By Liza Mohd
Thousands of people flooded the Padang Bandaran Kuala Belait in the Belait District yesterday morning to pay tribute to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the ruler's 64th birthday.
Belait is the first district to host the get-together where people from all walks of life get the opportunity to greet the monarch and the royal entourage, in what was a spectacular and colourful affair under sunny skies.
His Majesty arrived at the helipad near the official residence of the Belait District Officer and was greeted upon arrival by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Othman, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yusof, permanent secretaries at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Haji Tuba.
Accompanying His Majesty to the annual gathering with the 'rakyat' were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul 'Azim and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik.
Upon arrival at the royal dais, His Majesty was greeted with the National Anthem and later the venue resounded with three cheers of 'Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik' or 'Long Live His Majesty' led by the Mukim Penghulu and Village Leader of Kg Pandan 'C' Haji Affendy bin Haji Awang Damit, and village leaders of Belait District (photo report in pages 24&25).
The event was then followed by a speech delivered by Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Haji Tuba.
The Belait District Officer in the welcoming address said His Majesty's visit to the Belait District was a memorable day and an invaluable opportunity for all 'rakyat' and population of various groups in the district to greet the ruler.
The District Officer on behalf of the citizens, residents and government servants in the district pledged undivided loyalty to His Majesty and to continue standing firm and united under the monarch's wise leadership.
He noted that under His Majesty's shrewd jurisdiction, the district's population and residents have been blessed with an increased standard of living by benefiting from various forms of development, progress and facilities provided by His Majesty's government.
The District Officer in conclusion said to make the event livelier this year, a final national tug of war for 'heavyweight' category would take place at the field along with nasyid and choir performances by 200 people from the district.
After the performances, His Majesty consented to present trophies, cash prizes and medals to winners of the national tug-of-war for two categories namely 'heavyweight' and 'lightweight'.
Despite the blistering heat, about 30,000 enthusiastic well-wishers faithfully waited in anticipation along the tents to deliver birthday greetings to the benevolent ruler.
His Majesty and the royal entourage mingled with the rakyat which consists of the multi-cultural communities in the district, expatriates and tourists who use the event as an opportunity to greet the ruler in person.
The ruler and the royal family then joined government officers, community leaders and other invited guests for a luncheon and received 'junjung ziarah' from Belait National Committee members for His Majesty's 64th birthday celebration and invited guests, marking the end of the event.
Under the shrewed leadership of His Majesty, the district is undergoing a steady pace of development.
His Majesty's attendance in Belait yesterday marked the ruler's undivided attention, care and affection towards the population and residents in the district.
His Majesty was recently in the district on July 6 to view the latest facilities available in Suri Seri Begawan public hospital in Kuala Belait in the interest of the nation's medical care.
In January this year, His Majesty presented house keys and land lots to 65 recipients under the National Housing Scheme for Belait District this year.
The supply of housing to the citizens in the district has also rapidly increase with the construction of 2,000 cost-effective houses under the BEDB pilot project scheme, in addition to the Lorong Tengah Seria National Housing project which will provide a roof for 2,451 citizens.
In May this year, His Majesty also officiated the opening of Brunei Methanol Company at the Sungai Liang Industrial Park site in the district, which is the nation's first petrochemical project.
The project benefits the Belait communities in terms of job opportunities, businesses, services and other downstream economic activities and spill-over.
This year, Belait District will also witness the opening of a multiplex and bowling centre in the heart of Seria town, as part of the $15 million Seria community hub project where the digital cinema is capable of providing citizens with a 3-D movie experience.
Following yesterday's event, the other three districts are also geared up to host the get- together ceremony and the population is set to immerse themselves with the colour and splendour of the district's culture through field performance and decorations.
- Borneo Bulletin
(18th July 2010)