Brunei Darussalam

Brunei: Disaster Management Reference Handbook (November 2018)

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Executive Summary

Negara Brunei Darussalam (Brunei) is a small country on the northwest side of the island of Borneo. It has a well-developed economy, with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. It is a very socially conservative country, as well as an absolute monarchy. The current Sultan of Brunei is Hassanal Bolkiah, who also serves as prime minister, finance minister, foreign minister, and defense minister. It is a politically stable country that benefits from hydrocarbon production, which is 90 percent of the country’s exports.

Brunei is a former British protectorate, they have been independent for 34 years. Brunei’s constitution is based on two main documents; the Constitution of Brunei, and the Succession and Regency Proclamation. The Constitution gives the Sultan “supreme executive authority”. The Sultan also has the power to declare a state of emergency. Being able to declare a state of emergency gives the Sultan the power to rule by decree. A state of emergency was declared in 1962, and it remains in place to date; it is renewed biennially.

The Government of Brunei welcomes foreign investors, and gives them a low corporate tax rate. Currently, most businesses in Brunei are run by the Government, but there are plans to privatize government agencies. The Government is also working on the modernization of roads, ports, and bridges. Brunei provides its citizens with free healthcare through government health facilities to include, hospitals, health centers and medical clinics. Medical care in Brunei is among the best in the region and citizens of Brunei who require healthcare that cannot be obtained in Brunei, are sent abroad for medical care at the government’s expense.

Brunei is located in a unique area in which it is spared from natural disasters. Earthquake and cyclone disasters are not common in the country and there is no record of significant disaster caused by earthquakes. Brunei has experienced small earthquakes with the range of 4-5 magnitude in 1992 and 2005 but the country is not located on a major earthquake area.9 Although they have a low level of risk, Brunei is still susceptible to floods, forest fires, air pollution, and haze. The flood-prone areas are also at risk of landslides.10 Extensive flooding in 2014 caused damage that led the government to review their plans and mitigate by dredging the waterways.

In Brunei, the lead government agency in disaster response is the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). The NDMC was established in August 2006, under the Disaster Management Order (DMO). The NDMC ensures the safety and well-being of the people by being responsible for all aspects of disaster management. This includes prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery through policies, strategies and practices which are guided by the international, regional and national drivers. Prior to the establishment of NDMC, national response to disasters was on an ad-hoc basis where committees were formed to manage various disasters.

The government of Brunei is the main provider of assistance and support for its own people when they are affected by a disaster. The establishment of the NDMC provided the authority to assist the victims of disaster. Being financially stable has given Brunei the resources necessary to cope with disasters at the national level, and they will also have disaster funds allocated in the event of a disaster. The Brunei Government allocates large amounts of funds for disaster recovery and mitigation plans, and it offers financial and material assistance for reconstruction.

Brunei has a Community Based Disaster Risk Management Program (CBDRM) which was launched in 2010. The CBDRM includes training for an education program, primarily focused on teachers. It operationalizes the Strategic National Action Plan (SNAP) for Disaster Risk Reduction 2012-2025.