Combat crime & drug abuse urges Sultan
By Sonia K.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam in a titah to commemorate the nation's 24th National Day highlighted the importance of youth while referring to the worrying crime statistics in the country.

His Majesty in the titah said: "The youths are an asset to the country. This is because youth development agenda is very important and should be given focus. Those who are developed will be portrayed as future leaders. If they are good, we can be happy for it but if they become people without any morals, the country will be shouldering their burden," His Majesty said.

The Monarch revealed worrying statistics in 2007. 732 people were arrested for misusing drugs; 606 males and 126 females, respectively. Out of the 732 people, 649 of them were locals, another 35 were permanent residents while the rest were foreigners.

"The most shocking fact in the statistics was that a majority of them were drug abusers with 664 of them being Malays, with only 27 Chinese and the rest made up of other races," the Sultan said.

"Isn't this a tragedy to our nation? Where is the nation's youth? Where are our next generation of leaders who will be born in 20, 30 years to come from the nation's youth group?" the Monarch queried.

"Can they be born as leaders, if even from a young age they are already weak and undermined by drugs?" he added.

His Majesty said that the agents of change such as family institutions, educational institutions, preachers, media and so on should look in to this matter with deep concern so that we can together focus on curing and subsequently producing quality human beings.

Besides that, one phenomenon that is also worrying us is the rise in the crime index. This, His Majesty said, will also become a heavy burden to our country.

"According to available data, arrests have increased by 23 per cent. The crime that frequently occurred during the past three years is theft. Last year alone there were 443 cases compared to 359 cases in 2006. This does not include other criminal cases.

"Latest report states that crimes on property are the most reported crimes in which as many as 2,030 cases or 60 per cent from the overall crime index. Meanwhile, a total of 4,519 criminal cases were recorded in 2007," he said.

The report also states that there has been a 100 per cent increase in serious crime such as robbery. The criminals are made up of males and females between the age of 19 and 35 including 57 students, he added

"The rise in crime is one matter, while the offenders that are made up of youths is another matter entirely," His Majesty said.

Who are these youths, if not those we call "Tunas Bangsa" (Nation's Youth)? Nation's youths have become criminals. Is this what Nation's Youth is?

The caring monarch advised that we must not be comfortable when mentioning these crime statistics and boast the slogan "Tunas Bangsa", but what is important is that we get rid of crime in whatever form for the peace and prosperity of the society and residents, so that tourists and investors will not be afraid to come to this country.

"Meanwhile, the nation's youths must seriously become healthy youths who will work towards making Brunei Darussalam free of crime. This is pure patriotism in which we all become rescuers," he also said.

Besides focusing on internal affairs, His Majesty the Sultan said we must also continue to raise good relations and understanding with neighbouring countries as well as working together in strengthening world-wide political, economic and social stability.

"We with the blessing of Allah the Almighty, will continue to become active in making the Asean region as a dynamic and competitive region while promising high quality standard of living for its citizens," he said. - Borneo Bulletin (23rd Feb 2008)