His Majesty calls for stern action to curb smoking
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted the pressing need to tackle the habit of smoking firmly, to seek the root cause of low level of employment in the private sector and to cut excessive spending on food to prevent chronic diseases.

In a titah delivered at the Istana Nurul Iman during the Audience and Investiture Ceremony to mark His Majesty’s 67th birthday anniversary yesterday, the monarch also stressed the need to identify and improve the capability gap and guidelines of implementation by the relevant agencies for local entrepreneurs to flourish and stressed on human capacity building in the national education system.

The ruler applauded the commitment shown by everyone involved in making the recent 22ndAsean Summit and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Military Medicine Exercise a success.

His Majesty came down hard on smokers as they not only ruin their health but also others around them. The monarch lamented that the country has the necessary laws in place to curb the habit but we still continue to allow cigarette smoke to poison the homes and country.

“In this country, 15 per cent of the population suffer from diabetes that has the potential to increase the probability of amputation. Nine per cent of the children aged below five years are known to be obese. Others include people who waste money on items that are dangerous and not beneficial,” said the monarch.

“Fifty per cent of fathers in the country are smokers inside their house. They not only harm themselves but also their family members by spreading dangerous poisons.

“I have observed this (habit of smoking) for a long time. But firm action is yet to be taken to combat this habit. What else are we waiting for?” the monarch asked.

“Religious laws (fatwa) on it have long been decreed. The adverse effects of smoking that threaten life have long been identified. It has been repeated in many speeches. But cigarettes are still circulated, available, bought and smoked by the people including Muslims.

“When are we going to take stern actions to save society and the country from the dangers of smoking. It is surprising that we continue to promote a healthy lifestyle, exercise and walkathons but at the same time we still allow cigarette smoke to poison homes and the country,” His Majesty said.

The ruler also spoke about the welfare of the security personnel as they bear the burden to protect the nation from criminal elements. “This is a big task. The security personnel, like the police, must focus on their respective tasks with total dedication and trust. They are the pivot and pillar of our peace.

“Hence, their welfare must be monitored and noted at all times. Any regulations that could affect their interests and family, if any, should be revised and quickly rectified.”

The monarch earlier extended his gratitude to his special guests for attending the event and all parties for their congratulatory messages to the ruler and members of the royal family.

The event is normally celebrated in the month of July but this year, it is being held in September as Brunei was observing the dawn to dusk Ramadhan fast in July.

In 2012, the nation experienced slow economic growth due to the decline in the oil and gas production sector although the non-oil and gas industry recorded an encouraging growth of three per cent.

With the growth being low, efforts to diversify the country’s economy and revenue sources should be multiplied to establish equilibrium, said the ruler. Efforts should also be made towards enhancing the involvement of companies and local entrepreneurs in the private sector, His Majesty added.

“Hence, the capability gap and guidelines of implementation by relevant agencies to assist local entrepreneurs should be identified and improved. My government, by Allah the Almighty’s Will, would continue to practise a policy to establish pro-business and investment environment.

“The success of the National Development Plan is not complete if certain sections of society do not reap benefits,” the Sultan said.

His Majesty expressed his appreciation and thanks to all walks of life and community and public servants from all levels, security forces and those in the private sector for their support and contributions to the government.

The monarch’s sincere appreciation also went to the national and district committee levels for their hard work in making the 67th birthday celebration a success.

“I pray for the country’s peace and prosperity and blessing under the guidance of Allah the Almighty,” said His Majesty.

His Majesty later bestowed state decorations on senior government officials, diplomats and religious figures.

Also present at the ceremony were Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah, as well as HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah.

Also in attendance were HRH Prince Haji ‘Abdul ‘Azim, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, HRH Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah and other members of the royal family. - Borneo Bulletin (16 September 2013)