BRUNEI CAN LEAD ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

Brunei

BruneiRimba, Brunei, 26 Muharram 1435/30 November 2013 (MINA) – The Dignity International Coordinator for Asia, Adrian Pereira, said on Friday that a resource-rich country such as Brunei can play a major role in improving human rights in ASEAN.

“I hope that countries that are quite prosperous, such as Brunei, will play a more critical role. As a country that has resources, they can take the leadership to help solve some of the other human rights issues in ASEAN,” Pereira said on the last day of the ASEAN Short Film Festival 2013 at the Civil Service Institute, Rimba.

Pereira acknowledged that while the leaders of ASEAN maintained a “non-intervention” policy, they could get round this by building up personal relationships and strengthening solidarity among members of ASEAN, The Brunei Times quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

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Shelley Thio’s Migrant Workers Left in the Lurch was one of the films shown yesterday. The eight-minute documentary, which focused on the daily hardships endured by migrant workers in Singapore, struck a chord with the audience.

The film documented the miseries faced by migrant workers in Singapore, one of the richest and most developed members of ASEAN, such as going without pay for months on end and physical and verbal abuse. Some displayed their empty wallets, while explaining they had been unable to buy food to eat because their employer had not paid them.

One Bangladeshi worker said he had sold his father’s land back home and borrowed money from family and friends to raise $9,000 to work in Singapore, only to eventually return with just $600.  Another recounted how a worker had died of starvation. The convener of the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers (TF-AMW) said the film would improve awareness in Brunei of the plight of migrant workers in other ASEAN member states. “I think it is essential to know that in ASEAN there is not just a Bruneian society or Bruneian people, there are also nine other countries. Informing ourselves about what is happening in other countries is also important,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) Vice President 1 Nur Judy Abdullah said Brunei should be a role model for other members of ASEAN when it comes to living in peace and harmony. “Issues can be addressed, specifically with open dialogues and being able to communicate and network with each other,” she said. “I think Brunei is one country we can be proud of because we can emulate the best practices for our neighbouring countries to look up to us as a benchmark in their own policies and programmes.”

MKM President Datin Paduka Hajah Intan Md Kassim said, “A number of migrant workers come to Brunei. We should have compassion for our neighbours and those who come here to make a living.” (T/P09/P04).

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Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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