Praise for titah on environment & debt
by Farah Ahmadnawi

Several members of the public have voiced positive views on the titah given by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in conjunction with the 26th National Day.

The majority of those interviewed during the celebration held at the Taman SOAS yesterday morning expressed their agreement with His Majesty's titah.

His Majesty's titah touched on three topics: the suggestion of fully utilising the Key Performance Indicator for its true original purpose in the government sector or relevant agencies; the implementation of 'Environmental Impact Assessment' mechanisms and a limit on the usage of credit cards.

In an interview with Bulletin, Dato Paduka Haji Hamdillah bin Haji Abdul Wahab, Deputy Minister of Primary and Industry Resources, voiced his approval for the enforcement of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), saying that it will benefit the future generations.

"The EIA has been an 'old thing' in the industry in the last 30 years. Before embarking on any kind of project, you had to have the EIA. This is to ensure that whatever (project) you do, for example, a simple gallery in the Water Village, the architecture has to blend in (with the environment). And to make sure that along the way, no pollution occurs. In other words, it (project) must be environmentally-friendly."

He added, "And the most important aspect of the implementation of the EIA is that it must benefit the local communities. Because the EIA is about making sure sustainable principles are there to protect the interest of the future generations. We tend to forget the social impact."

Dato Paduka Idris, an architect, also gave his views on the EIA. "It's about time that this initiative is reinforced to make sure our environment is taken care of. Thus legislation and enactment on the environment is in order to control the development as far as the environment is concerned. This is to protect our future generations."

Raihan Nokman, an undergraduate from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, gave her views on the EIA. "I think after 26 years of independence, environment preservation is very much needed in the effort to develop our country.

"Our lush rainforest is our gem, the nation's pride. Thus, EIA is a must and necessary step in preserving our rainforest."

On the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) she said, "I believe that this KPI should be enforced so as to value every level or strata of the government and tackle the problems they may face. Thus, with this enforcement, there should be no excuse for the government sector in having delays in their work."

Meanwhile, a retired government official expressed his agreement on the limit on the use of credit cards. "It is high time for this measure to be taken."

He gave an example of the negative consequence of having too many credit cards and debt.

"In the distribution of Asnaf Al-Gharimin last year, it was very sad (to learn that some of) the applicants actually applied for zakat to pay off their credit card debt. This completely strays from the purpose of the zakat (which is) to help out those who are truly in need."

On the KPI, he said, "The KPI should be fully utilised to produce sustainable work benchmarking standards. Most of the modern governments, for example in neighbouring Malaysia, have implemented this type of system. "

Two local residents, Pengiran Haji Hamzah and Abdul Aziz, gave their opinions on His Majesty's titah.

"It is advisable for the relevant agencies or authorities to keep each other updated on the latest status of a situation or procedure," said Pengiran Haji Hamzah.

Abdul Aziz commented on the issue of credit cards. "It should be seen as a positive initiative to prevent citizens from being buried knee-deep in debt. The credit card is seen as a convenience that is easily taken advantage of without thinking of consequences in the long-run. So this government strategy is a great way to control the debt and educate the public to spend wisely."

Meanwhile, Haslina Taib of BAG Networks said, "The government sector tends to use excuses to simply wave off matters that might burden their duties. If we could automate, integrate and innovate the systems that we have in the government, then we're halfway there.

"The reason we haven't started many of our projects is due to being afraid of the starting position but if we all collaborate, we could work on issues such the financial system, improving the Tahfiz, human resources systems, health systems and school systems," she added. - Borneo Bulletin (24th February 2010)