Set up childcare centres to reduce domestic help
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE Minister of Home Affairs yesterday called for entrepreneurs in the sultanate to set up a "childcare institution" as a response to an issue brought up by several State Legislative Council members on difficulties faced by some members of the public in acquiring licences to bring in domestic workers.
"Will we continue to increase the number of domestic workers in the country? I am more in favour of an institutional childcare that could be set up by entrepreneurs, just like in other countries," said Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof.
Several council members raised their concerns during yesterday's meeting, saying that despite fulfilling Labour Department requirements, a number of Bruneians still have difficulties in getting their licences approved to bring in domestic workers from abroad.
"As we know, anyone who earns no less than $1,500 a month can employ a domestic worker. But there are government officers whose salaries, when combined with their spouses, reach up to tens of thousands of dollars but still face the same problem," said Council member Dato Paduka Hj Yunos Mohd Noh.
Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan, however, pointed out in the past that there have been many cases of poor treatment of domestic workers by employees, which he said could be detrimental to Brunei's image and reputation.
"There are many of us who have taken in domestic workers — but do not pay them — sometimes up to six months, a year or two.
"As we are a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are measures that we need to ensure will be taken care of — such as taking care of their welfare and well-being and providing decent accommodation. We cannot exploit these workers. Working hours must be reasonably set and followed, and their wages must be paid on time, every month," he asserted.
"Many of those who fail to pay their domestic workers' wages have been taken to court. When there is no other way, legal action will be taken against such people to uphold Brunei's image and reputation," he added.
Domestic workers represent a big workforce in Brunei, where they make up more than 30 per cent of the overall number of foreign workers in the private sector.
The Brunei Times