‘Why do Brunei-born PRs need re-entry permit and visa?’
PERMANENT residents (PRs) born in Brunei should be treated on the same level as citizens, as re-entry permit and visa charges have become an inconvenience for them, said State Legislative Council (LegCo) member Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin.
The issues of re-entry visa and re-entry permit have been raised by PRs born in Brunei for a long time.
"There are two types of PR in Brunei. One is a local-born PR and the other is a foreigner who is holding PR with foreign passport, but yet there is still discrimination within, particularly towards local-born PR," he said at the morning session of the LegCo meeting yesterday.
"For instance, why is it that locally-born PRs have to pay $50 per year re-entry permit with the addition of $10 per year for re-entry visa, and yet there are also some local PRs who had been exempted from paying any of that. And furthermore, foreign-born PRs only had to pay $3 per year for re-entry visa?"
"By right, they should not impose any re-entry permit and re-entry visa for local PRs because they are truly born in Brunei," he said.
He added that the issue has disappointed the majority of local-born PRs over the years. "It's not entirely about the money, but an inconvenience."
Home Affairs Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Haji Mohd Yusof responded that matters pertaining to entry permit will be taken into consideration, and said that there is no objection for all PRs to upgrade to national citizenship.
"Regarding citizenships, all permanent residents should be well aware that they can certainly apply for citizenship. The Immigration and National Registration Department does not forbid anyone from applying, provided that they meet the requirements.
"We have also taken consideration to those who are illiterate and the elderly to be exempted from taking any exams to qualify for citizenship," he added.
"Based on our figures, from 1962 until 2009, the number of permanent residents who have successfully applied for national citizenship through written and oral tests is 7,505 people."
Pehin Dato Goh also questioned the endorsement in PRs' Certificate of Identity, which stated: "Holder included in Brunei entry permit number may return to Brunei for permanent residence within the validity of this Certificate of Identity, re-entry permit and re-entry visa."
"What does this actually mean? Does this mean that if the re-entry permit and re-entry visa expire, they cannot enter the country anymore?"
Pehin Goh said the law is outdated and should be revised or abolished. "I would like to suggest to improve the image of local-born PRs, and suggest the minister to obtain the consent of His Majesty to consider replacing 'Certificate of Identity Brunei Darussalam' to 'Certificate of Identity Brunei Darussalam Protected Person'. This will upgrade the status of local-born PRs to international status."
The minister replied that the Certificate of Identity is a "normal thing" in Brunei and other countries.
"In the case of permanent residents, they will be prohibited from entering the country due to international regulations which require the validity of the passport not exceeding six months from the expiry date. But it doesn't mean they will lose their status as PR," the minister said.
The Brunei Times