JAPEM – Assistance for the Less Fortunate 4

Every time I write an article, I make two simple assumptions: First is that You, my dear reader, understand English. And secondly, you are at a point of life where you can adequately support yourself financially. The biggest flaw of this assumption is also just as simple. That is not everyone in Brunei understand English and not everyone are financially buoyant.

In Brunei, we have many perks and subsidies the government gives to the population. This includes cheap petrol, subsidised rice and sugar and no income tax to name a few. So with so much perks, by right everyone should be doing fine right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Going about our day, we usually get distracted from the fact that some people are simply not able to sustain themselves and their dependents. This may arise from problems of socioeconomic origin but could simply be from drowning in debt! Fortunately for us, and Brunei being a welfare state, the government offers financial assistance to those struggling so make ends meet.

This assistance is rendered through JAPEM.

What is JAPEM?

JAPEM stands for Jabatan Pembangunan Masyarakat which translates to the Department of Community Development. It is a department under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and their focus is to assist members of public with regards to a wide variety of issues.

Monthly Welfare Assistance

From what I gather, one of the services provided by JAPEM is the Monthly Welfare Assistance. This program aims to “help alleviate the burden of an individual or family who are living in difficulty and helplessness”. Basically, the government assesses you for things such as expenses, number of children, whether minimum living conditions are met and so on. If eligible, the government will pay out a sum of money to help sustain the family.

Who can apply?

This assistance is open to Yellow IC holders a.k.a. Bruneian citizens who:

  • live in difficulty and have children (below the age of 18 years) who are still in school
  • have no income / Pensions of any kind (Service / Derivatives / Old Age) / assistance from government agencies or non-governmental agencies.
  • are approved by the Government Medical Officer if they are suffering from any disease that does not allow to work.

How to apply?

If you are eligible to apply, the application can be made by:

  • submitting to the Director of Community Development Department either by letter through Penghulus / Heads of Kampong (Village Heads), or
  • visiting the headquarters of the Department of the Community Development or branch that is available in every district.

What happens after?

Once your application is processed, a designated officer will investigate and assess the situation. After that it’s pretty much waiting to see if you qualify for it.

Alternative welfare assistance

If for whatever reason you are not qualified under this program, there are alternative programs that are open to Muslim citizens. These are under organisations such the Brunei Islamic Council or Majlis Ugama Islam Brunei (MUIB) and in worst case scenarios, you can apply to receive zakat. Zakat is the giving of alms to the poor and needy; it is one of the five pillars of Islam (the others are declaration of faith, prayer, fasting in Ramadan and Hajj).


Many us are OK financially and the cost of living in Brunei is relatively cheap. However, we cannot ignore the fact that not everyone is born equal. Thus, there are some that cannot support themselves financially. The Government of Brunei is kind enough to offer financial assistance to those in need. But with our current economic climate, how sustainable is it?

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About Fox

Founder of The Savey Fox. I am interested in how money works and makes the world go round. Borne from picking up a personal finance book when I was unemployed after University, I strive to continually learn and share about finance. Other than the big $ signs, I am an avid gamer, coffee lover and seasonal gym rat.

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4 thoughts on “JAPEM – Assistance for the Less Fortunate

  • aileen

    i had apply this in february 2017 up till now oct 2017 i still havent being eligible .why does it takes so long? i heard from everyone it usually takes 3 mths.what happened?

    • Fox Post author

      Hi Aileen,

      Have you tried calling and going in to their office to ask? Unfortunately, I don’t have any direct access to JAPEM for these matters.

      I strongly suggest you contact them if you haven’t already. If you have, did they inform you of any problems related to the application?

  • Ana

    Hi. Love the article. Just wondering if you can help me. My family is having financial difficulties. My parents are divorced, dad is local but mum isn’t. Dad’s remarried. My mother has not been able to find a job for the past year, and unfortunately, our father does not provide properly for us. We can’t afford to sue him. He has threatened to kick us out of our own childhood home, and he says he has no obligations to give us a home. But he forgets that under Islam, he in fact is responsible for giving us a home, food, clothing and education. He has threatened again to stop providing for my education ( i’m an undergraduate studying overseas) because we refuse to move out of our house. He doesn’t give us sufficient monthly grocery allowance. I’m wondering if I am eligible for the monthly welfare assistance, to help provide to me and my siblings. I’m 21 years btw, sister is 19, and my two brothers are 12 years old. Or if I can ask for help from JAPEM regarding our situation. I would really appreciate any help and advice you’re able to give me. Cheers.

    • Fox Post author

      Hi Ana,

      I’m sorry about your situation; it sounds pretty complicated. Yes, if you are a Bruneian citizen, I would suggest coming forward to either JAPEM or MUIB (I presume your family is Muslim from your text). While you may only receive aid from one of them, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to apply for both to see how it goes. Just explain your situation to them and let them know you are at risk of being kicked out and on your own. I can’t really advise beyond that because the officials should take over from there.

      I hope this helps and I wish you the best in your studies and the future.