The Government of 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 strongly emphasises that the welfare and well-being of persons with different abilities (PWDs) continue to be guaranteed by mainstreaming their interests into the national social security system inclusively and fairly, including by ensuring their equal rights, opportunities and access under the laws of the country, said Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad in a press release yesterday.
He said this in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022 marked yesterday.
December 3 this year marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022 celebrated by member states of the United Nations (UN) including Brunei Darussalam.
This year’s theme is ‘Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable World’.
The minister said the theme is also in line with the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 ‘No One Left Behind’, whereby it is important for all to find innovative solutions to make the world more accessible and beneficial to PWDs in various fields. He added , “It also coincides with the Plan of Action (POA) for Persons with Different Abilities under the National Council on Social Issues (MKIS), reviewed in 2021. The Plan of Action on PWDs 2021-2025, focusses on three strategic cores which are to increase the quality of life through education, health and economic activities; provide equal rights through policies, legislation and infrastructure; and empower PWDs and their families inclusively through advocacy.
“The implementation of initiatives under this POA is undertaken through a Whole-of-Nation approach, where the government, private sectors , non-governmental organisations, mukims and village institutions, volunteers and public work together as well as mobilise support and opportunities for PWDs in this country towards the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.
“With the enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Order 2021 on October 1, 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has to date, received nearly 3,800 applications for PWD registration, which will be incorporated into the PWD National Register upon verification by the Ministry of Health.”
The minister added, “Information from the PWD National Registry will be used to ensure that every PWD in this country receives his or her rights and proper care.
“Therefore, under the provision under the Persons with Disabilities Order 2021, the Community Development Department (JAPEM) is in its final planning stages of issuing PWD Cards to those PWDs who have been verified and registered in the National Register for PWD identity verification as well as access to certain services.”
The minister also shared that in line with the enactment of the Old Age and Disability Pension Act (Amendment) Order 2021, a total of 4,755 PWDs have been approved to receive Disability Allowances. Out of this number, a total of 434 people are receiving double benefits namely Old Age Pension and Disability Allowance.
“In addition, a total of 315 applicants have been approved to receive Care Provider Allowances according to the eligibility criteria that have been set.
“The provision of Disability Allowances and Care Provider Allowances is not only intended to cover the special needs of the PWDs, but it is also in recognition of the importance of social security for PWDs in the country.
“As a society that cares for PWDs, we should adhere to the principle that PWDs also have the same rights and opportunities for full participation in society. Therefore, the economic empowerment of PWDs, including through entrepreneurship and employment, needs to be improved.
“To ensure that the PWDs are self-reliant and able to contribute to the country, they need to be provided with quality education and skills training that are appropriate to their abilities and given access to inclusive job opportunities.
“This requires strong support and cooperation from various parties including the private sector which is expected to be able to support the government’s efforts to develop the interest, willingness and ability of PWDs to achieve their potential and improve their standard of living.
“As such, the cooperation and support from the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) in involving PWDs to share their work experiences as well as showcasing companies that hired PWD employees during the recent Recruitment Fair 2022 is greatly appreciated and should be continued in the future. Such strong support is highly encouraged to increase the opportunity for PWDs to live independently in the community, as is desired through the theme of the celebration to drive an open and fair world.”
On behalf of the MCYS, the minister acknowledged and expressed gratitude to companies providing employment opportunities to PWDs, and for integrating them into their workforces.
To further enliven the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022this year, JAPEM at the MCYS has planned several events in collaboration with various partners such as the Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Abilities (MKOKU), The Impian Project, La Vida, Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD), Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre, MPEC, Dream Makers, Department of Special Education Department, SMARTER Brunei, Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam, Canadian Embassy in Brunei Darussalam and Elfera Health and Nursing Care Sdn Bhd, as well as foreign missions from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
It is hoped that these events will raise greater public awareness of the importance of encouraging empowerment opportunities and open up more access for PWDs to improve their self-efficacy and support in setting their priorities.
Empowerment opportunities that are encouraged include investment in employment, health, education and social protection.
Through these opportunities, PWDs will be able to transform themselves into agents of change that can improve their future.
The minister added, “In conjunction with International Day of Persons with Disabilities this year, let us take the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate PWDs so that they will continue to be independent and contribute to the development of the country towards the achievement of Brunei Vision 2035.
“In addition, high appreciation is also conveyed to family members, caregivers and educators for the sacrifice, love and continuous support for the well-being and welfare of PWDs in the country.“