Mukim and Village Consultative Councils air grievances at dialogue session with Legislative Council members
Bandar Seri Begawan - A wide array of thought-provoking and heated issues ranging from price hike in daily goods, call to revive the pension scheme, rampant and indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, traffic congestion and small salary scale for local teachers in private schools were raised yesterday during a dialogue session between members of the Mukim and Village Consultative Councils as well as Penghulus of Mukim Kilanas, Pengkalan Batu and Mukim Sengkurong along with members of the Legislative Council for Zone 4 in the Brunei-Muara District.
These concerns will be highlighted at the upcoming Legislative Council session scheduled in March as it greatly affects the socio-economic and well-being of the people. Consultative Council members raised the price hike issue for daily commodities such as sardines which now cost $1.80 compared to $1.50 three years ago or the inconsistent prices of bottled waters in various shops. It was also suggested that the Consumer Act be enforced to control prices of the mentioned commodities.
Members also called to revive the pension scheme and replace the TAP scheme after a member predicted a possible surge in the number of people seeking assistances from the Department of Community Development (JAPEM) in the next 10-15 years should the TAP scheme continue amid the soar in prices of various goods nowadays.
Other issues highlighted were increasing the pension for the elderly or 'providing an annual bonus to pensioners, to obliterate bad records for convicts after 10-15 years to enable job opportunities for them, to scrutinise exorbitant legal fees imposed by lawyers and supply hose to residents regularly affected by floods to flush out the water.
The cleanliness at toilet facilities at control posts, waiver of fees for senior citizens visiting clinics, increasing the number of doctors at Mukim Kilanas and Mukim Pengkalan Batu were also highlighted. Overcrowding at health centres are a common occurrence despite the elderly coming in as early as 6am, it was revealed.
Calls have also been made to build walkways for students at Jln Lumapas and the Kasat area, to investigate the issue of bogus foreign employment agencies abroad (domestic helpers), which in turn, affects local employers who have paid deposits upfront.
It also called to enforce the Labour's Employment Act, to establish a new post of Assistant Village Head to further strengthen the institution of the village consultative council.
Other concerns include the need for the Ministry of Finance to scrutinise high interest rates of cars bought, to build a separate football field for public use in Sengkurong to prevent damages to the school field and facilities such as toilets, to wisely utilise small land areas and develop high-end buildings, to establish a 'One Village, One Product' centre and expertise as well as establish a counselling section for the Mukim and Village Consultative Councils.
The issue of traffic jams along Jln Sengkurong, Jln Jangsak, Jln Tutong, Jln Tanjong Nangka and Jln Bengkurong were also touched upon and the Consultative Council Members called to change the road system, to seek more alternatives or build more flyovers. Such congestion is not only experienced at 7am but also around 2pm and even in the evenings these days.
The need to strictly enforce the law against littering was also highlighted. Members said there is lack of enforcement against retail shops and industries that dispose waste. It was suggested that garbage incinerators be placed at these three Mukims to prevent littering at housing areas in Mukim Lumapas, small roads, bushes and beaches.
They also discussed ways to upgrade assistances for people with financial constraints and called upon the Ministry of Education to set-up a fund to assist underprivileged students in purchasing their basic necessities.
Suggestions to revive the 'lights' at Jerudong Park Playground was also highlighted, to return the unused land provided by the ministry such as the 'Bertumpu' area in Jln Mulaut. The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has allocated five acres of land but sadly, it has not been developed by some entrepreneurs and is now covered with overgrown trees.
Members also voiced grievances faced by village residents living along small roads in Kg Junjongan, that simply could not be penetrated, making it difficult to sell their fruits. They have suggested that a gravel road be built in their area.
The issue to review granting permissions for entertainment purposes during karaoke sessions, gambus or live band performances on the eve of weddings were also analysed to avoid scuffles among intoxicated members or invitees. Some teenagers were even hospitalised and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for fighting.
A call for the government to financially assist Bruneian teachers working at private schools by providing living expenses allowance of $200 was also highlighted as their salary of around $600-$700 is insufficient. Interestingly, these private schools produce students with good grades in the examinations compared to government schools.
Additional focus areas such as the need to open up more booths for Immigration clearance at control post, to set up a canteen at mosques for tourists wishing to buy souvenirs thus generating further income for the country, to build a community hall in Mukim Lumapas, to attract local doctors, pilots as well as oil and gas workers to return home and serve the nation although receiving bigger wages overseas, to revive the neighbourhood crime watch in the Mukims to fight crime were also discussed.
Attending the dialogue were YB Awg Hj Jumat bin Akim, Zone 4-Brunei-Muara District (villages in Mukim Lumapas, Mukim Pengkalan Batu, Mukim Kilanas and Mukim Sengkurong); YB Awg Hj Tahamid bin Hj Nudin, Zone 3-Brunei-Muara District (villages in Mukim Gadong & Mukim Gadong 'B') and YB Awg Hj Gapor @ Hj Md Daud bin Karim, Zone 2-Brunei-Muara District (villages in Mukim Serasa, Mukim Mentiri, Mukim Kota Batu, Mukim Kianggeh and Mukims in Kg Ayer).
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin