KAMPUNG Ayer is facing the threat of losing its sociocultural heritage mainly due to the beautification project in the capital and the emigration of its residents to land.
This was deduced in a research undertaken by 66 undergraduate students at the Academy of Brunei Studies (APB), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).
The research looked at five villages in Kg Ayer namely Kg Setia, Kg Lurong Sikuna, Kg Burung Pingai, Kg Sumbiling and Kg Sungai Kedayan. Based on the research, several villages in Kg Ayer now no longer exist or are facing the risk of being inhabited due to migration to land.
During a handing over ceremony of the research’s results at the Brunei History Centre yesterday, the research coordinator, Noralipah Hj Mohamed told The Brunei Times that the loss (culture) of Kg Ayer are closely related to migration and modernisation.
“Two villages: Kg Sumbiling and Kg Sungai Kedayan are no longer inhabited while other villages now cease to exist,” she said.
In a 2015 report, figures from the Department of Economic Planning and Development showed that more than 13,000 people have moved out from Kampong Ayer in the past 30 years.
The water settlement was estimated to have a population of 28,000 in 1981 and as of 2011, has dwindled down to about 13,000 people.
Housing development and new buildings in the capital she said are main contribution for the migration.
“Change is inevitable. When people move out of Kg Ayer, it will have an effect on the social lifestyle of the community.
“This influences the socioculture of people in Kg Ayer,” she said, adding that time constraint and socio-economic challenges also prevent people from practicing traditions.
“For example, in Malay wedding ceremonies, there are a lot of customs that are no longer practiced by Malay people in Kg Ayer. People now are busy with work and they don’t have time to hold unnecessary ceremonies. This has led to the loss of culture within the community,” she said.
Meanwhile, one of the participating research students, Hj Md Ardini Hj Rias, said that there is a diminishing sense of community amongst Kg Ayer residents.
“People in the past were more community oriented and were always ready to lend a helping hand to other villagers. But now, as some families have moved to land and new people moving in to Kg Ayer villages, semse of community is slowly diminishing.”
Besides social and geographical changes, the research also highlighted the historical background of the five villages.
Present to handover the research to the Acting Deputy Principal of the Brunei History Research Hanafi Hj Salleh, was the APB’s Director Associate Professor Ampuan Dr Hj Brahim Ampuan Hj Tengah.
The Brunei Times