Call to review citizenship rules

National 1 minute, 55 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE initiative to set up a committee to monitor foreigners applying for Brunei citizenship was applauded at yesterday's State Legislative Council Meeting with the call to review the guidelines and other considerations.

Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Goh King Chin, a non-governmental council member, sought more clarifications on the guidelines set up for those who wish to apply for the citizenship.

According to the 2006 guidelines, a citizenship applicant must fulfil three conditions, said the member. First, a foreigner would be considered for citizenship if he or she has invested more than $500,000 in Brunei and has been residing in the country for the past 20 years; secondly, he or she possesses a significant skill or profession while living in Brunei for the last 20 years; and finally a foreigner who is married to a citizen and has been in Brunei for the past 20 years.

The member raised two main issues in relation to the guidelines and urged that first and second conditions should be made more clear. The other issue, he raised, was that the applicant should be notified within six months on the outcome of his or her application.

He said many permanent residents who are pilots, doctors and lawyers and have been residing in Brunei for the past 20 years should be considered for citizenship. Since such professionals are in demand globally and if they decide to leave the country on the ground of not being granted the citizenship, the country would be losing professionals which the society needs.

Another concern about the people with PR status who are legally married to a foreigner. When the foreign spouse reaches the age of 55, he or she is not allowed to work in the country.

The member said this could create a serious problem for the family as the spouse does not fulfil the third condition. The member questioned whether the individual should be awarded citizenship or if the foreign spouse and children be granted the status of dependant of the local spouse.

Mid-last year 350 persons — 270 women and 80 men received citizenship certificates. There were a total of 29,658 citizenship applicants last year.

According to the 2001-2006 statistics, an average of 738 residents were granted the citizenship. Last year, this represented 16 per cent increase during the last 39 years. The average for 1962-2000 was 638.

The Brunei Times