Bandar Seri Begawan - Many advanced countries have made technology as the bedrock of their respective armed forces, and Brunei is making a start in following suit.
The Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Mustappa bin Hj Sirat said this during the closing ceremony and certificate presentation for the 9th Executive Development Programme for the Ministry of Defence, held at Tarindak d'Polo Restaurant in Jerudong.
"We have seen Australia, Singapore, UK, US and many others adopting a systematic approach to embrace technology with clear policy direction and established research institutions. Australia and UK for instance pitch technology at ministerial level. Singapore has a chief scientist alongside a senior civil servant," he added.
"Alhamdulillah, for Brunei we are making a start. The challenge for us is most likely to come in the entire ecosystem; the industries, advanced educational institutions, the research and the market forces, as well as the policy perspective. But most important is the cultural change that has to happen. This means that we have to bring in professionals like lawyers, engineers, scientists, system integrators who will most likely dictate the best solution for our armed forces. After more than half a century of existence of our own armed forces, the time has now come for us to take a holistic approach on defence technology to analyse the industrial environment, the education, the stream groups, the buy-ins and create the science community," said the deputy minister.
Dato Paduka Hj Mustappa further said that the real challenge for them is putting theory into practice and make the policies work, which is where innovation comes in. Policy challenges, according to the deputy minister, are often cross-departmental, and even cross-ministerial, adding more complexity in re-engineering their process due to several factors.
"Policy solutions require understanding, and managing of different and sometimes conflicting priorities, and the effects of policy solutions go beyond individual organisations. Innovation requires a multi-disciplinary approach with a keen sense of awareness of the policy environment. Robust and enduring policies take into account these complexities, as well as long-term effects so that it benefits the organisation in the long run, rather than a few in the short run. As leaders, we must be mindful and open in offering services to our organisation and country as a whole. We must share the same commitment, and have the collective responsibility to deliver what is best to our nation," he said.
The cross breeding of ideas of different views and perspectives and the tapping into the wealth of experience - not just from different professions, but from different countries - to further enrich the learning opportunities is encouraged by diversifying the backgrounds of officers sent for the 9th Executive Development Programme.
He went on to say that the Ministry of Defence sees continuous and lifelong learning as an essential investment, especially for a highly professional and skilled workforce, whom they will count on to stand up to the challenge of achieving the nation's vision.
"Continuous learning is so compelling now in a time where the pace of change is even more fluid. And because change has become the norm in the environment in which we live in, it is imperative that we continue to seek ways in which we can acquire new knowledge and new experience. And we must do this relentlessly," said Dato Paduka Awg Hj Mustappa.
He added that if continuous learning has not happened already, there is a real risk that change would outpace an organisation's ability to adapt.
"In the business world, companies would be subject to market forces and simply go out of business. Not so with governments, where we have a bigger responsibility to the public and to the nation. The effects of this inability to adapt are very costly, burdening the nation with the consequences of being irrelevant. Change occurs constantly, and it occurs all around us - we can see this more commonly in advances in technology, in the security and strategic environment," he added.
Twenty-eight officers from different backgrounds ranging from defence and security, law, economics to health and development were part of this year's programme.
Certificates were presented by the guest of honour to the recipients.
Also present were the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Commissioner of Royal Brunei Police Force, permanent secretaries, ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin