By Hakim Hayat
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Syariah and Law from the rector of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) during the university's inaugural convocation ceremony yesterday.
Prior to His Majesty's receiving the Honorary Doctorate, the Rector presented a comprehensive citation in which he elaborated on the monarch's relentless determination in safeguarding the values of Islamic religion and teaching, and also on the Monarch's relentless stride towards the broad implementation of Syariah law in the country over the past few decades.
The rector said law and order in a community depends on the people's adherence to the laws and regulations being enforced. It is a system that can only be preserved and deemed successful with the presence of a leader full of charisma, and one who is broad-minded, disciplined and courageous in upholding it.
"Under the leadership of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, the country's Government administration and legal and law system treaded into a new era where a written constitution restored the sovereignty of the Sultan and religion, which was drafted and declared on September 29, 1959. This Constitution has been adopted to this day, with several specific amendments," the rector said.
"Article 3 (2) of the Constitution describes the position of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as the Official head of Religion in Brunei Darussalam. Meanwhile, Article 3 (4) states that His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam can create laws on matters related to Islam, after consultation with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council, while Article 39 also provides that His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam shall have the authority and power to create laws for the sake of peace, stability, security and upright governance," the rector said.
This position, the rector said, is an incumbent trust that requires strong commitment and is not easy for just anybody to endure. "His Majesty's commitment to preserving the law for the order of the people living under His Majesty's leadership has never been taken lightly by His Majesty, but has been undertaken with full commitment by the Monarch who led the country through the transition from the era of protectorate status to an era of full independence and sovereignty, in line and on par with other countries in the world," the rector added.
The chronology of His Majesty's education exposure, he said, ranges from being educated formally and informally inside the country and internationally in various capacities including in Islamic religion, conventional academics and military training which has pervaded qualities of a strong leader with a vision who is open-minded, diplomatic and rational, anchored by strong religious and appreciation of culture and customs of Brunei Darussalam. "Military education and training has also shaped his Majesty to become a highly disciplined individual who is firm in enacting laws," the rector added.
The rector said that with the declaration and the coronation of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as the 29th Sultan of Brunei in October 1967, His Majesty is officially the Head of Islamic Religion and Head of Law for Brunei Darussalam based on constitution's provisions.
"Brunei Darussalam has been developing rapidly throughout His Majesty's reign. Drastic growth in areas covering all aspects of the people's lives and the country's needs is very visible and is enjoyed by the people and witnessed by the world. Development in physical infrastructures that we all can achieve in peace and stability is a proof of His Majesty's success in his leadership showing His Majesty as a competent leader, who is full of insight and continues to develop His Majesty's country for the sake of its people," the rector said.
In the legal field, His Majesty's efforts to elevate Syariah law in the country is visible with the enactment of Syariah Courts Act which has set up Syariah courts up to its highest level. "This is also supported with the consent of His majesty in approving various orders and regulations relating to the Syariah Law. In March 2011 this year, His Majesty in a titah called on steps to be taken to review and introduce Islamic Criminal Law for it to be implemented profusely in this country," the rector said.
This decree was followed up again by His Majesty where just recently, His Majesty has called for the acceleration of the implementation of the Syariah Criminal Law. "The steps which His majesty has taken in envisioning the complementing of Syariah Law into contemporary living environment and a world without borders or that the people now call 'globalisation' is a bold move, driven by the strong faith and in maintaining His Majesty's accountability as a leader of an Islamic country.
"In recognising the importance of ethical values through the enforcement of Syariah law in regulating behaviour, actions and moral which does not receive priority in the Civil Law system, His Majesty who is attentive to the changes around saw that the strong coupling of the Syariah and Civil Laws in Brunei Darussalam to run concurrently. His Majesty's stance, in this regard, is clear and reflects the Monarch's devotion and desire to see such relationship between Syariah Law and Civil Law to go hand-in-hand to build a solid foundation to attain blessings, prosperity and harmony for our beloved country," the rector added.
"With His Majesty's role and contribution in building peace, prosperity and developing the country, especially in developing and strengthening the position of both Syariah law and Civil law, UNISSA as the only institution in the country offering legal programmes felt it very appropriate to honour His Majesty with the Honorary Doctorate of Syariah and Law at UNISSA's first convocation ceremony."
- Borneo Bulletin
(4th Novempber 2011)