Sultan of Brunei questions delay in Syariah law enforcement


HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, yesterday ordered authorities to explain the two-year delay in the phased enforcement of Syariah Penal Code Order.

The monarch said the Syariah law has remained “stagnant” without any progress after being actively pursued for a brief period following the launch of the Order in 2014.

Delivering his titah during a meeting with the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) at the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, His Majesty questioned how many of the Syariah law provisions have been enforced.

[Related story: ]

[Related video: ]

“How long has passed since it was launched and gazetted until now? It has already been two years but it is still at the stage where only general offences are dealt with.

“What about the other phases? When will they be implemented? I expect the ministry concerned might respond by saying that the Syariah Penal Code could not be fully enforced at this stage because the CPC (Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code) has not been finalised,” the Sultan added.

The CPC outlines the rules for conducting criminal proceedings, from the investigation to prosecution.

His Majesty said authorities might respond by saying they are still waiting for the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to finalise the vetting of the draft documents.

“My next question is when will the draft law be sent to the AGC? Their response might be that it was already sent in 2014,” His Majesty said.

The Sultan went on to say that if this was the case, it is most regrettable because two years have passed and yet the CPC has not been completed.

“How thick is the draft? The AGC might tell us there are many other legal documents that need to be urgently dealt with too. The vetting of the CPC will only be able to be finalised in June 2016, after it has stalled for two years,” the monarch said.

His Majesty said this is an “unacceptable excuse”.

“It is as if people will be under the impression that the Syariah Penal Code is worthless as a law mechanism. Where is the Minister of Religious Affairs? And where is the Attorney General? Why have they not come forward to remedy this unsatisfactory situation?” the Sultan questioned.

The first phase of the Syariah Penal Code was enforced on May 1, 2014. His Majesty added that before the second phase can be implemented, the country has to wait for another 12 months after the CPC can be gazetted.

“Now two years have gone by, but the CPC is not gazetted yet and the vetting process has not even started. This means that after it is gazetted in 2016, we have to wait another year, until 2017 before the second phase can be implemented.”

He said it will be 2018 by the time the third phase of the Syariah law can be enforced.

“So when will the penal code be ready to be fully implemented? Is it true to say that the officers responsible in vetting the draft legislation could not do so as a matter of urgency? Is it just a matter of vetting or did they intentionally refuse to vet?” His Majesty questioned.

The monarch asked why had the religious affairs minister and attorney general failed to keep tabs on how the work was being done by their officers.

“May I remind all that we did not formulate the law out of whims and fancies but we do it solely for the sake of Allah, not in pursuit of glamour. Working for Allah must be done earnestly,” His Majesty said.

Religious education

His Majesty also raised concerns on the direction and future of Arabic education in the country.

Arabic schools are established to bring forth those who are competent in religious knowledge, with the objective of eventually getting Islamic scholars or ulama. With this in mind, Arabic schools must prioritise religious subjects such as Arabic language, fiqh, tauhid, Quran, hadith and tafsir, he said.

He added that this must be done without ignoring the importance of subjects such as Malay language, English language and Mathematics.

Everything went well since the inception, but Arabic schools introduced the science stream from the 1980s, making it compulsory to take Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Additional Mathematics – subjects that are available in mainstream schools under the Ministry of Education, he said.

This meant that students who took the science subjects are required to reduce the number of religious subjects so that it will not be too burdensome, and thus science subjects came to gain more prominence than religious subjects, he continued.

Science stream classes at Arabic Schools currently only offer classes up to O-levels. After completing their O-levels, the students would have to transfer to mainstream schools if they wish to pursue the sciences.

“At that point, they are no longer considered students of Arabic schools and they completely stop studying religious subjects after their O-levels,” he said.

The monarch said there is a need to review the impact of introducing the sciences in Arabic schools when it was implemented in the 1980s.

“Unfortunately, no such research has been done, we do not know the implications whether good and bad of introducing Science stream classes back in the 1980s,” he said.

The Arabic religious education system is experiencing major changes with the implementation of the National Education System for the 21st Century (SPN21).

Under the education system, Arabic school students will be able to master both religious and Science stream subjects. Year 11 students at Arabic secondary schools will have to sit for two major examinations, including the O-levels for their mainstream subjects and the Brunei Islamic Studies Certificate (SPUB) for their religious curriculum.

In Year Nine, the students will be divided into three streams based on their results: 1) fast track Science stream for students who obtained excellent results; 2) normal track Science stream for students who obtained ‘very good’ results; and 3) Arabic stream for students who obtained ‘good’ results and below.

The Sultan said the grading of the three streams reflects that the Arabic stream is of third class level, not on par with the other two categories.

They are also required to study all subjects for their SPUB and O-level examinations simultaneously, possibly doubling the number of subjects that need to be taken in mainstream schools, he added.

“Wouldn’t such a system make it burdensome for Arabic school students and difficult for teachers to teach and complete the syllabus with that many subjects?”

He added that this can cause students to choose the Science stream over the Arabic stream.

The monarch said it is generally known that religious education subjects are more difficult and taxing compared to the other subjects, a factor that can push students away from Arabic classes in favour of the sciences.

“All these need to be deliberated on as thoroughly as possible to save and popularise religious subjects so that they will be seen as a good choice, more attractive and more appealing than non-religious subjects, not a means to open an opportunity for them to get away or escape from.

“This is a matter of much concern to me – the future direction of Arabic schools. Are their roles fading into irrelevancy or diverting towards another direction. All these call for a thorough reassessment to turn back to its original course. Let it not be changed,” he added.

Islamic propagation

The monarch said da’wah (dissemination of Islamic teachings) in the country is still weak and needs to be strengthened amid uncertain times and social ills affecting the country.

Among the issues raised were the number of propagators at the Islamic Da’wah Centre and whether they were properly trained.

“In addition to having many propagators, we want the da’wah delivered to be effective. Effective da’wah is successful da’wah,” he said.

His Majesty pointed out that one important medium of the da’wah is through the mimbar. The mimbar is a pulpit where the imam delivers the sermon in mosques.

“It is vital to deliver effective messages in the sermons. That is why all aspects must be taken into account, starting from preparation, content, writing, policy guidelines and lastly, the individual who will deliver the sermon,” he said.

His Majesty said it is important to practise discretion in deciding the content of the sermon, adding that the content must be appropriate.

He gave an example of an incident where SEA Games become the topic of a sermon. “The khatib (sermon readers) called upon congregants and Muslims to flock to the stadium to witness the events that would take place. We might say that sports is not something Islamically impermissible, but for a khatib to persuade and herd people to the stadium, in my opinion, is something that needs to be given thorough deliberation.

“Have we exhausted all topics and there is no other more important issue other than the SEA Games? This is what discretion is in the choice of topic along with the need to adhere to policy guidelines on sermons,” he added.

The Sultan said khatibs need guidelines on the correct way of delivering the sermon.

“Some readers are too tense and some were repetitive in their presentation. Is this what is expected of them by the Mosque Affairs Department? Where are the mosque affairs officers? Have they not come across incidents like these,” he asked.

Official visits and functions

His Majesty went on to say that it is not necessary for both the Minister of Religious Affairs and his deputy to make visits together as one should stay at the ministry and attend to pressing matters, such as the need to formulate policies for schools and the Islamic Da’wah Centre.

“The minister and his deputy minister should not simply enjoy making visits upon visits, for instance to schools, mosques and elsewhere. In doing so, both of them pay a visit to the same place and enjoy media coverage,” His Majesty said.

The monarch also said there is no need for all senior government officials to attend official functions that were held either in the day or at night.

“It is alright to make a visit and hold a function, but if the events are becoming too many and frequent, what about office work and worse, if too many attend them – the minister, his deputy minister and a horde of other officers! Is it not more reasonable for one of them to make the visit while the other stays behind?

“Is it not true that there are a lot of more pressing matters that need to be dealt with and given serious thought in the office?

He said other pressing matters include formulating policies for schools, Islamic Da’wah Centre, mosques, zakat (tithes), following up on the development of new converts, maintenance and upkeep of Muslim cemeteries and burial grounds, as well as halal certification.

Following the meeting, His Majesty visited the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which houses several units under the Islamic Religious Council before making a stop at the Islamic Da’wah Centre.

The Brunei Times

Sunday, February 28, 2016

bru penal codes


Brunei’s Arabic schools graduates must strive for excellence

arabic school
BRUNEI’s first Arabic school, the Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Secondary School for Boys (SMALHB), celebrated its 50 years of existence on Wednesday with a thanksgiving ceremony attended by over 500 students, alumni and members of the school big family.

In a solemn and sincere show of gratitude towards the Almighty Allah for His guidance and blessings that have helped the school to achieve what it is today, those attending the ceremony recited Surah Al-Fatihah, Yassin, Tahlil and Doa Kesyukuran (thankgiving) prayers. Since 1967, no less than 10,000 students have enrolled in the school and have gone through several education system transformations.

It was Almarhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, the late father of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who aspired to establish the first Arabic school to help realize his vision of producing young generations who are not only knowledgeable religiously, but also in general subjects of knowledge that would enable them to achieve the best life here and in the hereafter and to contribute their best for the good of the nation.

The late Sultan emphasised in his titah delivered during the foundation laying ceremony of the first Arabic school on September 24, 1964, that the school should produce students who are not only knowledgeable religiously, but also in general subjects to enable them to further their education locally or abroad in an effort to improve the quality of the country’s human resources.

Being a visionary leader, the late Sultan was widely acknowledged as the Architect of Modern Brunei, and the one who laid a strong foundation in education development in Negara Brunei Darussalam. With his far-sighted thought, the late Sultan had implemented a well-balanced education policy by focusing on Islamic religious teaching as well as promoting general education. This policy has succeeded in producing local intellectuals of quality.

It is His Majesty, who later constantly and ambitiously continues his father’s legacy through the establishment of more Arabic or religious schools. His Majesty has since made numerous titahS stressing the need for Arabic schools in the Sultanate to, among others, produce graduates that must be able to advance their studies not only on Islamic teachings and knowledge but also in other fields such as of medicines, engineering and others at universities in Egypt and other countries. In a titah delivered on Nov 23, 1991, His Majesty stressed that (Arabic schools) must not only produce graduates who would later on become ulama (Islamic scholars) but also scientists, pharmacists and other Islam-oriented professionals.

The signing of an agreement for a mega project by the Ministry of Religious Affairs early this month with contractors to build three religious schools worth $99 million is an apparent proof of the ambition of His Majesty’s government to further develop religious education in the country. This shows the monarch’s strong desire to provide our young generations with the best possible platform that would instill in them a strong basis of Islamic knowledge so as to make them persistent or istiqomah with their faith or aqidah. It is indeed these bases that would make them tough and resilient in facing the outside propaganda and Western influence as well as the various challenges brought upon by the advanced information technology and modernization.

Various scholarships, including the prestigious Sultan’s Scholars, have also been offered by the Government of His Majesty where students and graduates of Arabic schools have equal opportunities as those from the general schools.

We have seen encouraging achievements made by Arabic and religious schools in the country, but, of course, there is still room for improvement. We must not be complacent with all the achievement. All stakeholders, especially the related authorities and the Arabic and religious schools must work hard together and exert to the best they can to help the students and graduates to strive for excellence. The authorities and the schools management should always improve the curriculum, which is crucial in producing religious graduates who should also pursue to have profession as doctors, engineers, It experts, journalists and so on.

They must strive for excellence to develop the country and not throw away their knowledge and experience once they finish schooling. The students and graduates must not forget that the country needs knowledgeable people in Islamic teachings and that the government has been investing a lot for various development programmes, like sending them to learn more about the religion and secular subjects at institutions abroad.

Religious education is so important that it must be developed further and promoted to a higher level to produce the truly God-fearing and God-loving generations, who love the Quran and Islamic knowledge as they love the general knowledge; generations whose hearts and minds are always attached to the mosque and the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Only by achieving these qualities can we realise His Majesty’s aspiration of transforming the country into a Zikir Nation. InsyaAllah

The Brunei Times/Editorial
Fri, 14 November 2014


BI empowers Islamic boarding school (pesantren) to achieve financial inclusion

SONY DSCSatya Festiani

BANK Indonesia (BI) empowers Indonesian Islamic boarding school, or known as pesantren, to achieve financial inclusion.

“We increase the capability through technical meeting and assistance,” Governor of BI Agus Martowardojo said during National Seminar on Empowering Pesantren in Surabaya, Wednesday, Nov 5. The assistance includes recording and managing their money. BI also educates the santri on financial access.

The financial education aims to elevate their knowledge on financial system. The santri is expected to transmit the knowledge to people so that more people enter the financial system, especially banking account. Increasing people’s investment in financial system can boost the economic growth.

Financial inclusion means that more people having access to financial system, including banking and insurance. The better financial inclusion also means economic growth will be more sustainable.

Agus Martowardoyo

Agus Martowardoyo

In Indonesia, only 48 percent of households have access to finance, based on BI survey. Martowardojo said that pesantren could increase the financial inclusion. According to composition of the country’s religion based population, 82 percent of Indonesians are Muslims. Its growing populations make pesantren develop accordingly.

Based on the data from Ministry of Religious Affairs, Indonesia had only 9.388 pesantrens with 1.771.000 students, or known as santris, in 1997. As of now, the number grows significantly. The country has 28.000 pesantren with 4 million students,

The Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said the cooperation was in accordance with the mission of pesantren, which is developing people’s welfare. The cooperation with Indonesian central bank also helps pesantren deter its challenges. One of them is on managing the asset of pesantren.

“Many pesantrens are overwhelming. People trust them with wakaf. Pesantren has to use it for the benefit of people,” he said. Lukman said, BI played the role on assisting santri to manage the money and asset from wakaf.

Thu, 6 November 2014

In Brunei, there are non-Muslim students achieve higher grades in Islamic knowledge examination than Muslim students

bru studAk Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

MAJORITY of non-Muslim parents are not concerned that their children have to study Islamic Religious Studies (IRK) at schools in Brunei.

An Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) officer, Hjh Zahrinah, said most non-Muslim parents are supportive, mainly due to its disciplinary principles in shaping children’s characters and see no problem in their children studying IRK.

“Most parents who are non-Muslim understand that the IRK subject does not force children to convert to Islam, but is aimed at teaching the values of Islam that instill discipline,” Hjh Zahrinah told The Brunei Times on the sideline of the Physical and Mental Health Programme for Primary School teachers held at the Agro Technology Park.

However, in one isolated case, she said that a complaint was filed by parents who disapproved of their children to studying the IRK subject.

“Those parent sent their children to a private school,” said Hjh Zahrinah, not disclosing the name of the school to protect the identity of the child. The other concern, she said was that many parents thought studying IRK would affect the overall grades of their children. However, the IRK officer clarified that these were isolated cases as in general most non-Muslim parents do not see the subject as a tool to influence their children towards Islam.

Ustazah Hjh Sinega Siwerdi, Head Division of Religious School, said that there are non-Muslim students who achieved higher grades in IRK examination than Muslim students.

“This shows that even non-Muslims want to learn about Islam,” she said.

Ustazah Hjh Sinega said that there were Muslim students who are not aware of the basic teachings of Islam like performing prayers or mandi wajib (complete cleanse of the body).

“That’s why the Islamic Religious Studies Department held this type of programme such as Shabab Ul-Islam (Islamic activities) for selected students to polish their knowledge about the basics of the religion,” she said.

According to Hj Saleh Hj Nasir, Head of Primary School Unit, IRK Division, the objective of the programme was to strengthen the relationship between religious teachers. The guest of honour was Ustazah Hjh Asmah Hj Randah, the Director of Islamic Knowledge at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

More than 255 religious teachers from government primary schools in all districts, except Temburong, participated in the programme, organised by the Committee of Head of religious teachers of Government Primary Schools (Jawatankuasa Ketua Guru Ugama Sekolah Rendah Kerajaan (JaKGU SRK BM).

The Brunei Times
Monday, June 9, 2014

‘MindPlus’ app close to breaking 1k downloads

bru mindplus app


A LOCAL Islamic Knowledge application is close to 1,000 downloads since being uploaded onto the Apple App Store early March.

The application, ‘MindPlus’ was developed by PHMD Publishing Company and saw downloads from over 40 countries including the US, Canade, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, said iCentre in a statement.

The application features a wide variety of animations and articles which had been checked and endorsed by Pusat Da’wah Islamiah.

It aims to make users easily understand matters relating to the daily lives of a Muslim and Islam.

Users can get regular new content, such as video animations, by subscribing US$1.99 per month.

The MindPlus application was supported by the LEAP Grant awarded by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), Authority for Infocommunications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AiTi) and iCentre.

The application had won several awards including the Ignite Open Category 2012, Brunei ICT Awards 2012, Brunei ICT Awards 2013 and ASEAN ICT Awards 2013.

The Brunei Times
Thu, 22 May 2014

Ak Mohd Khairi (Front R) and his development team at PHMD Publishing. Photo: BT/Al-Haadi Abu Bakar

Ak Mohd Khairi (Front R) and his development team at PHMD Publishing. Photo: BT/Al-Haadi Abu Bakar

‘Sang Pemberani’, an Indonesian version of ‘The Karate Kid’

film sangNiken Paramita

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID – Based on the true story of a karate athlete in Aceh, the movie Sang Pemberani (The Courageous) tries to show the struggle of a boy named Madi (Ahmad Reza Hari) who emerged from the downturn after the tsunami to take his father and brother.

Although the trial came and went Madi proved his karate talent inherited from his father and brother were able to make it to become a champion.

In addition to presenting the family story, a film directed by Agung Dewa and Ryuken Raissa Alyandra promises an action through play of karate games. The producer Reza B. Surianegara even promised even Sang Pemberani as the Indonesian verion of ‘The Karate Kids’.

“The difference is this the real karate, played by the real karate athletes,” Reza said in Jakarta.

The same thing also expressed by one of the players, Edwin ‘Superbejo’ which acts as abang (older brother) Adoy.

“The theme of this film is the same as the ‘Karate Kid”s, the true story of a child who died in Aceh since the tsunami but because of the spirit and courage he could be the national champions,” he added.

The film, shot in Aceh, Bali, Jakarta, Bogor and Japan is expected to be a valuable spectacle for Indonesian children.

“A lot of dynamics in this film. Intentionally, we did make a good film, a film about education that hopefully can inspire the nation,” added executive producer Bakhtiar Rakhman.

Sun, 18 May 2014

film sang3

film sang2

film sang1

Risma declares Surabaya literate city


REPUBLIKA.CO.ID — Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini declared Surabaya to be a literate city in East Java, in conjunction with National Education Day and Regional Autonomy Day on Friday.

She said the declaration of Surabaya as a literate city was in keeping with the theme of National Education Day, calling for “Education for Superior Civilization in Indonesia.”

“Declaring Surabaya as a literate city is part of my commitment to focusing on the human development index, in addition to infrastructure development in Surabaya,” Tri Rismaharini said.

 Tri Rismaharini

Tri Rismaharini

The mayor noted that the city administration has, in the last few years, increased the number of libraries to encourage children to read more.

She asserted that through reading, children in Surabaya will be prepared to welcome a better future and superior civilization.

“We continue to arouse the curiosity of children to read a lot in order to be more creative,” she said, adding that the presence of libraries also had a positive impact on developing human resources.

According to Tri, the Surabaya city administration has made a commitment to encourage reading in society, as 972 libraries have been established throughout the city.

Several points of the declaration, read out by a representative of the students, stated that students were ready to make Surabaya a literate city, to read and write every day at school, and to study diligently for the sake of the nation’s development.

Republika OL
Fri, 2 May 2014