‘What can you do for the country?’

National 3 minutes, 10 seconds


THE only way for youth to cut through the norms of a “conservative society’’ and start practising energy efficiency and conservation is changing their own attitudes, the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohd Yasmin Hj Umar said youth need to start thinking of what they can do for Brunei, instead of what the government can do for them.

The minister was addressing about 300 youths from schools and non-governmental organisations at the first Youth Energy Dialogue at the BRIDEX International Conference Centre

One of the youths, Izzah Zakaria, a graduate from York University, asked how the minister expects to change the mindset of society when it came to energy efficiency and conservation.

“Education, education and education,” was the response of YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohd Yasmin.

“It is very important to educate the public and society. Sometimes, a simple initiative can prove results, such as the introduction of the new electricity tariffs two years ago,’’ he said.

Dk Hana Afiqah Pg Hassanal Ali, a Universiti Brunei Darussalam student, asked whether it was in the pipelines for Brunei to introduce “No Styrofoam Weekends’’.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohd Yasmin said he agreed, and it should not only be banned during the weekends, but altogether.

The minister also agreed to a youth’s suggestion for ministers and other senior government officials to switch to using energy-efficient vehicles.

At the conclusion of the three-hour long dialogue, Year 11 student Rohadatul’aisy Nabilah Irwan from STRPI said the dialogue gave her knowledge of Brunei’s intention to reduce energy consumption. However, she hoped for future dialogues to be more student-friendly.

Another attendee, Nurqamarina Nadkirah Hj Azme from the Arab Secondary School, said she felt the dialogue was engaging, and was pleased to have an international panel of five speakers and energy minister respond to questions.

“We are the youth and we will be leaders one day. So having this forum has made me very interested in energy conservation and do more. I also want to visit the Energy Department,’’ she said, adding energy conservation is the key point she would bring home and share.

Mohammad Iman Asyari, from St Margaret’s School in Seria, said the point of eliminating the use of Styrofoam was something he too was passionate about.

He felt the dialogue would be able to change the mindsets of the attendees. “The tagline of ‘Your Future, Your Choice’ made me think a lot and is something I will be pondering from now on.’’

International panelist Professor John Loughhead, executive director at the UK Energy Research Centre, told The Brunei Times he thought the fact that the dialogue was organised and having the energy minister support it was “excellent’’.

“The questions were very good questions, because they comprised the basics and some of the more refined aspects. All the questions were valid and the youth showed a real level of interest, but also understanding what the questions were,’’ he said.

He added this was very encouraging that the youth were interested to come along, and that they showed such insight. “To be truthful, these are the people who will have to solve the problem.’’

“It is going to be a long and never ending task. We have made the start that we can, and we hope they (youth) will be able to take on the work that we’ve started,” Loughhead said.

Following the dialogue, YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohd Yasmin shared that he now knew the youth understood energy issues. “Energy efficiency and conservation have always been a good ingredient as a low-hanging fruit, and the youth understand this.’’

The minister said they will be working with the Ministry of Education to educate youth on energy-related matters.

The Brunei Times