Royal call to preserve indigenous cultures
By Sonia Kaur & Malek Hashim

Being aware of various indigenous cultures which provide mankind with key links to the past having served as milestones in the development of civilisations over the ages is important, observed Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah in a Sabda on the occasion of the opening of the seventh International School Brunei (ISB) Borneo Global Issue Conference at the International Convention Centre (ICC) yesterday.

Her Royal Highness being the Royal Patron of the meeting said the conference theme 'Cultural Survival: Rights and Aspirations of Indigenous Peoples', is particularly significant in encouraging all of us to value other people, their cultures and their societies.

"I also feel that the theme captures the plight of many indigenous cultures who are at crossroads, where their elders are struggling to preserve their traditional ways of life, as they watch their younger generations discard much valued old ways to embrace a modern future," added HRH.

Meanwhile, Her Royal Highness also observed that, "The young citizens of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia should be particularly proud of cooperative initiatives taken by their governments, to realise a common conservation policy for Borneo's natural resources, especially its precious indigenous people, the 'Faces in the Heart of Borneo'".

HRH then highlighted that it was indeed crucial that we instil in our young people the importance of helping those who need our compassion and deserve our respect.

HRH said, "In the past conferences, I was impressed by the dynamic and proactive efforts of our youths in concerning themselves with some of the real issues facing world leaders today."

HRH said, the importance of mutual respect for one another and respect for the culture, traditions and customs of all races and indigenous groups is all the more relevant at this point in time, where world leaders face the stern challenge of achieving peaceful resolutions to a variety of conflicts in the midst of a severe global economic downturn.

"In this regard, support should be given to the United Nation's efforts to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and preserve their rich traditions, cultures, languages and history," HRH added.

The Royal patron also expressed her optimism that delegates will achieve a much deeper understanding of the serious issues laid before them and how complicated solutions can become as they proceed through their debates.

"There are rarely any easy, straightforward answers to resolving the global concerns facing our leaders on a daily basis," HRH added.

HRH expressed hope that this conference will show its delegates that although lasting solutions never come by easily, they are indeed achievable, if the parties involved work together with sincerity, good faith, understanding, tolerance and mutual respect.

This conference will provide our students with exposure to a wide variety of perspectives and experiences that will hopefully encourage them to be more forthcoming with their thoughts and more vocally articulate as they seek to express and debate their own views and ideas, she also said.

HRH hoped that ISB BGIC would continue to attract local students and provide them with the invaluable opportunity of interacting with their peers from both within and beyond Brunei.

HRH also said whether as parents, teachers, adults or elders, we must all try our best to lead by example. "We all have the potential to positively influence the mental and social development of the children and youths around us by leading our lives with integrity, and having respect for those around us as well as our environment," HRH added. - Borneo Bulletin (1st Mar 2009)