Interview: Pehin Dato Suyoi Osman

In terms of connectivity, how prepared is Brunei Darussalam for the ASEAN Economic Community integration in 2015? What remains to be done?

PEHIN DATO SUYOI OSMAN: As for land connectivity, the road network and infrastructure in Brunei Darussalam is continuously being improved and expanded. The government development plan includes the Pan Borneo Highway, part of the ASEAN Highway Network whereby the Sultanate will support land connectivity with its neighbours. Regionally, most of the links are ready on Brunei Darussalam’s part. The completion of the Friendship Bridge at Sg Pandaruan, providing an excellent link between Temburong and Limbang, is a much-welcomed development for the movement of both people and goods between the Sultanate and Malaysia. Our proposed Temburong Bridge linking the Brunei-Muara District and Temburong District, which will provide efficient connectivity between Temburong and the nation’s other three contiguous districts, will further enhance connectivity between Brunei Darussalam and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

What further investment is the Sultanate targeting to enhance roads, and how can it promote sustainable transport?

PEHIN DATO SUYOI: Brunei Darussalam has invested substantially to provide high-quality road networks to meet our national aspirations as spelled out in the Wawasan Brunei 2035 plan. Even so, the Sultanate is promoting more sustainable modes of transport in lieu of the strong current preference of private car ownership. The transport sector generates high CO emissions, so a targeted reduction in the number of moving vehicles is a major factor in lowering these. The government has taken a number of steps towards sustainable modes of land transportation, as seen in recent initiatives regarding the bus system, for example. Recent studies on transport conducted by the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies have also recommended a number of long-term transport options for sustainable and efficient land connectivity that we are looking to implement.

What can international companies offer in terms of developing large-scale infrastructure projects?

PEHIN DATO SUYOI: Brunei Darussalam welcomes international companies to participate in the nation’s development, including in the provision of infrastructure. Our local construction industry players, contractors and especially consultants may have limited capacity to undertake large-scale, complex infrastructure projects, as well as other building-related projects. This is exemplified in the current design works and subsequent construction of the proposed Temburong Bridge, the Sg Kebun Bridge Project and a number of large-scale housing projects. The participation of international contractors and consultants, through joint venture works with local companies, will not only contribute to the successful completion of these projects but, just as important, will provide excellent opportunities for the transfer of technology and knowledge to our local contractors and consultants, by giving them exposure to international work practices.

How is the state studying the public-private partnerships (PPP) model for infrastructure projects?

PEHIN DATO SUYOI: The PPP model has generated great interest, given the benefits of private sector funds on capital expenditure and increased efficiency when the intended services are managed jointly by the public and private sectors. The provision of infrastructure, often judged not viable for the PPP model in the past, has seen a number of such implementations in various countries in recent years. For our part so far, while we have not embarked on the implementation of this model for any infrastructure projects, we are certainly keeping it in mind as an option for future infrastructure requirements.