I would like to laud the intervention by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the running of a local telco company, timely highlighting the seeming lack of care and development of local employees in such an important national institution.
Unfortunately, the list does not stop there; with another operating asset of national iconic stature – a luxury hotel – under the jurisdiction of the same corporate governing system also making similar precursor sounds and showing concerning tell-tale signs of a downhill path towards mediocrity.
Strikingly, both of these organisations have one commonality – being run largely by an expatriate management team.
Potentially more troubling to the country, the hotel is not just a direct employer of locals but a key player in our economy, through its roles in the tourism industry. Its international standing, particularly through the eyes of travelling golfing and sports enthusiasts, has significant bearing to its revenue and job-generating capacities.
For almost 23 years since its opening, the operations of its country club facilities, particularly the golf course, are still under the hands of four layers of expatriate managers – from the general manager to operations directors, golf and leisure director, and golf course superintendent.
Some tell-tale signs that the facilities have either been neglected can be seen on the golf course – once hailed as the regional best; from the wild growth taken its place among the original manicured turf in the fairways to foreign grasses contaminated the greens and damaged bunkers still left in disrepair.
A golfing enthusiast would most likely not return and pay BND200 per round of golf when the region offers better alternatives. To top all these bad experiences off, he or she would be confronted by crowded changing and showering amenities, as only one of the two blocks available in the original built-up is open. That is, of course, on top of the signs of inadequate attention given to maintaining the main hotel facilities, including the recent near-miss incident involving falling pieces of ceiling in the lobby.
Surely, in all these years of its operations, a local could have been recruited and trained, and with the right development, advanced to the position of a golf course superintendent. After all, the kind of opportunity and care is typically given to locals in neighbouring countries.
I hope the hotel would get an appropriate intervention, giving locals a strong sense of responsibility to return it to its glory days and make it an icon once again.
A Local Stakeholder