Bandar Seri Begawan - Public reactions were mixed yesterday in response to a directive for the closure of business premises during Friday prayers, which took effect yesterday.
The new directive was issued in response to a titah made by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last week, which was duly followed up by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Weekend Bulletin interviewed several members of the public and business operators yesterday on the temporary closure order during Friday prayers from 12 noon to 2pm.
Zulfadhly Jafry, a student who had just finished morning classes at a private institution located in one of the commercial areas in the capital said, "Before His Majesty's titah, a majority of the Muslim community (particularly men) wandered around during Friday prayers. Thus, the new directive is a good thing for Muslims."
A trader at Tamu Kianggeh, who chose to remain anonymous, noted that the directive would not really affect him as business is typically slow during Friday prayers.
"Traders are mostly local housewives and even if we did continue our business during Friday prayers, the only customers who come here are women and tourists, as most of the Muslim men will be performing prayers at the Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque."
Hjh Halimah binti Mokti, an antique dealer at Tamu Kianggeh, meanwhile, waited patiently to recommence business yesterday.
"During this hour, business is usually sluggish but in my opinion, it is good that all business owners follow His Majesty's new rule because people should respect the religious day."
Polish tourist Augusta G Czeslaw, who was walking around Bandar, said, "I just arrived in Brunei this morning, and when I came to Bandar, every shop/store was shut. The major problem right now for me is that even the banks and money changers are closed."
Meanwhile, a teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that it was difficult to find a place to eat given that restaurants shut at the same time they finish their morning session.
"We've been driving for about an hour and a half in search of a food stall, food court or restaurant. We only have a two-hour break, and since 12 Noon we have gone everywhere from The Airport Mall to Gadong to Kiulap to Bandar and Batu Satu. We even tried the restaurants at the Radisson Hotel, Brunei Hotel and Rizqun International Hotel...none of them were open.
"Of course this is good for the Muslims, because this shows respect for the religious obligation. But we wish small stalls would open by 1.30pm. It is difficult to search for food especially for working people who only have their break between 12 noon and 2pm."--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin