Don't let guard down against flu
By M K Anwar

As Hari Raya festivities begin today in the country, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah has advised the rakyat to continue to take necessary steps against the H1N1 flu pandemic.

The titah to commemorate the start of Syawal or Hari Raya Aidilfitri was broadcast nationwide last night.

His Majesty said that no matter what the situation is, Syawal will still be celebrated. The monarch added that this year the celebration will be different but the spirit is still strong and will continue to grow stronger in our lives.

The prayer halls will continue to be glorified on the morning of Hari Raya, said His Majesty.

As usual, Muslims young and old will perform the Aidilfitri sunat prayers at all mosques and suraus as this is the peak of the festivity and its blessings.

His Majesty explained that a pious person who finds bliss will give thanks, and if he finds hardship will accept it.

A lot of people were healthy and able to fast as well as perform the religious duties. And with the coming of Syawal, they should go to the mosque to perform the Hari Raya prayers.

This is what His Majesty described as a blessing we should be thankful for.

On the H1N1 pandemic, His Majesty said at the moment the country is still taking necessary precautions against the virus.

"This problem is an obvious test for us and we accept it with fortitude. We try to tackle it in many ways such as through prayers and other measures," the ruler said.

His Majesty also stressed that we should not neglect the advices issued by the Health Ministry.

The public can also help reduce the risk by understanding these simple preventive measures, His Majesty pointed out.

These measures, His Majesty said, include avoiding those with symptoms of the influenza and also crowded areas and, if needed, use facemasks.

This is the importance of "ikhtiar" or effort, His Majesty said and further added that even our religion encourages everyone to make an effort.

Based on this, His Majesty said that he has taken steps to close the palace this year for people who wish to extend their Hari Raya greetings as an effort towards protecting the safety and security of the public from the risk of H1N1 infections.

"Even though we are now at a safe level, no one has come forward to say that everything is back to normal. The only thing that is still around us are doubts and worries," His Majesty added.

His Majesty also hoped that the relevant agencies would not be negligent and continue to raise people's awareness with preventive measures against the pandemic.

Concluding the titah, the monarch extended Hari Raya greetings from His Majesty and members of the royal family to all the people in Brunei and, in particular, to Muslims no matter where they are. - Borneo Bulletin (21st September 2009)