A thousand thanks to His Majesty
By Liza Mohamad

Over 800 housing recipients under the 2,000 Kampong Panaga housing officially received keys to their new homes in a presentation ceremony by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday morning. It was a defining moment for all the recipients and also a significant milestone for the Housing Development Department for hosting a large-scale presentation ceremony with 812 recipients.

Despite the large number of recipients yesterday, the presentation was successfully carried out within an hour.

The auspicious event marked a turning point in the lives of 812 recipients, and out of the total, 138 recipients are applicants from Tutong District with 411 awarded the semi-detached units and 401 awarded the terraced units.

The event, which took place at the newly completed Belait Convention Centre, is the second presentation after His Majesty awarded keys to 650 recipients under the Kg Panaga Housing Scheme on Tuesday, July 12.

The monarch's arrival at the convention centre yesterday was warmly received by the Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman; Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Othman; Deputy Ministers at the Prime Minister's Office Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abd Wahab bin Juned and Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong ; Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof and Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Haji Tuba.

The Belait District Officer in his welcoming remark noted that with the presentation yesterday, a total of 1,462 recipients received keys to their homes this month.

Awg Matusin further highlighted that the presentation of keys under the Kg Panaga Housing Scheme represents His Majesty's kurnia to mark the upcoming holy month of Ramadan where majority of the Muslim population in the country will perform their fasting and proceed with the Hari Raya celebration.

"Because of His Majesty's care and concern, the recipients herein are able to celebrate the Hari Raya Aidilfitiri at their new homes."

After the presentation of keys to a massive 650 recipients, His Majesty proceeded to visit the Perdana Wazir Secondary School in Kuala Belait.

Later, the monarch headed to the private residence of Penghulu Mukim Kuala Belait Awang Haji Pungut bin Ali at Kampong Pandan, Kuala Belait where a showcase of the village products under 'One Village, One Product' took place. During the visit, His Majesty viewed the village products such as the grey oyster mushrooms, the worm composts or 'Vermicompost' project involving the breeding of worms and production of dry local foods.

After that, His Majesty drove to the 140-hectare Kg Panaga housing site where the monarch visited homes of three recipients of the semi-detached units and another two recipients of the terraced units. In addition to that, His Majesty received numerous 'junjung ziarah' from other housing recipients, stretching the visit to end after 3pm yesterday.

The presentation of housing keys to 812 recipients yesterday and to 650 recipients under the Kg Panaga National Housing Scheme this month, reflects the realisation of His Majesty's aspiration to give affordable housing to citizens with the government subsiding between B$80,000 - $100,000 each house.

The supply of houses in Belait District is also expected to meet the demands of applicants in the Belait District by 2012 next year.

Under the Kg Panaga National Housing Scheme, each recipient only need to pay B$45,000 (corner) and B$43,000 (middle) for a three-bedroom terraced unit (127.5 square metres), while for a three-bedroom semi-detached unit (131.1 square metres) the recipient only pay $62,000 per unit. The housing project, initiated by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) is a pilot project estimated to cost $291 million.

It is a significant milestone in the history of Brunei Darussalam's housing, as the 2,000 houses were constructed by a Malaysian company, Bina Puri Holdings Sdn Bhd within a record time of two years, since 2009. In addition to that, the speedy construction of houses further cut short the waiting period endured by all applicants for as long as a decade. - Borneo Bulletin (31st July 2011)