Focus on efforts to tackle unemployment, social ills

|     Rokiah Mahmud     |

THE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has outlined the National Master Plan and National Action Plan under the National Council on Social Issues (MKIS) to address the issue of rising unemployment and social problems in the country.

The MKIS is committed to establishing policies, strategies and directions to enhance the effectiveness of the national social security system in line with Brunei Vision 2035.

The council is also one of the national mechanisms to address the 12 identified cross-sectoral social issues, which includes unemployment.

This was highlighted by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin in response to Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman’s question on actions taken by the MCYS to address the social and unemployment issue in the country, at the LegCo meeting yesterday.

Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeryianty asked, among other queries, what are the National Master Plan and the National Action Plan in addressing social issues in the country and what is the current status of the MKIS, a body that was established in 2008, as well as what measures had already been taken to address these issues.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

“Social issues and unemployment are among the challenges faced by our country and require an integrated action from all parties, and these problems are among the focusses of the MKIS,” the minister said.

Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan explained that given the direction and key performance indicators (KPIs) that are in line with the Social Security Strategy, all MKIS initiatives towards the achievement of Brunei Vision 2035 are implemented through eight action plans under the jurisdiction of the five Special Committees, namely the special committee on Poverty Issues; Special Committee on Family, Women and Children Institutions; Special Committee on Senior Citizens and Disabled People; Special Committee on Public Mentalities; and Special Committee on Immoral Activities and Crime Prevention.

The minister noted that by the end of 2016, the MKIS has decided that all these special committees should review their respective action plans – in particular each of their KPIs – and ensure that the initiatives and programmes of the special committee action plans are more outcome-oriented and in line with Brunei Vision 2035.

Achievements made under MKIS action plans

Firstly, towards addressing unemployment among able-bodied and able-to-work monthly beneficiaries, an enhanced TEKAD Programme (Strengthening the Basic Economy of the family) is slated to be implemented on a pilot basis starting this year.

The formation of this TEKAD Programme is based on the implementation of the two cohort BKB100 pilot projects that have successfully provided jobs to 37 monthly welfare assistance (BKB) beneficiaries and 92 dependents of BKB recipients.

Secondly, the action plans on issues pertaining to people with different abilities (OKU), senior citizens issues, family institution, women and children are being updated and actively implemented to improve these individuals’ wellbeing, protection, progress and development.

This update also prioritises the empowerment of target groups to ensure that rights, opportunities and access are equitably given for their full participation in society and the nation’s development, and that these groups can be productive and independent.

At the national level, the main initiative under the action plan is to hold a National Family Day celebration, so as to promote and strengthen family institutions throughout the country.

Thirdly, efforts have been made to address immoral activities and criminal prevention related to five criminal activities, including drug abuse, theft, adultery and alcoholic drinks. To date, several programmes have been formed through the relevant working committees involving the cooperation of various government and private agencies targetting various levels of society, including students, the youth, mosques, and mosque congregants.

Fourthly, the implementation of the study on community mentality that has resulted in several recommendations being incorporated into the Community Mental Action Plan for the implementation of appropriate programmes under three major initiatives: curriculum education, cultivating positive minds, and changing of mindset among the society.

Addressing unemployment

With regard to unemployment, the minister explained, under the Special Committee on Poverty Issues, the MKIS has decided to implement the National Assistance Programme that retains assistance to those who really need it and those who cannot work, and provide empowering programmes on capacity-building for healthy BKB recipients and those who are able to work.

The programme also ensures proper coordination on the allocation of funds and sources of assistance, and covers the maintenance of databases.

Some 100 recipients of BKB have been selected to participate in the ‘Program Pelan Pekerjaan (3P)’, Home Based Business Programme and Community Empowerment Programme. BKB recipients have also been chosen to participate in an empowerment programme, namely the Visionary Youth Innovation Programme (PIBB).

As a result of the BKB100 pilot project which ended in December 2017, a total of six BKB recipients have successfully obtained jobs, 23 are now operating their own businesses, seven are on training courses, and 92 have been employed.

Due to the success of the BKB100 pilot project, the programme was run again in February 2018 for a second cohort of participants.

This time, the project’s focus was to help the participants get employed; a total of 31 participants of this cohort have landed jobs so far.

Following the success of the BKB100 project, especially with regard to helping the BKB recipients gain employment, the MCYS established a programme to support the TEKAD Programme in achieving the goals of the MKIS.

The MKIS is currently in the preliminary stage of implementing the PHC-Employment Programme on a pilot basis starting in April this year to assist 100 people comprising monthly welfare assistance recipients in landing jobs, part of a move to help them and their families escape the clutches of poverty.

Measures to help overcome social issues

Two other Special Committees, namely the Special Committee of Family, Women and Children Institutions, and Special Committee on Elderly and Disability Issues have updated and are updating their respective action plans dealing with the welfare of the BKB recipients.

These action plans cover aspects such as the well-being, protection, as well as the progress and development of these target groups. According to Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan, the priority is to empower these groups by ensuring that they have access to the same rights and opportunities as other members of society, so that they can participate fully in society and the nation’s development and be productive and fully independent.

To address moral and criminal issues, the Special Committee on Immoral and Crime Prevention is focussing its efforts on eradicating five criminal activities: drug abuse, robbery, khalwat (close proximity), adultery and the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

To this end, several programmes have been established through the Law Enforcement and Prevention Committee involving various government and private agencies, targetting various levels of society such as students, youth, mosque youth and mosque congregants to raise awareness on the problems and ensure that these programmes are successful.

In addition, programmes designed under the Recovery Working Committee target the perpetrators of crime and put them under special supervision to deter them from reoffending.