No room for favouritism
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday urged village leaders not to practise favouritism or give preferential treatment when it comes to looking after the welfare of the residents under their jurisdictions.

"In providing service to them, they should not discriminate against anyone but serve them equally.

"Grievances have been echoed whereby one individual receives special treatment in such a way the village leader himself fills up the application form and forwards it to the Community Development Department or Islamic Religious Council, while another has to manage it by himself.

"The latter (the one who manages himself) should also be assisted and given priority due to his/her disabilities and weaknesses, especially when it happens to a person who is illiterate," His Majesty said in his titah at the gathering of the Mukim and Village Consultative Councils throughout the country at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

This matter should be taken into account during this gathering and has to become an agenda in the paper deliberation, the ruler said.

Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

His Majesty said, "Since the inception of the Village Consultative Council Organising Board over 15 years ago, I believe that much effort and several activities have been made, either in the field of religion, community or others such as welfare and economy. These were in line with the objective of the establishment of the Village Consultative Council that strives for a prosperous and united community.

"The Village Consultative Council has enough experience and maturity to move forward in line with the current developments and situations.

"The gathering is timely and in line with the government's effort that wishes to see firm development and prosperity of the community. This could only be achieved through cooperation and commitment from all walks of the community, especially leaders at the grassroots level," the monarch said.

"The Village Consultative Council could become an effective channel to provide proper services as aspired by the nation. This would include youth and ordinary people, who pull their resources with other groups like those bestowed with titles, government officers and so on. This is the uniqueness of the Village Consultative Council. This plan is good compared to people who practise individualistic attitudes.

"We have long practised the culture of consultation, which is our tradition in Mukims and villages. We also have village chiefs and leaders, who are respected. Thus, village leaders are urged to uphold their values and characteristics as well-respected figures.

"By God's Will, the nation will continue to enjoy everlasting peace, security and a harmonious way of life as long as the villages have charismatic and credible village leaders," His Majesty added.

The ruler added that he was not praising but reminding village leaders that they shoulder a big responsibility in taking care of their residents without favouring an individual at the expense of another person.

His Majesty and other members of the royal family were greeted on arrival by members of the organising board of the council led by the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan.

In his welcoming speech, Pehin Dato Hj Adanan said gathering involves members of the Village Consultative Councils throughout the country comprising 37 Mukim Consultative Councils and 168 Village Consultative Councils. The theme of the gathering is "Together in strengthening the development and prosperity of the community".

The objectives are to consolidate and empower leadership of the council and a basis of leadership at the grassroots level that is credible for the prosperity and development of the nation. It is also aimed at instilling a sense of national identity and nurture the spirit of patriotism and belonging towards the monarch, religion, people and the nation. Futhermore, it acts as a platform in strengthening cooperation, understanding and unity among the leaders and members of the council, as well as to enhance awareness, understanding of the council on its important role as an agent for the development of the people and nation.

The format of the three-day gathering has three aspects namely talks from experts from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the host country, a special dialogue among leaders of the council and an exhibition showcasing the successful projects of the councils. - Borneo Bulletin (8th August 2007)