Royalty graces Hari Raya gathering
Siti Hajar

Set against an electrifying atmosphere with an ambiance of fervour and joy, one of the most anticipated local Hari Raya events of the year was highly memorable as hundreds from different segments of the population gathered to celebrate with the country's beloved members of the royal family.

In an event that took shape at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas, the large-scale occasion was graced by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam who was accompanied by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik as well as His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

Organised by the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation, better known as Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB), this year marked the ninth such event since it was introduced in 2003, excluding the year 2009 due to precautionary measures against H1N1 concerns, and has since involved members of the community that are deemed vital in the development of the country be it economically or socially with focus directed at the cultivation of commonweal.

Following predecessors such as those celebrated in years past to include non-governmental organisations, small and medium enterprises, those in the field of academia, entrepreneurs and young professionals and so on, this year shed the spotlight on those working in Government Linked Companies (GLC) and the private sector involving an approximate 1,200 participants across fields from the different types of services that are offered within the borders of the Sultanate.

Considering the contributions that have been made and will be made by such players deemed as being a major component in the ambitioned diversification, this year's YSHHB Hari Raya event was intended as a symbolic gesture that showcases the general appreciation for the work that has been done by those involved in this finance-generating platform and the human resource development efforts towards producing people of marketable skills whilst at the same time, share with them the vision and hope of His Majesty.

In his remarks as the Chairperson of YSHHB, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong commented that the chosen list of participants, "is in line with the launch of the 10th National Development Plan (RKN 10) 2012-2017 that also focuses on economic strategy that is intended to generate economic opportunities that are always developing with the capabilities to generate employment opportunities that are of quality for the people".

With the support that the government has rendered to the private sector that encompasses numerous programmes to include education incentives for those working in this particular arena, "It is hoped that with the increase of human resource capacity, the government, GLC and private sector can implement the RKN 10 focus and improve innovation.

"Innovation," he said, "can create heightened productivity that is more effective and intensify research activities that are of commercial value."

Following the customary recital of the Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat, the celebrations were further enlivened with a tausyeh and Hari Raya performance presented to invited guests by 150 enthusiastic students from the YSHHB School with the highlight of the day being His Majesty and the royal entourage's tour of the 20 'homes' that were built for the occasion.

The young and old were seen lining up as the monarch and his family made their way across the ICC halls where the royal family consented to take photographs with those who were eagerly awaiting their turn to personally wish the royal family a 'Selamat Hari Raya'.

Many of the private sector participants had also prepared pesambah for His Majesty in various shapes and sizes from a building replica based in Hong Kong, beautifully sculptured vases to frames containing Quranic verses. - Borneo Bulletin (29 August 2012)