Disabled elderly greet royals at Istana

National 2 minutes, 1 second


FAMILIES with disabled elders were among the group of well-wishers at Istana Nurul Iman during the second day of the royal family’s annual Hari Raya meet and greet.

Waiting patiently to greet His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, and other members of the royal family was a self-employed 26-year-old, Jofri Mohammad Zainal.

Paralysed from the waist below after a car accident that occured six years ago, the Belait resident said he and his family came all the way from Seria to wish the monarch ‘Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri’.

“We departed as early as 8am but couldn’t make it in time for the morning session so we’ve been waiting since then to greet His Majesty,” said Jofri.

Accompanying Jofri was Azmin Mohammad Zainal, his younger brother.

Azmin said they didn’t mind waking up extra early and waiting in line to meet with the monarch.

“It is a once a year affair. Getting to _salam _and meet our beloved monarch will make our day,” said Azmin.

Coming all the way from Miri, Malaysia, was Jita Hj Bakar and her grandchild, Nurul Masriana Masri.

Being confined to a wheelchair did not stop Jita from meeting with the royal family.

The 86-year-old said she has always wanted to meet Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha, adding that she was unable to visit last year as she was unwell.

“I don’t mind traveling from far and waiting in line just to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty and the royal family. It’s such an honour to be here today,” she said.

Another disabled person, Pg Hjh Mariam Pg Hj Cucu said it was an honour to be able to meet the queen for the first time, adding that she has been anticipating the open house at the Istana for years, but never got the chance to visit.

“His Majesty is very generous to welcome everyone to his home where guests are served with a wide selection of food before queuing up to meet the royal family. It is so unique. I don’t think there is treatment like this anywhere else in the world,” said the 70-year-old.

Pg Hjh Mariam also lauded the palace for being ‘wheelchair-accessible’.

Alhamdulilah, people like me who are in wheelchairs can move easily, we appreciate the ramps,” she said.

The Brunei Times