Leadership and Crisis Communication During Covid-19: The Case of Brunei Darussalam

Main Article Content

Li Li Pang


National leaders’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic globally have shown that while the definition of leadership is still debatable in academia, in times of crisis, it is easily identifiable and seen. The world has seen different responses by national leaders to curb the spread of the virus, Covid-19, which has claimed more than a million lives, affecting 189 countries worldwide since January 2020. Developed countries’ successes in dealing with the pandemic are widely reported by international media, but the successes made by developing countries are not. One such country is Brunei Darussalam, where her success, even regionally in Southeast Asia, was downplayed. This paper is a qualitative case study, highlighting Brunei Darussalam’s success in handling the pandemic. Brunei Darussalam began to ‘flatten the curve’ since March 29, 2020 and there was no local transmission since May 7, 2020. The paper will show how leadership, effective crisis communication together with advances in telecommunication technologies, existing institutional practices, and a supportive public have helped Brunei Darussalam curb the spread of the virus within the country.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
PANG, Li Li. Leadership and Crisis Communication During Covid-19: The Case of Brunei Darussalam. Policy & Governance Review, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 2, p. 97-112, mar. 2021. ISSN 2580-4820. Available at: <http://journal.iapa.or.id/pgr/article/view/388>. Date accessed: 21 apr. 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.30589/pgr.v5i2.388.


Ahmad, R. (2020). Malaysia’s Health Minister blames previous PH govt for failure to contain Covid-19 surge. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-health-minister-blames-previous-ph-govt-for-failure-to-contain- covid-19-surge

Ahmed, J. U. (2010). Documentary Research Method: New Dimensions. Indus Journal of Management & Social Science (IJMSS), 4(1), 1–14.

Azahari, I. (2020a, September 4). COVID-19 Relief Fund at BND14.7M. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/covid-19-relief-fund-at-bnd14-7m/

Azahari, I. (2020b, March 25). Get latest, accurate info through real-time web application platform. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/get-latest-accurate- info-through-real-time-web-application- platform-2/

Azahari, I. (2020c, September 25). BruHealth app to get new features. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/bruhealth-app-to-get-new-features/

Bandial, A. (2020). Aman Hills partygoers jailed for flouting COVID-19 restrictions. The Scoop. https://thescoop.co/2020/06/14/aman-hills-party-goers-jailed-for-flouting-covid-19-restrictions/

Borneo Bulletin. (2020, September 21). Domestic demand drives Brunei’s retail sales growth. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin. com.bn/domestic-demand-drives-bruneis- retail-sales-growth-2/

British Broadcasting News. (2020). Coronavirus: Ou tcr y af ter Tr ump su ggest s in ject ing disinfectant as treatment. British Broadcasting News. https://www.bbc.com/ news/world-us-canada-52407177

Buranyi, S. (2020, April 10). The WHO v coronavirus: why it can’t handle the pandemic. The Guardian.

Callaway, E. (2020). The coronavirus is mutating—does it matter? Nature, 585(7824), 174–177. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-02544-6

Canton, L. G. (2013). Disaster Planning and Management: Does One Leadership Style Work for Both? Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(3), 47–50. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.21297

Chik, H. (2020). Coronavirus vaccine: Chinese scientists plan joint trials with Russia despite doubts over ‘world-beating’ breakthrough. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/ science/article/3097711/coronavirus-vaccine-chinese-scientists-plan-joint-trials- russia

Craig, R., & Amernic, J. (2020). The language of leadership in a deadly pandemic. Strategy & Leadership, 48(5), 41–47. https://doi. org/10.1108/SL-05-2020-0068

Davidson, H. (2020, March 20). Chinese inquiry exonerates coronavirus whistleblower doctor. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/ chinese-inquiry-exonerates-coronavirus- whistleblower-doctor-li-wenliang

Department of Economic Planning and Statistics. (2020). Brunei Darussalam Key Indicators. http://deps.gov.bn/DEPDDocumentsLibrary/DOS/BDKI/BDKI_2019.pdf

Duo, E., & Khurshudyan, I. (2020, September 19). China and Russia are ahead in the global coronavirus vaccine race, bending long- standing rules as they go. The Washington Post. ttps://www.washingtonpost.com/ world/asia_pacific/china-and-russia-are- ahead-in-the-global-coronavirus-vaccine- race-bending-long-standing-rules-as-they- go/2020/09/18/9bfd4438-e2d4-11ea-82d8-5e55d47e90ca_story.html

Editorial Board. (2020, April 20). In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/ opinion/coronavirus-leadership.html

Engle, J. (2020). Lesson of the Day: ‘To Tame Coronavirus, Mao-Style Social Control Blankets C hina.’ The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/19/learning/lesson-of-the-day-to-tame-coronavirus-mao-style-social-control-blankets-china.html

“Exhausted Parent.” (2020, July 4). Coping with home-based learning as a full-time working parent. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/coping-with-home- based-learning-as-a-full-time-working- parent/

Faisal, F. (2020a, June 14). ‘Party-goers’ land behind bars. Borneo Bulletin. https:// borneobulletin.com.bn/party-goers-land-behind-bars/

Faisal, F. (2020b, June 30). Trial Set for Local Facing Charges of Intimidation, Negligence and Assault . Borneo Bulletin. https:// borneobulletin.com.bn/trial-set-for-local- facing-charges-of-intimidation-negligence- and-assault/

Faisal, F. (2020c, September 4). Four Malaysians jailed for illegal entry, escaping quarantine. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/four-malaysians-jailed-for-illegal-entry-escaping-quarantine-2/

Flanagan, R. (2020, June 14). Why did we hoard toilet paper? New research says it wasn’t because of selfishness. CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/why-did-we-hoard-toilet-paper-new-research-says-it-wasn-t-because-of-selfishness-1.4983692

Friedman, U. (2020). New Zeal and’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ archive/2020/04/jacinda-ardern-new- zealand-leadership-coronavirus/610237/

Global Health Security. (2019). Global Health Security Index. Nuclear Threat Initiative, John Hopkins Centre for Health Security and The Economist Intelligence Unit. https://www.ghsindex.org/

Goerlandt, F., Li, J., & Reniers, G. (2020). The Landscape of Risk Communication Research: A Scientometric Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(9), 3255. https://doi. org/10.3390/ijerph17093255

Gover, A. R., Harper, S. B., & Langton, L. (2020). Anti-Asian Hate Crime During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Exploring the Reproduction of Inequality. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45(4), 647–667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-020-09545-1

Grint, K. (2020). Leadership, management and command in the time of the Coronavirus. Leadership, 16(3), 314–319. https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715020922445

Gunia, A. (2020). China’s Draconian Lockdown Is Getting Credit for Slowing Coronavirus. Wo uld It Work Anywhere Else? Time. https://time.com/5796425/china -coronavirus-lockdown/

Hayat, M. (2020). Brunei Darussalam: An Unexpected COVID-19 Success Story. Australian Institute of International Affairs. https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/ australianoutlook/brunei-darussalam-an- unexpected-covid-19-success-story/

Helmore, E. (2020, August 1). Donald Trump claims Anthony Fauci “wrong” about cause of Covid-19 surge. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/01/ trump-covid-19-fauci-cases-testing

Huaxia. (2020, April 2). 14 people who died in fight against COVID-19 identified as martyrs. Xinhua. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/02/c_138941398. htm

Kon, J. (2020a, July 7). Brunei’s IHR on Right Track. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin. com.bn/bruneis-ihr-on-right-track/

Kon, J. (2020b, July 15). Safeguarding Health of the People Through Whole-of-Nation Approach. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/safeguarding-health-of-the-people-through-whole-of-nation-approach/

Kon, J. (2020c, September 2). Preparedness, Cooperation Are Key. Borneo Bulletin. https: //borneobulletin.com.bn/ preparedness-cooperation-are-key/

Kon, J. (2020d, April 23). Cabinet Ministers donate to COVID-19 fight. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/cabinet-ministers-donate-to-covid-19-fight-2/

Kon, J. (2020e, July 14). LegCo members give CaP thumbs up. Borneo Bulletin. https:// borneobulletin.com.bn/legco-members- give-cap-thumbs-up/

Kon, J. (2020f, June 12). Over 368,000 on BruHealth app. Borneo Bulletin. https:// borneobulletin.com.bn/over-368000-on- bruhealth-app/

Kon, J. (2020g, October 15). 574 violations recorded s ince J une. Borneo Bul l etin . https: //bor neobulletin.com.bn/5 74- violations-recorded-since-june/

Kon, J. (2020h, April 7). Party busted, 20 arrested. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin. com.bn/party-busted-20-arrested/

Kupferschmidt , K. (2020). The pandemic virus is slowly mutating. But is it getting more dangerous? Science. https://doi. org/10.1126/science.abd8226

Lew, L. (2020, July 30). WHO still dogged by critics, six months after declaring coronavirus emergency. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/ article/3095221/who-still-dogged-critics- six-months-after-declaring-coronavirus

Liu, B. F., Iles, I. A., & Herovic, E. (2020). Leadership under Fire: How Governments Manage Crisis Communication. Communication Studies, 71(1), 128–147. https://doi.org/10.1080/10510974.2019.1683593

Mahmud, R. (2020a, June 10). Fake news affects COVID-19 fight. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/fake-news-affects- covid-19-fight/

Mahmud, R. (2020b, October 1). CaP comes into effect today. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/cap-comes-into- effect-today/

Mazey, S., & Richardson, J. (2020). Lesson-Drawing from New Zealand and Covid-19: The Need for Anticipatory Policy Making. The Political Quarterly, 91(3), 561–570. https://doi. org/10.1111/1467-923X.12893

McGuire, D., Cunningham, J. E. A., Reynolds, K., & Matthews-Smith, G. (2020). Beating the virus: an examination of the crisis communication approach taken by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the Covid-19 pandemic. Human Resource Development International, 23(4), 361–379. https://doi.org/10.1080/13678868.2020.1779543

Menon, P. (2020, October 17). New Zealand’s Ardern wins “historic” re-election for crushing C OVID-19. Reut ers . https:// www.reuters.com/article/newzealand-election/new-zealands-ardern-wins-historic-re-election-for-crushing-covid-19-idUSKBN27201P

Mohamad, L. (2020, October 29). Call for multi- sectoral approach in health security. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/ call-multi-sectoral-approach-health-security/

Monageng Mogalakwe. (2009). The Documentary Research Method – Using Documentary Sources in Social Research. Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review, 25(1), 43–58. https://doi.org/10.1353/eas.0.0006

Othman, A. (2020a, March 22). Monarch Urges Nation to be Ready, Avoid Mass Gathering. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/monarch-u rges-nat ion-to-b e- ready-avoid-mass-gatherings-2/

Othman, A. (2020b, April 10). Avoid Discrimination, Says Minister. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/avoid-discrimination-says-minister/

Othman, A. (2020c, February 10). Bruneians rank high in social media usage. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/bruneians-rank-high-social-media-usage/

Page, J. (2020). China’s Pr ogr ess Ag ainst Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-west-is-misinterpreting-wuhans-coronavirus-progressand-drawing-the- wrong-lessons-11585074966

Palasamy, I. (2020, March 22). MOH Was Not Aware of Tabligh Gathering Until Informed by Brunei Counterpart, Says D-G. The Malay Mail. www.malaymail.com/news/ malaysia/20 20/0 3/22/moh-was-not-aware-of-tabligh-gathering-until-informed- by-brunei-counterpart/1849061

Paz, C. (2020, October). What Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 Case Tells Us About Trump’s. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/10/donald-trump-jair-bolsonaro-coronavirus/616602/

Pearson, S., & Douglas, J. (2020, October 20). Covid-19 Left U.K.’s Boris Johnson and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Unscathed Politically. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-left-u-k-s-boris-johnson-and-brazils-jair-bolsonaro- unscathed-politically-11601739583

Progresif. (2020). Q&A With Dato Dr Isham. Progresif. https://progresif.com/qa-with- dato-dr-isham-minister-of-health/

Radio Television Brunei. (2020). Uncovered: BruHealth. Radio Television Brunei. https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivVHweLk-K4

Reimann, N. (2020). Fauci: Trump Receiving ‘Incorrect’ Information On Coronavirus. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nichol asreimann/2020/09/28/fauci-trump-receiving-incorrect-information-on-coronavirus/?sh=4106cb005886

Renn, O., & Levine, D. (1991). Credibility and trust in risk communication. In Communicating Risks to the Public (pp. 175–217). Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-1952-5_10

Rosli, S. H. (2020, June 22). Cooks, bakers lament short supply of key ingredients. Borneo Bulletin. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/cooks-bakers-lament-short-supply-of-key-ingredients/

“Saranghelang.” (2020). Gotta Love Our Minister Reply to Dumb Questions. Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/Brunei/comments/fpu8hj/gotta_love_our_minister_reply_to_ dumb_questions/

Schraer, R. (2020). Coronavirus: Are mutations making it more infectious? British Broadcasting News. https://www.bbc.com/ news/health-53325771

Smyth, J. (2020, April 17). New Zealand wins plaudits for coronavirus approach. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/7514ea27-aff7-4733-a827-6ae792364f75

Thambipillai, P., & Pang, L. L. (2020). Urban Service Delivery and Access: The Special Case of Brunei Darussalam. In Advances in 21st Century Human Settlements (pp. 251–278). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-6709-0_9

The Associated Press. (2020). Coronavirus: Qatar, Bahrain have highest global COVID-19 infection rate per capita. The Associated Press. https://english.al arabiya.net/coronavirus/2020/07/23/Coronavirus-Qatar-Bahrain-have-highest-global-COVID-19-infection-rate-per-capita

The Lancet Infectious Diseases. (2020). The COVID-19 infodemic. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 20(8), 875. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30565-X

The New York Times. (2020). Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus- maps.html

Tight, M. (2019). Documentary Research in the Social Sciences (1st ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529716559

Tomkins, L. (2020). Where is Boris Johnson? When and why it matters that leaders show up in a crisis. Leadership, 16(3), 331–342. https:// doi.org/10.1177/1742715020919657

Tourish, D. (2020). Introduction to the special issue: Why the corona virus crisis is also a crisis of leadership. Leadership, 16(3), 261–272. https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715020929242

United Nations Development Programme. (2019). Human Development Report 2019.http:// hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2019.pdf

University of Oxford. (2020). Our World in Data. Oxford Martin Programme on Global Development, Univesity of Oxford. https://ourworldindata.org/

Wang, J., Zhu, E., & Umlauf, T. (2020, February 6). How China Built Two Coronavirus Hospitals in Just Over a Week. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-china-can-build-a-coronavirus-hospital-in-10- days-11580397751

We Are Social. (2020). Digital 2020: Global Digital Review. We Are Social Inc. https:// wearesocial.com/digital-2020

Wilson, S. (2020). Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response has been a masterclass in crisis leadership. Australian Boardcasting Corporation. https://www. abc.net.au/news/2020-04-06/coronavirus-jacinda-ardern-leadership/12124300

Wong, E., Barnes, J. E., & Kanno-Youngs, Z. (2020, September 17). Local Officials in China Hid Coronavirus Dangers From Beijing, U.S. Agencies Find. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/19/world/asia/china-coronavirus-beijing-trump.html

Wong, J., Koh, W. C., Alikhan, M. F., Abdul Aziz, A. B. Z., & Naing, L. (2020). Responding to COVID-19 in Brunei Darussalam: Lessons for small countries. Journal of Global Health, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.7189/jogh.10.010363

Woodward, I. (2020). Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Cuomo Are Crisis Comms Champions. INSEAD Knowledge. https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/jacinda-ardern-and-andrew-cuomo-are-crisis-comms-champions-14006

World Health Organization. (2020a). Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy be ha viours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. WHO Website. https://www.who.int/news/item/23-09-2020-managing-the- covid-19-infodemic-promoting-healthy- behaviours-and-mitigating-the-harm-from- misinformation-and-disinformation

World Health Organization. (2020b). New Zealand takes early and hard action to tackle COVID-19. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/feature-stories/detail/new-zealand-takes-early-and- hard-action-to-tackle-covid-19

World Health Organization. (2020c). WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. WHO Website. https://covid19.who.int/table

Yan, H., Chen, N., & Naresh, D. (2020). What’s spreading faster than coronavirus in the US? Racist assaults and ignorant attacks against Asians. Cable News Network (CNN). https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/20/us/coronavirus-racist-attacks-against-asian- americans/index.html

Yuan, Z., Xiao, Y., Dai, Z., Huang, J., Zhang, Z., & Chen, Y. (2020). Modelling the effects of Wuhan’s lockdown during COVID-19, China. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 98(7), 484–494. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.20.254045

Zhang, H. (2020). Early lessons from the frontline of the 2019-nCoV outbreak. The Lancet, 395(10225), 687. https://doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(20)30356-1