Nation full of pride as Brunei turns 30
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
CONFETTI and balloons rained down on the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium yesterday, as the Generasi Berwawasan (Visionary Generation) marked Brunei Darussalam’s 30th National Day with patriotic fervour.
More than 30,000 people filled the stadium to capacity, all to witness a significant milestone in the Sultanate’s history — 30 years of independence.
Traditionally, National Day celebrations are held at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, the same place where the late Sultan proclaimed Brunei an independent nation.
But 2014 called for a spectacle on a grander scale.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived at the venue at approximately 8.20am, dressed in the crisp blue uniform of the Royal Brunei Navy.
Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha also made a rare appearance at the National Day event, accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik and HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen, and HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel.
Several female members of the Royal Family also attended the celebrations, including HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, HRH Princess Azeemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, and HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah.
The strains of the national anthem Allah Peliharakan Sultan (Allah Bless His Majesty) rang out as thousands of citizens stood proudly in recognition of their king and country.
The Sultan then descended the royal dais to inspect the guard of honour.
To kick off the show, the marching bands from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Royal Brunei Police Force took to the field for a performance of the Hawaii Five-O theme song, garnering loud cheers from the crowd.
Fifteen military paratroopers then jumped from a Black Hawk helicopter, parachuting their way into the stadium, whipping up even more excitement.
Trainees from the National Service Scheme (PKBN) were also keen to demonstrate their skills by jumping through hoops of fire.
The gymnastics from the PKBN troops paved way for the fantastic field performance from students aged eight to 16, who braved the fierce mid-morning heat to raise placards and flags depicting symbols of “Identiti Bangsa” (national identity).
The students swiftly changed formations to illustrate a map of the sultanate; a seven-petalled flower representing the different indigenous groups of Brunei; and a red heart.
The audience seated in the grandstand then watched the procession of 136 groups — representing different sectors of society — in the traditional march past.
More than 26,000 people — including uniformed personnel, government agencies, schools, non-profit organisations and community associations — participated in the parade.
As the groups marched by, the “human LED” display lit up the grandstands, donning brightly-coloured tshirts to perform mexican waves throughout the stadium.
As the march past concluded, the oath readers came out on field to read the national pledge, led by Hj Mohammad Noor Hj Abdul Rahman, an assistant superintendant with the Royal Brunei Police Force.
“I feel honoured to lead the oath recitation for this national day celebration... It took about one month to prepare for the marching as well as the voice projection,” he told The Brunei Times.
“On the day itself, it’s really a challenge under the hot sun, even though we have a lot of practice, but the actual day is tough.”
After the recitation of the oath was complete, three cries of “Allahu Akbar” rang out through the stadium, in keeping with the tradition started in 1984.
The event closed with a final performance by the students, with a Royal Brunei (RB) airlines aircraft flying past the stadium with the theme of 2014’s celebrations - “Generasi Berwawasan” — emblazoned on its side.
Altogether, 12,600 students participated in various performances, including the field show, human LED, choir, hadrah, and flag-waving.
Pg Mohd Azlan Pg Hj Tengah, a member of the National Day committee, said the show had far exceeded expectations.
“We were hoping that the weather will hold and alhamdulilah, we had fantastic weather... Overall we are very happy and proud with the students and performers.
The grand finale was the main event and the two and a half hours of waiting was worth it. It was not easy to train the thousands of the performers and we are so proud of them,” he said. (Additional reporting by Rasidah HAB)
The Brunei Times