Pre-birthday royal surprise for students
By James Kon & Aziz Idris

"Happy Birthday Your Majesty!"greeted students and teachers to their beloved ruler, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as the monarch made surprise visits to two schools in the Brunei-Muara District yesterday.

His Majesty was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim.

Also present were Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong, Minister of Education, his deputy Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail and other officials from the ministry.

His Majesty first visited the Katok Sixth Form Centre located near the Katok National Housing Scheme.

During the visit, Acting Principal of Katok Sixth Form Centre, Hajah Rosni binti Hj Mohd Amin @ Hjh Siti Nurain briefed His Majesty about the facilities at the centre.

According to the acting principal, among the issues His Majesty touched on during the visit was "whether these facilities are fully utilised, such as the track and field".

"The monarch also praised the students' achievement not only in terms of academic but also extra curricular activities," she added.

One aspect that caught His Majesty's attention was the Art and Design section, which revealed the students' potential.

"His Majesty's visit has marked a new beginning in terms of the future progression of the school as His Majesty's compliments will surely motivate the students," said Hajah Rosni.

Showing concern about the students' welfare and their education, His Majesty also mingled with the students.

One of the students who was touched by His Majesty's presence was Nurul Aqilah Hj Abd Rahman. The lower six student who spoke with His Majesty briefly said, " I felt very nervous and excited to meet and speak with His Majesty."

She said His Majesty asked her about the subjects that she has taken at the school.

"It's a day I will never forget," she added.

Meanwhile another student, Awg Hj Md Asnawi bin Hj Othman, was also touched by His Majesty's presence at the school. During the visit, His Majesty spoke to the upper six students who were taking pictures of the visit.

Awang Hj Md Asnawi told the Bulletin that he was speechless. "The feeling of meeting His Majesty is indescribable."

The boy from the Photography and Newsletter club of the school added, "It's an honour to speak with His Majesty."

Following a tour of the cafeteria, His Majesty moved to the multipurpose hall of the centre where a demonstration of Taekwondo and Kendo took place.

His Majesty took a special interest in the Kendo performance and spoke to one of the students on the techniques of Kendo.

Later, His Majesty moved to the gallery room where a number of artworks done by the students were on display.

One of the artworks done by Hj Ahmad Zulkhairi, a giant portrait of His Majesty spray painted on a plywood, caught the monarch's attention. His Majesty later signed on the painting, which took the student three days to complete.

Hj Ahmad Zulkhairi said, "It's an honour to have His Majesty autograph the painting. I will treasure the painting."

He said His Majesty had asked him to keep up with the good work."It's a very huge encouragement for me and it meant a lot to me."

Before concluding the surprise visit to Katok Sixth Form Centre, His Majesty received a special pesambah in the form of a portrait painting of His Majesty.

According to Mr Teo Seah Chea, an Art and Design tutor of the centre, "The portrait on the A1 size canvas was completed by one of the students, Hjh Erny, within three days, around two weeks ago. "

The Katok Sixth Form centre was officially opened on August 21, 2008 and started receiving students on January 5, 2009. Currently, there are 1,344 students studying at the centre.

His Majesty then visited the Al-Falaah School's Ban 5 branch.

His Majesty was greeted on arrival by Dayang Hajah Sharifah Mastura, Assistant Principal of the school.

His Majesty visited the classes.

Before ending the surprise visit, the schoolchildren and the teaching staff recited a doa selamat for His Majesty and the country in conjunction with His Majesty's 64th birthday today.

Dayang Hajah Sharifah Mastura in an interview with Bulletin said, "We are happy that His Majesty visited us today. It's the first time His Majesty has visited the Ban 5 branch. Earlier this year, His Majesty visited our branch in Manggis." - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2010)