Self-deprecation may be cause of expat dependence

I am writing in response to a letter published in the Opinion page on February 10 on ‘Time to give locals a chance’. I wholeheartedly agree with Concerned Bruneian in that there is a dependence on expatriates for their experience and expertise. However, I believe the issue extends beyond golf facilities.

There are quite a number of companies that tend to reserve certain positions – especially management – for foreigners. While some industries are able to justify the decisions due to their relatively young presence in the country, the rest comes across as discriminatory towards local capabilities.

Having been part of the working world for a long while, I have admittedly come across “lazy” and “entitled” locals. But to paint such a broad stroke on the entire local workforce based on a few bad apples would be unfair. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some of the most responsible Bruneians, who would burn the midnight oil to complete a project on time – all without asking for additional monetary reward.

What I see as the biggest issue is the second guessing of the local workforce by the locals themselves. Expats exist to fill the positions that are deemed beyond the capabilities of a country’s human capital; and such an opinion is certainly not formed by the foreigners. At most, these expats further perpetuate what have existed in the country for a long time.

As Bruneians, we need to stop grouping people based on age, race, nationality and creed. Sure, there will always have been top positions taken up by expats; but so are there countless jobs filled by locals who are equally highly paid, if not more. With the salary being equal, there’s no telling whether a local or an expat would be harder working and more dedicated. Just as there are “lazy” and “entitled” locals, same can be said about some expats I’ve come across.

Instead of sweeping the issue under the rug or pushing it to be solved by selected bodies, such as human resource managers, we need a collective effort to purge ourselves of self-deprecation first before any meaningful change can take place.

The Conversationalist