Sultan funds Kg Ayer houses
By Siti Hajar

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to personally fund the construction of 65 houses in Kampong Ayer, which are expected to be completed in seven months' time.

In a speech yesterday during the signing ceremony for the Pilot Project to Upgrade Kampong Ayer at the Istana Nurul Iman to officially kick-start construction work, Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, explained that the project is His Majesty's way to ensure that the development of the area encompasses proper organisation, provide comfort for, and safety to the people through comprehensive research, which His Majesty has also commanded to conduct.

The move was proposed by a task force His Majesty has consented to establish whose members comprise several government bodies including the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and His Majesty's Office. The responsibilities of the task force include formulating action plans that focus on the necessities such as house design, infrastructure development and other facilities as well as appropriate legal provisions pertaining to residential construction and grants that are given for the houses.

Future development in the area, said the minister, will include more facilities such as schools, religious centres and cultural exhibits to be built in stages, which will take into account the area's historical value, character and the people's way of life towards preserving Brunei's icon for the future generation.

His Majesty has also consented for the review and preparation of development requirements and legal ownership of Kampong Ayer houses to ensure that the vicinity remains clean and organised. Land ownership of such houses will be reserved for the country's citizens and residents.

The Ministry of Development will be the lead agency for the pilot project committee, chaired by the Development Minister and co-chaired by the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim.

Other members include the Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awg Othman; Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (R) Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Hj Umar; Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Mohd Nawawi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Haji Awang Mohd Taha and; Deputy Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty Awang Haji Hamiddon bin Haji Ibrahim.

Senior government officials from various ministries have been made committee members They are: the Ministry of Development's Technical and Professional Permanent Secretary, the Public Works Department Acting Director-General, Land Commissioner, Surveyor General, Director of Town and Country Planning Department and Architect, Special Secretariat; the Ministry of Finance's Performance Permanent Secretary; Istana Maintenance Director, Istana Nurul Iman and Special Senior Duty Officer at the Office of His Majesty's Private and Confidential Secretary.

Present at the signing ceremony were Permanent Secretary Technical and Professional at the Ministry of Development Awg Hj Suhaimi bin Hj Gafar and Haslinawati Hj Abdul Halim, Architect, while Tobishima Brunei Sdn Bhd was represented by Mr Tetsuya Shirasaki, Director, and Mr Koji Tomoshige, Project Manager. - Borneo Bulletin (5th April 2011)