Brunei’s monarch announced a surprise cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, which saw some of the country’s longest-serving government ministers step down.
In a live broadcast, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced the shake-up, which comes just two years since the last reshuffle in October 2015.
“I am of the opinion that the time has come for a cabinet reshuffle. Due to the vital importance of this matter, I have decided to announce the new appointments and changes to cabinet,” he said.
“These appointments are a trust. This trust must be met with full loyalty and a sense of responsibility.”
His Majesty will retain the portfolios of Prime Minister; Minister of Defence; Minister of Finance; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, will retain his position as Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
WATCH: His Majesty’s titah announcing cabinet reshuffle
WHO’S IN, AND WHO’S OUT
In Brunei cabinet reshuffles typically occur once every five years, but Tuesday’s mid-term shake-up saw six ministers being replaced.
Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, who served in the post for 12 years, is replaced by Dato Paduka Hj Erywan Pehin Dato Pekerma Jaya Hj Mohd Yusof, who has been promoted from deputy minister.
Second Minister of Finance Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Rahman Hj Ibrahim, who held the post for 12 years, is replaced by Dato Seri Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, promoted from the position of deputy minister.
Energy and Industry Minister Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar is now replaced by Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mat Suny Hj Mohd Hussein, a former deputy minister of development and former deputy managing director of Brunei Shell Petroleum.
Also exiting cabinet is Education Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman — who held several ministerial portfolios over the past 12 years including health and development — replaced by Dato Paduka Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman, a permanent secretary at PMO.
Communications Minister Dato Seri Setia Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat, appointed to the position just two years ago, is now replaced by Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Development Minister Dato Seri Setia Hj Bahrin Abdullah, first appointed in 2015, is replaced by Dato Seri Paduka Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar, promoted from the position of deputy minister.
Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Pehin Datu Laila Raja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Hj Halbi Hj Mohd Yussof, is heading back to the security sphere after being appointed the Second Minister of Defence. Before joining MCYS in 2015, he served as Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) from 2003 to 2009.
Replacing him at MCYS is Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, currently Brunei’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and also a former RBAF Commander from 2009 to 2014.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Religious Affairs, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, and Minister Health, all retain their portfolios. The latter took up his post just last month, following the sudden departure of former health minister Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi in December 2017.
Meanwhile, Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abdul Mokti Hj Mohd Daud has been promoted from Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs to Minister at PMO.
Tuesday’s reshuffle also saw the reappearance of familiar faces, with former Home Affairs Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Di-Raja Dato Laila Utama Hj Awang Isa Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Hj Awang Ibrahim, returning to cabinet as a Minister at PMO and special advisor to His Majesty.
At 82, he is the oldest member of cabinet, having served as deputy attorney general and deputy chief minister in the 1970s, before taking on the home affairs portfolio from 1986 to 2005. He then came out of retirement to become speaker of Brunei’s parliament, known as the Legislative Council, from 2010 to 2015.
NEW DEPUTY MINISTERS APPOINTED
Two women were elevated to the position of deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Education. To date, just three women have held cabinet positions, the first being Datin Paduka Hajah Adina Othman who was Deputy Minister at MCYS from 2010 to 2015.
Datin Hjh Elinda Hj CA Mohamed, permanent secretary for PMO and director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, has been promoted to Deputy Minister at PMO.
Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Romaizah Hj Mohd Salleh, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education, has been promoted to Deputy Minister of Education.
Other government agencies also see the appointment of new deputy ministers:
Dato Paduka Ahmaddin Hj Abd Rahman, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance, was promoted to Deputy Minister of Finance.
Pengiran Dato Seri Paduka Hj Bahrom bin Pengiran Hj Bahar was transferred from his post as Deputy Minister of Education to become Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs.
Dato Paduka Hj Matsatejo Sokiaw, former managing director of state-owned oil company PetroleumBRUNEI, has been made Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry.
Several deputy ministers were not reappointed to their positions — former Deputy Minister at PMO (corporate, PENGGERAK, and economy) Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Roselan Hj Mohd Daud; former Deputy Minister at PMO (media and security) Dato Seri Paduka Hj Hamdan Hj Abu Bakar; former Deputy Minister at PMO (energy and industry) Dato Paduka Hj Jamain Hj Julaihi; former Deputy Minister of Finance Dato Paduka Hj Hisham Hj Mohd Hanifah; and former Deputy Minister of Defence First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz Hj Mohd Tamit.
All appointees will serve five-year terms with effect from January 30, 2018.
[…] much a patriarchal society on the outset with top management position is still mostly held by men (although the Sultan did appoint two women as deputy ministers in the recent cabinet reshuffle), there is some subtle matriarchal power play going on in certain areas in the Bruneian […]