Sultan upholds ties with Britain
By Waleed PD Mahdini in Sandhurst

As the personal representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday reminded the graduating officer cadets that the ceremony and the commitment that they were about to undertake "would be a defining moment in their lives".

Taking the salute at the Sovereign's Parade for the graduation ceremony of Commissioning Course 102 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) that comprised 475 officer cadets, of which 204 successfully received their commissions following the parade, the monarch, who himself had walked into history when he too received his commission from RMAS as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards Regiment in 1967, highlighted: "All of us need allies in this uncertain world," and cited the prime example set by the Sultanate with the stationing of a British garrison within its shores that not only provides a forward operating base for the British Armed Forces in the Far East but also serves as stabilising factor in the region.

Relating this advice to the soon-to-be commissioned military officers, the monarch, who is also the Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, highlighted that the time spent at RMAS was a perfect opportunity to "forge great friendships" that they "should value for the rest of their lives".

Addressing the 204 officers cadets of Commissioning Course 102 directly, which included His Majesty's fourth son, HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen, the monarch noted: "The links between Great Britain and my country have always been close, and I am therefore personally delighted on Her Majesty's behalf and also as a proud parent to bear witness to the commissioning of course number 102, which includes my son."

"This is very much a multinational occasion. In addition to the 188 officer cadets commissioned into the British Army, there are 16 overseas cadets from 11 nations. All of us need allies in this uncertain world and the presence of a British garrison in my country is an example of a mutually beneficial link that is very much welcome. I would hope that your shared experiences would forge great friendships with each other, which you will value for the rest of your lives."

His Majesty commended them on the excellence that they carried out during the parade. "Your turnout, your bearing and your drill have been of the highest standard. They reflect great credit on you and your instructors. They are in the best traditions of this academy."

Commenting on the quality of training at the prestigious RMAS itself, His Majesty noted: "I know that the British Army places its best instructors here at Sandhurst to teach the cadets. Sandhurst is one of the greatest training institutions in the world."

Shifting his attention to the overseas cadets, His Majesty remarked: "It will have been tough at times for all of you. As newly commissioned officers, you are carrying on the traditions that have been developed and maintained for nearly 200 years, starting with the first intake of cadets who started here in 1812, that included men who went on to fight at the Battle of Waterloo. I would especially like to congratulate the overseas cadets. For you the last 12 months will have been a particular challenge. I remember it all too well."

Relating it to the monarch's own personal memories of the military academy, His Majesty noted: "Maybe the challenge was the culture, the language or simply the weather. But whatever it was, i hope that your memories of Sandhurst, like mine, will be happy ones. I wish you well as you go back to serve your countries."

His Majesty, who also initially forged a career with the military through the RMAS, congratulated the officer cadets on their choice of career. "There is no greater honour that can be bestowed on you than the trust to lead your fellow men and women in the defence of your nation. You could not have chosen a better life - one that presents greater challenges that demands more of you in physical and moral terms or that offers greater reward in terms of personal fulfilment."

Known and respected worldwide as a tireless caring monarch and working statesman, His Majesty pointed out that: "For all of you your work starts now. Many of you will shortly find yourselves in command of soldiers on operations. It is a sobering thought, a most serious business, but one for which you are well prepared." Realising that some of the commissioned officers would either be relishing the prospect of command or anxious about meeting its demands. However, the monarch assured them that they would not be commissioned yesterday if they had not already demonstrated "the qualities needed to succeed in command".

Speaking from personal experience, the monarch addressed the men and women with words of comfort and advice before he dismissed them from the parade to be commissioned as military officers in their respective armed forces. "I know you will look back on this day as a defining moment in your lives. Now march up those steps behind you with pride and style and uphold the standards of generations that have gone before you." - Borneo Bulletin (16th April 2011)