Sultan surveys Kg Ayer again
By Azlan Othman & Za'im Zaini

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam made another unscheduled visit, the second in a week, to survey the restoration works in other Kampong Ayer villages in the aftermath of the gale storm.

Also coming under the royal scrutiny yesterday were the state of Awg Semaun Secondary School's mini stadium that needs renovation, school facilities and welfare of Kg Ayer villagers.

At the outset, His Majesty heard a briefing at the Sungai Lampai Fire and Rescue Department Operation Centre, which became the focal point in the aftermath of the storm that damaged over 200 houses in Kg Ayer two weeks ago (July 23).

During the thanksgiving ceremony last Sunday marking the completion of the phase 2 joint operation assistance programme, the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan said the phase 2 work, which was supposed to be completed by August 13, was completed eight days ahead of schedule and hailed it as a big success.

Phase 2 of the project involving the government and private sector concentrated on the ceiling installation and wiring of the houses affected by the storm. Nearly all the houses affected by the storm that blew away roofs have been restored.

His Majesty later toured other villages affected by the storm including Kg Saba, Kg Lurong Sikuna, Kg Pekan Lama, Kg Bakut Pg Siraja Muda, walking along the wooden pathway and cruising by the Fire and Rescue Department boat. The benevolent ruler exchanged greetings with the village residents.

His Majesty visited Awg Semaun Secondary School in Kg Ayer, much to the surprise of the teachers and students. The school's mini stadium and football ground, which are in a sorry state, came under close scrutiny. The ruler enquired whether the matter has been reported to the relevant authority and when it was reported.

The monarch also spoke to the teachers and asked them how long have they been teaching at the school and from which university they had graduated.

The ruler also asked which kampongs the students come from and took a look at posters on the walls of the classrooms with one showing the time line of World War I. The monarch also visited the ICT lab and multi-purpose hall of the school.

Nuramalina bte Moklin, 16, who is in Form 4, was taken by surprise when His Majesty spoke to her during the visit.

"I was shocked at first when His Majesty spoke to me. I am so happy to be given the opportunity to meet and greet His Majesty and speak to him. The visit today shows His Majesty's concern and I am very delighted."

Mohd Shahrol, who has been teaching at the school for the last four years, said, "I was surprised with His Majesty's visit to the school and to my class. He asked me on the progress of the students, which shows His Majesty's concern on the students academic progress."

His Majesty also looked into the renovation works on the roof of the school's surau and the ablution area.

His Majesty then went to Kg Setia 'A' at the far end of Kg Ayer, where the monarch inquired the village residents about how their businesses were doing. The residents sell daily necessities and snacks along the wooden pathway.

The ruler also mingled with the elderly, including those on wheel chairs and asked what they were suffering from.

One entrepreneur said she earns around $15 a day, which is just adequate for her daily expenses.

Present throughout the surprise visit were the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan; Minister of Energy, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Paduka Awg Hj Yahya; Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Dewa Pahlawan Dato Paduka Hj Dani; Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Awg Hj Mahdi; Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Dyg Hjh Apsah Bte Hj Majid, as well as other senior government officials.

Last Tuesday (July 31), His Majesty visited Kg Pekilong Muara followed by Kg Saba, Kg Peramu, Kg Bendahara Lama, Kg Pg Kerma Indera Lama, Kg Pg Tajuddin Hitam, Kg Tamoi and Kg Pudak, where the roof of a mosque was damaged by the storm. - Borneo Bulletin (7th August 2007)