BSB comes alive to greet HM

National 3 minutes, 19 seconds


THE Taman Sir Hj Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) was filled with thousands of visitors and performers at the last day of the meet and greet for His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam 68th birthday celebration yesterday.

The heart of the capital was full of excitement as primary school children lined up the roads, with the national mini flags in their hands, from the Lapau to the Taman Sir Hj Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, the site of the celebration.

Yesterday marked the last meet and greet event for the celebration held in the country’s four districts, which began with Belait district on August 17, followed by Tutong on August 19 and Temburong district on August 21.

The monarch’s 68th birthday celebration kicked off on August 1 and will continue until August 31.

The annual event, which was put off in July in deference to the fasting month of Ramadhan, saw performers participating in choreographed performances in front of His Majesty as their gift for the Sultan.

Even though the celebration was scheduled to begin at 9.15am, many visitors opted to arrive early in the capital .

Last minute check-ups from sound quality to the performers’ costumes were done to ensure the celebration went smoothly.

His Majesty’s arrival at the Taman was marked with the thundering sound of the traditional musical instrument hadrah, a sign for many who are familiar with it, that signalled for them to get the best spot around the Padang as the performance was to begin soon.

Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik and HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman greeted the monarch upon arrival in his capacity as the chairman for the National Committee for the celebrations. Also present was Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Halbi Hj Mohd Yusof.

The Royal dais that faced towards the performance, provided His Majesty and invited guests an excellent view of the entertainment by 768 performers made up of students and members of associations.

Three loud cheers of ‘Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik’ (Long Live His Majesty) after the national anthem marked the start of the celebration.

The Taman was awash with colourful costumes and the graceful movements of Brunei's traditional dance throughout the 45-minute performance.

At the end of the performance, as if an automatic switch was flicked on, a chain of people formed immediately along the stretch walkway provided by the celebration's organising committee . The line began at the main performance stage on the Taman until the Lapau building.

His Majesty spend around three hours mingling and shaking the hand of every men, women, elders and children who waited patiently for their turn to greet the monarch. No meet and greet celebration is complete without the monarch being showered with pesambah (gifts) as well as requests for pictures from the people.

The presence of the other male members of the Royal Family also meant that many visitors took the opportunity to shake their hands and capture these moments in their phone cameras for posterity.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin in an interview with The Brunei Times at the sideline of the celebration said the meet and greet was one of the national celebrations that instil the spirit of patriotism.

The minister said the celebration also teaches the youth and the elders the sense of belonging that we have as Bruneians.

“Patriotism in this context refers to the monarchy that has been our heritage for more than 600 years. It is a heritage that continues to be relevant in this modern age,” he said.

The Brunei Times