More houses for the 'rakyat'
By Narissa Noor & Fadhil Yunus

Over a hundred people under the 'Tanah Kurnia Rakyat Jati' scheme were filled with joy yesterday morning after they received keys to their new homes from the caring monarch, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, during a ceremony at Rimba Secondary School.

A total of 117 people had successfully applied for either houses and plots of land under the National Housing Programme for the 'rakyat' (Bruneians). The scheme, which was initiated in 1985, also gives civil servants the opportunity to apply for a plot of land on which they can build a house through government housing loans.

Out of the 117, two were granted plots of land. Most of the recipients (113) were awarded Class 'D' houses in STKRJ Kampong Mata-Mata (Katok B), while two other received Class 'E' accommodations in STKRJ Kampong Tungku (Katok A).

One of the successful applicants was Napsiah Metussin, who had been waiting patiently for about 16 years. She could not contain her joy, as she would finally be able to move out of her rented house in Subok. The 52-year-old woman said that she was proud to finally say that she now has a house of her own.

After presenting keys and land grants to the 'rakyat' in the morning, His Majesty toured Rimba Secondary School and Kesuma Mekar School, where he took a closer look at the schools' facilities and mingled with students and teachers.

His Majesty also made stops at the residence of Village Head of STKRJ Kg Rimba, Abdul Wahab bin Timbang @ Rosli, and Haji Ismail bin Haji Rahab, the Village Head of both Kg Tungku and Kg Katok.

Later in the day, six recipients of the Class 'D' houses welcomed the benevolent monarch to their new home. One of them was Hj Afineh bin Hj Mohd Ali, a Customs Officer from the Department of Royal Customs and Excise, who had applied for a house under the scheme nearly 17 years ago.

"My family and I would like to convey our deepest gratitude to His Majesty," the father of four said.

Meanwhile, another successful applicant, Awg Mahmud bin Hj Ahmad, said that life would be much easier now for him now that he has a house to call his own. The father of 12 previously lived in a government housing in Gadong.

As a token of appreciation, he presented a "pesambah" of a photograph of the wife of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, the 27th Sultan of Brunei, to His Majesty. Other residences that His Majesty visited were those belonging to Rais Hj Johar, Hj Suhaimi Hj Ahmat and Matjin Hj Jahamat.

His Majesty also visited some business establishments around the neighbourhood including Maju Motors Sdn Bhd, where His Majesty unveiled the new Volkswagen Passat R36, and Sumbangsih Mulia at the Beribi Industrial Area.

In the afternoon, His Majesty toured Delima Square in Kg Delima Satu, and walked into one of the branches of DST, where he was greeted by the Chairman and CEO of DST Communications, Dr Haji Mohd Amin Abdullah.

Aside from visiting Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei (TAIB) at Delima Satu, His Majesty made a brief visit to Hua Ho Department Store, where he was welcomed by its Managing Director, Lau How Teck, and HSBC in Kampong Serusop, where he was greeted by the CEO of HSBC Brunei, Tareeq Muhmood.

Among those who accompanied the monarch was the Minister of Development, Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar. - Borneo Bulletin (17th August 2008)