Sultan attends birthday banquet by diplomatic corps
By Sonia K

Heads of the Diplomatic Missions gathered to sing a birthday song to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night when he consented to attend a banquet they hosted in honour of His Majesty's 60th birthday at the Royal Berkshire Hall, Jerudong Park Country Club.

Accompanying His Majesty to the banquet were Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, HRH Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar, HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah the Crown Prince, HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, HRH Princess Hajah Masna as well as YAM Pg Lela Cheteria Sahibul Najabah Pg Anak Hj Abdul Aziz.

Welcoming His Majesty and the royal entourage were the group of diplomats and spouses who are currently head of missions to Brunei Darussalam here in Bandar Seri Begawan, led by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Dr. Bounthong Vongsaly, the Ambassador of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The royalties were also greeted by the Deputy Dean of the Diplomatic Missions and Philippine Ambassador Mrs Virginia H Benavidez, as well as Mr Y Nisaka who is the Japanese Ambassador to Brunei and his spouse Madame Nisaka at the Royal Lounge.

Following the arrival of Their Majesties and Their Royal Highnesses to the Royal Berkshire Hall, the National Anthem was played, and the Dean of diplomatic corps made a welcoming address. In it, Dr Vongsaly expressed the gratitude of the corps for the opportunity to extend their birthday greetings to His Majesty in person. He added that the collected Ambassadors and High Commissioners had admired the progress of Brunei Darussalam under His Majesty's leadership and the constructive stance taken by His Majesty's Government on many international issues, including terrorism, the UN's Millennium Development Goals and Brunei's contribution to stability and progress in South East Asia.

"We are grateful for Brunei's contributions to stability and progress in Southeast Asia, especially for Your Majesty having consented to Brunei's continued participation in peace monitoring missions in neighbouring countries. Closer to home, many of us here tonight are privileged to be present when Your Majesty opened the Second Session of the State Legislative Council, another milestone achieved under your leadership and guidance," he said.

Following the Dean's speech, the Heads of the Diplomatic Missions gathered to sing a birthday song. His Majesty then consented to cut a birthday cake and receive a gift of a crystal sword presented by the Dean on behalf of all Heads of Missions. Entertainment during the dinner was provided by the Heads of Missions Choir, PDS School Students and the Seri Irama vocal group. - Borneo Bulletin (25th July 2006)