by the Kampong Bolkiah A and B projects, founded to house victims of fire in Kampong Ayer about 10 years ago.

There were 226 houses built in Kampong Bolkiah A, while there were 250 in Kampong Bolkiah B.

But the Yayasan's welfare arms don't just reach out locally, they extend overseas as well. The Yayasan undertook to coordinate the construction of a new community in tsunami-hit Aceh, comprising of 70 houses, a mosque, a communal health centre and an Islamic religious school, Dato Hj Ali Hashim revealed. Members of the public provided most of the funding for the project, which is expected to be fully completed by September this year.

Another project which the Yayasan is proud of is the job-start project jointly organised with the Kemuda Agency, in which youths are trained with marketing-skills to aid them in their job search. "We also provide help for patients who are not eligible under the government scheme of assistance - like permanent residents - to get treatment or operation," said Dato Hj Ali Hashim.

Other note-worthy projects of the Yayasan are the free tuition classes at Kampong Bolkiah, in which professionals from various fields volunteered their services to teach children who would be taking their PSR (Primary Certificate of Examination), as well as the construction of homes for the indigents and Muslim converts in all parts of the country.

The Yayasan gives financial assistance for students to further their religious education, said Dato Hj Ali Hashim. It also helps mosques not build by the government to organise religious activities - especially during the month of Ramandhan - that could help to propagate Islam, he added.

Meanwhile, the Yayasan would participate in developmental activities by non-government agencies, and may participate in commercial ventures that are consistent with its principles and objectives.

Speaking on the future, Dato Hj Ali Hashim said that Yayasan is currently discussing with several non-government organisations on projects to help the needy, which is in line with His Majesty's titah on the eve of the Hari Raya celebration. - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2006)