[Note: My article on Perpindahan History was published in Brunei Times sometime around March 2008. I did not realise I have not posted it on this blogsite until someone asked yesterday about land size of these early resettlement areas. I hope this answer any nagging question about resettlement housing history.]
The government had been trying to move Bruneians onto dry land as early as 1906. The official record was that of the first British Resident, McArthur, who wrote in his report the following words “I want a clean, dry village with suburbs of kampong houses. I also want to encourage building on dry land.”
However it took a cholera and a small pox epidemic in 1902 and 1904 with many people dying before Bruneians then would consider moving themselves away from their traditional way of life over the water. However the move was sporadic and it was not until after the Second World War that the move was organised.
The first national housing resettlement program was in 1952. This was coordinated by the Resettlement to Dry Land Department (the department later became the Resttlement Department). A group of villagers from Kampong Pengiran Bendahara Lama in Kampong Ayer was moved to Kampong Bunut in Mukim Kilanas. The area that was allocated for the program was some 56 acres.
Twenty eight families were allocated two acres each. This enabled them to build a house and to plant fruit trees. The mostly wooden houses were built by the villagers themselves without any supervision from the authorities. The resettlement area began to be lived in by the new settlers from November 1952 onwards.
Even though the settlers had to build the houses themselves, they were given financial incentives. Each family was given $100 for demolishing their Kampong Ayer houses which they left behind, $100 to help them move to Bunut, $100 for cleaning their area and another $100 to cover the cost of the move. On top of that, while waiting for their fruit trees to grow and provide for the owners, the government gave each family $2 a day for 18 months.
The second national housing resettlement program was in 1952. The area chosen is the resettlement area around Berakas. There are many smaller areas in the area. This included Kampong Burong Pingai Berakas, Kampong Pancha Delima, Kampong Pengiran SiRaja Muda, Kampong Anggerek Desa and Kampong Orang Kaya Besar Imas.
Similarly to the settlers in Bunut, the settlers in these new villages were also allocated land but of different sizes depending on where one lived. Similarly to Bunut, all the program participants had to build their own houses and all of them were wooden houses too.
Kampong Burong Pingai Berakas was settled by inhabitants from Kampong Burong Pingai Ayer. In 1952 more than 48 families joined this program. Each family would get only half an acre compared to the participants in Bunut.
Kampong Pancha Delima, Kampong Pengiran Siraja Muda, Kampong Anggerek Desa and Kampong Orang Kaya Besar Imas accommodated more than 197 families who joined that program that year. Each family received a piece of land with the size of about 2 acres each. Though in 1994, each 2 acre lot was further subdivided into 5 parcels with the original family receiving 0.5 acre and the rest of lot was further subdivided into 0.25 acres each and these were allocated to the children of the original settlers.
In this area, several public facilities were built to complement the resettlers. This included a building for shopping and a light industrial area.
The third national housing resettlement program was in 1954. These are the villagers currently staying in the area known as Perpindahan Berakas. The two villages are called Kampong Jaya Setia and Kampong Jaya Bakti.
Kampong Jaya Setia had 54 families moving in from Kampong Ayer where each family was given 2 lots of land. The first plot of half acre is for their house and the second plot of four and a half acres for them to plant rubber trees. Unlike the earlier programs, these houses were built with government’s financial assistance.
Kampong Jaya Bakti was marked for civil servants applicants only and around 37 families joined in the program. Each family was awarded a plot of land of 0.75 acres each for them to build a house and the rest of the land for planting fruit trees. Even though the houses were built by the participants themselves, most used the government’s housing financial assistance provided to civil servants.
In 1976, the government did a survey of housing needs in the country. The main aim was to evaluate what kind of housing would be best suited to balance the need of the public and their tradition. It also aimed to identify how many applicants would there be for any particular area.
The National Housing Program (Rancangan Perumahan Negara) was established as a result of the survey. The Program was designed to help those who do not own any piece of land to have a house with subsidized prices and a loan period of between 20 to 30 years repay it back.
The Resettlement Department was renamed as the Housing Development Department on 4th August 1984. The new department was responsible for the planning, designing and to carry out whatever is necessary to make the program a success.
Among the earlier prerequisites required for applicants to be eligible for housing under the RPN included being a rakyat, 18 years of age, must not have (even the spouses) any landed title or if they owned a piece of land, it cannot be developed.
Applicant must be a civil servant and entitled to government housing loan. For those who are not civil servants, they must earn not less than $445 and not more than $1,030.
The first applications were received in 1980. More than 8,532 civil servants applied for the new houses of which more than 6,500 were from the Brunei Muara District and only 228 from Temburong.
In 1985, the applications were open to all including those in Division II in the government (earlier one was for Divisions III, IV and V only) and the general public. Another 6,730 appliations were received. In 1988, the third round of applications was opened to the general public only and only 505 applications were received.
The first group of the 84 new housing owners received their keys from His Majesty in April 1986.
The areas allocated for the National Housing Program is Lambak Kanan (1,780 acres), Rimba (1,100 acres), Mentiri (162 acres), Meragang (1,113 acres), Bukit Beruang (1,170 acres), Kampong Pandan (730 acres), Sungai Liang/Lumut (700 acres), Lorong Tengah Seria (760 acres) and Kampong Rataie (390 acres).
In 2000, another new scheme called the Skim Kurnia Tanah Rakyat Jati (STKRJ) which is the program of allocating houses especially for landless indigenous citizens was introduced. Applicants who are entitled to both programs will have to choose either one of the programs and not both.
At first there were 5 types of houses being built with prices ranging from $90,000 all the way to down to $40,000. Everybody was allowed to choose their on houses regardless of their income. As a result some families could not afford the houses that they chose. The cost of the houses did not include the cost of the infrastructure. Had these costs been included into the price and the subsidy removed, the prices would have gone up by at least another $50,000 per house. Despite the generosity, there are still a number of defaulters till today.
The housing programs had enabled Bruneians to own a roof over their heads. However with the increasing number of applicants and the constraints in building houses in such numbers as required, had led to a shortfall of houses available to the applicants. The amount of land space that the houses required also meant that a new compact design need to be thought of. Despite all that, the programs had enabled Bruneians to own houses something which many other citizens of other countries can only dream of.