Bandar bursts into celebration for royal get-together
By Narissa Noor

From schoolchildren to the elderly, from businessmen to government servants, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's loyal subjects came out in masses yesterday morning to honour and celebrate the revered ruler's 62nd birthday at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital.

Hundreds of energetic schoolchildren enacted colourfully choreographed numbers, which they have practised over and over again, ending with a shower of confetti, much to the delight of dozens of on-looking children who immediately swarmed the field.

The Taman itself was divided into over 80 sections, as representatives from all levels of the community eagerly and patiently waited as the monarch visited each and every section to personally meet and greet his people.

In keeping with the traditions of a birthday celebration, presents for the Sultan were proudly displayed as community after community presented His Majesty with a 'pesambah'.

Crowds joyously sang "Happy Birthday" to His Majesty as he cut into his birthday cakes presented by a few of the communities.

Tourists were also abound at the venue as they too joined in the celebrations.

Marketa Karlova, from the Czech Republic, was impressed with the magnitude of the celebrations. "We only came to Brunei for a short holiday," she said, unsuspecting of the huge celebrations that has currently engulfed the country. "We prolonged our stay here when we heard of an opportunity to meet the Sultan of Brunei himself."

"I want to meet the King," shouted two excited Australian children, Billy and Archie, who are also on holiday here with their parents, Connan and Cora Gargett.

"This is our first visit to Brunei and these celebrations have made it really great and fantastic," they said. " We would love to personally meet the Sultan and shake his hand," they added.

Accompanying His Majesty in the celebrations were 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. - Borneo Bulletin (21st July 2008)