His Majesty calls on UBD to conduct scientific research
By Lyna Mohamed

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam wishes to see Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) lecturers, students and any parties in the government to conduct research on herbs, local plants and Brunei's very own delicacies.

In delivering a titah at the 23rd Convocation of UBD yesterday, the monarch also wished to see UBD able to produce great personalities and renowned scholars that are able to understand the aspiration of the civilisation while urging not to digest progress and development wholly.

A total of 1,033 graduates from UBD received their doctorates, masters and bachelor degrees, as well as diplomas at the convocation.

"In striving towards UBD's expansion, if I am not mistaken, I once reminded UBD's academic workforce on their role which is not only to teach but to be active in carrying out research and publishing articles. Substantive research would have widespread effects.

"These articles should also be included in top-tiered journals for UBD's name to flourish internationally. In this context, I wish to see a research or invention made by UBD, regardless of whether it comes from the lecturers, students or any parties in the government," His Majesty said.

The monarch gave a small example. "Has anyone in the country ever carried out research on herbs? Has anyone researched on the local 'Ulam Pegaga', 'Pucuk Pawas' and 'Bunga Kunyit'? Has anyone studied them so far?

"In fact, Bruneians have eaten them for hundreds of years, but until today, our people have not conducted scientific research on the content and nutritional values of these delicacies. This is just a small example, but poses greater challenges to us.

"This is especially so for UBD whereby such challenges also involve academic workforce as prime mover and guidance towards research activities among the students.

"Hence in this matter, the academic workforce intake needs to be refined and not just merely to fillup the post. The selected one must be of high calibre and could give substantive contribution other than the normal teaching.

"With respect to the academic workforce, it is high time for UBD to review the service scheme for its academic workforce so that it would become more attractive to lure supreme scholars to serve in UBD. I advise UBD to think about this matter by cooperating with relevant authorities," His Majesty said.

"Graduates are valuable asset where they also assist in community and country's development. We need to produce these graduates. However, producing big number of graduates is inadequate without quality.

"Quality could not be achieved without efforts and (could be done so) with vision to always upgrade oneself. If the effort turns cold, don't dream of reaching the top. Graduates should look into their inner strength and possess more mature characteristics. It means the graduates would continue to become thinkers. This is what we want to produce a credible generation. The signs of becoming more mature and credible include never losing hope such as when the graduates seek job opportunities.

"They should not give up when they do not get it (jobs) and instead continue to find job opportunities and at the same time not be choosy. This is one of the attributes of an educated workforce, before they could become leaders.

"This is what we want, UBD as a higher learning institution capable of producing great personalities and prominent scholars who understand the aspiration of the civilisation. Civilisation should not shape us, we should shape the civilisation," said the ruler.

"We could conform with the progress of time. But not all progress and development could be wholly digested. The same goes to food. Not all food can be eaten. In the case of some food, we are even prohibited from touching it."

His Majesty also highlighted the challenge to both graduates and administrators in UBD where they should understand and balance their knowledge to assess progress, not like 'piranhas' charging towards progress and development.

"Progress comes in all sorts, be it at higher level and one with noble characteristics whilst others could only be labelled as rubbish.

"In the context of progress and development, I welcome the noble efforts of UBD in sharing expertise with other parties such as International Business Machine (IBM), a renowned conglomerate internationally and the link with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, which has the expertise in e-Government leading up to the establishment of the e-Government Innovation Centre, a consortium founded by UBD with members comprising renowned international universities that establish collaboration in research in biodiversity and environment and so on.

"I am also pleased to note that the number of international students who pursue their studies in UBD is on the rise. This indicates that UBD has been recognised internationally. I am also pleased with the graduate research scholarship, which was offered last year and has attracted excellent students from abroad to study in UBD and undertake their advanced degrees.

"In an effort to attract more students to further their studies in UBD, I am also pleased with the UniBridge and Bridging English programmes which were offered to fulfil the entry requirement to undertake bachelor degree which has received encouraging response," His Majesty said. - Borneo Bulletin (29th September 2011)