Hold more sessions of LegCo every year, urges member

National 3 minutes, 48 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ONE of Brunei's former chief ministers yesterday voiced the need to hold the State Legislative Council (LegCo) meetings more than once a year, to enable the LegCo representatives to be further involved in the decision-making process with the government.

Since the LegCo was reopened after a 20-year hiatus in 2004, the members have convened once every year with the aim of discussing matters of national concern and determine the course of development of the national legislation.

During the afternoon meeting of the sixth session of LegCo yesterday, YAM Pg Setia Negara Pg Dr Hj Mohd Yusof Pg Hj Abd Rahim said: "Discussions on legislative matters should not only happen once a year. We have to have it as often as we can in the year when issues pertaining to the people come up so we can discuss them together."

The State Dignitary Representative even went as far as to suggest that the LegCo should be held four to five times a year.

More so, discussions held during the meetings should not only be for cabinet ministers to address, but for all LegCo members to actively participate in as well, said YAM Pg Setia Negara Pg Dr Hj Mohd Yusof, who is a local literary figure and has served as one of Brunei's chief minister when the post still existed in the past.

"We are all the same. The hope for this council is so that whatever is discussed, it is discussed together," he said.

However, LegCo Speaker YAM Pg Indera Mahkota Pg Anak (Dr) Kemaludin Al-Haj ibni Al-Marhum Pg Bendahara Pg Anak Hj Mohd Yassin said that it would be "difficult" to hold the LegCo meeting more than once a year since it was held during the time of the year when the government passes legislation.

"We cannot always hold this council," he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday's afternoon meeting also saw the representatives for LegCo convey words of praise towards His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for the titah delivered by the monarch during the opening of this session of LegCo on Thursday.

His Majesty touched on several issues in his royal address, including calling on the authorities to investigate causes of delays to development projects, the need to focus on the nation's spiritual development alongside its physical infrastructure and the advise for LegCo to only focus on pressing matters for the benefit of the people and the nation.

Appointed representative from the business community, Pehin Kapitan Lela DiRaja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin lauded His Majesty for being a king that was very "mindful and caring" of his people's welfare, so that they could live comfortably. "His Majesty's titah has conveyed an in-depth message, so that all issues discussed in this hall will be true for the benefit of the people, such as completion of projects without delay," he said.

Regarding His Majesty's announcement of the allocation of an additional $626.8 million for the fiscal year (2009/2010) to ensure that the operations of government services and the implementation of development projects were not compromised, Pehin Dato Paduka Goh said that this was an example of the extent of His Majesty's concern for the welfare of his people.

LegCo member Dato Paduka Hj Idris Hj Abas also lauded His Majesty's titah, and said it was a "reminder to us all to cooperate with each other" in matters pertaining to the people.

He agreed with the monarch that problems faced by the people needed to be taken seriously.

Education Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Dato Setia Hj Mohamed Taib noted that His Majesty also spoke of how Brunei was able to withstand the global financial crisis and has continued to develop competitively.

However, with development and advances in technology, there was a threat of "identity crisis" among the younger generation. In this respect, the minister lauded the monarch for making the council aware of moving towards the right path of development.

He cited His Majesty's remarks regarding the need to satisfy the country's physical infrastructure development and balancing this with spiritual development.

"(The national philosophy of) MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja) is a support; a key to success that needs to be passed on to the youths," he said. "Government agencies are the main vehicle to fulfil this cause".

The meeting was adjourned to reconvene tomorrow at 9.30am.

The Brunei Times