‘I didn’t abandon my mother’

National 4 minutes, 7 seconds

BELAIT

THE son of the elderly woman found recently in a state of neglect in a shack in Kg Baru Setia has hit back at social media users who have criticised him, saying has not abandoned his mother.

Nur Napisah Abdullah’s son, who asked not to be named in this report, said the rumours being spread on social media are cruel and untrue.

“I didn’t abandon my mother ... If I really were anak durhaka (irresponsible son), would she be alive today after eight years?” said her son.

He said the for the past eight years he and his brother have been taking turns in visiting and caring for her. He also enlisted the help of a friend, authorising her as his representative to help care for his mother.

Asked how his mother was found in conditions of filth and neglect, the son admitted that the mother was left alone for most of the day: “When I have time, I see her, to feed her and wash her. When I’m working, I count on my brother and my friend... It is true that they found her in such deplorable conditions as this is exactly how I find her sometimes when I visit.”

He claims that last week, he brought his cousin, Chalangga Kalong, to visit his mother to ask for help in taking care of her. He also claims that they had arranged to meet with the Community Development Department (JAPEM) and the village penghulu to seek assistance on Monday, so he was stunned when the story spread on social media before the meeting.

“I admit it has not been perfect... I used to lead an uncertain life and also spent time in prison. But I recently got a new job which requires me to work away from home so I have to rely on my brother and my representative,” the son said.

The son met with officials from the JAPEM in Kuala Belait yesterday and agreed to hand over pension management to the welfare department, hoping to find a solution for his mother’s situation over the week.

His family hails from Labi and have been living in the squatter area in Kg Sg Bera ever since his father got a job with the oil and gas industry many years ago. The father passed away in 2007 while the son was still in prison.

Meanwhile, the elderly woman is now recuperating at the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Kuala Belait, according to doctors.

Nur Napisah is in stable condition and is being looked after by a team of medical personnel, said Suri Seri Begawan Hospital Chief Executive Officer Mohmad Hj Abd Hamid.

“We received a call on Sunday from the public regarding a lady who was found alone in a very weak condition in Kg Baru Seria,” said Mohmad. “The patient has been admitted to our ward and her current condition is OK. She is being looked after by our medical team.

“When she will be discharged depends on the doctor’s assessment but for us, due to the (social) problems (in this case), we’re not going to discharge her until we have other relevant authorities who can look after her problem,” he added.

He also revealed that the elderly had previously been admitted twice and was last discharged in November last year.

The Brunei Times was not able to take a statement from Nur Napisah but observed her to be alert and able to respond verbally to questions. The hospital authorities declined to reveal any further details about her medical condition to protect her privacy. She is in an isolated ward to prevent further disturbances from members of the public who had come earlier to see her when they heard of her story.

The Department of Community Development (JAPEM) along with the district office have taken note of her plight and are meeting this week to identify solutions.

Ahmad Kasmani, assistant community development officer with the Kuala Belait division of JAPEM, confirmed that Nur Napisah had been receiving pension through the department, through the authorised representative appointed by her son.

She was not, however, receiving any other form of assistance, although had previously received basic assistance from the Ministry of Religious Affairs as a Muslim convert.

“Her son has already handed over her pension management back to JAPEM. We will intervene, most likely place her in a welfare dwelling, although this still does not solve the problem of needing someone to take care of her,” he said.

Ahmad expected that a decision would be made and a statement released within the next few days by the senior officer in charge, Hjh Salmiah Hj Othman.

His department and the district office has already taken the case on board since Sunday.

He also expressed disappointment with the irresponsible rumour-mongering on social media, saying that he had hoped that people publishing such information online would first verify details with JAPEM.

The Brunei Times