BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — More than 150 grassroots leader positions will be available as many of the country’s village heads and mukim penghulus will soon go into retirement.

Vacancies will be opened next month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) announced during a press conference on Saturday. 

According to its permanent secretary Salminan Hj Burut, the positions will be made available in phases and posted in local newspapers beginning on October 1. They will remain open for the whole month.

This first set of vacancies could eventually lead to a total of up to 169 positions being opened by next June, as many of the current leaders are due to retire.

“We want leaders with new ideas, and with the current state of the country, we need more leaders with a more dynamic ways of thinking, those who can make use of technology to better their community’s socioeconomic standing,” he said.

Recently, it was announced that the age requirement for grassroots leader positions was lowered to 30 from 45 years old. 

This new development, said Salminan, is to entice more youths to become community leaders and breathe new life to the nation’s grassroots institutions. 

He added that the inclusion of youths may also help to bolster economic activity in grassroots communities.

Salminan Hj Burut, Permanent Secretary (Municipal and District) AT the Ministry of Home Affairs speaks during a press conference on Sept 22, 2018. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

Although no official number of vacancies have been set, the senior official mentioned that vacancies will be advertised may include 169 positions that will be available next year. 

During a working visit to the Temburong district,  Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said the terms of 169 Mukim penghulus and village heads were further extended by six months. 

“This would mean that their term would end by June 2019, and in an effort to tackle positions that have long been vacant as well as future vacancies, we are advertising these positions early [before the grassroots leaders retire],” he said during a question and answer session. 

During the press conference it was explained that the minimum requirement to be a village head is O-levels, along with at least five years of experience in areas of administration, management and supervision. 

Applicants are also required to be active in participating in their respective village or Mukim consultative council or mosque committees.

Salminan went on to say that the ministry will be conducting further sessions with the public next week, to arouse interest among interested members of the public, as well as to make clear of the opportunities and incentives that is afforded to grassroots leaders.