Brunei Youth's Identity

I just came back from yesterday's Junjung Ziarah event in London, a royal gathering held by His Majesty the Sultan for Bruneian students and citizens in London, UK. It was held at the London Hilton Park Lane. This was my second attendance of such event. The last one I attended was held two years ago in my second year. It was a long anticipated event, and whats more was His Majesty the Sultan, himself came from a hectic ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in Delhi a week before, was gracious enough to fill in a few hours of his time with his subjects, when I thought he'd be better off enjoying them with the Royal family ahead of the busy calendar in the coming year of 2013, when Brunei will be the host for the ASEAN summit (In two weeks time, His Majesty will welcome the Queen Regent of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix for a state visit). I guess that's part of being a ruler, leader and Royal figure head of a sovereign sultanate of 400,000 people. Its a rarity in today's time to see their kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers or rulers to mingle with their subjects or people in such an affectionate and personal way. Just a month ago, I spoke with a coursemate of mine from Thailand when I told her that its a common place to see and greet our Sultan and his Royal family and shake hands with them, whereas in Thailand she said, the most she'd get when she meet the King was bowing afar to his presence. It was then and the recent junjung ziarah event that I began to grasp and appreciate the way our Monarch differs with any other monarchies around the world.

I remember sometime when I was small, when watching the news on TV which was reporting one of the village visits that our Sultan used to make quite a lot. The village he visited in particular was located in the deep and rural areas of Brunei (not quite sure which district to be exact). But the scene that caught my attention and stayed on with me was when His Majesty, known for his exquisite taste and love for expensive, fast and luxurious cars as written by the western reporters, himself was personally driving a mere, almost rusty and broken down white Toyota Kijang owned by the village head (you can actually see His Majesty struggled with the stick). For those unfamiliar with Kijang cars, we have a joke in Brunei that Kijang cars are mostly driven by foreign labourers esp. carpet traders and lawn cutters. Locals who usually drive them are mostly farmers or farm owners  to carry their farm produce or equipments. That image stuck with me because it made me realise how down to earth His Majesty is as a person and a ruler. Totally different with the labels of wealthiest man in the world at one point.

Anyways, yesterday's Royal gathering really got me thinking. The Sultan delivered, at least to me, one of the most memorable and uplifting titahs I have ever heard. I don't want to sound like I'm trying to sell or to excess something that wasn't true to that level, but like I said, it got me thinking and has been sticking with me ever since. His Majesty primarily reminded us students, as government scholarship awardees, that each of us are like the country's 'investments' for the future. From His Majesty's point of view, as the government gave us students something to offer i.e. education, its automatic for us to do the same for the country. His Majesty was saddened to hear that some of those who benefited from this advantage, had chose to work outside of the country as soon as they graduated. 

But the part that really caught my attention was when he touched upon the importance of maintaining and exalting our Brunei identity primarily the Bruneian youth identity. He advised us to be hungry and to continuously be in hunger in the search of knowledge. His remarked was in reference to the success that Brunei students have achieved in the recent years. 2012 was memorable as that year recorded the highest number of First Class graduates as well as a growing number of Bruneians being admitted to the Top 10 colleges or universities in the world. His Majesty's words reminded me of one particular known pioneer by the name of Steve Jobs, which made a commencement speech at Stanford some years back. One the final part of his speech Steve Jobs said, ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish’.

If I am to rephrase His Majesty's speech (if I may), in today's fast growing and demanding age, we as Bruneian youths have to catch up and face up to the challenges that tide is moving towards so that our nation will not be left behind. It is within our generation's responsibilities to offer something innovative, definitive and distinctive not simply for Brunei, but to the world as well. We are already different in many ways: Brunei is a young but modern nation, only achieved its independence in 1984, but we already existed as a nation centuries ago. Countries abroad quip us as being a rich and modern nation, but that's not enough. We need to conjure up something new and grow to an even better and successful society. This goes in line with what His Majesty reminded us with in his speech, that the scroll of diploma, regardless of how much distinction you were merited with, will not be the end point of knowledge. In fact its only part of it. Those who are hungry for it, will continue to crave for new ones. 

That particular titah really spurs me. For this new year I'm making a pledge to myself to be better and achieve more. I am one that has been average in what I do. In fact in my undergraduate degree, I achieved somewhat average and mediocre grades. I need to challenge myself for greater heights.  I hope this spirit stays on even beyond 2013. Importantly I want to bring that Brunei identity and be proud of it. 'Hungry for knowledge', that for me, is and should always be the Bruneian youth's identity and motto. Confucius, a great Chinese philosopher once said, 'Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it'. 

His Majesty's words of wisdom will forever stay with me.

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