Warm welcome for SSEAYP youths
By Farah Ahmadnawi

Youths have a vital role to play in society, as they are catalysts and agents of change for the future.

This observation was made by Brunei's Acting Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports and Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office during a welcoming lunch for participants of the 36th Ship for Southeast Asia Youth Programme (SSEAYP) 2009 at the Grand Hall of The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Awang Mohammad bin Hj Daud strongly believes that the programme will build-up the youths' leadership skills and thus, become more matured individuals who are able to "understand and analyse current global issues and challenges that continue to confront us".

According to him, these are vital qualities that are important for future development.

This Southeast Asia Youth Programme, which continues to be organised by the Government of Japan with cooperation from Asean member countries since 1974, is aimed at promoting mutual understanding and cooperation among Asean and Japanese youths. Brunei officially joined the programme in 1985, and has since then been an active member.

Over 330 youths from 11 Asean countries, including 29 from Brunei, are participating in this year's programme. Their ship, "Fuji Maru", berthed at Muara Port yesterday.

Following an audience ceremony with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at Istana Nurul Iman, the youths visited various institutions around the country.

In an interview with the Bulletin, Mohd Hyder Nasir, the Youth Leader of the Singapore contingent, said youths can learn a lot about the different cultures and lifestyles of locals of various countries.

"What's great about this programme is that it allows us to interact with each other," said the youth who was eager to visit Brunei's picturesque Water Village and Royal Regalia.

"I've heard so much about these places from other participants. If I have the opportunity, I'd like to visit all the other places."

According to him, this programme has opened the youths' eyes that Asean countries have a lot to offer.

Another participant of the SSEAYP programme, Keiichi Yoshino of Japan, said he was keen in learning more about the culture and way of life of Muslims in the Sultanate. He hopes that by the end of his home-stay programme in Brunei, he will be to share his wondrous experience in the Sultanate with his friends back home.

Over the next few days, the SSEAYP participants will be staying with locals as part of their home-stay programme, which will introduce them to the Bruneian way of life. The youths will be returning to Japan on December 11. - Borneo Bulletin (9th December 2009)