By Liza Mohd
The get-together ceremony in Belait District brings out the people's spirit of loyalty for His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as reflected by the number of people who took part in the field performances and the crowds who turned up to have an opportunity to shake hands with the beloved monarch.
It was a day not to be missed, as schools in the district were closed and business ordered to be shut until 2pm. This allowed people from all walks of life to attend the grand ceremony.
Twenty-one-year-old Dayang Noora Hekahanim binte Musa, who hails from Brunei-Muara District, said that she was amazed with the huge number of people who took part in yesterday's field performances.
Dayang Noora Hekahanim is a student of Jefri Bolkiah College of Engineering in Belait, and it was her first time representing Belait for the annual show.
As Belait is the largest district in the country with eight mukims, residents from the isolated inland areas who did not want to miss the grand opportunity to greet His Majesty also made their way to Padang Bandaran Kuala Belait.
An elderly couple - Hj Nurdin bin Othman, 84, and his wife, Hjh Miri binte Abdullah, 73 - travelled all the way from Kampong Labi to the Padang to witness the grand celebration.
Although Hj Nurdin had recently undergone a leg operation, it did not deter him from missing out on the opportunity to meet His Majesty to personally thank the ruler for his contributions to the elderly through the government's pension scheme.
The get together ceremony with His Majesty is also seen as a tourist attraction, as this is the only chance for the people to get up close with the caring monarch.
BSP Pilot Captain Simon Turner from Cornwall, England has been in the country for over a year and was among the thousands of people who waited at the tents from 8am to greet His Majesty. He was accompanied by his wife and two sons who are currently on vacation in the Sultanate.
"It is a perfect timing for both my sons to be here, as they can witness the grand celebration. It is going to be our first time to catch a glimpse of the ruler, and we are excited!" said Mr Turner.
As a symbolic gesture to mark His Majesty's 60th birthday, the BSP parade group literally brought back the fashion of the 60's by dressing up in cowboy outfits.
The group leader, Hj Abed bin Hj Abd Hamid, noted that this was their way of contributing to the annual celebration.
Foreign journalists from Thailand who are in the country for a three-day visit for the Majlis Ilmu exhibition in the Brunei-Muara District were also spotted covering the mass event in Belait yesterday.
They, too, were surprised with the huge turnout, as they thought Belait was as isolated district in the country.
The get-together ceremony yesterday was a grand show of unity, where people from different race, religion and nationality came together as one to pay homage to His Majesty.
- Borneo Bulletin
(23rd July 2006)