HRH opens 3rd Disability Forum
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI is currently hosting the third ASEAN Disability Forum, bringing together representatives from local and international organisations to shape disability-inclusive development in the region.
Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah yesterday launched the forum at The Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong where discussions focused on the theme of reducing poverty and enhancing employment prospects for people with disabilities.
Addressing over 200 participants at the forum, co-chair Dato Paduka Mohd Alimin Abd Wahab, senior trustee at Pusat Ehsan, stressed that empowering people with disabilities is crucial to the achievement of all development goals.
“As disability issues are no longer the question of charity but also of rights, the concern for empowerment for the disabled people becomes central and critical to the achievement of all development goals,” he said in his welcoming remarks.
Dato Mohd Alimin noted, however, that the participation of the disabled community can only be realised with the implementation of an inclusive policy framework in development agendas.
Despite the many practical concerns, he asserted that inclusive development is given a high priority in Brunei. He also questioned whether the nation could be at the forefront of reducing poverty and enhancing employment opportunities without inclusive development.
“As we explore the disability world, we find ourselves (struggling) with conventions and declarations, urging countries to do their best to sign and live up to the cardinal principles of human rights,” he said.
Dato Mohd Alimin explained that problems prevail in large measure where there is an apparent disconnect between international pronouncements and undertakings when compared to national policy and practice.
“And for these reasons, we found that the conventions are being relayed around at various levels in regional declarations and statements,” he said.
At the two-day forum, he said they aim to review the status of their achievements, identify areas that need improving and explore alternative routes to fulfil their development objectives and pronouncements.
During the launch, HRH Princess Sarah presented prizes to the winners of this year’s ASEAN Disability Forum logo competition, Marthinus Januart Jehalu and I Kadek Andre Nuaba, from Indonesia.
She also toured an exhibition held in conjunction with the forum at The Mall in Gadong, interacting with members of local NGOs, including the Association for Children with Special Needs (KACA) and the Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER).
Hosted for the first time in Brunei, the forum was conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, with the support of nine disabled people’s organisations.
The Brunei Times