An anonymous comment on my post yesterday on The Brunei Housemaids went like this:
"... As a senior government officer, Do you think, if ever in the future, that the situation will be the other way around? i.e. bruneian going abroad to work as labours and maids ..."
I will not anwer that directly but I will delve slightly further into two other comments which were posted on my post on Thankful to be in Brunei Darussalam when I listed some of the current subsidies provided by the Brunei Government. The two comments given by Akatsuki and an annonymous commentator basically answers that question. Akatsukti commented:
"...Being in Brisbane has made me realise how pampered life is in Brunei. I know this comfortable life won't last long. The black gold is going to run out sooner or later. Better be prepared, right? ..."
and the annonymous comment on the same vein noted that:
"...Many here are still unaware of the differences between the real world and our sheltered and protected world here. We get so many benefits and subsidies here. Sure we still have our faults.. but without these faults, we would live in a perfect eutopia. Oil is a finite resource that will soon run out. How long? Only Allah will know. He that is merciful and generous has gifted us with a monarch that is caring and the resources to care for his people. However, The All Mighty will not want us to be complecent. What he giveth, he will take away for every action has its purpose..."
Our oil wealth is fairly recent and like most non-renewable natural resources will one day run out. In the 1980s, we were warned that oil will run out in about 20 years time which is about now. So far, with the help of technology, we have been able to push that end further. But there will be a point in time when no matter how much technology we use the oil will no longer be there. Today's prices helped by the various economics and geopolitics in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas and to a large extent to China and India, have reached stratospheric level giving us tons of surpluses. When I was last at the Finance Ministry in 1998 when we were looking at oil prices of around $11 a barrel, I could not even contemplate then I could be looking at $80+ a barrel and rising. But then oil prices may be $200 a barrel, if you got none to sell, then that matters naught.
In 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines economy was then the fastest growing economy in Asia. They were considered the Tiger Economy of Asia. In the 1980s and 1990s, Thailand, Korea and Malaysia were the new Tigers. Those tiger titles are no longer valid. They are still growing but not at the same fast furious paces. In the 1800s and 1900s, the sun never sets on the British Empire - it's so large that it circles the world. Today - what British Empire?
Brunei controlled the Island of Borneo, the southern parts of the Philippines Islands and the northern part of the Java Island in the 1500s. By 1906, we shrunk. Our economy was so poor that it could not support the small number of people we had then. Many people migrated from Brunei to find work. So much so that there are more Brunei Malays outside Brunei than there are in Brunei now. The Government had to borrow money for day to day government and for the survival of the country. It took the Brunei Government until 1936 (30 years!) before we were able to pay everything back with interest. [Refer to paper].
Today, Brunei is still a small little country but wealthy. Luckily where we are now is where the oil is. Talk about divine intervention. The point is, do not expect what we have today to be what we have tomorrow. We have to look after ourselves. Do not squander what we have today. History has taught us that lesson. If we don't heed our lesson and we do not save, tomorrow, we may have the possibility of "bruneian going abroad to work as labours and maids."