BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – As the second iteration of the Brunei Young Leaders Convention (BYLC) came to a close Thursday,  youth were urged to strengthen civic engagement to pave the way for a more dynamic system of local government.

Legislative Council member YB Iswandy Ahmad, who is also chairman of BYLC, said while youth advocacy has made strides in recent years, there is a lack of participation in grassroots institutions such as village and mukim consultative councils.

“If we look at the people who are currently managing their respective village or mukim consultative councils, they are often the elderly. They need successors, and the experience one receives from grassroots governance is invaluable because it touches not just the administrative but also the economic [aspects of government]”.

A large number of grassroots leader positions still remain vacant, with the Ministry of Home Affairs lowering the age requirement from 45 to 30 years old to entice more youth to apply for the positions.

“[Local government] is very important,” said Iswandy. “Our sense of community, our concern for our neighbors still stands strong.”

Legislative Council member YB Iswandy Ahmad during an interview at the Brunei Young Leaders Convention. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

Speaking about the recent Brunei Young Leaders Convention, a three-day event aimed at mobilising youth participation in national and community issues, Iswandy said a number of former participants have embarked on community projects, such as “Curhat Di Bawah Payung“, an initiative that offers counseling services to youth.

“This year we plan to have a reunion of sorts within the next six months, to receive updates as well as to provide support for any projects that are being conducted by BYLC alumni.

“We had an idea to monitor these youth-led projects however, we want our alumni to be dynamic, so we wouldn’t want to constrain their projects with any pressure, because what we have always intended with the BYLC is to be a catalyst for youths to contribute towards national development.”

On the final day of BYLC 2019, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin, held a meet-and-greet session with the 200 participants to share ideas and feedback on youth policy.

The annual convention is co-organised by three social enterprises — Perspective Insan, Al-Huffaz Management and Generasi Bekarih.

The Scoop is media partner for the Brunei Young Leaders Convention 2019.