Nationwide crackdown reaches Tutong
WHILE law enforcement officers were staging raids in and around the capital on Thursday night, other agencies in Tutong were staging their own, with personnel from the Royal Brunei Police Force, Narcotics Control Bureau (BKN), Internal Security Department (KDN) and other law enforcement agencies forming a joint task force to conduct coordinated raids throughout the district.
The operation, which was carried on till the early hours of yesterday, started with a raid on a local residence.
The property was raided on the suspicion that people were gambling at the premises. However, the suspects had fled the scene when the police arrived.
At the home, police seized a katam katam table, a game known to be popular among illegal gamblers in the Sultanate.
Enforcement agents then moved on to another house where the customs officers seized 39 cans of beer and one box of cigarettes, which were found to be undeclared dutiable goods.
Officers went on to search local shophouse residences and the Halim Plaza Hotel, though no illegal activities were discovered at the venues.
Officers then went to the beach, where Customs officers seized more beer cans and two bottles of liquor from revellers, who were caught drinking in a public area.
One foreigner was also detained as he was unable to produce documents to prove his legal presence in the country.
The officers also reprimanded a couple for contravening Syariah law.
The operation did not end quietly though, when three men who lived in one of the shophouses targeted in the raids showed up at Tutong Police Station and filed a report that his residence had been broken into.
The man said he had returned home to find his front door broken, along with three out of the five doors within the unit. The men came to lodge a police report so they could claim expenses to repair the doors at their home.
One of the men was visibly upset, and said that the officers had broken the doors and left his apartment unsecured. "We have so many valuable items in there; what if we had gone away for a week?" he asked.
The men confronted the BKN officers. "They told us it's BKN law, they can break through if they are suspicious," he said.
"What grounds did they have to be suspicious? It's Christmas eve and no one was home. They have no right to do this, the law says you need a court order," he added.
However, one of the BKN officers at the scene explained to The Brunei Times that under the Misuse of Drugs Act, BKN officers have special powers to search any premises or vehicles, even aeroplanes, suspected of carrying out any activities involving drugs.
BKN officers conducting the raids, the officer said, were carrying special warrant cards that stipulate their extended "search and seize" powers.
However, the upset resident went on to say, "They didn't even apologise to us. At least if they said sorry and admitted to the mistake I could calm down, but they are so proudly telling us that it is their duty," said the man.
The Brunei Times