Brunei’s Road to Diversification

There has been another ‘exciting’ development in Brunei’s quest to
diversify its economy (or I hope it is what we are doing), and that is
Brunei wishes to be the ‘city in the garden’.
Is this just a mere statement or is this a real project with plans and
strategies already being formulated? If it is a real project, I would
love to know and maybe contribute ideas but if it isn’t, then Brunei
better do something about it because you can’t just announce to the
world that you want to be something and not do it and expect the world
to forget.

The thing about us in Brunei is that we love to make
fancy headlines: ‘halal branding’, ‘heart of Borneo’, ‘Kingdom of
Unexpected Treasures’, ‘service hub (ShuTT)’, ‘ICT park’, ‘offshore
financial centre’, ‘Brunei Inc. (or something like that)’, just to name
a few. Please don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do
this or we cannot dream big but I have yet to see the end products.

think the main reason why we have not achieved anything in relation to
these ‘fancy’ projects or actually ANY project is that there is a lack
of detailed plan and strategies. Even if there is one, it is never
shared with the public let alone debated. Even worse it is sometimes
not even shared among the relevant agencies. As a result the public,
including the private sector, do not understand, never mind contribute,
and therefore the project is not appreciated and supported.

for example ‘halal branding’. Seriously, I don’t fully understand what
is it that we want to do? What is our objective? Can it create massive
employment? Can it increase food production? How much resources are we
devoting? What is our problem? Why does it take so long? How can we
help? Do we mean to say that ‘Brunei Halal’ is better that ‘Malaysia
Halal’ or ‘Thailand Halal’? Because believe me, when I go to a shop
abroad I only look for ‘Halal’ products. Taste and packaging play a
more important role in my decision to buy a particular halal product.

am no expert but I think it is high time that Brunei goes to the basic
of development and economic diversification. Instead of devoting our
energy and resources to fancy projects, wouldn’t it be better to
concentrate in the actual production? I for one want to hear plans for
massive agricultural production or fishery or any kind of
manufacturing. It sounds boring but it is what we most need to survive.
Do remember that we only have 25 years to turn our economy around. And
that is not a very long time.