Royalty attends Islamic Literature Award event
By Malek Hashim & Amie PDH Ishak

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and the Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office graced the Islamic Literature Award ceremony held in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB) or Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation establishment at the International Convention Centre in Berakas yesterday.

Accompanying His Royal Highness at the event was HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul Malik.

The ceremony opened with a speech by the Chairman of the Board of Director of YSHHB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong.

He said the award is one of the events to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the foundation establishment in 2007 and was made possible with the existence of the close cooperation between YSHHB and the Language and Literature Bureau.

Pehin Dato Haji Awang Abu Bakar said writing plays an important role in the development of a nation and country, as responsible writers would shape the moral of a society because literature works, especially Islamic literature, contain high moral value.

He said other than a history writer, a scholar with sharp observation is also a recorder of history, the country's sociopolitical change, the human lifestyle and its society and this can be witnessed from literary works of the country as early as the 19th century.

"We are grateful for the literature writing tradition, especially Islamic literature, which has been continued by the contemporary writers and hope more writers will emerge and concentrate on the literature genre in the future," said Pehin Dato Dr Haji Awang Abu Bakar.

Even though the country has a small population, to this day we are proud that the nation is not short of writers, who through their works have achieved excellence and at the same time glorify the country's name, he said.

Pehin Dato Dr Haji Awang Abu Bakar said that the Islamic Literature Award is only a small contribution from YSHHB to the country's literature development, especially Islamic literature, and hoped it would be a starting point for the development of the regional literature so that it will become the centre of excellence in Islamic literature in the future.

Pehin Dato Haji Awang Abu Bakar also hoped that the award would be able to inject spirit and interest among present writers to continue writing and instil interest in Islamic literature and at the same time strengthen the Iman and Akidah.

Their Royal Highnesses were treated to Syair recitals.

The highlight of the event was the announcement of the winner of the Islamic Literature Award by Dr Mataim bin Bakar, the chairman of the assessment panel of the Islamic Literature Award, during his comment.

Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Awang Haji Yahya or better known as Yahya MS in literary field won the hearts of the panels with his poetry collection entitled "Perjalanan Terakhir Anakku Yang Hilang".

Dr Mataim said the literature work of Pehin Dato Ustaz Awang Haji Yahya portrays the author's feeling as a father when losing his child, which also include some Islamic messages and values.

His Royal Highness the Crown Prince presented the grand prize of $15,000 in cash and a plaque to Pehin Dato Ustaz Awang Haji Yahya, as well as consolation prizes to five other writers.

Ten literature works by six writers were in contention for the Islamic Literature Award. - Borneo Bulletin (6th Nov 2008)