| Siti Hajar and Aziz Idris |
A ONE-LEGGED man who has been roaming the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan has made social media news over the weekend, with many speculating he is being neglected.
As a follow-up to these assumptions, the Bulletin yesterday scoured the capital in search of Marzuki bin Abdul Rahman, where it was learnt the 58-year-old was in no way left uncared for – the relevant government agencies and his family have been providing him with the necessary financial, social and familial support.
The eldest of six siblings, the handicapped and unwed elderly lost his right foot to diabetes two years ago. He is wheelchair-bound and has been living with his immediate family in Lambak Kiri. He has, however, been in and out of hospital over the past few years due to a chronic condition that includes asthma and pleural effusion – a build up of liquid in the lungs.
In an interview with his younger brother yesterday amidst the flurry of activities in the city centre, the Bulletin was told that Marzuki is the sort of person who is ‘difficult’ to keep in check. On most days, he would rather spend his time in the capital, surrounded by members of the public – some of whom he considers as friends.
“It hurts to hear when people accuse us, his family, of not caring for him,” he said as he fought back tears. He added not much can be done to ensure that Marzuki stays home – where his siblings tend to his needs.
“We can’t lock him in at home either,” thus leaving the family little left but to hope that Marzuki is in good hands when he begins his in-city travels.
Despite the care and treatment he receives from the government healthcare system by way of managing his condition, it was explained that Marzuki’s independent will has compromised his well-being and “it is only a matter of time before his other leg will need to be amputated too” as signs of its deterioration become more evident.
“He doesn’t like being warded at the hospital. The moment he feels better, he usually leaves without the doctor’s consent,” and most times can be found in Bandar, where members of the public often mistake him for being a victim of mistreatment due to his shabby appearance and aimless wandering.
Among the many talking points between the people of the capital, ranging from shop owners to stall operators and customers, is – How does he get to, and around town on his own?
“As a sane and disabled man, many are sympathetic towards him. All he needs to do is ask someone for a ride, or for someone to push him in his wheelchair. That is often how he goes about his day,” his brother explained, a statement also supported by other observers the Bulletin spoke to.
“Contrary to what other people may think, he doesn’t beg for money. When he does receive money from the public, it is usually from the kindness of their hearts. He does receive welfare from the government and he has full control of his finances. My other siblings often accompany him to collect his monthly financial assistance,” he added.
At the hype of yesterday’s event, many onlookers stopped to witness Marzuki, who was sprawled on the ground of the now abandoned cinema from across the Kianggeh Waterfront, being attended to by paramedics who were called by his brother. He was later transported to hospital for treatment.
“His condition has gotten worse over the years and he has been in pain since early this afternoon,” he shared, showing signs of resignation to the fact that his elder brother will soon find his way back to the capital once he feels better.
“There really isn’t much we can do,” he added.
The Community Development Department (JAPEM) when contacted by the Bulletin explained that its personnel and officers are aware of Marzuki’s tendencies and have, on several occasions, staged interventions with the rest of his family – but it seems they too have come to a crossroads.
“His life has always been about the capital,” the brother shared.
“Our childhood home isn’t far from here,” he added, pointing towards the Kianggeh area.
“The capital is his home and this is where he truly wants to be.”