Brunei Ministerial Statement at UN ESCAP Disabled Conference
The Ministerial Segment of the High Level Inter-Governmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of the Disabled Persons 2003-2012 held by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UN-ESCAP) is this morning. YM Datin Adina gave this statement:
|YM Datin Paduka Hajah Adina delivering her statement|
Excellencies, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government of Brunei Darussalam, allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of the Republic of Korea for hosting this meeting and on behalf of the Brunei Darussalam’s delegation, I wish to express our sincere appreciation for the cordial welcome and warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival here as well as for the excellent arrangements of this meeting.
Disability rights are universal rights to be recognized and promoted around the world. We join you here today to reaffirm our commitment to take affirmative action to make the rights real for PWDs to ensure their real participation in society, in contributing to the economy, and in the support of their families.
In Brunei Darussalam, we believe that the prime mover for the development of persons with disabilities lies with the government, notwithstanding the role played by civil society. According to the national register of PWDs kept by the Department of Community Development, the number of PWDs stood at 4,148 with the percentage of disabled persons in Brunei Darussalam at 1.06% of the total population.
Brunei Darussalam is strongly committed to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are realized and are given high priority in the national agenda. The National Council on Social Issues has identified the rights of PWDs as one of the issues which need to be addressed and has established a Special Committee on Persons with disabilities and the elderly in 2008. This committee has formulated a national plan of action on PWDs to promote the rights and full participation of the PWDs in the society. The Plan of Action addresses issues on access to health, education, buildings, transport, employment, protection, participation, finance and includes programmes on advocacy and data collection.
Health services are free for all citizens. For PWDs, early detection programmes are conducted by the Child Development Centre of the Ministry of Health which provides services to facilitate the diagnosis, assessment, treatment and support therapy for children in order to ensure their optimal health and development.
Education is provided free to all Brunei citizens. Our inclusive education policy provided through special needs teachers in many schools ensures the mainstreaming of PWDs’ perspectives in development. 9 Model Inclusive Schools have been established as centres of Excellence for special needs students who excel in their studies . Such schools are allocated additional funding and support to ensure they have the necessary school facilities, special learning equipment or resources, specialist support services, and teacher training programmes to provide quality inclusive education for a wide range of students with diverse learning needs.
In terms of access to buildings, legislative provision to provide a disabled friendly environment is being drafted in the Building Control Order, under the purview of the Ministry of Development. Currently, developers of new buildings are advised to install accessibility support for PWDs in their building designs. On public transport, the 5-year road map of the Ministry of Communication provides for disable-friendly public transport accessibility.
In term of access to information and communications, the Ministry of Communication is also considering a disabled friendly approach in access to information and technologies which focus towards the visual, hearing and intellectual impaired.
In terms of training and employment, skills training and job attachments programmes are also provided for PWDs by the Community Development Department as well as NGOs. There is increased public awareness on the capabilities of persons with disabilities which is reflected in the increasing number of PWDs being employed either in the public and private sectors. For PWD entrepreneurs, micro-credit finance facilities in the form of grants and loans, without collateral and guarantor are also provided by the Government.
Social security in the form of financial pensions are provided to PWDs and their dependants under the Old Age and Disability Pensions Act, 1954.
Excellencies, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
Brunei Darussalam signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 18 December 2007 and is in the process of drafting our Disability Order. This will ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of the disabled from a rights-based approach towards an inclusive and barrier-free society for PWDs.
In recognition of the role of NGOs for PWDs, the Government provides assistance through voluntary salary deductions for civil servants to contribute to NGOs. In addition, PWD associations are allocated complimentary land for their building premises, whereby the Government provides communal halls and architectural designs free of charge while the cost of constructing the building premises will be borne by the PWD associations.
Excellencies, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
As we progress, Brunei Darussalam is looking further into mainstreaming of PWDs not merely from the aspect of social safety net and financial security but more so in providing access to facilities for their development and towards protecting them. The challenges ahead include the need to provide capacity building of our care givers and those entrusted to empower the PWDs. We need to review existing legislation and policies and amending them to take into account the disabled-perspective. We need to incorporate ICF into the definition of PWDs and we need to enhance current efforts to change the mindset of our people on the capabilities of PWDs and the need to shift from a charity-based approach to a rights-based approach. Much has been said on the rights of PWDs and we welcome the theme of this meeting in making these rights real. We look forward to participating in the forthcoming Asian Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities.