Dazzling Tattoo performances
By Azaraimy HH & Azim Karim

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of RBAF and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha consented to join more than 5,500 people last night at the opening night of the much awaited event - the Brunei Darussalam International Tattoo 2011 (BIT 2011) at the Indoor Stadium, Hassanal Bolkiah Sports Complex.

The tattoo performance-turned-musical extravaganza featuring military bands from 12 different countries was held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary or the Golden Jubilee of Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

Also in attendance were His Royal Highness Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pg Anak Sarah, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna and HRH Princess Hajah Nor'ain.

This year marks the second time Brunei is hosting the Brunei International Tattoo, the first time was back in 2006.

Besides military bands, BIT 2011 is also joined by the Royal Brunei Police Force and Prisons Department.

Besides the pipes and drums performances and the often comical acts portrayed by some of the bands, making a comeback to the international tattoo this year after the 2006 appearance is the Guangzhou Acrobatic Team from China, and this year there is a new addition to the line-up, which is the stunt exhibition from the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces contingent - popularly known in Malaysia as the Red Warriors.

The night began with His Majesty inspecting the guard of honour and ended with the all participating bands performing "We Are The World" symbolising unity of nations of different cultures, religions and background through the common language of music and songs.

The spectacular musical night began with a grand opening of the BIT 2011 and followed by a country show, starting with Australia Armed Forces, followed by a performance from a combination of the 1st battalion and 2nd battalion pipes and drums of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Navy featuring dances from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

A contingent from Oman was the third country to showcase their mesmerising beats of drums. The China Acrobatic Team received a standing ovation from the crowd for their dazzling performance.

The Pakistan Armed Forces Band and the Royal Malay Regiment Central Band from Malaysia brought the crowd alive, while the General Headquarter Band of Armed Forces of the Philippines made stunning marches around the arena.

The Royal Thai Army, comprised of Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Armed Forces, provided good entertainment featuring dancers from the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

The Red Warriors stunt performance from Malaysia wowed the crowd, whilst the United States of America sent its contingent from the 7th Fleet Band of Far East Edition which did not disappoint the crowd with their songs which included James Browns' "I Feel Good" and others.

The combination of Royal Brunei Police Force, Fire & Rescue Services and Prisons Department sent the crowd ecstatic with their performances, while Singapore and Indonesia provided a fitting end to the event last night.

The colourful show ended with RBAF Golden Jubilee song, "Hikayat Pahlawan Perkasa Brunei" and concluded with "We Are The World" by all contingents, joined by the crowd. - Borneo Bulletin (1 June 2011)