| Hakim Hayat & Siti Hajar |
BUKIT Shahbandar has been reopened to the public, but the popular hiking and recreational spot was seemingly deserted yesterday, following the discovery of the lifeless body of a 39-year-old woman on Monday morning.
After the discovery, the place was closed for four days to assist the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) in investigations. On Wednesday, the police classified the case as a murder after the post-mortem indicated she was strangled to death and traces of sexual assault were present.
The police is still looking for leads in the case and no suspects had been detained at press time.
Bukit Shahbandar typically brims with fitness enthusiasts on a daily basis, with the peak hours being the mornings and after office hours.
The incident has, however, wavered the confidence of those who frequent the place, particularly female hikers.
At 5pm yesterday, the Bulletin observed there were no women present in the area, with only a handful of visitors braving the hills.
The death of the woman, identified as Chin Mei Fong, has shocked the nation and raised concerns of public safety in the area, especially among women.
Speaking to the Bulletin, a woman in her 20s who, until recently, had frequented Bukit Shahbandar, said, “I won’t be able to go back there and actually feel safe until the perpetrator is caught.
“It’s very sad to learn that someone would commit such a heinous crime here, especially in our peaceful country,” she added.
She said the relevant authorities should review the safety aspects of the area, particularly in terms of lighting and increasing security presence.
Another woman in her 30s shared the same sentiment, adding that she will completely avoid the area and look for an alternative hiking spot.
“This is very shocking and I am not coming back. I usually jog alone in the area, but now I will make sure I go with a friend or in a group to avoid any unwanted incidents and for my own safety,” she said.
She too recommended the stepping up of police presence in the area, considering its popularity among the public.
“I think it is high time to get more people to man the area. Better yet, CCTVs should be installed at the parking areas to increase the probability of identifying and deterring criminals,” she said.
Another frequent jogger in the area, a Filipino expat in his 30s, shared his concerns with the Bulletin, before advising hikers/joggers in the area, especially women, to avoid going alone.
“It is sad to learn that a fellow hiker here had her life taken away in such circumstances. I hope the police will find the perpetrator soon,” he added.