By Dewi Mohd Sofri (Published 20 February 2010 in The Brunei Times)

During the event, held at The Rizqun International Hotel, BIBD also revealed that 30 per cent of the overall score will be based on public nominations through SMS as well as online voting via www.bibdwish.com, while the remaining 70 per cent will be decided by a panel of judges.

Public nominations will be open from March 2 to April 1, though the number to SMS has yet to be announced. More details will be posted on the website, it was announced yesterday.

“The Wish Campaign has been BIBD’s most ambitious undertaking yet,” said BIBD Acting Managing Director Javed Ahmad.

One surprising trend observed as the campaign progressed was that more and more Bruneians were wishing for the benefit of others.

“The number of such stories kept growing, going against conventional thinking that such a grand prize would breed selfishness. On the contrary, the Wish Campaign has brought out the very best from people,” said Javed. “As the nation’s bank, we realised that this has to be our mission, to bring out the very best of Brunei through our work,” he added.

There will be a second and “better” version of the Wish Campaign, Javed said, which will be more adapted to the needs of Bruneians “from pursuing your dream home to achieving lifelong hopes of starting your business”.

Before the announcement, Lawrence Chong, director of consultancy firm Consulus and consultant to BIBD for the campaign, briefed the media on the birth and significance of the campaign.

“It’s aimed at making a difference,” said Chong.

The wishes of the nominees stretch across a wide spectrum, from helping autistic children to building a new tourist destination. A selected team in Singapore read and shortlisted some 16,000 “wishes”, from online submissions to handwritten accounts sealed and delivered to them. This was done to avoid the possibility of a conflict of interests, said Chong.

The wishes ranged from those aspiring for individual success to community-based ones, such as helping the nation and its people to develop.

“From ambitious attempts to conquering the ends of the earth, to aspirational hopes of eliminating poverty in Brunei, we were surprised at the boldness of heart and the will of mind which were common threads in every story we read. “Some moved us to tears, others inspired us to believe again in our humanity,” he commented.

Chong also spoke of the comments received from critics skeptical of the main aim of the campaign, saying that the attraction was the grand prize and that would make people selfish. “That is why the Wish Campaign is not awarded at random, not given to people who had more deposits, but to those who showed commitment and merit financial providence to just make a difference.

“This is not a campaign aimed at enriching anyone, it’s aimed at making a difference,” Chong said. Through the Wish Campaign, the bank is attempting to shape and cultivate a new way of people saving as it tries to move away from the traditional method which “is still based on a very old and unsustainable argument and that is interest rates”, he explained.

Chong named international brands such as Nike who are increasingly promoting societal change through their consumer campaigns as examples that banks could emulate, which he said BIBD had started doing through their Make a Wish Campaign.