In reference to an opinion letter on ‘Stalls’ closure leaves operators in dire straits’, published in the Weekend Bulletin on October 24, the writer clearly did not have the full picture of the situation.
I am writing not to defend law enforcement officers in general as I know some of them have questionable practices. For example, there was a foreign contractor who used to work for me. Recently, he was renovating a shop and placed the rubbish behind the shop awaiting a truck to collect it in the evening. Out of nowhere, a number of law enforcement officers appeared and fined him BND500 instead of hearing him out first.
However, I don’t believe it was the case for the 17 stalls that faced an abrupt closure at Tamu Selera Food Court. As a matter of fact, the action could most likely be justified.
An employee of mine once told me that over half of the stalls at the food court were owned by foreigners renting operating licences from locals.
The writer mentioned that he spoke with two families who were merely trying to provide for their families.
If these operators had indeed been operating the stalls themselves, how was it possible that they were punished for having abused their licences?
The notice put by the authorities clearly stated that the closure was due to ‘Melangar Syarat Perjanjian Penyewaan’ (‘Violating Rental Agreement Terms’), not due to other issues.
The writer also wrote that “if each operator is the breadwinner of the family and has on average eight children, the closure of 17 stalls has essentially sentenced 136 Bruneians to the life of poverty”. Well, to me, this may not necessary be the case. The 17 stalls could have been given to much poorer families to elevate 170 Bruneians from poverty if each family on average has 10 children.