Call for contingency plan following 1st COVID-19 case

Syazwani Hj Rosli

As the country recorded its first COVID-19 case on Monday, employees if infected with the virus will be placed on a cautionary quarantine, their sick and annual leave should not be affected throughout the isolation period.

The matter was highlighted by Yang Berhormat Awang Iswandy bin Ahmad during the first meeting of the 16th Legislative Council (LegCo) yesterday morning.

He also suggested for the Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to consider providing support for people who may be at risk, such as the elderly and those who have pre-existing medical conditions, to avoid stigma or discrimination either as employees or clients.

He believed that providing guidelines for working remotely or through teleworking for sector applicable for this measure will also be beneficial.

Yang Berhormat Iswandy also proposed to the ministry to provide a contingency plan for preparation to ensure no interruption or disruption in delivering services in the government and private sectors.

Yang Berhormat Awang Iswandy bin Ahmad speaks during the first meeting of the 16th Legislative Council yesterday morning. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

If necessary, he said, hiring new employees can be carried out through online test and phone interview, face-to-face services can be moved to telephone calls, and employees under quarantine can still carry out their duties from work.

In his deliberation, the Yang Berhormat touched on the establishment of the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) to tackle unemployment issues in which he believed that the agency needed to improvise.

He urged for the council’s continuous effort in ensuring training involved upskilling, reskilling and lifelong learning.

At the moment, he said the Public Service Commission (SPA) and Civil Service Institute (IPA), Ministry of Education for Lifelong Learning and Ministry of Religious Affairs for Islamic Education work in silos, and concerted efforts need to be made under the Council to ensure better coordination.

With regard to the reskilling and upskilling of the workforce, Yang Berhormat Iswandy applauded the training courses at governmental level, such as the IPA or short courses at the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) as well as training provided by the private sector and online open course MOOC.

However, he said, while these trainings are useful, for a jobseeker or a recently unemployed, paying for a BND100 course may be a tough decision to make. As such, he suggested for a subsidy or financial credit.

Yang Berhormat Iswandy also touched on His Majesty’s Titah on reviewing of the process to expedite the filling of vacancies in civil service and acknowledged that the nation is currently ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of its civil servants through various endeavours.