52 distinguished persons honoured

National 3 minutes, 9 seconds


FIFTY-TWO people were bestowed state decorations yesterday by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the occasion of his 66th birthday.

Hundreds of guests, including members of the Bruneian and Jordanian royal families, chief ministers from neighbouring Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak, and other foreign dignitaries, witnessed the annual investiture ceremony at Istana Nurul Iman.

Awarded one of the highest honours was Deputy Police Commissioner Bahrin Mohd Noor, who received The Most Gallant Order of Pahlawan Negara Brunei (PSPNB 1st class), which carries the title Dato Seri Pahlawan.

The Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Panglima Hj Musa Hj Aman was conferred The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Seri Laila Jasa (SPMB 1st class), carrying the title Dato Seri Paduka.

Also receiving a top honour was Dato Paduka Samuel Yapp Kai San, who was awarded The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei (DSNB 2nd class), carrying the title Dato Setia. Yapp was one of Brunei's first medical graduates and has been serving within the Ministry of Health for over 40 years.

"I am extremely grateful (for receiving this honour) but it was unexpected because I got my Dato-ship more than 24 years ago," he told The Brunei Times. "Officially, I've retired but I'm still working on contract within RIPAS hospital as a consultant surgeon."

A further nine people including Petronas President and CEO Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abas and Mitsubishi Corporation CEO and president Ken Kobayashi were awarded the The Most Distinguished Order of Paduka Seri Laila Jasa (DSLJ 2nd class), carrying the title Dato Seri Laila Jasa.

One of the recipients of DSLJ, Dr Maliakel John Alexander, came from India 26 years ago to work in Brunei as a gastroenterology specialist.

"Our experience in Brunei has been a very good one... As long as we are healthy, we will work here then retire. I'm very glad (to receive this honour) and I will continue to serve Brunei," he said.

Eleven people were conferred the The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei (DPMB second class), carrying the title Dato Paduka. Recipients included senior government and religious officials.

One of those awarded was Brunei's ambassador to China, Magdalene Teo.

"It's a tremendous honour to receive this honour from His Majesty, it is totally unexpected so a lot of credit goes to my ministers at work and bosses and all my colleagues who work very hard to support me in my career," she said. "I'm actually receiving it not just by myself but also because of their support... I'm very thankful to those concerned."

She added: "I will continue to serve the government to the best of my abilities and am totally committed to work for the well-being of the country."

A further three people were awarded The Most Eminent Order of Islam Brunei (SSUB third class) and 26 were awarded The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei (SNB third class).

Following the investiture ceremony, His Majesty and Her Majesty held joint audiences for visiting foreign dignitaries, beginning with Her Royal Highness Princess Datin Laila Utama Basma Talal of Jordan and her husband, Dato Seri Setia Al-Sayed Walid Ismail Al-Kurdi.

The monarch and the Raja Isteri then met with chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, accompanied by their spouses; Indonesia's Education Minister Dr Muhammad Nuh; Philippines' National Defence Secretary Voltaire Tuvera Gazmin; Singapore's Transport Minister Lui Teck Yew; Thailand's Minister of Energy Arak Chonlatanond and Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office also held a separate audience with Canada's Minister Baird.

The Brunei Times