Imbalance between labour supply and job demand key factor of social disturbances

I AM writing to air my concerns following recent reports of social disturbances such as crimes attributed to foreign workers in our country.

Based on my personal encounters these unwanted incidents are a ticking ‘timebomb’ and will continue to happen.

A key factor in my opinion is the imbalance between labour supply and job demand.

One can go to one or two of the main mosques in the country to see and experience firsthand, foreign labourers going to the extreme of measures to survive, including begging.

I am aware of at least two encounters of foreign labourers resorting to begging at a major traffic intersection and at a main mosque in the Brunei-Muara District.

I can also testify to foreign grass cutters breaking into a fight to protect their turf.

These are in addition to those who go from house to house in my village asking for jobs.

My own investigations point to a root cause, being the continued issuance of the foreign labour quota, which was first made at the height of construction activities many years ago.

Today, government housing resettlement projects have largely taken over the individual private house building activities and the construction industry has slowed down. With many of the manual jobs no longer shunned by local youth, the need for these unskilled foreign workers have considerably shrunk.

The foreign labour quota has however remained with construction contractors at the same level.

This inevitably has led to them becoming ‘ghost’ employers, bringing foreign labourers into our country as freelancers.

Many of these freelancers could be found at the Temburong Bridge Project site, being one of the few large constructions remaining.

At a reported nominal fee of BND50 per person, this adds to a hefty monthly profit for these foreign labour quota holders.

I hope the authorities will look into this situation and only allow foreign workers into the country according to the ‘true’ demand for their services and channel the resultant opportunities toward helping our unemployed locals.

– Concerned Bruneian