I AM a foreigner and had applied for a landline way back in 1998 under Jabatan Telekom Brunei (JBT) and got one after paying a deposit of B$500.
I recently cancelled my telephone line and eSpeed and sought refund of the B$500 deposit.
The lady at the counter said I would have to go to the Ministry of Finance to claim it as the ministry handles Jabatan Telekom Brunei matters.
Following the privatisation of Jabatan Telekom Brunei, TelBru came about and by right the latter should have taken over all of JBT’s assets and liabilities, which is what generally happens in other parts of the world. But that’s a different issue.
Recently, I went to the Ministry of Finance building.
After having been in Brunei for so many years, it was the first time I had set foot into the building.
It’s quite easy even for a first-timer like me to find out where to park my car and go into the main building.
I was properly directed to the first floor and told to approach a counter to seek directions. As I reached the first floor by escalator, a lady coming down from the floor above smiled at me as if to ask whether I needed help.
I told her what I was looking for and she was so kind to guide me to the counter that would address my issue.
Stage 1: I was impressed by the helping nature of the ministry’s staff.
I picked up a queue number and went through the process and was told to take my seat and await their call.
After a few minutes, a lady called my name and spoke to me very nicely and explained how they cannot process my application as I didn’t have a receipt to claim that I had made a B$500 deposit. I had with me all other documents to prove I had applied for the landline and got one and also a document to show I had in fact paid the amount but not the official receipt.
She was very courteous and even said sorry she couldn’t proceed without the receipt.
Stage 2: I was impressed again with the way the ministry’s staff dealt with their customers.
What she said later made me wonder whether the system they follow is correct. The lady told me that even if I lodge a complaint with the police stating that I have lost the original deposit receipt or even go to the court, new regulations at the Ministry of Finance won’t allow me to claim the deposit without the original receipt.
If you lose your passport, you can lodge a police complaint, get it attested by the court and take to the Immigration Department to apply for a new passport. The procedure is the same when it comes to losing the Identity Card or the Driver’s Licence.
Then why can’t the same be done for a receipt? I have evidence that I had a landline. No green IC holder could have got a residential landline without paying the B$500 deposit as it was mandatory.
I have a document stating that my landline has been disconnected, which again proves that I in fact had a landline. I have a document to show that my landline number given to me in 1999 was changed to a new number when I moved house two years later.
There has to be some sort of record or at least a duplicate copy of the receipt bearing my name with the ministry to prove that I had the landline.
The Ministry of Finance can at best penalise me. They can say I have to pay a penalty of say $100 for losing my receipt. But can they shut the door on the entire deposit money?
Can someone from the ministry explain why I cannot claim my deposit money though I have proof the landline was in my name? The penalty for losing a receipt cannot be foregoing the entire amount.