Nation gears up for royal b'day celebrations
By Zasika Musdi

Roads in the capital have sprung to life with an array of colours as the country has begun the countdown to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's 62nd birthday celebration.

The giant national flag was hoisted at the open area of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex in the capital.

All other districts followed suit in hoisting the giant flag, marking the beginning of a month-long annual celebration, which will see the country involved in a series of carefully planned activities and events, leading up to the grand event on Tuesday, July 15.

The celebration aims to reflect unity, understanding, harmony, cooperation, support among the public and above all, loyalty to His Majesty.

Within the next two weeks, all four districts are expected to be busy with their own preparations such as finalising touches on the construction of vibrant arches in strategic locations, aligning streets with vivid neon lights or 'cucul', hoisting flags and perfecting performances for the 'Bersama Rakyat' or Royal Get Together, where the Sultan will be visiting all four districts.

Before that on July 15, there will be the much-anticipated Royal Parade at Taman Haji Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien, His Majesty's titah and the Royal Banquet at the Istana Nurul Iman.

Other activities to enliven His Majesty's birthday celebration include the Borneo tug-of-war competition, fireworks display and float procession.

Special banners can be seen outside shops and restaurants to honour the festivity, bearing the words 'Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik' that profess their love for His Majesty, whilst standard-sized flags can be seen billowing proudly outside most households.

Earlier this year, a number of National Committee meetings were held at the Lapau in the capital to discuss the numerous activities and ideas, with the intention to attract the interest and involvement from all levels of society in the country.

This year's celebration will involve people and residents of the country, including students and educational institutions, the private sector, youth associations, non-government organisations, ministries, government agencies, members of the consultative and village councils, as well as mosque Takmir committees. - Borneo Bulletin (2nd July 2008)