By Liza Mohamad
At least 10,000 well-wishers flocked to the Padang Bandaran Kuala Belait yesterday morning to meet and greet His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in conjunction with the ruler's 65th birthday celebration.
It was a marquee event with a mixture of vibrant colours and rich in tradition to mark the blessed Nisfu Syaaban yesterday, indicating the upcoming holy month of Ramadhan.
Belait is the first district to host the Ramah Mesra and Junjung Ziarah with the rakyat and residents to commemorate the monarch's birthday celebration.
After many years, the much-anticipated meet-and-greet session was held on a Sunday in the Belait District, which usually hosts the event on Saturdays.
The monarch's visit to the district was the second in a short span of time as His Majesty was in the district to present keys to 650 recipients under the Kg Panaga National Housing Scheme last Tuesday.
The heat failed to dampen the spirit of the tens of thousands of people who turned up for the event to meet the benevolent ruler to pay their tributes.
The sea of people who flooded the Padang Bandaran was a demonstration of their patriotism, loyalty and affection towards the caring monarch.
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 Awg Othman; Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof.
Also present to greet His Majesty were Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Haji Tuba.
Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.
The Padang was tastefully decorated to symbolise the district as the centre of the oil and gas production with a replica arch of the Seria billionth barrel monument at the entrance and the stage designed like the Seria oil terminal.
Upon arrival at the royal dais, the National Anthem was played and later the venue resounded with three cheers of 'Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik' or 'Long Live His Majesty' by the Mukim Penghulu and village leaders of the Belait District.
The event followed with a speech by Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Haji Tuba.
The district officer on behalf of the citizens, residents and government servants in the district pledged undivided loyalty to His Majesty, and vowed to continue to stand firm and united under the monarch's wise leadership.
The district officer expressed "junjung kasih" for His Majesty's recent "kurnia" of replacing all post-paid electricity meters to pre-paid free of charge; to increase passage allowance for female officers and staff; three educational schemes to boost students' access to further education and develop human resources for the private sector and special assistance to non-governmental organisations.
He noted that under His Majesty's leadership, the district's population and residents have been blessed with an increased standard of living and benefiting from various forms of development, progress and facilities provided by His Majesty's Government.
The performance yesterday carried the theme 'Raja Pemurah, Junjungan Kasih' or 'Love for our Generous Monarch' and it comprised tausyeh, nasyid and choir performances by 565 people comprising school students, youths, members of NGOs and representatives from communities in the district.
The religious songs and patriotic poetry recitals were in line with the theme which reflected the nation's peace under the wise leadership of His Majesty and the songs further illustrated the citizens and residents enjoying a comfortable living standard due to the monarch's care and concern.
The performance ended with a blast of confetti which rained on Padang Bandaran to mark the event's finale. Invited guests and members of the public enjoyed the event while children played with the confetti that flooded the field.
After the performances, His Majesty was led to meet the crowds who waited in anticipation along the tents to deliver birthday greetings to the ruler.
Regardless of the huge and sometimes uncontrollable crowd, His Majesty and the royal entourage mingled with the rakyat comprising multi-cultural communities in the district, expatriates and tourists who used the event as an opportunity to greet the ruler in person.
His Majesty also visited prominent displays of the oil and gas activities in the district at BSP and BLNG booths.
The ruler's interaction with the rakyat and residents in Belait District reflected the ruler's undivided attention and care towards the welfare and development of his subjects in the district.
Belait District Officer Awg Matusin, who was also involved in the fine-tuning of the performances leading to its climax yesterday, noted the huge turnout.
"It takes months of hardwork and preparation to accomplish such a feat. It also takes a lot of manpower, about 1,000 people at least to put an event of this scale," he said.
After the get-together with Belait rakyat and residents, the ruler and members of the royal family joined government officers, community leaders and other invited guests for a luncheon and received 'junjung ziarah' from Belait National Committee members and invited guests.
- Borneo Bulletin
(18th July 2011)