Brunei Darussalam will stick to its principles when challenged by other nations on its customs, culture and religion, said Minister of Foreign Affairs II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof during yesterday’s 19th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
LegCo member Yang Berhormat Hajah Rosmawatty binti Haji Abdul Mumin inquired on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) role in addressing negative international views and any backlash on the implementation of Syariah laws in the country.
The minister in reply said, “Several countries do not agree with our principles. However as part of the global community and adhering to the principles under the United Nations, they must respect our sovereignty and not interfere with other countries’ matters.
“When facing these challenges, we stick to our principles and explain that Brunei Darussalam adheres to the principles of human rights principles and policies, which we are committed to implement.
“Others may have different views; it will always happen, so this issue will persist. Therefore, the knowledge of our officers is enhanced with the cooperation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs to tackle these challenges,” he said.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Salleh bin Haji Othman inquired on what assistance is rendered to Bruneians that have been scammed or are victims of human trafficking.
The minister in his reply said Brunei Missions abroad will work with relevant agencies in that country to tackle such matters.
He said the country’s overseas missions will assist Bruneians in the event of disasters and emergencies, hence it is crucial for Bruneians to register with the ministry when travelling abroad to facilitate any emergency help.
For financial and medical assistance, the ministry will not be able to provide aid instantly, and advised travellers to make use of travel insurance.
When queried on job opportunities for Bruneians at overseas missions, the minister said that while opportunities are open to all Bruneians, it also depends on the country where the mission is based.
The minister said usually 14 to 15 staff members are engaged locally, and these jobs require specific skills that the locals are well-versed in.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Salleh Bostaman bin Haji Zainal Abidin inquired what businessmen should do if encountering trouble in a country without a Bruneian diplomatic mission.
In his reply, the minister said that while it is beyond the means of the ministry to set up missions in all 193 countries, there is an arrangement within Asean called ‘Third Country Counsellor Assistance’ introduced in 2013.
Through the arrangement, Brunei can seek help from an Asean member country with a diplomatic mission in that country, in the event that a Bruneian traveller encounters difficulty, such as ending up “penniless after being robbed”, he added.