Many do not realize the impact of Brunei’s role in chairing the ASEAN summit. By doing so we are basically positioned to mediate the strategic issues and solutions which has been in the forefront of the regional economies. This relates to the economic and trade liberalization across the region, a little about climate impact, business and investments, FDIs.

But the main thing which relates to the national youths is the indirect international exposure of these opportunities. Ask students about the mentioned problems ten five years ago and one out of ten would not be able to give you a straight answer. But ask them now the rate would probably be much higher. So how can we Bruneian youths play a role here?

Well one thing which we can do is to learn the basic importance of the future role which we have in the region.

From the national point of view, 70% of the Bruneian current population are made of youths. Arguably there may be those who go all critical because the term ‘youths’ basically represents those aged 18-40 years old. But it does not matter as of now there are more youths-many of whom I personally know-who are more vocal than it was a decade or so ago.

All of this thanks to the change that is brought about by social media. Two prime examples from which youths can vocal their problem are through twitter and facebook. People are now free to voice out their opinions in whatever matters that pique their interest. Even Brunei Times and Borneo Bulletin took notice of that. Look at the UBD Security Guard.


Except of course the ASEAN opportunities.

Why are we not much involved is understandable. Wise people have the notion that our moment will come. Like unraveling the green envelopes in raya season, to have a peek or even worse to open it in the hosts’ house is somewhat rude.

But this thinking has its faults. I mean, why should the youths be held back from these opportunities if we will be the ones who will be managing and meditating them when ‘our time will come’?

Obviously as a potential economic centre of the region, we have leverage on trade in the region i.e the BIMP-EAGA trading bloc. If seniors cannot involve the youths in hot water/ negotiations now, how else can we prepare for challenges of the morrow? How can we get the best deal and not be on the short end of the stick in every levels of international negotiations?

Is investing the youths’ education abroad enough to substitute hard-cold experience? There’s many cases of Bruneian students in UK whose taking computer science who couldn’t even be bothered to build a simple website for their own use! How can we make a statement to the world that Brunei ‘has arrived‘ -modifying Muhammad Ali Al Abbar’s word-if we do not have that kiasu and go-getting mindset?

We obviously have the natural advantage in terms of political stability, economic growth, societal progression and social media integration(we have the highest rate of facebook users per population in the region), but why not make most of it I don’t understand.

Let’s secure as much opportunity as possible by learning the tricks of the trade which will make waves across the region. Few of the industries I am seeing that could hold massive potential is in finance, technology, and utility.

How can one get started?

Well a person once asked me how we can contribute to Brunei. My answer to that question is to develop yourself and be a better person to your community. By doing so you are effectively pushing the ‘average’ level of what people thought as success to a whole new level much like the Roger Bannister phenomena. Conquer mountains and you’ll inspire people to achieve great things. So what if few people seem to be peeved by it, just build things!

It’s better than being idle and useless as my father once needled the thirteen-year-old me when he observed me sitting in front of the TV everyday. “Malik, don’t be useless. I gave you an education use it!” just before he shut down the TV. I utilized his advice and he sometimes got peeved by my energy.

Anyway going back to the ASEAN and the Bruneian youths relations is that we have this massive opportunity to scale our enterprise, trade, influence etc. A twenty year old lady I knew makes money by trading a simple product made from Malaysia to the main departments stores in the country. There’s opportunity to make money here, only we do not know. Her initiative is awesome and inspiring by the ways.

BUT how much money has been ‘lost’ through the Miri businesses is one which all should question about. I remember a few years ago where I visited a the immigration post for this town and planning competition only to find out that there’re over a million plus visitors from Brunei going to Miri annually; and the main selling point for them? Cheap item and fun places to go.

How can we develop Brunei if we are focusing in becoming consumers as opposed to be the business people?

How much of the oil money-used to supplement the welfare district, Belait-is lost by impulsive and excessive shopping? We should be building, investing, and securing the wealth for crying out loud.

Anyway that is capitalism at work and Miri is directly well positioned to grow from Brunei’s wealth and impulsive buying, mostly thanks to the ASEAN trade policy which goes on with it.

The main thing which all should know from this article is that the importance of the youths to research about the growing opportunities across the ASEAN region. Let’s prepare for the great fall-the one I term when and after Brunei’s oil and gas runs out. So that we can be well prepared to face adversities which will ensue, however large or small it may be.

That is how we can develop Brunei for its betterment as well, and to multiply trading opportunities as it is seized by fellow compatriots. I am running to prepare myself to do so, and I am bringing people with me. It is fun. How about you?

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