GETTING one of the most prestigious scholarships of all in the Sultanate is not an easy feat. Academic achievement that stands a cut above the rest alone does not secure one of the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship or the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship.
The interviews, both written and oral, including field tests, are challenging.
This year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who is the Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, consented to award seven students with the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship and five students with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship.
The signing ceremony was held yesterday at the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Ministry of Defence.
The guest of honour was the Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat. Also present were the Commander of the RBAF, Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin; Permanent Secretary (Administration & Finance) at the Ministry of Defence, Hajah Suriyah binti Haji Umar; and Deputy Commander of the RBAF, Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Brigadier General Dato Seri Pahlawan Muhd Tawih bin Abdullah; as well as the military commanders and deputy permanent secretaries.
The students will be heading to various countries to further their studies, including Malaysia, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and Australia.
In an interview prior to the signing ceremony, one of the recipients of the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship, Nabil Suhairridhwan bin Awang said he felt very privileged of being awarded such an honour.
He will be heading to the United States of America to study law at the University of Purdue, Indiana. He completed his ‘A’ levels at Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan.
He said he took up the challenge of applying for the scholarship as he knew it’s not going to be easy.
He achieved two ‘A’ Stars in his A-level in Economics and Geography and two ‘A’s in Physics and Mathematics.
“They (the ministry) advertised the opening of the scholarship and knowing it’s going to be a tough one to get, I felt I still wanted to take up the challenge and thus went through the selection process,” he said.
“Usually when people talk about the military, the usual thinking is it is a hard and tough career. But I look at it as a very diverse career cutting across various professions, giving you challenges and more exposures, which I am keen to go for,” he added.
“It was a difficult selection process. I think they were just examining how well we can actually think, our critical thinking,” he said.
Siti Farah Diva binti Abdullah, one of the recipients of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship, in an interview, said during the field tests, there were times where candidates were appointed as leaders to give instructions to others to execute the task properly.
Siti Farah Diva will be heading to Cardiff to take her ‘A’ Level in Physics, Chemistry and Biology and Mathematics. She received ‘A’ Star in seven ‘O’ Level subjects.
Having such a great academic achievement in ‘O’ Level, she said physical tests were also part of the criteria during the selection process as well as leadership quality, making the selection process an all-encompassing aptitude and knowledge-based tests.
Commenting on the recent titah of His Majesty to come back to Brunei Darussalam to serve after their studies in their respective profession, Siti Farah Diva said people studying overseas should come back to Brunei and serve.
She said the government spends a lot of money on scholars for their education hoping they would come back to serve the country, but sadly some people, in their defence, tend to compare the life in other countries with Brunei and choose to stay behind.
Nabil Suhairridhwan added that those people might say there is not much job prospects in the country.
But he said this is not a right thing to say, because if there are not enough jobs for them in the country, why would our government spend so much money to get them to study on the chosen fields in other country in the first place.
For Siti Farah Diva, accepting any kind of scholarship from the government is like accepting a promise to come back with an education, knowledge and know-how to serve the country.
She also felt very privileged and fortunate of being selected for such a prestigious scholarship, and according to her it was very challenging, and she promised to make the most of this opportunity.
She added that the tests were rigorous. They had to go through some leadership, aptitude and oral tests as well as interviews.
There were a lot of processes involved and she felt relieved after overcoming them all and being one of the awardees.
The recipients of the Supreme Commander of the RBAF scholarship are Nabil Suhairridhwan bin Awang, Muhammad Adi Fakhri bin Johari, Teo Siang Wen and Loo Ping Shin from Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, Hajah Siti Syafiqah ‘Afifah binti Haji Ahmad Mahyuddin from National University of Singapore (NUS) High School of Mathematics and Science, and Law Vi Yen and Alisa Lau Hui Na from Maktab Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah.
Meanwhile, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces scholarships have been awarded to Muhammad Hazman bin Muhammad Iskandar, Simon Lee Edward and Naqibah binti Dato Paduka Ahmad Bukhari from Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, Muhammad Hidayat bin Haji Ahmad from Pusat Tingkatan Enam Katok, and Siti Farah Diva binti Abdullah from Sultan Sharif Ali Secondary School.
The seven recipients of the Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces scholarship will be taking their Undergraduate Degree and ‘A’ Level or Diploma in International Baccalaureate (IB).
Two will be studying at University College London in United Kingdom and the other five will be studying at United States of America, Imperial College in United Kingdom, McGrill University in Canada, University of Queensland in Australia, and Cardiff Sixth Form College in United Kingdom.
The five recipients of the RBAF Scholarship will be furthering their undergraduate studies and taking their ‘A’ level education.
Two students for the first time will be studying at the Malaysia Defence University, one will be going to Imperial College London, and another two will be going to one of the best boarding schools in the United Kingdom.
To date, a total of 28 recipients have come back to Brunei Darussalam maintaining high-level of academic achievements, and 11 of them are successfully serving as military officers in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
This year, there are 12 recipients, the largest batch so far, and eight of them have chosen to go into the military field after their graduation.
The Ministry of Defence Scholarship will offer career with the Ministry of Defence as military and civilian officers, where they will answer the call to effectively and significantly contribute towards the development of the national defence.
Each MinDef scholar will be going through a systematic leadership development programme during the summer holidays.
The leadership programme is seen as an agent that develops a competitive, hard-working and all-round leader with a dynamic mindset.
The students have been reminded to serve the nation after their studies to answer the call of His Majesty during a get-together with the Brunei citizens in United Kingdom and Ireland on May 1, 2011, that called for a stop to the attitude of not wanting to return to Brunei to serve the nation after graduation, and replacing with a Bruneian attitude which is remaining loyal to their words and return the favour.
His Majesty in his titah said this is the real Bruneian attitude that has made Brunei a respected nation.
- Borneo Bulletin
(2 June 2013)