Strengthen family to promote unity: Minister

|     Hakim Hayat     |

MUKIM and village consultative councils have been urged to organise activities involving all levels of the community, while youth are encouraged to be at the forefront of such programmes, in line with the Brunei Government’s initiatives in ensuring a cohesive and strong bond between families, Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong said yesterday.

The minister made the remark at the Pesta Makan Tahun for the Kedayan ethnic community organised by the Malay Kedayan Assocation (PEMEDAYAN) at the grounds of the Jerudong Primary School.

He recommended a family care initiative for mukim and village consultative councils to implement, such as a ‘One Village, One Family’ care programme that can provide assistance to families in need of support.

“We are counting on the youths of villages and mukims who have the potential, to step forward in contributing to local activities and become the main driving force in strengthening community bonds. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and District Offices welcome the active participation of village and mukim youth in executing welfare programmes to reach this objective,” the minister added.

He said efforts to foster and preserve the unity of village and mukim communities are very much encouraged, especially amid the rapid life changes and challenges of today.

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong and spouse take a closer look at a traditional kelupis making demonstration. – HAKIM HAYAT

The minister added that mobilisation, or geographical migration, because of employment or other factors are one of the root causes of smaller families, causing large-scale family gatherings to be rarely held.

He warned that this trend, unless handled prudently, would weaken solidarity among the community, thus affecting its social fabric and structure.

The minister highlighted that the basis of unity in village and mukim livelihoods is the solidarity of the family institution, and that efforts must be taken to strengthen it so that it will continue to be strongly maintained.

Pesta Makan Tahun is a much-anticipated occasion for the close-knit Kedayan community in Brunei, as well as in parts of the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, and also the Federal Territory of Labuan.

In the three-day festival that began last Friday, over 600 ethnic Kedayans from Brunei were joined by their counterparts from all across Borneo and Labuan who turned up for the food, cultural and traditional extravaganza.

Some of the activities included a silat demonstration by the youth of PEMEDAYAN, traditional food and also the game of gasing.

The carnival opened a window into the history of the Brunei Kedayan community, who are mostly settled in areas of Mukim Sengkurong, while providing visitors with the unique opportunity to get a glimpse of the traditional Kedayan way of life.

Chairman of PEMEDAYAN Haji Zainal Abidin bin Tinggal said the large-scale festival has been revived because many among the younger generation are unaware of the significance of the carnival, which used to be held annually in the past.

The Kedayan language bears some similarity to Brunei Malay, which is spoken by more than 130,000 people in Brunei, 46,500 in Sabah and 37,000 in Sarawak. In Sabah, the Kedayans mainly live in the cities of Sipitang, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Papar. Those in Sarawak mostly reside in the Lawas, Limbang, Miri and Sibuti areas.