His Majesty emphasises good village leadership
By Aziz Idris

The qualities of good leadership ought to be comprehensive in the areas of economy, education, community and religion for these betterment of village residents. If none of the qualities are observed, it means that a leader has failed.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who graced the Second National Excellent Village Award held at the International Convention Centre, Berakas made these observations in a titah yesterday.

The monarch said that a sign of effective leadership is a leader that wins the hearts of the people he leads.

How does a leader win over the people?

"It is through good leadership that is able to bring major changes in the community right from the grassroots level," His Majesty said, adding that without these qualities, a leader will lose support.

In view of this, His Majesty expressed his disappointment at Penghulus and village heads who have neglected their respective residents.

"Some of the residents may have an easy life, while others have to endure hardship. Priority must be given to those who encounter difficulties because they usually have many requests and do not know which channel to seek for assistance.

"If someone wants to seek assistance, where will they go?" the monarch asked rhetorically. The most common answer would be to go to Baitul Mal or the Department of Community Development, said the monarch before adding quickly, "but the question is what and who can deliver it (request) to them?"

His Majesty said that this group does not include those who are not able to write letters or fill request forms.

"How would it be possible for the elderly or those who are illiterate to meet the requirements?" His Majesty asked.

The monarch stressed that it is the duty of a Penghulu and village head to ensure the smooth process of any requests made by any of their residents.

"Their (Penghulu and village head) roles are not only to support or provide signature and stamp forms that are complete before passing them back to the applicant to make their own dealings afterwards."

The monarch said that when the forms or letters arrived at the relevant authorities, some applications were rejected as the village residents did not meet the requirements.

"Why must this happen?" again asked the monarch. "The reason lies in the lack of support from Penghulus and village heads whereas a good leader would not let the rejection happen in the first place."

His Majesty asked, "Why must there be a lack of support? Because the facts are wrong and incomplete. Why are the facts wrong and incomplete? Because information on the background of village residents is incomplete, which means, the leader still does not know his own villagers yet."

In light of this, His Majesty said the Ministry of Home Affairs is strengthening the structure of all Mukim and Village Consultative Councils, including their members to focus on the aspect of good leadership.

His Majesty hopes that this strategy will give added value to the institution of penghulus and village heads.

According to the monarch, the Excellent Village Award Scheme is still linked to the institution of Penghulus and village heads.

Therefore, the evaluation of excellence here must focus on the aspect of "caring" shown by the leaders towards the village affairs as well as the residents, the monarch said.

His Majesty advised Penghulus and village heads to be more committed and proactive to the matters pertaining to the concerns and requests of their respective village residents and not only simply to provide them with old age pension and welfare assistance. - Borneo Bulletin (1 April 2012)