Bandar Seri Begawan - The outgoing High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Brunei Darussalam, Rob Fenn, who is leaving the Sultanate following the completion of his four-year tenure remarked that the nation's conservation efforts of its peat swamp forests can be an inspiration for other countries to collectively contribute toward saving the planet from climate change.
The High Commissioner has always been an advocate of environmental conservation and during an interview with the Bulletin at the sideline of a farewell reception hosted by the Diplomatic Corps yesterday, said, "Brunei's peat swamp forests are a powerful mechanism in sequestering carbon dioxide. The trees in the peat swamp take the carbon dioxide generated by mankind and put them underwater into the peat.
"This will not save the planet in itself but if Brunei protects its peat swamp forest, this would be a source of comfort and inspiration to other countries to make similar efforts and therefore help us to collectively save the planet.
"I pay tribute to the Government of His Majesty, particularly Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya, as well as other ministers who understand that the rainforest as well as marine environment are resources that Brunei currently has and is in a better state than many of its neighbours. This is both a responsibility and opportunity tor the Sultanate.
"I think Brunei has begun by simply being a good steward, partly because the country has other sources of income, but also as respect for the created world. Now the stewardship is becoming more active and directed by policies as well as being connected with job creation through the idea of diversifying the economy by leading to the creation of new types of employment such as work in the laboratory.
"The power that Brunei has is an icon or symbol. Brunei can become a country with a full spectrum of energy. It has oil and gas, it adds to renewable energy as well as alternative sources and has a strong record on energy conservation and efficiency. Brunei can send a signal to the world."
Touching on the issue of trade, the High Commissioner highlighted that trade is rising and will continue to rise with emphasis mainly on the oil and gas industry as well as the investment sector.
He said, "We are keen to pursue Brunei for more investment in UK infrastructure. We are very happy with the scale of Brunei's investment at the moment."
Regarding the field of education, the High Commissioner would like to see more cooperation as Brunei has been receiving this from the UK for many generations.
He said, "I would like to see Brunei becoming a platform for the re-export of British Education in the region. Brunei can be a platform for education at the high end such (research and development) and in vocational technical training, which Brunei is currently focusing on now"
In Asean he explained, "There is a significant shortfall on the provision of good technical training to young people and Brunei can become host to a number of further education institutions as well as host foreign students at these institutions. Then there is a strong business case for British institutions such as Highbury Polytechnic, Portsmouth working with CfBT to set up a private polytechnic partnership with Brunei Polytechnic with the aim of increasing the capacity of the institution, which can make Brunei a platform for technical and vocational education in Southeast Asia."
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office also met with the High Commissioner yesterday, in which the High Commissioner said, "I gave a DVD entitled 'English as an Asean Language - the Brunei Story, which His Royal Highness expressed an interest in. I believed that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is also passionate with regard to education.
"I want to help UBD (Universiti Brunei Darussalam) to be ranked as one of the top 50 universities in Asia and exploit the already good relationship with many British universities so that UBD with its sister organisations, ITB and UNISSA, are safely imbedded in a network of academic alliances and research collaboration."