Brunei Sultan opens 14th session of Legislative Council

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - A ceremony carried out with full of pomp and pageantry marked the opening of the first meeting of the 14th Legislative Council (LegCo) session at the LegCo Building in Jalan Dewan Majlis yesterday, leading the way for extensive parliamentary discussions among council members for the next two weeks or more.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam opened this year’s session which will deliberate on among others the Supply Bill for the financial year 2018-2019 for ministries and government departments and also on issues paramount to the country’s economic progress and the wellbeing of the people.

Also present at the ceremony yesterday were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO); His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah.

Prior to the official opening ceremony, the first meeting of the 14th LegCo session was convened for the swearing-in ceremony for the 10 new Cabinet Ministers, who were appointed on January 30, as new Ex-Officio members of the LegCo. They were sworn in before LegCo Speaker YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib.

As stipulated in Article 49 of the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, the newly appointed LegCo members (Cabinet Ministers) - YB Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim, Special Advisor to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; YB Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Jaafar, Minister of Health; YB Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud, Minister at the PMO; YB Dato Seri Paduka Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Minister of Finance II; YB Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; YB Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Minister of Development; YB Dato Paduka Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein, Minister of Energy and Industry; YB Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman, Minister of Education; YB Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof, Minister of Communications; and YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports - read out the oath before the LegCo Speaker.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the LegCo Speaker expressed his hope that all the newly appointed members will work together in upholding the trust and responsibility given to them in developing the country in tandem with His Majesty’s vision for the prosperity and wellbeing of the country and its people.

During the opening ceremony, His Majesty took a royal salute to the national anthem and inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) personnel.

As His Majesty entered the conference hall, he was accompanied by the ‘cokmar’ or the Royal Mace, a sterling silver-crafted sceptre which represents the symbol of authority carried by Sergeant-at-arms.

His Majesty then delivered a titah, where the monarch highlighted among others crucial steps that needs to be formulated to bolster the country’s economic diversification efforts while also ensuring prudence and prioritisation in expenditures. His Majesty also underlined the urgency for Brunei to achieve its food self-sufficiency and security targets as well as the need to hone more locals to lead the oil and gas industry in the country.

The LegCo session this year is chaired by YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman as Speaker to the LegCo, who will be assisted by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Jaya Dato Paduka Haji Judin bin Haji Asar, Clerk to the LegCo and Rose Aminah binti Haji Ismail, Deputy Clerk to the LegCo.

The LegCo session this year enters its 14th year since it was re-instated in 2004. There are currently 33 members in the LegCo comprising Ex-Officio members, titled persons, and persons who have achieved distinction as well as district representatives.

The LegCo is an avenue for the country’s citizens and residents to voice their ideas, suggestions, opinions and issues through appointed members by the means of discussions and deliberations that adhere to Brunei’s traditional concept of enhancing and strengthening relations between the people and the government.

The 14th LegCo session will reconvene today at 9am, where members are expected to table the budget proposal for the fiscal year 2018-2019 and also deliver their appreciation speeches in response to His Majesty’s titah yesterday.