SMARTER fears closure of early intervention centre

National 1 minute, 38 seconds


SMARTER Brunei raised possibility of closing its early intervention centre while waiting for the order to move out from its present location and still unable to find a facility to transfer to.

The group’s centre has been operating from a facility owned by the Ministry of Health (MoH) next to the Sengkurong Health Clinic since 2004.

The fear of closure was raised after the ministry announced plans to expand the clinic’s development around the area.

“We are waiting for the instruction for us to move out,” said Hj Malai Abdullah Hj Malai Othman, president of SMARTER Brunei, in an interview on Thursday.

Malai said he was hoping for the ministry would help by offering an alternative place in a bid to continue their operations, or help pay the rent.

“If these two options do not work then my third option will be to close this service (early intervention) and let the ministry take over our students. What we can do is to just focus on the adult students at the Brunei Autism Centre for Adults (BACA) in Jangsak,” he said.

SMARTER Brunei, an association run by parents and family members of autistic individuals, is struggling financially, ill afford of any extra overhead expenses such as moving-out cost and renting a facility.

SMARTER estimated that it would need around $50,000 to $60,000 to establish a functional new centre.

Malai said the association was in the middle of negotiating with the ministry on their plans for the centre.

“Because of this situation, we cannot spend on unnecessary expenses because of the uncertainties of our centre and not knowing how long we can stay there,” Malai said.

He acknowledged that the ministry has every right to reclaim the facility for its own expansion and development plans. However, he hoped that the ministry would consider their concerns and would inform them of the outcome as soon as possible.

The MoH could not be reached for comment.

The Brunei Times