depression unemployment

There’s been a rising debate on unemployment recently sparked by Brunei Times in their article entitled “Chasing after Brunei’s runaway scholars“. Now it deals with the scholarship programme, one which I am indirectly associated with.

But really what has been touched upon really deals on job prospects. Many of whom says that the main reason it happened is because of the lack of career opportunity and lower salary offered compared to other countries. Hey the average working salary in Shell Brunei is lower than in Singapore or in Malaysia, and with the same qualification a student can apply for a working expat visa, fly off, work there without much hassle. So is that not an opportunity worth taking?

But most importantly: Who wants to work in an environment that do not provide the ‘right’ environment and ‘right’ salary for them to ‘grow’?

But since the scholarship award has strings attached to it students who are reluctant to be ‘bonded’ are poised to stand their ground. Those 20 students that did so stayed abroad in a passive aggressive manner. Thus the government is calling them, coaxing them, and even legally threatening them to come home and work.

Those on the board of education are not really happy with those running away from their ‘bonds’, and they have every right too do so: no one likes an ingrate. What is particularly infuriating for them is to read these honest comment section that would easily embarrass those in charge; alas they get honest feedback. And alas the power of the internet in front of our very sights.

Anyway a commenter sarcastically told how the government is to be blamed because of the current high unemployment rate; he then asked this question “Did JPKE actually keep track of the number of workers employed after every job fair?” Alas the comment got very popular.

But really what really piqued my interest is the fact that ‘many of the scholars who went home are still unemployed(I translated his sentence from Malay)’. I bet it is not only those scholar students but those studying in the local institutions as well namely UBD, ITB etc.

The question now is why is that? Why the high rate of unemployment in the nation?

It reminds me of J.Paul Getty‘s memoir “As I see It” how he scorn young Americans who would be all mad and aghast of not having the ‘opportunity to work’ when the local newspaper themselves have not ever stopped advertising employers for positions of work! Looking back at Brunei Times or Borneo Bulletin, have you ever seen a day without any jobs advertised?

It makes me sad too knowing how our young men and women are crying to get a hand-out from the government as if they are our parents. As if we have an entitlement over them. Grow and be self-reliant for God sakes!

When I was in Maktab Duli, in a time when my family have money problems do I go out to the government agency and ask for a job?

Meh not even once.

I became a waiter in Gadong to support myself to buy my own food. I went out around the neighbourhood to sell used DVDs and CDs, and make errands for my customers. I even sold foods during school charity events.

After the holiday I set up my businesses where I refurbished and rented my granddad’s house. Cemented his road with my ‘uncle-uncles’ so my tenants would have good parking space. Set up a spaghetti booth to sell in Yayasan, and became a freelance real estate agent(though I didn’t succeed in this one).

My family supported me in this and the money that was acquired through hard work and dedication taught me that there is no such thing as easy money. I had to work for it.

So coming back to those whose whining of not being able to get a job even though you are bonded that is actually a freaking good opportunity! To strike your own path and build your own businesses! I-centre and BEDB is giving you guys the support to launch your enterprise, so why not?

Or perhaps work or intern for a private company. A friend whose taking a real estate related course commented how he learned more in a private company more than his friend who worked in the government’s Ministry of Development.

Mind you if those labour expats now living and working in Brunei are doing their job dutifully for BND$300-BND$600/month then who are to complain about getting a job? They went outside the country and lived for pennies for a long day work man! Without those Indonesians, Indians, and Filipinos can Brunei’s service and labour sector work for itself?

Anyway, the idea of writing this article is just take upon the unemployables the initiative to take jobs and not depend to much on government’s help. They do have their own weaknesses but they have provided the opportunity for man and a woman to work for a days’ worth of pay to begin to work in whatever field they may choose; all within a secure environment.

To close this article let me bring to you a quote which I found in J.Paul Getty’s Memoir, a quote from Abraham Lincon:

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot further the Brotherhood of Man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”