Brunei's day of joy
By Waleed PD Mahdini

Despite the gloom that had descended upon the Abode of Peace these past two years, the people and residents of Brunei Darussalam will today see the dark clouds dissipate from the skies as warm, golden rays of light shine through to signal a new hope and direction over the horizon.

In 2008, the Sultanate was shocked and awed by the fury that was wrought by Mother Nature, which dampened the festive mood of the annual auspicious occasion. Last year, the global pandemic that also infected many of our people completely extinguished any form of celebrations for our beloved monarch's birthday.

But this year, Bruneians will once again be able to fully rejoice and pledge the fact that after these recent trials, their confidence, support and trust will be even stronger, firmer and more unwavering.

For, undoubtedly, today is the best day to show all these emotions to the one man, who is not only our ruler, but also our most iconic role model and protector, who has ensured that above all else, it would always be the people and residents of Brunei Darussalam that will remain foremost in his heart, in his mind and in his prayers - His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The monarch, who turns 64 today, has been the rock steady foundation that has guided and shaped every decision for the benefit of each and every single Bruneian citizen and resident.

Taking on the helm of leadership and mantle of statesman from his late father, the Architect of Modern Brunei, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, since October 5, 1967, His Majesty has worked tirelessly to ensure that the legacy that was carefully planned and hard fought by his late father has indeed continued to endure and prosper from strength to strength.

Between overseeing the country's path of development and steering the country towards the true path of progress, as enshrined in the Constitution and the pillars of the national philosophy for a country that is Malay-dominated, by keeping true to the core tenets of Islam under the reign of the monarchy, His Majesty has continued to champion the basic fundamental belief of maintaining a keen balance between the material progress of the country's development without eroding any of its spiritual beliefs and rich, traditional customs and heritage. And for this, the Abode of Peace has been praised for its astute policies of concentrating on its greatest assets and treasures - our youth, our natural environment and, of course, our resources.

By focusing on improving the education system, which is supported by a strong religious curriculum and developing other niches for human resource development, His Majesty has very often repeated his true desire for each and every Bruneian to be the very best that they can be - not just for themselves, but also their loved ones and family, and also for the country and its future.

Just yesterday, it was heart-warming to see His Majesty receive one of the best gifts that any person, who has everything else, can receive. As the monarch was surrounded by seven-, eight-year-old pupils from the Al-Falaah Religious School, with the unrequited and selfless love that only children of that age can give, they all raised their hands in prayer to ask Allah the Almighty to bless His Majesty with all the rewards that he is due, in return for the countless things that he has given freely and fairly to all his subjects.

There are indeed clear skies and calm seas ahead as the country and its people sail ahead charting a new course in its history. The government has appointed many fresh faces to lead us through new ideas that are tempered with the experience of the Legislative Council members, the rule of law that is administered by a legal system that is advocating transparency and accountability and the various other public sector agencies that have sworn to protect and defend the people and sovereignty of the Abode of Peace.

But as the age-old saying goes 'No man is an island', His Majesty has tirelessly repeated and called for all our dedication, determination, loyalty and support to ensure that the hard-earned and won legacy from all our previous generations are not forgotten. So with the grace and blessing of Allah the Almighty, as the country rejoices on this very special day today, it does so united in mind, body and spirit in tribute to a monarch that has done so much for all of us and by asking for only so little in return.

"Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" and Happy 64th Birthday Your Majesty, Long May You Reign." - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2010)