Royalty at CNY get-together
By James Kon

In a show of unity, the local Chinese Community came together yesterday to usher in the Year of the Dragon with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha at the Chinese New Year Get-Together ceremony held at the International Convention Centre.

This is the seventh year that His Majesty and the royal family have celebrated the Chinese New Year with the local Chinese community in a get-together ceremony.

The once-a-year colourful ceremony this year was also graced by His Royal Highness Prince 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 Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Her Royal Highness Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Hjh Zariah, His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Wakeel, Her Royal Highness Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna and YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz.

Also in attendance were Cabinet Ministers and foreign diplomats.

Upon arrival, Their Majesties and members of the royal family were greeted by Lim Han Chiong, the organising chairman, co-advisor Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Awang Goh King Chin, Pehin Bendahari Cina Dato Paduka Awang Onn Siew Siong, Ang Swee Chuan, Dr Chan Sui Kiat, Tan Liang Toon and other executive committee members.

After a group picture with the organising committee, Their Majesties and other members of the royal family attended the Chinese New Year reception and celebration.

Before the start of the performances, His Majesty consented to receive a pesembah, a 'Ru Yi' that symbolises authority and control.

This year's eight-segment performance came from Chung Hwa Middle School BSB and Chung Hua Middle School of KB with an Asian multi-ethnic overture that comprised traditional dances to celebrate festivities as well as cultural dances.

Noticeably, HRH Prince 'Abdul Wakeel, who was sitting on the lap of His Majesty, while HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah, who was sitting on the lap of Her Majesty, enjoyed the performances.

Their Majesties also visited the exhibition booths featuring Chinese culture and mingled with the crowds. During the tour, His Majesty also received a number of pesambah.

Mr Lim Han Chiong, who is also the President of Brunei Darussalam's Hokkian Association, in an interview after the ceremony said, "We were privileged to have Their Majesties and other members of the royal family celebrate the Chinese New Year with the local Chinese community. This year's celebration went on smoothly without a glitch. The programme this year was almost similar to last year but with minor changes.

"The main difference was the performance, which showcased various cultures with the main theme on Chinese culture," he added.

On the special Ru Yi pesambah to His Majesty, he said, "Ru Yi symbolises authority and control. In the past it was passed down to empresses, dowagers and high level officials. Ru Yi is a powerful sign that encompasses good health, luck, wealth and long life. I felt that this is a good gift for His Majesty."

He also thanked all the people and committee members who were involved in making the ceremony a success.

Meanwhile Dr Chan Sui Kiat, in a separate interview said, "We are very thankful for His Majesty to celebrate the Chinese New Year with the Chinese community. This is the seventh year and no other country in the world can see the King celebrate Chinese New Year with the Chinese community. This type of get-together celebration helps foster closer ties between the Chinese community and His Majesty."

He added, "We hope that the celebration will continue in the future in order for our children and grandchildren to have the privilege to celebrate the Chinese New Year with His Majesty."

According to Mr Ang Swee Chuan, "This is the seventh year that His Majesty has celebrated Chinese New Year with us. It's a privilege and honour. We would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude to His Majesty and Her Majesty as well as the royal family members."

He added, "Thanks to the leadership of His Majesty, Brunei Darussalam is one of the most peaceful countries in Asean. I hope that through this kind of celebration, we can promote Brunei Darussalam to the world as an ideal country for investment and for Brunei companies to go overseas, especially China."

Mr Ang, who is also the Deputy President of Brunei-China Friendship Association, added, "Last year, there was a Beijing TV crew here to report the get-together ceremony and from that broadcast, many people in China came to know more about Brunei. I hope that through this ceremony today, we can further promote Brunei to the world as a peaceful and stable country to attract investment."

Speaking about this year's celebration, he expressed his disappointment that some Chinese associations did not participate in the celebration and exhibit their activities.

He added, "During last year's celebration, we exhibited many Chinese activities to His Majesty. This year's theme was Chinese association's activities, however some associations were missing at the event.

"It's an honour and privilege to take part in the Chinese New Year celebration with His Majesty and I hope that next year more Chinese associations will take part in the celebration," he added. - Borneo Bulletin (9th February 2012)