Do not overlook the Bruneian identity
By Azlan Othman

Maintaining and preserving the Bruneian identity is foremost when programmes are modified at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), advised His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday.

Delivering a Titah to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of UBD, His Majesty (left photo) underlined the importance of ensuring that spiritual qualities and personality values based on the national philosophy of MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja or Malay Islamic Monarchy) are fostered and encouraged among the students, besides their education.

The monarch also encouraged locals who have the potential to become part of a high-calibre academic workforce, where they will be able to hold high posts such as, say, being senior lecturers at UBD.

Touching on the current academic workforce at UBD, His Majesty said: "I was made to understand that currently, the majority of the academic workforce who hold high posts such as senior lecturers come from abroad.

"This is a bit disappointing. Where is our local workforce? Are they not able to hold such posts? I leave it to UBD to answer this."

The monarch went on to say that what is important is to encourage local people who have the potential to become part of a high-calibre academic workforce.

Towards this, His Majesty has consented to introduce a new prestigious and competitive scholarship, 'The Chancellor Scholar', which is open to locals, whereby upon returning from their studies at renowned foreign institutions, they will return to the Sultanate and be part of the academic workforce at UBD.

Over the last 25 years since the establishment of UBD, the university has produced around 15,000 graduates.

"I believe it is high time for UBD to contact members of the alumni," said His Majesty, adding that he was also informed that UBD has plans to set up an 'Office of Alumni Relations and Advancement', as well as a centre for alumni members to interact and foster ties with the university community in general.

"It is also my hope that the alumni would be able to contribute back anything to the university and the community in general," His Majesty said.

According to His Majesty, the establishment of UBD in this country is a milestone or achievement that the university can be proud of.

Touching on its humble beginnings, His Majesty noted that UBD only had 176 students when UBD first offered a limited number of programmes on its small campus. Fast-forward to the future and UBD now has a permanent campus that boasts impressive infrastructures and the number of students has surged to the 4,000-mark.

"Within the past 25 years, we have also witnessed an increase in the number of foreign students studying at UBD," His Majesty said, noting that a number of UBD students too have signed up for exchange programmes with renowned institutions.

Research activities too have also increased with the establishment of several research centres such as the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, UBD-IBM Centre and e-Government Innovation Centre.

While UBD programmes have been modified according to the nation's present needs, His Majesty reminded UBD to maintain and preserve its Bruneian identity.

Noting that it's important to walk the walk and talk the talk, His Majesty said: "We should not just give 'lip service'."

In an effort to produce quality generation, education is the main thrust. UBD through its Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, which has been upgraded to become a Graduate School, plays an important role in producing quality lecturers or teachers.

This role must be fulfilled to the best of our ability, His Majesty said, noting that this is vital component in producing an excellent future generation. - Borneo Bulletin (16th Octopber 2011)