Anonymous threats haunt woman’s business venture

National 2 minutes, 36 seconds

BELAIT

A LOCAL woman has claimed that her food business is in jeopardy after recently receiving several anonymous threats trying to force her to close down her business.

She spoke to the media in Belait yesterday, with the final straw being a poison letter delivered to her house, followed by yet another threatening phone call last Sunday.

“It all started around December last year when several “untoward incidents” happened with my food business,” said the woman, who has been operating a full-time take-away food business on Facebook, where she takes orders online for pick-up by customers the next day.

The woman, who requested anonimity, went on to say that she had sought religious intervention that had proven to be “successful.”

However, she faced a different set of troubles again a month later in February.

“Someone lodged a public complaint against my business and I was visited by health inspectors. However, they did not find anything wrong except with a sink which they asked me to dismantle and to reroute the drainage to the septic tank, which I did,” she said.

She blamed the same source for making her an “unfair target” after her business continued to be the subject of multiple inspections by various other enforcement agencies.

“I have my suspicions as during this period, I started receiving anonymous phone calls from public phones, delivering threats and lewd messages, taunting me about the inspections,” the food seller said, adding that the caller's voice had a Bruneian accent “but was altered to sound genderless.”

On March 23, she received a poison letter at her home delivered by post, addressed to her husband. They informed the police on the same day, and were advised to report and hand in any future evidence of threats.

“The reason we are telling this to the media is we just want this to stop. We suspect we know who is behind this (because of the knowledge of intimate details) but we don't want to get into a fight. It's not worth it. We are not asking for sympathy. We just don't want this to happen to others,” said the woman.

“I am an orphan with no one to rely on. No one is going to pay our bills… we need money to support the family,” she added.

A senior officer from the Ministry of Health confirmed that an inspection was conducted on the food business on February 11, but they found the cleanliness and hygiene aspects to be satisfactory. However, other irregularities such as drainage and construction issues were referred to the relevant government agencies, hence the follow-up inspections.

“We have to respond to public complaints. We did find traces of oil in the drainage in the area but did not pinpoint it to the food seller,” explained the health officer. “We are not stopping her from doing her business. We just want to help. However, we advise her to apply for permits for a commercial space to operate from, as she already has a business licence.”

To date, the business is still allowed to operate by the authorities but is still being monitored for compliance.

The Brunei Times