Bandar Seri Begawan - The Minister of Religious Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pg Hj Abdul Rahman, speaking at the first meeting of the 9th Legislative Council (LegCo) Session yesterday, lauded the farsightedness of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the local financial and economic situations.
His Majesty's titah on Thursday stated, "We should not be complacent in our efforts to uphold peace and stability. More so during the past five years as the world is hit by global economic turbulence which is feared to affect the livelihood of the people, even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given a more positive sentiment on the global economy."
YB Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad said this showed the need for the nation to be more cautious and to work harder towards strengthening the nation's financial and economic system.
He added that the abolishment of Estate Duty will not only attract investment but this is also based on "Hukum Syarak" or Islamic principle, where Hukum Syarak does not allow for inherited assets to be taxed because inherited asset belongs to the inheritance of a person who has passed away and cannot be used for other purposes unless it is used to repay debts of the person who has passed away.
"His Majesty's titah showed us that His Majesty does not only put importance on economic aspects but also take importance on the aspects of `Ukrawf. His Majesty always demanded that both aspects to run in tandem with each other. This is the leadership style of His Majesty, which has brought us in the country to enjoy prosperity and peace in comfort and tranquillity under the blessing of Allah the Almighty," YB Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad said.
"His Majesty has reiterated his dedication to build the country as a Zikir nation. This dedication has been proven with the announcement of several regulations and laws that honours Islam.
`And with His Majesty's dedication and hard work of the people who are involved that we are able to see our country making history when His Majesty consented for the establishment of Syariah Criminal Penal Code Order, where we as subjects of His Majesty feel thankful and proud on receiving this good news."
The Minister of Religious Affairs said the draft of the Syariah Criminal Penal Code Order has been completed. This is the result of hard work between the Islamic Religious Council, Attorney General's Chambers and Islamic Legal Unit.
Following the establishment of the Syariah Criminal Penal Code draft is the "Perintah Kanun Peraturan Jenayah Syariah" draft. The Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (Syariah CPC) is also currently being drafted and for the second time evaluated by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council. The importance of Syariah CPC is towards facilitating the Syariah Criminal Penal Code Order.
Another historical order enacted is the Compulsory Religious Education Order 2012, which was implemented early 2013.
The Minister of Religious Affairs said with dedication and hard work of those involved as well as full cooperation from the public and parents, the ordinance was implemented successfully.
"The Ministry of Religious Affairs has done early preparation in ensuring academic staff and books are at an adequate level," said the minister.
"It was acknowledged that there was a little problem at the initial stage. This happened because there were parents who sent their children to certain schools. This matter caused capacity problems and affected students' comfort and the learning and teaching system."
The minister said the matter will be addressed in the future and asked for full cooperation from parents.
Another historical development in Islamic leadership and administration of the country is His Majesty's titah for commercial shops to temporarily close during Friday prayer time.
The minister said the move is not only to safeguard the image of the country as an Islamic nation and also suitable with the nation's characteristic as a Zikir nation in accordance with the Malay Islamic Monarchy principle, but also to meet the obligation under Syarak.
The minister added that the nation has seen the positive effect of the order, where the number of people going to mosque to perform the Friday prayers has increased. Where, as it happened, there are some mosques that needed additional space to fit the growing number of people during Friday prayer.
In this matter, the minister said he and the ministry officials have made a field survey to examine the situation closely, and some mosques that experienced an overflow of people had been advised to optimise their existing space to fit growing number of people during Friday prayers such as using the space used by women congregants (women do not go to mosque for Friday prayers), mosque library space and empty rooms.
At the same time, the minister said works to upgrade some of the mosques in the country and the building of more mosques are currently being planned and implemented. The minister said His Majesty had consented for the allocation of more than $100 million for the construction of new mosques.
In the meantime, the minister said the ministry welcomes public involvement such as through "Waqaf" (donation) in supporting the development of Syiar Islam in the country.
The minister also spoke on the development of Halal certification in the country, where the minister said in 2012, there was a marked increase in the use of registered Halal certificate and label in Brunei Darussalam. Among restaurants, there were 114 restaurants, compared to just two restaurants in 2011. Among food products, the increase was from 168 products in 2011 to 565 products in 2012.
For Halal abattoirs, there were 22 applications in 2011 and 24 applications in 2012.
The minister said it is hoped that more products and restaurants will possess the Halal certificates and labels, as it will become a prerequisite for application or renewal of commercial licence involving food for Muslims.
In the latest development, the minister also mentioned that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is working together with the Ministry of Communications on introducing the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Halal Food Traceability System, which is currently being run as a pilot project.
The project, the minister said, will also assist the enforcement agency of the ministry to trace the genuine Halal logo issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Initially, the pilot project is only being utilised by the Halal Food Control Division, the Golden Chick Abattoir, BMC Company and Hua Ho Tanjung Bunut. It is hoped that the project will be a success and would not be a burden for users of application.
But what is more important is that we have efforts in ensuring that our food is genuinely halal, in the midst of facing many challenges, the minister said.
The minister also praised the awareness level of Muslims in the country. He said the ministry is taking a proactive role, even in a limited regulatory framework, it has continued to monitor to ensure the food intended for Muslims in the country is halal.
The minister pointed out the recent successful tracing of several questionable foods as a result of public complaints, thanks to the cooperation of the Halal Science Centre, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, and the Scientific Services Department, Ministry of Religious Affairs.
"For example, as a result of a test, a Greatwall brand meat product was found positive to have pork content, where Muslims were advised not to consume the product and shops were instructed to place the product in an appropriate non-halal section," said the minister.
"We hope that efforts such as those mentioned above and efforts that will be implemented will receive blessing from Allah the Almighty," he added.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin