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Brunei Sultan to cabinet ministers: 'Country comes first'

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam delivering a speech. Borneo Bulletin
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam delivering a speech. Borneo Bulletin

Brunei Sultan to cabinet ministers: 'Country comes first'

by Azlan Othman

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei said yesterday that Cabinet Ministers and government officials have to think about the long-term future of the country rather than focus on their own self-interest.

In a hard-hitting speech delivered at a special meeting with the newly appointed Cabinet Ministers at the Istana Nurul Iman, the Sultan said to be a good leader, one must strongly stick to the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) principle and not be a leader who is ‘intoxicated’ with power, who does everything for self-interest and not for the country.

He said among the signs of an ‘intoxicated’ leader is being cunning by setting up plans or strategies for selfish reasons such as cronyism and nepotism, and for the strengthening of position and power.

The monarch strongly wants to see the Cabinet team and government officials fulfiling their responsibilities better, without bringing unreasonable and disruptive problems that affect the implementation of the government’s administration.

"Cabinet Ministers and government officials who are given the authority should really focus on matters that are beneficial for the country and not for self-interest or for the interest of any parties. I know that many issues have been deliberately created merely to attract attention or for publicity," he said.

"In the end this does not bring any benefit but actually causes losses to the government because well intentioned programmes are delayed or postponed," the Sultan said.

"And there are those who are entrusted with such programmes, wanting to cancel them due to external or international pressures. But we are in fact being intimidated by the mere excuses of ‘globalisation’ or ‘internationalisation’ which are not relevant to the country’s interests and needs at all," he said.

In terms of agriculture, the Sultan highlighted the need for more action and a proper approach. "It must be done in an orderly and systematic way, to produce the desired agricultural products for our country. Give the farming sector the attention and priority that it deserves, as this is the sector that will determine our continuity as a sovereign nation. We need to increase the production of rice, which is our staple food, so that we do not have to rely on foreign imports.

"In order to achieve that, it is not merely enough to set goals. We need to put in more effort and hard work, so that our rice production meets the desired target. If there is already a plan, then make sure that it does not get undone by opportunists. For instance, a government scheme for rice production should not be taken over by certain individuals, whether they are in high positions or formerly high-ranking officials with a substantial income from the government. This must not be allowed to happen," he said.

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