His Majesty's princely gift
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan made it a joyous Hari Raya for 12,654 under-privileged people as they received personal gifts or 'Kurnia Peribadi' in a ceremony held at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.

In the Brunei-Muara District, the personal representatives to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam who presented the personal gifts were His Majesty's eldest son and daughter, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah.

Also present were His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Princess Hjh Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah. This was the second such ceremony held to alleviate the burden of expenses borne by those with special needs, orphans, the poor, those receiving monthly welfare assistance and those in financial hardship.

HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah presented His Majesty's personal gifts to 5,566 people who receive monthly welfare assistance, orphans and the poor.

Meanwhile, HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah presented His Majesty's personal gifts to 2,955 people comprising of people with special needs and financial hardship.

The generosity of His Majesty in bestowing his personal gifts reflects his constant sincere care and love for the well-being and welfare of his subjects. Similar presentations will be held today in the other three districts in the presence of His Majesty's Princes.

There were indeed touching moments. In one instance, a child with Down Syndrome was seen reciting a 'doa' in his stroller after receiving the personal gift. It was more so for other thousands of recipients.

"As a poor family from Kg Mulaut, I am very thankful to the caring monarch for such a gift for the festive Hari Raya and for my son's education," said the mother of Abdul Norhakim b Abdul Rahim whose child has Down Syndrome.

"It is 'Rezeki' or luck for my child. For Raya, we have yet to make any preparations," she said, teary-eyed upon receiving the gift for the first time. Norhakim is studying at Pusat Ehsan in Bengkurong.

"We gathered at 5am yesterday at the Community Hall in Sengkurong after our 'sahur' before starting our fast. I am just a housewife and my husband works as a security personnel on a $400 salary. With this cash, it would lessen our burden."

For Hjh Lawayah bte Hj Buang who brought her two orphaned children to the palace, Mohd Wajihuddin b Hj Saman and Mohd Nor Dihayuddin b Hj Saman, she was deeply touched with the gift and thankful to the ruler. The money will be bank savings for her two children.

Another two young orphans, Abdul Muiz b Abu Bakar and Khazairi bin Abdullah Jalani from Kg. Mentiri, also thanked His Majesty for the contribution for Hari Raya and their education.

For an elderly 'poor' citizen and receiving welfare assistance, Hj Omar b Abdul Razak from Perpindahan Lambak Kanan, called it a blessing and "would lessen my burden for the upcoming Raya" aside from his old age pension of $250. "Last year, I also received a similar 'kurnia', " he said.

For the mother of Mohd Nazri b. Abdullah, an orphan from Kg. Lumapas 'B', she was happy to receive the reward.

For Mohd Eshan b Abdul Fatah from Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association (PAPDA), the switchboard operator at Standard Charted Bank was delighted.

"We are looking forward to this event as it makes everybody happy. I drove my own special car equipped with hand-control along with his friends to the palace. It was already crowded at 7.30am. Mohd Eshan added that they are the ones who first set-up PAPDA 16 to 17 years ago.

For the father of wheelchair-ridden Rafidah bte Sauma from Kg Perpindahan Sg. Buloh, he was delighted. Prior to this, his daughter received it in Tutong where their old house is located. For a father of a child with autism, Chang Zi Yee, was very thankful to His Majesty and would bank in the money.

The recipients received their cash instantly at the palace at special counters set-up before proceeding to get the 'Campur' or box of food and drinks as goodies on their way back.

Earlier, dozens of buses flocked to the palace with some being escorted by police. (28th August 2011)