Brunei is often known as the oil rich kingdom located on the north coast of the island of Borneo. With a population of about 400,000, the country has a total area of 5,765 square kilometres. The Capital Bandar Seri Begawan and the oil rich town of Kuala Belait are economic powerhouses. Oil and gas rich Brunei has the second-highest Human Development Index among the Southeast Asian nations, after Singapore, and is classified as a developed country.
I went to Brunei first time in early 1982 to try and join the Ministry of Health as a Professional Social Worker and/or Psychologist. My first trip was by a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore, if I am not mistaken, they had just three flights a week, then. The final interview was between me and my classmate Dicky Maniam, an outstanding professional. He got the job and stayed there for about 12 years.
Subsquently, I went back in 1987 to run a series of training programmes for the Civil Service Institute and Shell. The connectivity between Kuala Lumpur and Brunei had improved dramatically. While I slowed down in the late 90s, I did go on occasional trips. Nevertheless, after 2000, the visits became far and few given my global entrepreneurial pursuits. However, in 2016, on the eve of the US Presidential elections, I had the honour of joining international experts to deliver a keynote session at the Leadership and Change Conference hosted by CIBFM (Centre for Islamic Banking and Financial Management).
In Jan 2019, our Managing Director from SMR HR Group Subra and I had the honour of being invited by YAM Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil. I had missed attending his wedding at the Palace many years ago as I was away overseas. It was wonderful meeting His Excellency and the team. We met several old friends such as Pg. Metusin, the intellectual Zainal Tinggal and the ever-friendly Aziz. Over the 40 years, I have made some great friends and it has always been a delight to being in touch with them.
Brunei is a very friendly country, very hospitable and the thirst for learning is evident amongst its people.