Poverty and Microfinance in Brunei Darussalam
Despite the proliferation of poverty studies, poverty in Brunei Darussalam (hereafter, Brunei) is under-researched. What poverty means in Brunei is, therefore, little understood, and there is a local belief that poverty in the country is unique and relative. Moreover, the terms ‘poverty’ (kemiskinan) and ‘poor’ (miskin) are somewhat sensitive in Brunei, but the reason(s) for this sentiment and preferred terms are not known. This study examines the language and meaning of poverty in Brunei. It also sheds light on the local belief about poverty within the country. The study used an exploratory research methodology and data were collected from poor and non-poor households and key informants. Results show that Bruneians use different terms to refer to poverty or poor people, but preferred terms are ‘living in need’, ‘difficult life’ and ‘needy people’. Bruneians avoid the terms ‘poverty’ and ‘poor’ because they can erode one’s self-confidence or self-esteem. Poverty in Brunei is construed in different ways, but it is mostly perceived as relative, and its nature is not unique.