Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced that the megabridge connecting the Brunei-Muara district and the Temburong district has been named as the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Bridge, in honour of the monarch’s late father. 

In a recent titah to commemorate his 74th birthday, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said that the bridge has no doubt, become a “symbol of modernity” for Brunei Darussalam, reminding the Sultan of his late father; known historically as the ‘Architect of Modern Brunei’. 

The $1.4 billion bridge was opened on March 17 of this year “to bring ease to commuters” of both districts, as national directives prohibiting the Bruneian residents from exiting the country, were put in place to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Image: Shutterstock

“It is with this memory that I am inspired to name the bridge: the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien bridge,” the monarch announced.

His Majesty the Sultan in his titah also addressed how the adverse effects of the pandemic have become part of the global discourse, noting its impact towards global oil prices which have become unstable. 

“The government will make sure that this does not negatively impact the country’s efforts in establishing a conducive environment that can attract foreign investors, which at the same time can strengthen the country’s fiscal status,” he said. 

With this in mind, the monarch mentioned a number ofBrunei’s biggest projects such as Hengyi’s oil refinery and petrochemical plant at Pulau Muara Besar that has begun exporting their products, and Brunei Fertilizer Industries’ ammonia and urea plant slated for operations at the second quarter of next year.  

The Temburong Bridge connecting the Brunei-Muara district to the Temburong district recently opened to the public on 17/03/2020, marking the first time the Temburong district being connected to the rest of the nation. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

He expressed hope that these projects would contribute significantly towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while also presenting potential job opportunities for local residents. 

In relation to this, His Majesty the Sultan said that the recent establishment of the Petroleum Authority of Brunei Darussalam will further ensure this, acting as a technical body for the Ministry of Energy to monitor oil and gas operations and regulate the upstream and downstream sectors. 

The monarch then went on to acknowledge the recent uptick in online usage and digitalisation, and how artificial intelligence and big data analytics applications have become a source of innovation and productivity during these unprecedented times. 

The Temburong Bridge connecting the Brunei-Muara district to the Temburong district recently opened to the public on 17/03/2020, marking the first time the Temburong district being connected to the rest of the nation. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“I believe that digital technology has a high potential to drive the country’s economy forward. Therefore, this would be the right time for Brunei Darussalam to have its own Digital Economy Masterplan,” he said. 

He touched on the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 which has been established under the Ministry of Transport and Info-communication. 

The Temburong Bridge connecting the Brunei-Muara district to the Temburong district recently opened to the public on 17/03/2020, marking the first time the Temburong district being connected to the rest of the nation. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The monarch highlighted the important role digital services play in this modern age, encompassing education, business as well as administration, all of which, he added, is of vital importance in order to transform Bandar Seri Begawan into a Smart City. 

“In conjunction with my birthday, the National Welfare System (SKN) can begin to be used by those who require welfare assistance, whether through the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports  (MCYS) or the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB),” he went on to say. 

Announced on June 21, the SKN is intended to provide a more comprehensive picture of the welfare ecosystem in the country as well as a means to prevent negligence in the distribution of aid. 

“With the implementation of this system (SKN), information on residents who require welfare assistance can be stored so that none will slip through the crack and be left untended,” the Sultan added. 

Image: www.facebook.com/govbrunei

The monarch concluded his titah by expressing his deepest gratitude and appreciation to residents of Brunei Darussalam from all walks of life, including those working in the public and private sectors as well as Bruneians who are currently working abroad for their support towards the government. 

“Though celebrations have to be done differently this year, as the world is still in the throes of the coronavirus. We are grateful that, with the grace of Allah, our country has been able to control the spread of the pandemic,” he continued.

“I would like to congratulate everyone once again, especially the front-liners who have been working tirelessly to face this difficult situation,” he added

The Temburong Bridge connecting the Brunei-Muara district to the Temburong district recently opened to the public on 17/03/2020, marking the first time the Temburong district being connected to the rest of the nation. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

This article was first published on July 18, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 98

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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