Thanks but we prefer jobs in Brunei

National 3 minutes, 52 seconds


GOVERNMENT scholars are receptive to the idea of scholarship bond releases allowing them to work overseas but maintain a preference to work here in the sultanate.

Scholars interviewed by The Brunei Times said a government decision to allow recipients of bonded scholarship to find work overseas would be justifiable in the face of current economic conditions and the high unemployment rate in Brunei.

The scholars all said that it would be fair if teachers and doctors were exempted from the bond release decision, as there were currently still opportunities for them to work in their respective fields in Brunei.

During a meeting of the 12th Session of the Legislative Council on Thursday, Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said the Ministry of Education will consider releasing government-bonded scholarship recipients to work overseas if the government was unable to provide them jobs.

The scholars may be released if they failed to secure employment in Brunei and have received overseas job offers, he said.

However, the minister said that the possible release of scholars does not apply to those training to be teachers or doctors as there is still a need to fill the labour shortage in the country’s medical and teaching professions.

Master of Science in Global Politics student Adi, 24, said it would be unfortunate if scholars who have knowledge and skills in a diverse range of academic and technical fields – who have been trained, educated and invested in by the Brunei government – would not be able to contribute back to the country.

However, he said the possibility of being allowed to work overseas would work in his favour, if there were no jobs for him in the country.

“It is very common for graduates with higher education qualifications to be stuck in low-paid jobs or be unemployed for years as obtaining government jobs have become very competitive,” Adi said.

Adi said that although he preferred working here, a job overseas should not be ruled out as an option, as a government bond release would enable him to pursue careers and opportunities available abroad.

Masters of Forensic Science graduate Syazwana Souyono, 25, said the move would give scholars more leeway with getting valuable experience in their field, and that the presence of Bruneian professions in overseas companies and organisations can raise the country’s ranks in the international market.

Syazwana said the decision would definitely help in relieving the pressures of trying to find relevant work in the sultanate.

“Many capable graduates are forced into industries that are neither relevant nor of interest to them... simply for the sake of escaping unemployment.

“(Although) one can argue that you should be grateful to have a job, the under-utilisation of their skills and expertise would definitely be a shame, especially after years of investing in and developing those skills,” she said.

The King’s College London graduate said a decision to return to Brunei to work with the government would depend on the duration of working overseas.

“Say I have been working overseas for over seven years and have established my seniority and expertise in a particular company. If the government called me back for an entry-level position then I would definitely think twice but if it is appropriate for my skill level and experience then I would see no problem in coming back,” she said.

However, Syazwana said a relevant job opportunity in Brunei should be the first option for scholars as they are obliged to contribute back to the government for investing in their education.

She added that the policy “must be well thought out in its regulations to ensure that it is fair and beneficial in the interests of both the individual and the Brunei government”.

Nur Hazirah Hj Abdul Mutalif, 23, said there was “nothing wrong” with working overseas, so long as patriotic feelings and Malay Muslim Monarchy (MIB) identities remain embedded within Bruneians.

The international relations and politics masters student said that working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) has always been her first choice, but said that a government decision to allow bonded scholarship recipients to pursue overseas employment would work in her favour.

She, however, said the government could consider “fixing” a set period for working overseas for these scholars.

“If one decides to work overseas, usually they will be bound by a contract and to return to Brunei whenever needed will be an issue,” she said.

Nur Hazirah said that determining a set period when scholars would have to return to Brunei after overseas unemployment would “avoid clashes and prevent undesirable circumstances”.

The Brunei Times