SMARTER Brunei President passes away

|     Fadley Faisal     |

SOCIETY for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman passed away peacefully after 1am yesterday, with his wife by his side.

He suffered from shortness of breath at the time of his passing, later confirmed by doctors at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

Malai Haji Abdullah, 66, served in the government under the Ministry of Health before he began promoting awareness of autism-related issues through the SMARTER Brunei Centre, which later expanded to include two more centres, a charity shop and a bakery.

He is survived by his wife, four daughters, one son and 11 grandchildren.

His only son, who is autistic, inspired the establishment of the SMARTER Brunei Centre, while one of his daughters works with the SMARTER Brunei after being personally trained by her late father.

The late SMARTER Brunei President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman

Friends and acquaintances said that Malai Haji Abdullah’s passing is a great loss to the nation, in terms of his tireless work in developing SMARTER Brunei.

One acquaintance said, “He was a selfless man, who did so much for the community. Surely his family must be proud of him and his achievements.”

Many of the organisations he worked with, including businesses, felt the loss.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Brunei, in its condolences to the family, remembered him as a strong member of the community who was passionate about autism-related issues, including his collaboration with The Coffee Bean’s Caring Cup Foundation.

The international community has also felt his passing deeply.

Another acquaintance reminisced about meeting the late Malai Haji Abdullah who flew in to Vietnam in 2013, to help establish the autism network of Vietnam.

“Farewell Malai, friendly, kind brother, who has left great merits to the ASEAN autism community, and deep charity for Vietnam,” he posted on a personal social media website.

Malai Haji Abdullah was one of the recipients of the 2018 ASEAN Padma Shri Award by the Indian Government.

Padma Shri is one of India’s highest civilian honours, where the awardees are named annually on the eve of India’s Republic Day, which falls on January 26.