His Majesty visits SM Sayyidina Ali
By Syafiq Affendy

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday visited Sayyidina Ali Secondary School (SMSA) in Kuala Belait following the key presentation ceremony.

Students lined up from the school gate until the main entrance waving mini-flags, as His Majesty smiled and waved back.

At the school, His Majesty visited booths representing various departments and clubs, all of which had interesting props and displays.

Tan Zong Hao, now studying Sixth Form at Abingdon School, Oxfordshire after achieving eight 'A's in his 'O' Level examinations, under the DANA Scholarship, expressed his gratitude to His Majesty's Government for providing scholarships to eligible citizens.

He is currently on summer holiday and helping out at the General Paper Club booth.

"It is a great experience to be able to see and speak to His Majesty up close and personal. I am very thankful to His Majesty's Government for giving us the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom as we can gain more experience and when we return, we can help develop the country more and contribute to the local community - especially in helping Brunei grow from a developing country into a developed country," said Tan.

Teaching how to read the Quran is now much easier with the e-Quran, a device used by the school's Islamic Religious Knowledge teachers, especially to those who are weak in the subject. The teachers noted a significant increase in the students' ability to read the Quran using the device.

Thirteen-year-old Suzzana Jariad of Year 8A displayed something unlike others at the school during His Majesty's tour of the booths - a dramatic display of bravery and courage as she recited a Malay poem entitled 'Wajah Daulat' to His Majesty.

Meanwhile, for Canadian English Language teacher Melanie Blanchard, luck was on her side as she was able to witness the event and saw His Majesty up close after only being in the country for three weeks. Hailing from Ottawa, Melanie said that it was very exciting and an honour to meet His Majesty in person.

"It is good to see that His Majesty actually came down to Kuala Belait to talk to his subjects and his students," she said.

His Majesty also chose the winning cake decoration for the Home Science Club.

Hisamuddin Abdullah @ Adam bin Ibrahim, Year 10 G3 student was also one of the lucky ones as His Majesty stopped by his batik artwork and autographed the unfinished artwork, adding much more value to the piece.

The school's Music Club was also one of the attention-grabbers where Kala Karwanamurthi managed to serenade His Majesty with their own rendition of 'Alus Jua Dindang', led by the club's president Abd Rahim. His Majesty encouraged Kala Karwanamurthi to 'keep it up' and when His Majesty asked if she has ever joined any singing competitions, she spoke to His Majesty about one of the biggest competitions she joined - the Stardom Quest in which she finished 5th place.

His Majesty went on to visit more booths before signing the school's commemorative plaque, and then made a surprise visit to the school canteen to inspect the food and drinks served.

The visit ended with a group photo with the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, including the school principal, Annie anak Sindai. - Borneo Bulletin (13th July 2011)