Royal vision for future leaders
By Sonia K

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday afternoon consented to receive a 'Junjung Ziarah and Ramah Mesra' from 17 outstanding Bruneian students - 14 recipients of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Supreme Commander Scholarship and three recipients of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship - at the Istana Nurul Iman.

Present at the ceremony were the Deputy Minister of Defence, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Paduka Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar; Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Md Yussof; and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat. Also present were the parents of the proud scholars.

During the get-together, the 17 students got a chance to introduce themselves to His Majesty and thank him personally for the scholarship.

As the challenges and opportunities in global security and defence become more complex, the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) with the release of 2004 Defence White Paper and Defence White Paper Update 2007 has identified the importance of maintaining operational readiness for national defence, and also the need for transformation, not only in force structure, but in the development of the country's human resources.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Defence, it was with the intention of realising this vision that His Majesty has consented to introduce the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship Scheme in August 2005 followed by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) Scholarship Scheme initiated in February 2006. The schemes are aimed at attracting and grooming exceptional young leaders to contribute in areas of defence and security for the Ministry of Defence in particular, and Brunei society as a whole.

Since the introduction of the scheme in 2005, the ministry has awarded 39 outstanding Bruneian students - 28 with the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship and 11 with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship.

The selection process for the scholarship awards is based on systematically structured and focused criteria that identify potential future leaders.

Awardee Siti Aisyah Binti Haji Mohammad Anas, 19, who is currently studying medicine at University of East Anglia, found the interview process for the scholarship very challenging. "It tests your leadership and critical thinking abilities," she said.

Impressive straight 'A' student Nurul Syazana binti Hassan, who was one of the first to be awarded the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces scholarship in 2005, will be studying at University of Oxford in the field of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

Another Supreme Commander scholar, Sanny Choo Hi Lung, who is studying medicine at King's College London aims to do his best. Besides possessing excellent academic records, he has also excelled in sports. He represented Brunei in table tennis in the Olympic Youth Camp in Athens, as well as in Asean Youth Table Tennis Competition in Manila.

Outstanding co-curricular records and excellent academic abilities are the core criteria that fulfil the initial qualification requirements for the scholarship scheme awards. Students should also possess exemplary personality and leadership potentials, which are key factors that ensure they are fully qualified to receive the prestigious scholarships. - Borneo Bulletin (21st September 2007)