Tutong people get up close with His Majesty during get-tegether ceremony
By James Kon and P Marilyn

Scores of well-wishers were delighted to have had the opportunity to greet His Majesty the Sultan and Yang-Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the get-together with the Tutong District community yesterday.

"I feel privileged and delighted to have had the chance to be able to wish His Majesty a 'Happy Birthday' this year," Hajah Fatimah binti Hj Bakar told the Bulletin.

"Last year I was not lucky enough to shake His Majesty's hand because the crowd was overwhelming. But this year, my luck was different," added the 62-year-old woman from Kampong Sinaut.

"I want to thank His Majesty for gracing us with his presence in Tutong," added Hajah Fatimah, who hopes to come again next year to greet the monarch.

Things were, however, not the same for Awang Jaludin of Bukit Panggal.

"There were so many people. I couldn't get a chance to get close enough to His Majesty.

"I worry that I will faint if there are too many people pushing," said the 77-year-old man who suffers from asthma.

During the previous get-together celebration, Awang Jaludin was able to greet His Majesty.

Meanwhile, Tutong Public School Teacher Ching Ai Choon has not once missed the get-together, saying "I always take the opportunity to greet His Majesty every year, because I want to meet His Majesty in person."

A group of tourists from the United States also took the opportunity to greet His Majesty during the ceremony.

Bettie M Clapp, Selena Isles Smith, James Moore and Vernon Bournique said, "The performance was fabulous and colourful.

"One of the main attractions in Brunei is its people who are always warm and friendly," said one of them.

Scheduled to leave the Sultanate today, the American tourists added, "It was a memorable event, memories we will bring back to the US and tell our friends and families about." - Borneo Bulletin (18th July 2008)