By Narissa Noor
In a show of solidarity and love for the caring monarch, thousands thronged Taman Hj Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital yesterday for the get-together ceremony, or 'Majlis Ramah Mesra Bersama Rakyat', in honour of His Majesty's 62nd birthday.
The event, which has become synonymous with His Majesty's birthday celebration, is now a tradition in its own right. Yesterday, it was the Brunei-Muara District's turn to have the chance to meet and greet their beloved monarch.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince Abdul Malik.
Welcoming the monarch and the royal family members were the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Dato Awang Hj Adanan; Pehin Dato Awang Haji Dani, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs; Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Brunei-Muara District Officer, Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yussof bin Bakar.
His Majesty's arrival was followed by the singing of the national anthem and three calls of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik", instilling a fervent sense of patriotism as it echoed across the capital.
The annual get-together event has been widely anticipated by the rakyat.
Tutong and Belait Districts held similar celebrations last Thursday and Saturday respectively in a bid to outshine one another.
In a speech by the Brunei-Muara District Officer, he noted that under the leadership of His Majesty, the people of the district have enjoyed significant development of several facilities that can be utilised by the village communities.
He pledged, on behalf of the people and citizens of Brunei-Muara, including government agencies, the business community and sponsors, their unyielding loyalty to the sovereign and vowed to continue to stand by the ruler's strong and just leadership.
The people of Brunei joined him in wishing His Majesty good health, long life and blessings from the Almighty.
One of the main highlights of the ceremony was the field performance by students. With the theme "Bersama Mendukung Kedaulatan Raja", the piece was divided into four segments.
The first segment, with the background song "15 Julai Ristaan Kita" sung by 62 students, illustrated the joy and happiness of the people in the Brunei-Muara District under the leadership of His Majesty who has brought the country into international limelight.
Sanny Hassan, a 22-year-old student studying in the United Kingdom at the University of Liverpool, felt a wave of nostalgia as he watched the choir perform for His Majesty.
"I used to be in the choir participating in these events when I was in secondary school," he reminisced. "I haven't been back in Brunei to celebrate His Majesty's birthday in a few years and being here brings back a lot of memories for me."
A tug of war for the national level competition made up the second segment between the Brunei-Muara District represented by the G16 team from Jerudong and the Tutong District represented by the Penanjong Garrison team. The G16 emerged victorious in a traditional display of strength and endurance.
The third segment showcased two martial arts performances - the Pencak Silat and Wushu. The combination of both highlighted the firm and culturally enriched movement of both martial art forms. One important message conveyed in this segment was the cooperation and solidarity of the different groups of people living in the Sultanate.
Andy Ang thought the day's performances were colourful and included a little something for everyone. The general manager of shared distributions at Standard Chartered Bank attended the festivities to meet and greet the Sultan along with other SCB staff as well as those from other banking institutions.
"It is a great opportunity for our bank staff to greet His Majesty and wish him a happy birthday and convey our appreciation to the Sultan on his birthday for his strong leadership, an opportunity we only get once a year," he added.
The grand finale incorporated in the final segment further highlighted the theme of the performances, which symbolised the sovereignty of the monarchy, upheld by all levels of the society. As stated by the Brunei-Muara District Officer, these performances embodied the love, devotion and gratitude held in the heart of every Bruneian.
Brunei-Muara District, which covers an area of 570 sq km, is home to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, making it the most populous district in the country with over 100,000 residents living in its 18 Mukims.
- Borneo Bulletin
(21st July 2008)