Early bonus for govt servants
By M K Anwar

Public servants in the country will be receiving their bonuses early beginning this year.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced this in a titah at the Audience and Investiture ceremony at the Istana Nurul Iman's Throne Room in conjunction with His Majesty's 61st birthday.

His Majesty also spoke on the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs, as well as public services, environment and national security.

His Majesty yesterday also consented to bestow titles and medals to 25 people.

Calling the peace and prosperity the country has been enjoying as blessings from Allah the Almighty, His Majesty said, "It is also due to the solidarity and cooperation of the rakyat". The ruler called for these values to be preserved and strengthened for the development and prosperity of the country.

Highlighting on the efforts to enhance the economy, His Majesty said that cooperation and services are the two basic factors that are capable of pacing the development and strengthening SMEs for short and long term benefits.

"Government agencies must also provide an avenue for the growth and development of SMEs so that they will become a sector that can together help develop the nation," said the monarch.

In order to attain economic excellence, all parties must appreciate the contribution of SMEs and together assist them in overcoming their problems, His Majesty added.

His Majesty urged agencies that are still using regulations and processes that can hinder SMEs' achievements and prevent them from delivering an efficient service to change their attitude.

The ruler, at the same time, also called on SMEs to become more creative and independent in exploring businesses, whether locally or abroad.

The Government of His Majesty has provided several avenues (for SMEs) to facilitate business, which are aimed at encouraging more locals to enter the business foray.

"I want to especially see SMEs seize this opportunity," said the ruler.

His Majesty is confident that with proper planning, the country can produce trained entrepreneurs that can be the pioneers of the export industry. "If this happens, it will provide us the chance to put our local products in the regional and international market.

"In the fast flow of development anything new must be acted on with intelligence," said the ruler.

Energy issues, specifically oil and gas, are the closest examples, said His Majesty.

"We must realise that these two natural resources will not last forever."

A saving attitude in the use of energy is the best way (to move forward) for all public and private agencies and also individuals, the ruler reminded.

Another challenge to development is the impact of the environment.

Lately, we have experienced flash floods, landslides and mud filled rivers and although they were not as bad as those experienced by others, His Majesty perceived that the situation is undeniably a warning that we must not neglect. Evaluating the effectiveness of proper planning and construction of infrastructure in the country should be given utmost importance.

Natural disasters and pollution can be seen as two related issues with pollution as a result of our way of living.

"For example, dirty drains, markets, restaurants and others are caused by the way of living that does not emphasise cleanliness.

"This issue must not be neglected," His Majesty pointed out.

The appropriate government agencies must be ready to tackle it with proper management and if needed, the enforcement of laws or acts without any compromise, said the ruler.

His Majesty said that all these are related directly with the process and service mechanism.

"We must always study and update the regulations, procedures and laws that are related to public services."

The aim is to have an effective, customer friendly, fair and visionary service.

An example of a service that is in need is when we are able to lessen the burden of others such as by reducing the waiting time, expediting the decision making process and also providing an easy way for people to interact with the government.

These services include those in the field of security, His Majesty said.

The Sultan added that prosperity and security must continue to be emphasised as our basic needs.

Towards this, the appropriate agencies must take firm steps. Besides, cooperation from the community is paramount, especially in providing information, if any, on suspicious activities that can undermine the security of the nation.

Touching on security, His Majesty reiterated that the government agencies would continue to enhance regional and international cooperation for the benefit of all.

Through these relations with other friendly states and also world organisations, the country can further achieve its aims, the ruler said.

His Majesty underlined the importance of faith in the religion, saying no matter what we do whether in our development, education and security, we should continue to seek blessings from Allah the Almighty.

"We must never forget that peace and prosperity are the blessings of Allah the Almighty and we must always be thankful," His Majesty said.

The monarch also spoke of the establishment of two higher educational institutions - University Islam Sultan Sharif Ali and the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College - that should perform their duties in producing an excellent generation.

The caring monarch announced that bonuses for all government staff including security personnel would henceforth be given out a month early.

The annual bonus, which normally is given at the end of January, will now be given at the end of December. The change takes effect beginning this year.

The early bonus, said His Majesty, can help those especially in the low-income group to tide over new school year preparations for their children.

Before concluding the titah, His Majesty expressed his appreciation and thanks to all who have continued to support the Government of His Majesty and also those who are involved in the preparation for the birthday celebration. - Borneo Bulletin (16th July 2007)