Patriotic showpiece
Siti Hajar

IT WAS a clear day and the streets were dotted with a multitude of colours that brought to life the heart of the capital yesterday morning as thousands gathered to celebrate the country’s 29th National Day.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and other members of the royal family joined the people of the Abode of Peace in standing proud for what has been achieved over the years whilst remaining committed to upholding Islam not just for spiritual guidance but more so as a way of life.

Flanked by the historical Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque to the right and the old town of the capital to the left, the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien became the centre of attention as 22,000 parade participants from a total of 129 contingents representing the local and international population marched across the field with their heads held high as they waved mini national flags in a symbolic gesture of unity.

Many arrived even before the crack of dawn and the participants’ enthusiasm could be felt throughout the morning.

The day officially started with the arrival of His Majesty and the royal entourage at 8.15am to the sounds of the ‘Hadrah’ performed by secondary school students, many of whom lined the main road starting from the Lapau Building up until the intersection where the Clock Tower stands just prior to the Taman.

Shortly after His Majesty’s arrival, the city turned quiet as those present stood at attention as the resonating sound of the country’s “Allah Peliharakan Sultan” national anthem filled the atmosphere with pride as well as unwavering confidence. This was followed by the monarch’s inspection of the guard of honour.

The parade started with the entrance of the giant flag carried by about a dozen young men smartly dressed in grey who were quickly followed by flag bearers and uniformed personnel starting with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, the Royal Brunei Police Force, uniformed personnel, youthful faces of the National Service Programme (PKBN) and the ministries, schools, members of the private sector, those from the international community and many more.

Prior to the field performance that saw the participation of 7,700 performers, the parade ended with the arrival of the government officers who were selected to take part in the oath reading. Though they were the last to enter the field, they were perhaps playing roles that were the most pertinent in yesterday’s ceremony.

Dressed in brown, the 29 men and women led the reading of the pledge to Allah the Almighty, the king and country, stressing national development and Islam in preserving the country’s monarchy, dignity, peace and prosperity. Thousands of participants who stood on the field repeated each word with vigour and discipline.

Then came the proclamation of ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar’, which was among the main focus of His Majesty’s titah delivered on the eve of the National Day that the monarch linked to the Sultanate’s independence, stressing that Brunei’s development is deeply rooted in Islam. - Borneo Bulletin (24 February 2013)