Over three hundred volunteers took matters into their own hands today to ensure Bandar Seri Begawan remained litter-free for the grand opening of Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas.
The volunteers — comprising members of the public, non-government organisations (NGOs), the private sector and students — were seen throughout the park and the capital donning fluorescent vests that read “I am a volunteer to keep Brunei clean and green”.
Minister of Development YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Bahrin Abdullah said the ministry is grateful for volunteers, especially NGOs who were involved in picking up and disposing of litter.
“We need more leadership, not only from the government but also the private sector and non-government organisations, and we are seeing that there is passion,” he said, adding the government welcomes more participation to keep the environment clean.
The minister said there is now a national-level committee which works with NGOs and the private sector to look at issues of cleanliness.
Dato Hj Bahrin added that Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas (also known as the Sungai Kedayan Eco-Corridor) is a national asset that needs to be properly maintained: “We should be looking after this as if it was our own… otherwise before we know it, it will be in a state that we will be embarrassed of.”
Legislative Council member YB Khairunnisa Ash’ari, who is also the co-founder of Green Brunei, said half of the volunteers seen around the capital were from her NGO. They were participating in a volunteering programme initiated by the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRE).
“We were invited to be part of this initiative together with other organisations. We have a total of 165 volunteers under us from various schools and members of the public,” she said. The LegCo member said she was pleased with the number of volunteers who turned up and hoped the initiative would educate the public on the importance of keeping the environment clean.
“It is important that the public utilise bins provided… to ensure the facilities are clean and can be enjoyed by others,” she said.
A member of Green Brunei, Zaahidah Iskandar, said she seized the opportunity to volunteer for Sunday’s event after seeing rubbish strewn around the capital when she attended ‘Bandarku Ceria’.
“I saw a lot of trash around and got me really sad. After that, I tried to look out for any NGOs involved in environmental preservation and came across Green Brunei,” the 21-year-old said.
Since then, she has become a member of Green Brunei and told them to let her know when they need her to take part in cleaning campaigns.
“I really want people to realise that it is our job to keep our country clean. It is sad to see pictures of trash around the capital going viral and so this can be prevented if every one plays a part in keeping it clean.”
Students and lecturers from the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College (KUPU SB) were also among the volunteers who took to the streets to pick up trash.
“We joined as part of community work and so that this joyous occasion will not be marred by irresponsible littering… It is important that we do not forget to keep clean even when we are enjoying ourselves,” a KUPU SB lecturer Dk Zainab Pg Hj Tuah told The Scoop.
Aside from picking up litter, the volunteers were also responsible for emptying trash bins so they did not overflow, said Dk Zainab, adding that they were on the streets from 6am until 3pm.
Meanwhile, Raymond Wong, an interior designer who came along with his family of five to volunteer, said: “I feel so proud to help out in keeping the place clean. This is the first time Brunei has opened such a nice park in the capital where we can enjoy the environment. The launching of this park is also an improvement for Brunei as a whole.”
The 27-year-old said that apart from enjoying the festivities during the opening of the park, volunteers will also be picking up trash as and when they see it. “This is something I wanted to do on my own, and through this, I hope the public will also do the same to keep the park clean in the future.”
In the past week, the government has repeatedly called for people to dispose of their rubbish properly during public events, after several incidents of mass-littering. The Municipal Department collected more than 25 tonnes of trash after the opening of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha bridge on Saturday, which was attended by 80,000 people.