Nation greets the leader
By Waleed PD Mahdini

Daulat! This very word will ring thrice around the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, this morning as the assembled honour guard responds to the call of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" (Long Live His Majesty), led by their parade commander, at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien.

As the words reverberate across the buildings surrounding the Taman, not a single person amongst the assembled guests, members of the public and tourists alike, will be left with any lingering doubts as to the complete respect, loyalty and admiration that they have just heard from the stacatto of short sharp shouts towards one man - His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The sound will continue to linger, echo and permeate before silence descends upon the capital as the Sultanate's national anthem, "Allah save the Sultan" is played before the entire crowd.

For all those present, many will be vividly reminded of what makes the Abode of Peace so special.

Just over two decades ago, on these very same grounds, His Majesty stood before the nation, at another time that was just as equally emotional for all, with his late father, Al-Marhum Begawan Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien, as the nation proudly uttered these very same words upon hearing the proclamation of independence.

As the years have passed, His Majesty has continued with the promise that he made, upon his ascendance to the throne, to dutifully carry on the modern legacy that was started by his late father, to the people. In fact, the oath that His Majesty took has been an extension of that made by his forefathers some 600 years ago. And, as a result, Brunei Darussalam, over the years, has also continued to progress in leaps and bounds.

There are many deserving accolades, proud accomplishments and positive statistics that Brunei Darussalam and its people have been heaped with - to which we can all be proud of. For they were all made with the genuine support of each and every member of our society.

But even as Brunei still strives to stand as equal with its peers on the international arena, one simple factor sets it quite apart from all the rest.

There is no greater truth to the age-old adage - people come and people go - when it comes to the complex rotation of world leaders. With the exception of one other monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who is currently the longest reigning monarch, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has joined the ranks of stable and prosperous rulers of the modern era. Furthermore, there is absolutely no-one who can be linked to an unbroken lineage that spans six centuries.

His Majesty's reign is truly remarkable in an age where government and national leaders are regulated by political constitutions, have been elected due to their popularity or beliefs, come and go as challenges influence public opinion and their influence wanes with the passing of time.

Over the course of the next few weeks, and indeed for astute observers, during many preceeding years, His Majesty exemplifies the image of a popular leader. Observe when the ruler joins his subjects for the get-together sessions in the four districts, and the monarch will be swarmed by his adoring people as well as the expatriate community. No other world leader today can enjoy this informal rapport. Even those that try are constrained due to the practicalities of security.

But what His Majesty is doing is merely a continuation of what his forefathers before him had done for their people. Despite the troubles and the worries that life throws at us, it is comforting to know that whatever we may face, we will face it together. For His Majesty is our leader, our protector. And for him it is more than just duty. It is a covenant he made with his father, and his father before him. For throughout the 600 years, the people of Brunei Darussalam have always, and will continue to, rally around their beloved monarch.

Today, as we celebrate the 62nd birthday anniversary of our benevolent and caring monarch, we stand together in celebrating this auspicious occasion and we are proud to heed the call that is our very own unique way of life.

"Happy Birthday Your Majesty" and "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik." - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2008)