Royal concern over youth exploitation
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday expressed his concern on the exploitation of youth's weaknesses by certain quarters for their own interest.

His Majesty called on the nation to take it seriously and find a solution to overcome it.

In delivering his titah to observe the first National Youth Day celebration 2006 at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas yesterday, His Majesty said there are youths who are exploited in selling entertainment products and costumes that are contradictory to our norms.

The monarch cited reasons for targeting youths such as their characteristics and physiological factors as they are easily influenced by trends that are new and hot. Some parties take advantage of these opportunities without minding their consequences.

"Exploitation of youth weaknesses should not be left unchecked and needs to be taken seriously and handled by all of us, especially youth leaders. Programmes to inject awareness should be organised including for parents and the community as a whole before it becomes a chronic social issue.

"I'm made to understand that the impact of the products in the form of entertainment and costume on youths are minimal as it is only seasonal and does not last long. But we should not forget that every seed sown will be harvested. We should be cautious and strive towards excellence," the Sultan said.

His Majesty also said that the youth are the pride of the nation and it is the group that can shape the future and fulfill the nation's aspirations. "Normally, the youth have their own programme and agenda, and they act and think on their own. They are young and energetic and are capable of carrying out many tasks.

"A concerned society will not neglect them, instead take good care of them. The control elders try to exercise on the youth should not be viewed as a restriction but as guidance. We should not bow to the influences of money and if the youth of the country are not properly guided what will happen to the country and its future?" His Majesty asked.

"As future leaders, the youth should not portray an image incompatible with the Bruneian identity or mould. For instance, religious piety is part of the people's identity, so is life that upholds our customs and traditions, which are priceless. Bruneians are known for their values, care for others and respect for the elderly. These run strong in the Bruneian culture.

"Youths should also have marketable skills in the field of education and vocational skills, which can be achieved through academic and specialised training.

"In view of this, my government provides educational institutions for youth to acquire knowledge and expertise and opens doors for Brunei to achieve excellence for a long time to come," said the monarch.

His Majesty also said that youths are a valuable asset in the context of nation building and are active contributors, particularly in the voluntary field. "I value their involvement in this field as it reflects sincerity and willingness to sacrifice. Without such spirit, voluntary activities will not be realised.

"I am convinced that voluntarism in a citizen determines the progress achieved by a nation as a willing heart opens a thousand doors. This is the strength and specialty of voluntarism," said His Majesty. In concluding his titah, His Majesty said in commemorating the presence of youth leaders from every corner of the nation, he wished to declare August 1 as National Youth Day.

Also in attendance were His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Azim, HRH Prince Abdul Malik and HRH Prince Abdul Mateen.

His Majesty also consented to present awards to eight leaders who contributed to the development of youth in the Sultanate.

They are: Pg Setia Negara Pg Dr. Hj Mohd Yusuf, Pg. Jaya Indera Pg. Hj Mokhtar Puteh, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Hj Awg Abul Aziz, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr. Ustaz Hj Awg Mohd Zain, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Utama Dato Paduka Hj Jaya, Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Lela Dato Seri Paduka (Dr.) Hj Awg Hussein, Pg. Dato Paduka Hj Badaruddin and Pg. Hj Suhaimi. - Borneo Bulletin (2nd August 2006)