By Malai Hassan Othman

The local Malay business community is taking on the challenges posed by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in His Majesty’s New Year 2012 titah, which calls on the nation to ensure safe and successful journey towards Wawasan 2035 (Brunei Vision 2035) in view of the economic and financial turbulence the world is now going through.

His Majesty in the recent New Year 2012 titah called on the nation to overcome any weakness in nation-building.

And Brunei Malay businesses in general have indicated that they would come forward to address any concerns on issues pertaining to the progress of nation-building, that is, whether or not it is on track in the journey towards the realisation of Wawasan 2035.

According to some members of the Malay business community, these concerns will be addressed through a series of debates which they will soon be organising.

“The Malay business community shares the concerns expressed by His Majesty the Sultan that the uncertain economic and financial situation the global community is facing now will not only affect a country’s growth, but the global economy as a whole,” said Awg Hj Razali Johari, the President of the Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

He noted that Brunei and its Wawasan 2035 in this matter are not shielded from this global financial and economic turbulence.

“As the immediate beneficiaries in the implementation of Wawasan 2035 we, too, should be worried. And in that sense, we as the business community should take heed of His Majesty’s New Year 2012 titah which, among other things, calls on the nation to multiply efforts in diversifying the economy, and to create a more conducive business environment to boost growth in the private sector,” he said.

His Majesty in the New Year 2012 titah also called on the nation to be more committed towards implementing various initiatives and projects under this National Development Plan, especially in providing service to the people

The ruler also emphasised that the key to stability and prosperity is in being prudent, which is essential for the country’s economic survival.

Awg Hj Razali further said that, in line with the spirit of the titah “that calls on us to overcome our weaknesses, as well as to prepare ourselves for whatever challenges that will come our way”, the Malay business community with the MCCI is now ready to initiate “debates” in six industry clusters.

According to Hj Razali, the debates will focus on the progress and development of the construction, manufacturing/processing and primary industries, as well as imports and exports, retailing/wholesaling, tertiary industries, transportation and logistics.

The MCCI president further said that the forum will highlight the perceptions, expectations and realities of the vision, policies, strategies, programmes and plans of Wawasan 2035 in view of the economic and financial turbulence as outlined by His Majesty.

“Our organising team, made up of the Executive Committee of the Malay Chamber of Commerce 2011-2013, is responding to this with enthusiasm and high hopes for success in meeting the objectives of nation-building and contributing to the dynamic and sustainable economy of Brunei Darussalam,” he added.

“We have decided that that the ‘Community Cluster Development Debate’ should take the form and format of the BBC World News TV programme ‘The Doha Debate’. In this format, there will be six to 10 panellists and moderators, and the debate will be attended by a civically participating audience of up to 150 members of the Business Community.”

Hj Razali said that the MCCI has engaged a local management consultant, PPP Ilmu Alim in the design of the form and identifying and structuring the substance.

He said the theme of the debates in the series should be aligned to the mother statement of Wawasan 2035, that is, for Brunei to be recognised by 1) the achievement of its well-educated and highly skilled citizens and people; 2) its high quality of life; and 3) its dynamic and sustainable economy.

“What would be interesting to note is the theme that would interpret and embody the spirit and intent as ‘the development of the Rakyat for the Rakyat and with the Rakyat,” said Hj Razali.

“The supporting activities in the preparation of the debate would lead us to identify, recognise, appreciate and respond to the policy and strategy in the development of the people (Rakyat) that includes education training and, in general, the capacity building of the Human Assets.

“It would lead us to identify, recognise, appreciate, support and contribute to the development of infrastructure and services, namely the policy, strategy and plans in the development for the people.

“In the process, the debate would also open up opportunities to participants to identify, assess and contribute to the policy and programme that align to the concept of ‘Involvement, Engagement and Collaboration in Development’ that reflects the spirit and intent of the development with the people.”

In the context of the debate, he added, there will be a greater focus on identifying the challenges and opportunities in the “involvement, engagement and collaboration in development” vis-a-vis development with the Rakyat.

He said PPP Ilmu Alim will support the debate by providing relevant and current input similar to market surveys, scenario building and forecasting by having ‘ears on the ground’ such as monitoring trends patterns and directions of public opinions, noting and analysing public concerns.

In conclusion, the President of the MCCI reiterated that Brunei’s Vision 2035 can only be achieved through involvement, engagement and collaboration “across the board and in all levels of development”.

He said the initiative to organise this debate shall provide a platform for the Brunei Malay business community to translate these concepts into action and for them to project the true spirit and intent of the Brunei Vision 2035 as “the development of the Rakyat, for the Rakyat and with the Rakyat”.

Hj Razali also said the initiative is also in line with the ideal of Wawasan 2035 which states: “As we work towards these aims, we will be united in our loyalty to our Sultan and our Country, our belief in the values of Islam and our traditional tolerance and social harmony.”

By Malai Hassan Othman