Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
BY Azlan Othman
Municipal departments should intensify measures against those who fail to maintain cleanliness in their areas, said Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong.
He made this statement at a dialogue at the Brunei-Muara District Office on Tuesday with the chairmen and board members of the Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait and Seria and Tutong Municipal Boards who have been appointed for a two-year period from 2019 to 2021, with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
“The chairmen and members of the Municipal Boards must be aware of their roles in promoting the areas under the Municipal Board, and to regularly cooperate with government agencies in generating local socio-economic status and to enforce regulations under their jurisdictions, especially on the issues of cleanliness and the environment,” said the minister.
“In our efforts to advance and develop the economy of the municipality, it is essential to ensure that public infrastructure is safe and comfortable for communal use. His Majesty in his titah at the recent 26th Civil Service Day celebrations said, “We have an Act for offences related to the polluting of public areas and the disposal of waste, but indiscriminate dumping continues. This is apparent from the rivers and drains which are polluted, while elsewhere, those who toss away cigarette butts are faced with legal action.
“His Majesty is urging for the enhancement of cleanliness in the municipality, and that cleaning operations should not be restricted to certain festive seasons. Efforts to address hygiene should be extended to the market-places of each district, such as the Gadong market and Jerudong Market and the surrounding areas. It is imperative that the habit of cleanliness should continue to be fostered and cultivated among the people of this country at all levels.
“The municipal departments possessing the authority to implement the Minor Offences Act (Chapter 30) should increase or intensify their actions against individuals found guilty of maintaining cleanliness in their areas, as well the owners of the premises, whether commercial or residential.
“In this regard, His Majesty would like a specific solution to be made, so that this matter would not continue indefinitely.
“I urge the Municipal Board to propose and implement a regular hygiene programme which would involve the urban population and village residents, especially youth, working together on issues of hygiene.”
Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar also said the Municipal Board should take the initiative to develop small-and medium-sized entrepreneurs, in addition to providing more business opportunities for local citizens.
“I call on each Municipal Board to constantly review and monitor the efforts being undertaken in improving economic and infrastructural standards, so that the public can enjoy a high status of well-being and are capable of generating sustainable economic activities,” he said.
Legislative Council members and senior government officials at the dialogue session
“I would like to raise the issue of public utilities, especially toilets across the country by the municipal departments. “To date, 26 public toilets have been provided, where the cleaning work is carried out either by a private company or by the municipal department itself.
“Based on an audit conducted by the task force of the Ministry of Home Affairs, it was found that public toilets in Bandar Seri Begawan are in poor condition. Some facilities were not working properly, gave off a foul stench, and had inadequate basic amenities with damaged door locks.
“It appears that this issue of cleanliness is not just happening in outdoor environments and on building premises, but also by way of public toilets.
“The findings of the audit require immediate attention as they cause discomfort to users and give a poor image, especially for tourists.
“We should work to ensure that public toilets are first-rate, or at least in good order, as public toilets reflect the attitude of a community within a nation. Public toilets need to be maintained and upgraded, along with a systematic monitoring and cleaning system.
“Brunei Darussalam will receive an increasing number of foreign tourists. It is therefore important to ensure that public amenities such as toilets are kept clean and adequate.”
The minister also said that the celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the renaming of Bandar Brunei to Bandar Seri Begawan would be held next year.
“I have advised the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department for the setting up of a special committee to set up plans that are significant with regard to the celebration,” he said.
“I urge the chairmen and members of the Municipal Boards and the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department to be focussed, committed, active in their thoughts, and prepared to devote their energies towards the success of the celebration. The celebration needs to be attractive and positively impacted not only to people in the capital, but also to visitors from other district and tourists”.
The minister also touched on infrastructure facilities for the disabled community (OKU) in Bandar Seri Begawan. “Government agencies responsible for approving building plans and the Municipal Board should be attentive towards the need and the provision of facilities for the disabled and the elderly.
“We want public infrastructure to be safe and comfortable for use, by all segments of society.
“I have high hopes for the chairmen and members of the Municipal Boards to change the look of the board, making Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait and Seria and Tutong vibrant, smart, clean, comfortable, safe and secure in attracting visitors to the city deal and generating economic growth to help youth and micro and small entrepreneurs.
“Such plans must be realistic and achievable, and employ effective and orderly monitoring methods. The Town Board Secretariat must play a part in ensuring that all plans and actions are implemented, according to the agreed timeline.
“Please be reminded that all the plans and actions that were carried out or provided in the previous Town Board meeting session will need to be revised, as they are a commitment and responsibility that the Town Board must achieve to provide the best services and facilities for the city and the public.”
The minister said two services were implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs to assist the municipal departments to increase their tax collection revenue, one of which is the online building tax payment service via mobile app or Internet banking, launched on January 22.
“The purpose of this service is to serve as an alternative for building taxpayers to clear their building taxes at the municipal departments counter,” he said.
“The next service is the SMS Push Notification, which is another platform used by the municipal departments to provide alerts or reminders to building taxpayers who have not paid their building taxes. The Ministry of Home Affairs, with the municipal departments, will continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation, and the quality of service delivery to taxpayers.
“One of the 11th National Development Plan projects, which is the Electronic Property Tax Project (E-PTax) – Municipal Property Database (MPD), has been completed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. When this E-PTax project begins, the level of efficiency of filing and storage of building tax information will be better organised, as it will be digitally stored.”
The dialogue was aimed at exchanging ideas and give proposals on matters relating to developing municipal areas in the country and to give the best service to the public, in addition to forging closer ties between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Municipal Board members in the three districts.
Also present were Permanent Secretary (Municipal and District) at the Ministry of Home Affairs Salminan bin Haji Burut; Deputy Permanent Secretary (Security and Welfare) Ajman bin Haji Meludin; Deputy Permanent Secretary (Municipal and District) Abdul Walid bin Haji Matassan; the chairmen of the three Municipal Boards; heads of departments; and senior officers.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin