Ex-drug addicts still struggling to find jobs

National 2 minutes, 24 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

REHABILITATED former drug addicts continue to face difficulties in securing jobs, and even if they manage to find work, they are looked down upon because of their status, receive lower pay and their welfare isn’t looked after as well as other employees.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Datin Hjh Masni Hj Mohd Ali, president of the National Anti-Drug Association of Brunei Darussalam (BASMIDA), said they are also constantly mocked by their colleagues, causing them to lose confidence, and some of them only manage to hold down a job for a few months before quitting or are let go.

“This is the information our members get from talking with them on the ground,” she said, highlighting the stigma on former drug addicts which are undergoing or who have undergone treatment for drug abuse.

In addition to their status, rehabilitated former drug addicts also face difficulties getting jobs due to limited qualifications and a lack of motivation, she added.

According to the latest available data, Brunei recorded 610 drug-related arrests in 2014 and 679 arrests in 2013.

Datin Hjh Masni said the data was only from the official report on arrests and there are still many cases of drug abuse that go unreported.

BASMIDA is a non-profit organisation established in 1987. Its main objective is to carry out preventive drug education amongst youths and school children and annual campaigns using all available media and covering all segments of the community.

In the last 15 years, BASMIDA has helped more than 20 former drug addicts get jobs and improve their lives, said Datin Hjh Masni.

“We’re very happy to see them successful, able to re-integrate and contribute to society and continue living their lives,” she said.

In addition to organising educational and awareness programmes on the danger of drug abuse, BASMIDA has also organised assisted sustainable livelihood projects for its unemployed ‘Rakan BASMIDA’ or friends of BASMIDA who are rehabilitated drug addicts which include registering them for courses through which they can use the skills gained to good use.

Datin Hjh Masni said due to the difficulties they encounter in getting jobs, BASMIDA has assisted some former drug addicts by providing them with sewing machines to start tailoring businesses. There are also plans to help them start a car wash business.

“They can’t set up a business on their own. They don’t know how to start (with all the licenses and application forms). That’s why we help them. If we can help even one person, then we’re doing something good,” she said.

Datin Hjh Masni also cautioned the public over drug syndicates’ tactics which include online recruitment of drug mules through social media.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch. We need to be aware of the dangers - especially those who are unemployed - to not fall prey to the tactics of global drug syndicates for money.”

The Brunei Times