Show of patriotism
By Sonia K and James Kon

The spirit of patriotism and national pride flew high amidst the perfect sunny weather yesterday as thousands converged the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien to celebrate at Brunei Darussalam's 23rd National Day, led by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam.

Arriving to a rousing welcome to attend the mass gathering at the Taman, His Majesty was greeted with rhythmic sounds of the hadrah and cheers from flag-waving school children who lined up along the route towards the Taman.

Accompanying His Majesty to the event were His Royal Highness Prince General Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Malik and HRH Prince Abdul Mateen.

On arrival, His Majesty and the royal family were greeted by Pehin Major General (Rtd) Dato Awang Haji Mohammad bin Haji Daud, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, who is the Executive Committee Chairman of 23rd Brunei National Day Celebration and other members of the committee.

Shortly after arrival, His Majesty was given the Royal Salute followed by the playing of the national anthem. His Majesty inspected the guard of honour comprised of personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Force accompanied by the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi Md Yussof and the Commissioner of Police, Pehin Datu Kerma Setia Dato Paduka Seri Zainuddin Jalani.

Amidst the accompaniment of a medley of patriotic songs from the Brunei Darussalam national choir and the marching bands, some 16,000 people in 111 teams consisting of students, uniformed personnel, government officials and private sector representatives began the march past in the National Day parade led by a giant-sized national flag carried by 47 participants.

This was followed by the reading of the National Day oath led by Ak Hj Mohd Hasnan bin Pg Hj Ali Hassan.

Together, united in one voice, the oath was supported by other representatives from the public and private sectors in renewing the commitment, loyalty and solidarity of the people to His Majesty and his leadership and at the same time to further maintain the sovereignty, peace and security of the country.

This year's national day's theme is "IItizam Memperkasa Keupayaan Bangsa" or "Commitment Empowering the Nation's capabilities". The theme is in relation with three previous national day themes namely "Patriotisme Teras Keteguhan Negara", "Bersepadu Memperkasa Mandiri Bangsa" and "Mempertingkatkan Daya Saing Bangsa" for the year 2004, 2005 and 2006 respectively.

The highlight of the National Day gathering was the large-scale performance participated by 7,850 people, which included 2,800 students and various sectors from the local communities.

First, was the "Corak Warna Warni Negara" pattern, signifying the nation's resources such as human and natural resources.

This was followed by "Rentak 7 Puak" which shows the nation's racial harmony. The performance of " Tanah Airku" demonstrating the love for the nation and the last segment entitled " Ikhlas Iitizam" demonstrated the country's dedication and unity in realising the theme of the national day "Commitment Empowering the Nation's capabilities"

Numerous rehearsals prior to the main event have tremendously helped tune the performance into perfection. The dedication and commitment of the participants displayed their patriotic spirit and earned the applause of those witnessing the event.

Thousands of people from all walks of life arrived at the Taman as early as 6 in the morning to get a good spot to witness the celebration. Meanwhile, 2,000 miniature national flags were distributed to attendees at the Taman. (25th February 2007)