A Capitalist Manifesto for Brunei Darussalam after Oil and Gas
Abdul Malik Omar
My vision for 2035 of Brunei Darussalam entails a capitalistic nation, well known throughout the world as the land of the elites. In this manifesto I will outline the current national standing on the global stage, the real price we need to pay for the black gold, the importance of a capitalistic society, what I envisioned of 2035 and how all of us should move towards embracing it. Particularly, the national youths.
Looking at the economy of Brunei Darussalam we are considered well off. Forbes recently ranked us as one of the richest countries on earth, in terms of gross national product per capita. We also have the highest human development index figures, the best free medicare, and the most peaceful and most politically stable country anywhere around the world. Unemployment figures are low and poverty is almost close to zero. The public is able to enjoy subsidized fuel and commodity prices. Under His Majesty’s government, thank God we are able to enjoy the benefits of a truly great nation under a truly great leader.
As up follows with down and yin with the yang, there are also downsides for Brunei’s prosperity. The GDP or output levels are very low in comparison to our peers in for example Singapore. Our output production stands close at $20.38bn(2010) whereas Singapore’s at $208.77bn(2010). 70% of the national income is derived from our natural resources; Oil and Gas. The public sector employs almost 70% of the national population while the rest are from the private side.
Statistics aside, the nation’s output are mainly generated by the black gold, one which has an invisible price tag attached to it. Sooner or later we will have to pay a heavy price. One day when all comes tumbling down its is the capitalist and the entrepreneurs who will be able to sustain and continue to develop our economy in the long run, long after the oil and gas are gone. To tackle the issue of tomorrow we have to prepare for it today.
The above issue stated can be summed up by the late Emirati, Shiekh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum quote as follows, “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.” Determined to prove the saying wrong he transformed his port into one of the leading economies of the world: Dubai. It was as it is today because he cared for his generations to come. Let us all take his cautionary thought and behold in making Brunei Darussalam a developed nation, that bases its main economy in another industry rather than oil and gas. This can be done through a capitalist society.
Brunei Darussalam as a capitalist society is a must if it wants to achieve its vision. It entails highly developed and educated citizen who are shrewd in managing financial, economical and capital affairs. He or she should have the ability to form and expand an enterprise for the betterment of the national citizens. Part of which include creating high-income jobs, superior value for the world and the determination to get the vision done. It should be done with the nation’s interest at heart.
Brunei should have more John D. Rockefellars, Henry Fords and Henry Flaglers by 2035. Highly skilled individuals with supreme imagination that dare to defy the norm and create the future as they go along. This may be extensive and hard but we can do this by “brain gaining” or importing the talents out there in the world. This can help inspire society up to a new level. This is part of the solution that is needed in developing a great capitalist society.
Brunei Darusslam by 2035 as I envision will be a renowned developed economy, having a strong infrastructural growth in the national districts, having international franchises set up and a cemented political ties across the regional superpowers, particularly with Singapore. A developed economy of Brunei will focus in the financial, real estate and corporate sector. The Foreign Direct Investment must be extensive in its reach to take economic dominance providing us healthy returns for investments. Shrewd financial minds need to be recruited; capital, in other words, has to be developed.
The infrastructure will undergo a strong and sustainable transformation. Tall buildings, apartments, condominiums, office spaces, commercial shops will sprout out from the capital city and beyond. The green in Brunei will only be affected in the minimum extent as this phase requires a sustainable development. If Dubai can do it why can’t Brunei? The advent of Pulau Muara Besar and the BIMP-EAGA can help make this possible.
To diverse the economy Starbucks, Costa, Dunkin Doughnouts and other international franchises will be operating in the nation. They will contribute to a huge increase in national GDP. In the UK for example, the franchises provide about one-third of theirs. These franchises will be operated by the nation’s capitalists, who have tremendous assets internally and externally to pull the ventures in with confidence and integrity.
My vision of 2035 will require uncommon skill accompanied with uncommon valor. Skills such as self-organization, business development, accounting, finance, marketing and other array of specialist field. What you are doing now will conceal a fate for the future you envisioned. You are here to contribute. You are here for a reason. So let us all think like a capitalist. All the more for the meeting of minds, as a capitalist society will need it. Believe me, it will be an adventure of a lifetime. So learn more to earn more and to contribute more.
To conclude, Brunei Darussalam has a tremendous level of wealth under a great leader, which we all should be grateful for. We also need to see the dark future when the oil well is all but dried up, the implications which our following generation has to face with the price that nature’s law demands one day. Vision 2035 will see a developed Brunei Darussalam which will be insured by having a capitalistic society that creates value, wealth and employment for the mass. Today the youths will be the key in creating the vision of 2035.