Customs rejuvenated in push for modernisation
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday paid tribute to Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien for rejuvenating the country’s customs and traditions based on Islamic teachings as the monarch’s late father brought the nation into the mainstream of modernisation.

His Majesty said the “glorious landmark” of our customs and traditions is Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien.

“The service of Al-Marhum has always been remembered and his pre-eminence ever readily upheld not just in recent times. History has proven that Al-Marhum was a monarch who brought Brunei Darussalam into the mainstream of modernisation.”

The tribute to His Majesty’s late father came in His Majesty’s titah yesterday at the Proclamation of the Pre-eminent Figure in Customs and Traditions throughout all the Ages on the occasion of the celebration of Adat Istiadat Day at the International Convention Centre, Berakas.

His Majesty said, “The Adat Istiadat Council has very carefully considered the significance of proclaiming a pre-eminent figure in customs and traditions, particularly in commemorating the service of an individual who is no longer with us.

“I welcome and appreciate the recommen-dation of the Adat Istiadat Council in selecting the pre-eminent figure in customs and traditions in order to become the foundation and the highest landmark for this country’s customs and traditions.

“Al-Marhum captained the ark of modern Brunei by inviting all his subjects to come with him on board. History stands witness that Al-Marhum worked tirelessly to ensure that his subjects were well-educated whilst enjoying prosperity.”

“Al-Marhum led his subjects towards a noble goal in life by holding fast to the teachings of Islam. With this firm hold on religious teachings, Al-Marhum rejuvenated the customs and traditions of the country by following the path of the customs and traditions of the country based on laws that relied on Syara.

“With Al-Marhum blessed leadership that was both wise and authoritative in the rejuvenation of (our) customs, we now inherit customs and traditions that are both sublime and dynamic. And in making the customs and traditions dynamic and compatible with the modern era, Al-Marhum built a modern Brunei, for which, Al-Marhum is hailed as its architect.”

His Majesty said Al-Marhum not only charted the course to the distant future. In fact, Al-Marhum through sheer strength of will, meticulousness and with great prudence led a nation of people and a monarchy founded on the trust that the monarch would not be cruel and the people would not be disloyal. With the close relationship between the monarch and his subjects, Brunei was able to perpetuate the customs of its monarchy.

“In order to further strengthen these customs, Al-Marhum was renowned for his firm conviction that the customs could be rejuvenated without losing their authenticity. It was the rejuvenated customs that gave birth to the form and order of the monarchial rule today.

“The monarch shall at all times have sovereignty in ruling the country and reign over the government. The monarch shall have a council and board of advisers with members that are qualified according to their scope and functions.

“The government led by the monarch shall have ministers who are appointed to assist and be responsible to the monarch, along with their officers and staff.

“So the monarch will rule with a unified chain of command, leading his people to enjoy peace, well-being, prosperity and security. A reign that is based on trust that weaves together the relationship between the monarch and his subjects is what was provided for by Al-Marhum in the first written constitution in our history that would became the foundation for ruling the modern Brunei that we continue to build upon to this day.

“In building upon a modern Brunei, we not only follow in the footsteps of Al-Marhum, we take lessons from Al-Marhum’s experiences that are full of intricacies as well as challenges that made Brunei sovereign.”

His Majesty said, “On this day Monday, 29 Jamadilawal 1435H corresponding to March 31, 2014, I, with faith in Allah the Almighty and with the guidance of His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) herewith proclaim Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam as the ‘Pre-eminent Figure in Customs and Traditions throughout the Ages’. May Allah the Almighty always bless Al-Marhum’s soul by placing him amongst pious servants in heaven.”

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Adviser to the Adat Istiadat Council 2014-2015, in his sabda earlier said the ceremony was a platform to recall the glory of the history of the people and the nation.

His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha have consented to make the Adat Istiadat Day a national event in recognition that customs and traditions are the basis of unity in our nation and national identity.

The recognition is a wise effort to empower the nation in facing the challenges brought about by globalisation that has brought many impacts on culture as well as customs and traditions.

The effort is in line with ensuring that peaceful and harmonious traditions are based on the concept of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). “Hence the citizens and residents in this country are thankful for the wise leadership of my grandfather, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam who has succeeded in upholding the customs and traditions of Brunei Darussalam whilst making changes and relevancy in accordance to the Islamic teachings and development,” HRH the Crown Prince said.

“The effort pioneered by my grandfather who is also known as the ‘Architect of Modern Brunei’ is continued by my father until today. The commitment and confidence of my father become the inspiration to the present generation and become the symbol of unity of the people and the loving nation.

“In Brunei Darussalam, the position of customs and traditions is unique as the basis in supporting our livelihood and monarchial system. Till today, it guarantees the security, prosperity and harmony of the nation which by the will of Allah the Almighty will continue to be enjoyed in the future.

“As a nation that has been upholding the MIB concept for over 600 years, the strengthening of customs and traditions is crucial in ensuring the existence of Brunei Darussalam as an MIB nation.”

A special exhibition is also being held to enhance the younger generation’s understanding and appreciation of the role of our nation’s customs and traditions.

Also present at the ceremony were HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah binti Dato Haji Nasir; HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik; HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel; HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; HRH Princess ‘Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Masna, HRH Princess Hajah Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam; HRH Princess Hajah Amal Nasibah and HRH Princess Hajah Amal Jefriah. - Borneo Bulletin (1 April 2014)