Passenger jetty turns ‘home’ for siblings

National 3 minutes, 6 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

FOR more than a year, home for Siti Norazimah Hj Abdul Lamit and her stepbrother has been a passenger jetty, their ‘bed’ a bench.

The two have been living this way while they await assistance from the authorities.

According to Siti Norazimah, she and her stepbrother, Mohd Sadiqin Hj Jublee, have been living on the Kg Ujong Bukit/Limbongan jetty since July last year with only a bench to sleep on and a canvas to shield them from the weather.

“We lived in a rented house (in Kg Sengkurong) previously, but my mother was admitted to Al-Islah Rehabilitation Centre and we were told to move out,” she said.

Since they’ve been living on the jetty, authorities including the Brunei-Muara District Office, Community Development Department (JAPEM) and Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) had approached them to enquire about their predicament, she added.

She said the authorities advised them to live with her stepbrother (Mohd Sadiqin’s biological brother), a divorcee who is living in Flat Sentosa alone.

“But we refused to because he will chase us away from his home again if we get into fights with him. Then it’s back to square one again,” she said.

She said she has five other step siblings but they also have their own families or are living with in-laws, while she and Mohd Sadiqin chose not to be an inconvenience to them.

Her father, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for a drug offence, also has a house in Kg Sungai Kebun, but Siti Norazimah is not on good terms with her father’s siblings, who are currently living there.

“We’re comfortable living here. Sure, it’s not ideal, but at least we won’t be causing any problems or troubles to other people or our family,” she said.

She said both of them have managed to survive being homeless with the help of neighbours who lent them their facilities — including kitchen and toilet — and gave them food every now and then.

“My brother also does some fishing here and earns a small income for us,” she said.

When contacted, JAPEM’s Family, Women and Children Section told _The Brunei Times _that they are aware of the homeless siblings, but could not disclose much information. The department said they have investigated the matter and “are in the process of giving them assistance”.

Meanwhile, head of MUIB’s investigation unit said MUIB is in no position to help them as they ‘chose’ to live that way.

“We can’t interfere because it’s a family problem. They have options to live with their families but chose to do otherwise,” said the officer.

The officer said Siti Norazimah’s mother had been receiving monetary assistance from MUIB as well as a rent-free house in Kg Sengkurong (paid by MUIB monthly, including water and electricity), since May 2014.

“They could have continued to live there even after the mother was admitted to Al-Islah Rehabilitation Centre if they hadn’t gotten into a fight with the homeowner (and got evicted),” said the officer.

“The government agencies have been helping them, but the problem is rooted in themselves. They need to resolve their family feuds and return to live with their family.”

Hj Abd Wahab Abd Rahman, village head of Kg Ujong Bukit/Limbongan, hoped the siblings would be given a house to live in the near future.

“We sympathise with them. But at the same time, it is inconvenient for villagers, especially passengers using the jetty when they are occupying it,” he said.

“It also gives a bad image to the village and Brunei as a whole, not only to Bruneians but also to tourists frequenting the jetty.”

The Brunei Times