Poverty can be reduced by changing people's mindset
By Liza Mohamad

His Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim said poverty situation in Brunei Darussalam can be 'improved' by changing the people's mindset.

Based on this year's survey of people living below the poverty line in Brunei, over 5,000 have been classified as poor and needy in the country.

In an interview with the Borneo Bulletin at a presentation ceremony of His Majesty's Kurnia or personal gifts to the less fortunate communities in the Belait District, HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim said he does not think poverty in Brunei can be eradicated, but it can be reduced.

"We can improve it by changing their (people's) mindset ... work hard and be passionate about it," said Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim.

At Pusat Insani Seria yesterday morning, over 2,000 people gathered for the presentation of Kurnia Peribadi or personal gifts from His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilftiri celebration.

The ceremonies were held concurrently in Tutong and Temburong Districts.

In the Belait District, His Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim represented the monarch in handing over the personal gifts to 1,702 recipients.

The recipients in Belait District consisted 557 disabled persons, 348 orphans, 50 from Fakir group, 288 underprivileged and 459 people who receive monthly welfare assistance.

Registration for recipients started at 8am yesterday, but recipients began queuing as early as 7am.

One of the recipients under the disabled group was 11-year-old Nasir bin Muhamad Nordin. Suffering from brain abnormalities, he is confined to his stroller. At the event he was accompanied by his mother Dayang Siti Abidah binte Haji Ahmad.

His mother in an interview with Bulletin expressed her utmost appreciation to His Majesty for the generous contribution. She said the donation could assist her family for the Hari Raya preparations as well as the maintenance expenses of her disabled son.

Dayang Siti Abidah said her son requires an average of six diaper packs monthly and he cannot consume solid food. She said her husband is a government servant earning less than $1,000 a month. Because of her son's physical disabilities, she needs to stay at home and take care of him as well as two of her other children. She also added that her husband's income is not sufficient to meet the family's monthly expenses forcing her husband to run a weekend food stall to make extra income.

"We have tried applying for monthly assistance from JAPEM in view of our son's disability. But it was rejected twice," said Dayang Siti Abidah. She hoped the department would consider the application.

Another recipient was 25-year-old Md Rosazlan bin Roslan, who suffers from premature ageing that has affected his physical and mental development. His grandmother, who accompanied him at the event, also expressed her gratitude to His Majesty for the kind contribution.

Twins, Chai Woei Siung and Chai Woei Wen, aged 27, and confined to their strollers were also invited to receive the personal gifts bestowed by His Majesty for the Hari Raya celebration. The twin's mother thanked the benevolent ruler for his care, kindness and compassion towards the disabled communities in the country, regardless of race and religion.

Awg Mattamin bin Hj Rambli, aged 50, also expressed his sincere thanks to the ruler for the contribution and noted that it will ease the burden shouldered by the family for the Hari Raya. Working as a manual labourer in Masjid Sungai Liang, he said he received a meager salary of $300 to support the family including his 45-year-old wife. He told the Bulletin that Allah the Almighty would shower blessings on His Majesty for his generosity and kindness towards the underprivileged citizens.

All the recipients yesterday received vouchers that were encashed after the completion of the event. Unlike last year where recipients were required to go to the bank to cash their vouchers, this year the recipients could receive cash almost immediately.

Head, Sales and Distribution Channel of BIBD, Dyg Nurul Akmar Jaafar, said 15 BIBD officers were based at the Seria centre to distribute all cash donations to the recipients. A section was set up at the Seria centre's front entrance to enable recipients to queue and claim the cash donation. Heavily armed police and army personnel were spotted guarding the area where cash was handed directly to the recipients. Dyg Nurul said overall 50 BIBD officers were deployed at respective sites nationwide for the distribution of the cash to the recipients.

The recipients were required to produce their vouchers and name tags for verification purposes and then BIBD officers would count the cash in front of the recipients before handing it to them, said Dyg Nurul on the procedures of distribution. In addition to cash donation, every recipient also received a Hari Raya gift container. - Borneo Bulletin (29th August 2011)