Come forward if you show COVID-19 symptoms, vulnerable workers told

Azlan Othman

High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain said that vulnerable Bangladeshi workers must report to the hospital after developing symptoms of COVID-19, even if their passports are being held back by their labour brokers or employers.

In an interview with the Bulletin yesterday, the high commissioner said, “They need not fear being apprehended by the enforcement agencies here, even if their work visas have expired, as our embassy will assist them. I am sure that the Brunei government will also renew their visas.”

He affirmed that two Bangladeshi citizens tested positive for COVID-19. They have since made a recovery.

Officers from the Bangladesh High Commission are visiting labour camps in Brunei to talk to their fellow citizens employed in freelance jobs. They even provide aid to those who are unemployed and vulnerable, providing them with financial assistance, food items, hand sanitisers and face masks.

“Officers are also checking their passports, identity cards and the company source,” said Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain.

To date, 400 Bangladeshi citizens in Brunei Darussalam are in need of assistance.

“Our staff deals with them individually on a daily basis,” he said, adding that some employers are negligent of their workers’ well-being. The Bangladesh government has taken action against a good number of Bangladeshi brokers, who were involved in recent visa rackets. They were deported to Bangladesh, with many being jailed.”

Last year, officials from the Bangladesh High Commission in Brunei Darussalam uncovered what they described as a “surplus visa racket,” purportedly allowing Bangladeshi citizens to work in the Sultanate without a proper job status. The victims were found to be without jobs for as long as 10 months, after paying BND4,000 – BND6,000 to the brokers.

High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN