Annual Istana ‘open house’ a highly-anticipated event
Rokiah Mahmud

THE Istana Nurul Iman yesterday opened its doors to members of the public, allowing well-wishers the chance to extend their festive greetings to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and other members of the royal family.

On the first day alone, thousands of people from all walks of life showed up as early as 7am to greet the royal family at the palace, where they were treated to a specially-prepared Raya spread of various appetisers, pasta, pastries and other delectable dishes.

Among the sea of well-wishers yesterday were Defence Attache Advisors from 22 countries, including Asean, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and France.

The Bulletin had the opportunity to speak to a handful of the well-wishers, one of whom was Pengiran Besar binti Pengiran Haji Umar, a former RBAF personnel (Persatuan Bekas Perajurit Negara Brunei Darussalam). She was one of the five female members of the association. She expressed her excitement at visiting the palace after 20 years, adding that in other parts of the world, such experience is rare.

Meanwhile, Pengiran Hajah Rosenani binti Pengiran Haji Halus, who came with her 11-year-old daughter, Ridzyani Hj Md Alamizan, told the Bulletin the annual open house is a much anticipated event, seeing people of all ages, status and background showing up at the palace in their best attire.

The long wait did little to dampen the spirits of the well-wishers.

The nearly 80-year-old Hajah Minah binti Pengarah Haji Basi from Kampong Setia was all smiles as she sat in a provided wheelchair waiting to extend her festive greetings to the royal family.

Unable to contain her excitement, she explained, “Although I have to be assisted by the paramedics and suffer from knee problems, it is not an obstacle for me and my family to come to the palace almost every year for the open house.” - Borneo Bulletin (31 July 2014)