Future proofing the Sultanate

AUGUST 1, 2022

The cohort of the recently concluded Strategic Foresight Methodology Course at the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) demonstrated their understanding of strategic foresight through project papers that were crucial to their organisation.

This was the fifth strategic foresight course and this year, the course marked a significant achievement after being recognised internationally by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair for Future Studies, and Sejahtera Centre for Sustainability and Humanity, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

CSPS Executive Director and Chief Researcher Dr Diana Cheong, in a statement, said, “Policymakers globally are faced with disruptive forms of change in a rapidly shifting technological, ecological, socio and economic landscape.

“Apparently unlikely and marginal events can, and often do, create significant ripple effects not only locally but also globally.

“There is a need to continually address the external environment – be it climate change, new technologies, new diseases, new job patterns and changing social expectations of the community. Continuous scanning for signals and events that may be significant in the longer term future enables responsive and anticipatory governance.

“Our CSPS Strategic Foresight course provides competency into a host of horizon scanning tools.

“We facilitate workshop participants towards identifying current trends and emerging issues likely to impact Brunei in the medium to longer term future.”

The course also provides capacity for scenario development and an exploration of alternative strategic models and paths to help develop more robust policies needed to achieve the overall national vision, she said.

According to workshop facilitator Yuzilawati binti Abdullah, the course was conducted before COVID-19 first emerged in the Sultanate and one of the exercises were the consequences of the virus.

“The participants were asked if it were possible that Brunei would close its borders. At that time, it was something that was laughed at, and no one anticipated it. Lo and behold, one week later – Brunei borders were shut. As ridiculous as it may sound, unanticipated consequences should be looked into, to prepare us for changes,” she said.

For the Ministry of Defence Foresight Project, ‘Protecting the future of Brunei’s land border security’, Kelvin Wong highlighted that strategic foresight tools were applied to explore areas in combatting transnational crimes in the country from the perspective of its land border security.

The exercise aided in understanding not only the complexity of underlying issues and their consequences but also the possibilities to employ mixed approaches to get to the preferred future through means such as international cooperation, development, and empowerment of local communities.

He said, “The tools challenged us to stretch our thinking and we hope the paper serves as a useful entry-point for further study and strategising early interventions.”

Meanwhile, for the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Foresight Project, ‘The future of administration of justice in Brunei Darussalam in the world of digital transformation’, Pengiran Hajah Siti Rahmah binti Pengiran Haji Mohammad from AGC shared the course allowed organisations to scan for emerging trends in the next five years or more such as digital transformation and the realisation that data is the new oil.

“The administration of justice is recommended to consider digital transformation to achieve the whole-of-government approach, linking meaningful data among the stakeholders and agencies and embracing fourth industrial revolution (4IR) by utilising legal technology and digitalisation of documents in realising the rule of law and the nation’s aspiration of Vision 2035.”

Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) Foresight Project’s ‘Value the Valuable: Stimulating development of the Reserve Force of the RBAF’ explored an ideal 15-year future for defence in Brunei focussing on areas for growth in the military reserves.

Under the Ministry of Development (MoD) Foresight Project, ‘Centralised online application system towards smart digital services’, Amal Hayati binti Haji Junaidi of MoD shared the paper’s aim to move towards a ‘Centralised Online System’, through a single platform (‘one-stop hub’) providing more intelligent and responsive services to the general public.

This is a response to advancements in technology, whereby manual methods of the application process will no longer be feasible in the long run.

This integrated online service will not only focus on online registration, online billing and customer support, but also optimising search engines for information, utilising digital signatures and sending automated notifications to officers and applicants.

Muhammad Nasrullah bin Murni from the Prime’s Minister’s Office (PMO) highlighted the PMO’s, Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, and Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Tourism Foresight Project, ‘Emerging Issues in Brunei’ on the emerging issue around the theme of rapid urban developments in Borneo.

“The tools and framework we learnt during the course provide us with a perspectives on how such issue might develop, and what are the direct and indirect consequences. Several scenarios are constructed and it enabled us to identify whether the emerging issues are a problem or opportunity for us to strategically plan accordingly.”

For the Ministry of Health (MoH) and DST Foresight Project, ‘Health Data: Are We Protected?’, Nur Azim bin Haji Matnor of MoH said, “The paper discussed and explored the alternative scenarios of health data protection.”

He said data protection policy will further be regulated and enforced and with the advancement of technology for Brunei to be ‘a secured and protected healthy nation’.

In addition, for the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali and Radio Television Brunei Foresight Project, ‘Transformation of higher education for future relevance: Brunei Case’, Dr Hajah Juraidah binti Haji Musa of UBD said, “The team envisioned a world-class higher education without walls, which can be realised through a whole-of-nation approach, with the government as a catalyst and a society embracing changes for more equitable access to education, not only for the local but also the global community.

“It capitalises on digital innovations, educational and pedagogical advancements, a stable and growing local and global economy, and political stability and international collaborations.”

Source: https://borneobulletin.com.bn/future-proofing-the-sultanate/