BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah on Thursday criticised the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) for poor discipline that has led to the rise of violations.

The monarch in a titah said “security breaches” in RBAF have become critical as the number soared to 82 cases in 2018, compared to only 33 cases in 2014.

“The increase is indeed alarming, especially since the violations include the smuggling of prohibited items such as liquor, cigarettes and gambling equipment. I emphasise that there is no compromise on this matter,” he said.

The Sultan addressed RBAF personnel during a working visit to Bolkiah Garrison and other military facilities on Thursday.

Citing statistics from 2016 to August 2019, His Majesty said there were 338 military offences, 182  drug violations and 138 cases of disorderly conduct.

There were also 107 financial offences, 100 civil cases and 38 syariah offences.

His Majesty said poor morals can affect RBAF employees’ contribution to the organisation and RBAF must find out why the offences took place.

“For example, it is possible that there were insufficient reminders given by the leadership, or that these reminders were not carried out consistently to the point that the personnel take the issue of discipline lightly.

“Or is it because of the lack of clarity that caused members to not be knowledgeable in Royal Brunei Armed Forces Act and the laws of this country. It is the duty of the RBAF to look into this,” he added.

RBAF personnel listen to an address from HM the Sultan during the monarch’s working visit to Bolkiah Garrison on Sept 26, 2019. Photo: Infofoto

‘RBAF needs to improve personnel performance’

The Sultan said RBAF’s capability has not reached its optimum level of 75 percent.

RBAF has 9,682 personnel, including 757 officers. His Majesty said the RBAF has a shortage of officers, which can affect the effectiveness of management across all units. 

As a result of the shortage, he said some officers are holding more than one post at a time, which could distract the officer’s focus from his main responsibilities. Others are forced to carry out additional work which has led the officer to neglect his role in maintaining safety and security.

“This cannot be tolerated. The leadership must be aware of this issue to overcome it… We cannot just keep quiet by allowing this to continue,” he added.

Military assets not utilised properly

There were also  reports of unsatisfactory asset utilisation, said the monarch.

“This is due to a number of factors including the absence of replacement parts, delay in asset maintenance process, shortage of specialist engineers, lack of research and oversight in the planning, procurement and receipt stages of the asset,” he said, adding that the factors must be examined and the issues resolved by all leadership levels. 

He also spoke about incidents of Land Force boats catching fire, and a problem with the air force’s CN235 transport aircraft, but he did not elaborate further.