Royalty treated to colourful extravaganza
By Rosli Abidin Yahya, Achong Tanjong & Za'im Zaini

Some 50,000 spectators converged at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien in the capital to witness the four-in-one colourful extravaganza 'Malam Serumpun Seri 60' last Saturday night.

Attended by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and other members of the royal family, the large number of people crowding in and around the capital showed their undivided loyalty, respect and support to their beloved ruler who turned 60 on July 15.

The sound of bagpipes swirled through the air as the bands from Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Royal Brunei Police Force, Prisons Department, and Fire and Rescue Department performed, while portraits of His Majesty adorned the front end of floats during the procession. There were also other floats that highlighted various environmental issues such as the conservation of turtles and the importance of having a clean environment.

Besides the lively performances, a grand fireworks display lit the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan.

The centre stage at the Taman featured local and foreign artistes and dancers to entertain the crowd that brought a befitting end to the celebration.

Emceed by Shahrian Masri and Norbaizura Andy, the stage performances were backed by lively dancers, Sher'Warna's dancers as well as those from the Cultural Body of Wilayah Lampong in Sumatra.

The Malam Serumpun Seri 60 committee had earlier agreed that this year's grand celebration should be participated by groups from all four districts.

The three-in-one show from Temburong District demonstrated the solidarity and unity of the Malay, Murut and Iban communities in the district, while Tutong District displayed a mixture of traditional and contemporary dance routines showing the diverse cultures of the district comprising Malay, Dusun, Iban, Kedayan and ethnic Tutong.

As for Belait District, the Brunei Shell Cultural Movement displayed contemporary dangdut dances and belted out a song entitled "Gadis Melayu".

The show began with local artistes rendering a song specially composed for His Majesty, "Semerbak Kasih Meniti Usia", which was composed by Hans Anwar and lyrics penned by Majid Alias.

PDS School, known for its affirmation to curricular activities especially in performing arts, presented "Grease Medley", an adaptation of the 1979 film 'Grease', which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.

Child prodigies Pei Pei, Voon Voon and Sabrina captivated the audience with several songs before Sri Nazrina and Fakhrul Razi appeared onstage to sing "Tidak Ada Logika" and "Amarin".

However, it was performances by the stars of Akademi Fantasia (AF) from Malaysia and Indonesia that the crowd had been eagerly anticipating.

Malaysian AF2 stars Farah and Adam serenaded the crowd with three songs, while Indonesian AF2 star Tia belted out four songs entitled "Dendang Dendang", "Laksamana Raja Di Laut", "Poco-Poco" and "Kenangan Terindah".

At the end of the show, all participants performed in the grand finale 'Gemale Sari'. For the performers, the highlight of the night was when His Majesty went onstage to meet them.

The chairman of the show, Pg Hj Abu Bakar Pg Hj Othman, who spoke on behalf of the committee, thanked all the performers for their effort in making the event a successful one.

Meanwhile, His Majesty consented to present prizes to teams who took part in the 1st Asean Invitational Traditional Tug-of-War Championship, which was held in conjunction with His Majesty's 60th birthday celebration.

Brunei Darussalam National Team, which was represented by Royal Brunei Police Force, did the country proud when they emerged as the overall champion after beating the Malaysia team in the final. The Malaysian team was represented by the Royal Malaysian Police Force.

The Brunei team received the "Sultan Trophy", a cash prize of $10,000 and medals. The first-runner up, Malaysia team, received a trophy, $7,000 and medals, while the third place winner, Indonesia team received a trophy, $5,000 and medals after defeating Thailand team.

Meanwhile, the other teams from Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam each received consolation prizes of $1,000 and a trophy.

The competition was hosted by Brunei Darussalam and jointly organised by the National Committee of His Majesty's 60th Birthday Celebration and the Brunei Darussalam Tug-of-War Association. - Borneo Bulletin (7th August 2006)