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AFFY RAHMAN

Watch out for the puddle on lanes 3 and 4

To the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports,

Like the unwanted love child from a high-school relationship, I feel, being born to both civil servant parents, to say the least, neglected. I am sure, if you have spent any time living in Kuala Belait, you can see where I am coming from. Want to play tennis? BSRC. Want to go for a leisurely swim? Panaga! Rarely, you will hear people citing Mumong Sports Complex with much enthusiasm. But you see, I don’t blame them.

It did not dawn on me how horrible the Mumong Sports Complex is until a few months back. Fresh after three years out of the country, keen on keeping my sporty habits back in my beloved home town, I, along with other hopeful friends, went to Mumong Sports Complex. I whispered to myself, like a starry-eyed kid on Christmas eve, wished my parents worked for Brunei Shell — all I want is to run on a properly maintained track, far away from the dangers of a busy road. Perhaps, the option of using a treadmill on a rainy day? Is this too much to ask?

The dilapidated state of Mumong Sports Complex is unsurprising. “This is the government, not Shell, c’mon lah” they say. As the second largest town, I don’t see why we still don’t have a sports complex that meet minimum health and safety regulations – the football pitch is soggy, the running track is cracking, the sand pit resembles an untended flower bed and what a surprise, the pool is ‘closed for renovations’ since February! To top it all off, like the cherry on top of the cake, I think the roof is caving in. Why doesn’t anyone care?

I went home and did my research. To my surprise, I have found that residents have expressed their concerns since 2008! In a 2011 working visit, three years after the District Officer urged relevant authorities to ‘carry out renovations’, the Minister acknowledged the sorry state of Mumong Sports Complex. He assured that works are now underway, with promises of potentially a new sports complex along Jalan Maulana. How exciting! Surprise surprise, it is almost the end of 2012, and the hazardous, termite infested, ramshackle of a sports complex is still in use today.

I feel sorry for those youngsters, who train hard weekly, with dreams of being the next Maziah Mahusin. They train with equipment and in facilities that fall far below standards and in unsafe conditions. “Stay away from lanes 3 and 4 as there are puddles” one of them muttered. I admire them for working with what they have, often with very few complaints, but this should not be the case. Their devotion should be rewarded, not neglected. Their dreams should be realised, not disregarded.

And that is why I am writing to you today, in an open letter with hopes of putting the ‘talk’ back into ‘walk’ and promises back into actions. With high hopes of shining a bright light on the issue that has been kept in the dark for so long. I speak for all the users of the sports complex: why does it take, not months, but years of all talk, but yet still, no walk?

Faithfully,

Affy Rahman

About the author: I have chutzpah

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