Brunei's Sultan slams malicious campaign against Syariah Penal Code

BRUNEI - HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday called for an end to insults directed towards the king, ulama and Syara', amid rising dissent on social media.

In his 30th National Day titah, the monarch observed that a certain section of people has made attempts to slander the king, ulama and law, besides disputing the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order.

"This can be detected through their various expressions when they speak of the king, ulama and law," he said, alluding to comments made on social media.

His Majesty noted there have been attempts by certain parties to incite the present generation to question and reject the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order through new media platforms, such as websites, blogs and WhatsApp.

He warned against the misuse or abuse of social media, explaining that it could harm individuals as well as the nation.

"All this is undoubtedly a challenge for our new generation. They need a firm stance in line with national policies. They cannot be influenced by irresponsible elements who wish to see us in disarray internally or fighting among ourselves, as well as disrespecting the leader and government," said His Majesty.

The dissent on social media, he added, also poses a challenge for law enforcement agencies in implementing the Syariah Penal Code Order.

His Majesty pointed out that such behaviour is an offence under the General Offences Chapter of the new law, which is set to come into force in April. "They cannot continue to be allowed to inflict insults," he said, adding that such offenders can be brought to court.

As a "visionary generation", he said they must be cautious of those who declare their support, but harbour ulterior motives.

He advised the present generation to be self-resilient to a point where they cannot be easily swayed or influenced to harm the country. Among the steps undertaken by the government to produce such citizens is through the National Service Programme (PKBN).

The monarch said the programme plays an important role in building youth of noble values, which are greatly needed by the country and nation.

"Speaking of values, we have been shocked by several robberies involving a number of mosques in the country. These incidents are very disappointing, even more so as they happened in the Houses of Allah," said His Majesty.

He hoped the relevant authorities would take effective and comprehensive measures toward ensuring that such "embarrassing" incidents are not repeated.

The sovereign remarked that all robberies and thefts committed in the country must be defeated. "We should not only record crimes, but we need to take firm action so those criminals can be arrested and brought to court. Insya Allah, the Syariah Penal Code Order is waiting for them," he said.

Commenting on the recent heavy rainfall that flooded low-lying areas in the nation, His Majesty praised the patience of the residents affected by tragedy.

"They, alongside the authorities, faced the situation with calm. Additionally, there were volunteers who contributed their service, which were very meaningful. Indeed, we have to accept the situation wholeheartedly, besides praying to Allah (SWT) for mercy and safety," he said.

As the Sultanate celebrates its 30th year of independence today, His Majesty said the country has made numerous achievements that have enabled its citizens to live in a state of peace and prosperity.

"Our quality of life continues to increase in line with modern society," he said, noting that Brunei's health and education indicators score highly on the Human Development Index (HDI). His Majesty added that, however, the country's vision also encompasses spiritual alongside physical aims.

He explained that Brunei wants to embody the concept of "Baldatun Tayyibatun Warabbun Ghafur" to become a nation that is "peaceful and happy" under the protection of Allah (SWT).

"Because of that, the way we are fulfilling our independence is very special. We don't forget to be grateful and remember Allah (SWT) through mass prayers and doa. This is the practice of a Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), our country," he said.

His Majesty elaborated that a solid identity is crucial in the process of nation-building, stating that MIB serves as a strong and effective "firewall" to address various issues and challenges tied to globalisation.

"Globalisation, in reality, has caused rapid changes. Use of the Internet and various types of social media has made information sharing borderless. Information can be transmitted easily to anyone. We must be smart and careful in how we utilise its benefits," he said.

In concluding his titah, the monarch expressed his gratitude and appreciation to all the citizens of Brunei. He prayed they will be blessed with Allah SWT's mercy and guidance.

His Majesty was also thankful to the committee members and participants of the 30th National Day celebration for their effort. The celebration will take place today at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

The Brunei Times