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March 20, 2019


Brunei Women

Attendees in a group photo at Dilmah T-Lounge in Batu Bersurat. – AZIZ IDRIS

(Photo from

Big BWN Project organised the Womennovation Brunei event at Dilmah T-Lounge in Batu Satu recently to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in Brunei.

Syarikat Pakar Tenaga Bersatu's Co-founder and Deputy Managing Director FDr. Normawati @ Mawar binti Dato Paduka Haji Othman delivered her keynote address that accentuated the significant changes in innovation and technology brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution also known as Industry 4.0, which provides a platform for women to enter and be recognised for their contributions and achievements.

Below is the full transcript of FDr. Normawati @ Mawar binti Dato Paduka Haji Othman's keynote address.

BIG BWN Project international Women’s Day
Womennovation Project Initiative
Sunday 17th of March 2019


Bismillahir Rahman Nir Rahiim
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Salam Sejahtera And a very Good Afternoon


Extinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First and foremost, let me express my thanks and appreciation as well as extending my congratulations to Fisha and Big BWN, the Organiser of the Event on the Launching of Big BWN’s latest project initiative, that is Womennovation Brunei today. Indeed I am honoured to be invited to be the Key Speaker but also to speak alongside four other truly remarkable ladies, it makes me feel  extra proud  - one, of the achievements of our local ladies into bringing their exciting ideas and brands to share with us in this event but second, also their remarkable achievements into showcasing Brunei and what Bruneians can do.


Thank you also for holding the event at my one of favourite place of haunting, the T-Lounge. Are the T-Lounge reps here? By the way, don’t hold back on the complimentary tea samplers and you don’t need to worry about washing up after me – I have brought my own drinking vessel for you to fill. 


I thank you also for those present here into giving me a bit of your time and lend me your ears to hear my rambling. I will try to make it short and informative, so forgive me if my excitement brings me to babble on, so someone please remind me of the time I have as I attempt to accomplish the most daunting task of conveying my topic and finishing my message within the time given. 
As part of the International Women’s Day, today we celebrate the contribution and achievements of the Women present here as well as all the Women in Brunei and around the globe in the advancements of innovation and technology. 

Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities for women to break trends and reach those who are the most likely to be left behind in efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women in all aspects i.e. the United Nations 5th SDG or Sustainable Development Goal. Innovation Technology is regarded by the UN as one of the “drivers of change” that focuses on developing markets for innovations that advance gender equality; integrating gender issues within innovation; promoting women as innovators and entrepreneurs; and investing directly in technology-driven innovative solutions that meet the needs of women and girls. 

We live in an era of constant innovation, and in today’s economic climate – we are heading on a collision course into Industry Revolution 4.0.  When I say a collision course it’s because of the quick pace of change it brings and our preparedness to embrace the changes it brings about. 

The main driving force of IR 4.0 is Artificial Intelligence or Machine Thinking that has the potential to perform and react to set tasks at a faster pace in contrast with how humans do.  Whilst it can potentially make the quality of life better and cheaper but it also means there will be changes in the way we think, learn and do things as technologies improve.

Education is Key. The infamous Jack Ma, Founder and CEO of China’s e commence giant, Alibaba, commented during the World Economic Forum in Davos 2018 that “if we don’t change the way we teach, 30 years from now, we are going to be in trouble”. This is where PTB comes in. 


Syarikat Pakar Tenaga Bersatu or PTB in short is a training institution that was born from the passion I share with my husband. Standing as equals, we both share the intention of “giving back” our talents and expertise to our nation and our fellow countrymen and countrywomen by educating and developing our locals to be recognized in Technical and Vocational Professions. In this day and age, having academic qualifications only will not be able to secure you a job. Only by combining competency in Technical and Vocational skills with relevant academic qualification will a person be relevant to the industries of the future.

It is upon this, that PTB will be collaborating with Nisai and the National Open College Network (NOCN), both from the UK to introduce Nisai’s Virtual Academy - which is a system of virtual E-Learning and blended-learning approach. The base set up here in Brunei Darussalam will serve also as the Regional Centre to provide this method of learning to the Asian Region and the Middle-East. In shaa Allah the Regional Centre will be operational towards the end of this year and I am extra extra proud to say that it will be showcasing the potential of our Bruneians in the field of teaching as Bruneian tutors will be recruited and employed for this Regional Centre. 

Harnessing the potential of digital technologies, the use of on-line based learning sets has evolved the means and ways for education and training for a better reach of a larger base of learners. It provides the flexibility of the learning community in terms of accessibility and deliverability of education of the future. On a practical sense, learning can now be brought to anyone who has a mobile phone and can connect to the internet. But above all, it promotes gender diversity and the inclusiveness of women much sought after as there are no segregation to whom education should apply to. 

So what does “Education of the Future” comprise of? The answer would be to hone in on knowledge and skills that differentiates humans from machines.  The new “C-series” in education, that is, critical thinking – how we solve problems, creativity - thinking out of the box, Collaboration  -  To work in a team,  and Communicate – how we discuss and share ideas. Topping this up would be Compassion – empathy for others and society.  These are the skills that we must teach our generation and our future generation to be prepared for life in IR 4.0.


Ladies and Gentlemen, AI (Artificial Intelligence) would be in forefront to bring in vast improvements to manufacturing and production of goods and the digital world supports a broader outreach of the customer base in terms of connectivity. Dubbed the “supply-side miracle”, IR 4.0 has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. 

The flipside of this is that humans stand to lose out on anything that can be done by computers and robots. According to the well-revered AI Guru, Dr Lee Kai-Fu, ex CEO of Google China and Founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, he predicts that as early as 15 years, 40% of jobs in the world will be affected by AI. Translate these to numbers, the world will be looking at job displacements of hundreds of millions of people out there. Tellers, cashiers, clerks, lorry and bus drivers, assembly-line workers. Basically, works that are repetitive and routine-based would be most affected by AI and would be the first to being made obsolete. 

The progress of AI has been in fact scary. Sharing with you the examples of advancements already in action - China’s Xing Hua News Agency delivers virtual news through an AI news anchor, legal disputes being resolved within a shorter time period through algorithms applied to predictability data can displace lawyers in the future. Others include the gene manipulation of babies to be resistant to the HIV virus, to which these are no longer a fragment of our imagination. 

The question that we pose today is how and what can we do to prepare ourselves for this? We have already touch upon and shared that change in education needs to happen. The way of learning needs to differentiate what humans can do from AI. AI wins by doing the data crunching and processing hands down. But it lacks is that it is able to only perform one single function i.e. a specific function. But it needs to be recognized that the codings -  the Thought Process to how AI does, perform and completes its tasks – can only be sourced through human inputs. 

With any new challenges, there will be new opportunities. In this case, with jobs being made obsolete by AI there would also be new jobs created by AI that calls for different skill sets that enhances the human factor. It is a big global challenge as a society to effectively re-train people so as they can be employable. Migrating these displaced workers to the jobs that make us “human” in essence would be ideal. For instance, jobs which have elements of compassion such as care providers, critical thinking for plumbers and enhancing creativity skills into birthing artisans in producing one-a-kind art pieces.  Again, the challenge would be as to how fast are our response to the impending and foreseeable crises?

I am comforted to know that our passion is not something whimsical we had just plucked out from the air when the AI Guru Dr Lee had stated in his interview in ChannelNews Asia recently that vocational schools should be used to train people for jobs which are more long-lasting and for these people to remain “industry-relevant and marketable”. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the rapid changes in innovation and technology provides the opportunity the platform of leveling the playing field of opportunities for women to enter and be recognized for their contributions and achievements. I am most confident that the 5th SDG into addressing gender equality will be a thing of the past to be replaced by gender neutrality In shaa Allah. 

The changes brought about by IR 4.0 applies without boundaries, limitations nor conditions. Brunei Darussalam is no different than the rest of the world in terms of being affected. Strengthening human capacity and competence of people to generate economic growth are both visions found in the country’s Wawasan 2035. To stay relevant means to keep abreast with latest technological developments and advancement.

Through PTB’s collaborative efforts, education will be available at your fingertips through internet connectivity without any selections to gender and social discrimination that may be. The grim employment prospects arising from the challenges and opportunities of AI applies equally to both men and women. Possessing the skills of tomorrow assist in securing jobs that are not diversely affected by AI.

The wave of change is fast and calls for actions to be in place on our preparedness in the days to come. Conscious decisions and actions need to be made, and the co-operation and collaboration of the public and private sector are paramount to implement any adaptations that will need to be made to bring about such changes to improve and benefit the Nation, its economy and its people. To do this, I lean upon the support of our ladies and everyone here to this just cause and contribute to becoming such “agents of change”.  As to when - the call for actions is now given the threats of “global crises” proportion that IR 4.0 notably AI can bring within a relatively short period of time. 

In honour of International Women’s Day, I leave you with an inspiring quote from the late Princess Diana: “Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give back”. 

Wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and thank you. 

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