INITIAL public feedback on the implementation of the country’s Syariah Penal Code this April became the subject of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darusalam’s 30th National Day titah last night.
With the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) concept at the heart of the nation’s beliefs, His Majesty said that the practices under these three national pillars have become the nation’s “strong and effective firewall” to overcome a variety of issues and challenges as well as changes that come with globalisation.
With the Internet making it easier to spread information, be it true or otherwise, the monarch reminded the people that, “We must be wise and cautious in reaping its benefits. Otherwise, if we are careless and abuse (this technology), the adverse effects will not just be on the individual but on the nation as a whole.”
Some of the challenges faced in implementing the Syariah criminal law, explained His Majesty, come in the form of “certain parties” that are “provoking” the people through “questioning and, at the same time, not supporting” the legal move.
“They are using the new media such as blogs, WhatsApp and so on which are not just accessed by locals but also by those overseas.”
The adoption of these avenues, said His Majesty, “poses a challenge to the new generation who must have in them a solid standing in line with the country’s aspiration and they must not be influenced by these elements who are irresponsible and wish to see internal turmoil or to instigate conflict and do not respect their leader or government.”
Apart from questioning the government’s move to introduce Islamic criminal law in the country, “These parties, it seems, have attempted to mock the king, the Islamic scholars and Syariah law which can be seen through (what they have been saying)” about these matters.
“These are the challenges that law enforcement has to face.”
These acts, His Majesty elaborated, “are no doubt categorised as offences under the General Offences (of the law). They can no longer be given the liberty to continue with their mockery and if there is a basis for them to be brought to court, then therefore, the first phase of the Syariah (criminal) law this coming April will be relevant to them.”
Citing this year’s National Day theme ‘Generation with A Vision’, His Majesty said that, “We must be vigilant about any obstacles and this includes obstacles by, or from, parties that admit to supporting our well-intended desire but then divert this support to other agendas.”
Also highlighted in the titah was the recent conviction of “mosque thieves” whose actions His Majesty described as “shocking”.
“These incidents are very disappointing even more so because they were carried out in the ‘House of Allah the Almighty’, and called for the authorities to take effective and comprehensive steps to ensure that these embarrassing acts are not repeated.”
His Majesty said that those who commit theft and robbery at other people’s dwellings should be brought to justice, and that, “the Syariah (criminal) law is waiting for them.”
The monarch also commended the patience shown by those affected by the recent floods and took note of the “significantly meaningful” cooperation of the authorities as well as volunteers in helping those who were in need.
“We must accept this incident with an open heart whilst at the same time, continue to pray to Allah the Almighty for relief and safety.”
In highlighting the progress that Brunei has made in the last 30 years, His Majesty said that this year’s celebration “is significant because it marks three decades of benefiting from our independence”.
Among the country’s achievements are infrastructural developments under the National Development Plans and the fact that the quality of life continues to improve and that the health care and education system have scored positively as per the Human Development Index.
“Nevertheless, our independence’s visions and objectives should not be limited to celebrating material achievements but we must also accomplish the spiritual aspects,” as outlined in the country’s Vision 2035.
“What we also want is a country that fulfils ‘Baldatun Tayyibatun Warabbun Ghafur’ which is peace and happiness under Allah the Almighty’s care”, and upholding Islamic practices is vital in “the continuance of our lives and the process of nation building”.
His Majesty expressed his appreciation to the National Day Organising Committee, participants and the public, including government servants, uniformed personnel and those in the private sector, “with the accompaniment of a doa whereby we, as a whole, will be blessed by Allah the Almighty”.
- Borneo Bulletin
(23 February 2014)