Copy of "Challenges Faced In Upholding Brunei Identity"
Borneo Bulletin, 7 Nov 2013, written by Azlan Othman
Bandar Seri Begawan: Inter-nation marriages and mixed parentage are some of the challenges the Sultanate faces in upholding the Brunei identity Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awang Abdul Aziz bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Seri Paduka Haji Awang Umar said.
Brunei might assume a more transnational identity generated by interracial marriages. In those circumstances, the new generation of Bruneians might find it difficult to locate themselves a specific ethnic, racial identity or even national identity, the former Minister of Education and former Vice Chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) said in delivering his keynote address entitled 'Islam and Bruneian Youth Culture: An Overview' at the 3rd Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS) International Conference.
"Indeed, we are already witnessing glimpses of the future where children of English and Malay Bruneian parentage, for instance, readily identify themselves as both English and Malay.
In such circumstances then, what would be the position of Malay Muslim Monarchy (MIB)? The Malay component of MIB would become increasingly redundant. Being 'Malay' might turn out to become only a cultural identity rather than an ethnic one."
He added, other than linguistic ties, the Bruneian identity is also largely underpinned by a common religious affiliation, that of Islam. The issue of Islam, or for that matter, any religion as a national identity, is potentially a sensitive question. In the case of Brunei, although a large majority of its people are Muslims, the rights of non-Muslim Bruneians cannot be ignored.
However, at the same time, responding to the rights of non-Muslims should not be at the expense of ignoring the rights of Muslim Bruneians either.
So where does the middle path lie? As far as Brunei is concerned, a secular direction cannot be the solution. To extract Islam from the Bruneian identity in any of its dimensions - social, cultural, political and even personal - would be a disaster.
One common mistake that many so-called sociopolitical analysts make is assuming that the evolution of human civilisations must eventually lead to a God-less society.
Every generation faces the issues of identity. We cannot impose upon our youths what to think of themselves, but we can guide, advise, educate and pray for them. The implementation of the Syariah Criminal Code is one step towards creating an Islamic civilisation; one that the lessons of history have taught us as one of the most advanced ever witnessed. It was a society that valued knowledge and learning, where science and religion stood side by side, and where men, women and children respected one another.
The main theme of this year's conference is 'Towards a healthy youth culture; The role of Islamic family and educational values.' About 30 international and national speakers and paper presenters address the conference on various themes.
Over 100 participants comprising of scholars, academicians, government .officials, members of youth organisations, students and the public will attend the conference Nov 6-8 conference.
Issues of utmost importance to today's youths such as challenges of globalisation to their cultural identity Islamic perspective on a healthy and sustainable youth culture, family and educational values for youth development and the types and causes of unhealthy trends among Muslim youths are highlighted in this conference.