Brunei's day of great joy
By M K Anwar

"Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" will be echoed across the sultanate as the nation celebrates His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's 60th Birthday today.

Brunei has been a kaleidoscope of colour with lively lights and arches placed at various strategic locations. Preparations had been in full swing in all four districts since weeks ago and have now reached a fever pitch with everything spruced up to herald the big occasion.

Preparations are also noticeably high this year with a spectrum of events lined up for the celebration of the beloved ruler's birthday.

Continuing with tradition, the celebration began last night with mass Maghrib and Isyak prayers together with a 'bertahlil' and the 'doa kesyukuran' or thanksgiving prayers to express gratitude to Allah the Almighty for showering blessings on the Monarch and the nation.

Thousands thronged the Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Kiulap as well as other mosques and religious halls in the country. His Majesty the Sultan has also consented to join his loyal subjects to perform mass prayers at the Jame' Asr.

Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Azim, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Malik and His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Mateen.

The rakyat meanwhile will again join His Majesty the Sultan at the ceremonial guard of honour to mark the start of the Royal Birthday Celebrations this morning at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital.

At the parade, His Majesty will receive the royal salute as the traditional 21-gun salute echoes simultaneously. The Monarch will then view the parade.

More than 500 personnel of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, the Royal Brunei Police Force, uniformed departments and voluntary organisations are taking part in the parade.

The occasion will climax with an air display of 13 helicopters and aircraft of the Royal Brunei Air Force and most prominently the call of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" by parade participants and the people.

This morning's ceremony also signals the start of various programmes to mark His Majesty's month-long birthday celebration. Each district has arranged its own special events, which include cultural, religious, sports and stage shows.

The morning parade would be followed by the audience and an investiture ceremony where His Majesty would accord honours on outstanding people with meritorious titles and awards at the Istana Nurul Iman.

His Majesty will also address the nation in a much-awaited Royal titah from the palace Throne Room. A state banquet will be then held in the evening followed by a display of fireworks.

The much-anticipated event during the birthday celebration will be the meet the people session or 'bersama rakyat' session scheduled in every district. It's an event that must not be missed as it will provide the citizens with ample opportunity to mingle closely with their beloved ruler.

The first such occasion will be held on July 17 in the Tutong District. Themed 'Semarak Kasih Menjunjung Duli', His Majesty will be treated to an array of cultural performances and an exhibition at the Seri Kenangan Hall of the Tutong Community Hall.

July 19 will be the Temburong District's turn to greet His Majesty. The event carrying the theme 'Imbasan Kenangan Di Bumi Hijau', will be held at the Temburong Community Hall's open field.

With the theme 'Gemilang 60', the citizens and residents of Belait District will meet and greet His Majesty at its Bandaran Field on July 22. The Brunei Muara District will be the last to host this much-awaited event on July 23 at the Taman Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital.

The schedule for the event includes a tug of war competition and a field performance entitled 'Taat Kepada Raja' by students and those in the public and private sector.

His Majesty will also be presenting prizes to the winner of the Heavy Weight and Light Weight champions of the tug-of-war competition.

Another important event to mark the birthday will be the Convention of Knowledge or "Majlis Ilmu" on July 20 at the International Convention Centre. Coming into its second installment, the convention, organised by the Prime Minister's Office, will carry the theme "Sovereign Monarch, Blessed Nation and People on Righteous Direction".

The convention is planned as a platform to support the monarch's leadership and his desire to develop knowledge among people with blessings from Allah the Almighty.

It will also be an event to show appreciation, to generate ideas and create awareness among the general public that will preserve the sovereignty of the monarch.

Another interesting item will be 'Malam Serumpun Seri 60' featuring a float procession, tug-of-war, cultural show and another fireworks display on August 5 at the Taman in the capital.

With state dignitaries of friendly nations among the invited guests, security has also been stepped up in the coming weeks and the main event is now in full gear during the celebration.

Not to miss anything, various enforcement agencies are organising inspections and raids across the four districts, on land and on the Brunei waters. - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2006)