Joyous occasion for Belait Kurnia recipients
Siti Hajar & Abdul Hakiim Yakof

EVERY year without fail, a small pocket in Brunei Darussalamís diverse social demographic is given a little extra attention and every year without fail following a month of fasting, overcoming their daily trials and tribulations, these specially selected individuals are given the chance to enjoy Hari Raya the way those who are privileged take for granted.

Across all four districts, thousands of registered individuals gather at designated locations to personally meet with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalamís personal representatives and this year, the Belait District was formally graced by His Royal Highness Prince Haji ĎAbdul ĎAzim who, for almost two hours at the Pusat Insani Hall in Seria, handed out the much anticipated envelopes containing finances that are expected to assist the families that are in need.

Upon arrival, HRH Prince Haji ĎAbdul ĎAzim was greeted by the Minister of Energy at the Prime Ministerís Office, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar and the ceremony commenced with a recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat that was led by Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Seri Utama Dato Paduka Seri Setia Haji Awang Salim bin Haji Besar, Syariah Court of Appeal Judge.

Transcending religion, race and age, this yearly event is one that garners a significant amount of attention mostly due to the generous nature of the gesture that, though allocated for a Muslim celebration, those who are of different beliefs are not left behind in the festivities that is observed by the majority of the Sultanateís populace.

Similar to other districts, Belait District witnessed the inclusion of those who are considered the most vulnerable in society including special needs individuals who made up the most of the 1,998 invited recipients at 705, followed by orphans with 567, those on government welfare that stood at 361, single mothers with 255 and those receiving MUIB assistance with 110.

When seen as single individuals, those who have been categorised as the ones who need the most help are usually the ones with the most unique of stories ranging from mothers who work to the bone to provide for their children to caretakers looking for ways to improve the welfare of their kin who, more often than not, require life-long care, which becomes the biggest concern especially for parents with special needs children and children with special needs parents.

For third time recipient of Chinese descent, Ylynn Choong was among those who attended the get-together and at age 25, the young woman is living with Down Syndrome and needs round-the-clock care and the financial aid that she received will ensure that her coming days are comfortable enough for her to enjoy.

In a separate interview and a resident of Lumut Tersusun, Doris anak Tading, mother and representative of her daughter Ludyanna anak Untong, also living with special needs, expressed her appreciation to His Majesty for the financial gift that her daughter received yesterday, the second such gift since becoming a recipient last year.

Those who are rendered incapable of caring for themselves brought on by tragedies are also cared for by the government and among those include 31-year-old Khairur Rijal bin Ramli who, accompanied by his father, was among those who patiently awaited their turn to greet HRH Prince Haji ĎAbdul ĎAzim.

It was shared that the young man was rendered brain damaged following an accident and due to his condition, Khairur Rijal is solely dependent on government assistance and this year marks his fourth gift and for this, his parent had also, along with so many others grateful for this help, expressed his gratitude to His Majesty.

Something positive, meanwhile, needs to be said about the welfare system here in the country especially for single mothers. Despite the fact that their children are capable to care for their parent, many single mums are still given the privilege of financial assistance from the government and this includes 74-year-old Hajah Minggai binti Besar who received her fourth gift yesterday and for this, she had said, ďThousands of thank yous to His MajestyĒ for supplementing her daily needs.

The event was held within an atmosphere of calm and comfort and one by one, these individuals lined up unwearyingly without complaint and were assisted by many of those in uniform including health personnel to provide medical aid and support when needed as well as the Royal Brunei Police Force along with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces who ensured an orderly and smooth occasion. - Borneo Bulletin (6 August 2013)