Envoys host banquet for His Majesty
By Sonia K

A banquet in honour of His Majesty's 61st birthday was organised by the resident Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Brunei Darussalam at the Royal Berkshire Hall, Jerudong Park Country Club last night.

His Majesty was accompanied by Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minster's Office, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and YAM Pg Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Hj Abdul Aziz.

Welcoming His Majesty and the royal entourage were a group of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and their spouses led by Acting Dean of Diplomatic Corps Mrs Virginia H Benavidez, the Ambassador of the Philippines.

Following the arrival of Their Majesties and Their Royal Highnesses to the Berkshire Hall, the National Anthem of Brunei was played and the Acting Dean of Diplomatic Corps made a welcoming address.

In her address, Ambassador Mrs Benavidez expressed the gratitude of the diplomatic community for the opportunity to extend their birthday greetings to His Majesty in person.

As this year marks the 40th anniversary of His Majesty's ascension to the throne, she said ambassadors and high commissioners admire the progress of Brunei Darussalam under His Majesty's leadership. She also lauded the efforts taken by His Majesty's Government on many international issues such as the Heart of Borneo environmental initiative, contributions to the reconstruction of Lebanon and Aceh, the fight against global terrorism and His Majesty's participation in Asean, East Asia, BIMP-EAGA, Apec, Asem and OIC Summit Meetings over the past year.

"Brunei Darussalam has also hosted important international meetings, such as the recent Asean Economic Ministers Meeting, which was followed by the launching of trade negotiations with major international partners. We welcome the holding of the highly successful first-ever defence exhibition and forum, BRIDEX 2007, held in May and the International Halal Products Expo last August," the Philippines Ambassador said.

Following the Dean's speech, the Heads of Diplomatic Missions gathered for a birthday song. His Majesty then consented to cut the birthday cake and received a gift, presented by the Acting Dean on behalf of all Heads of Missions.

A light music performance during the dinner was provided by two talented children, a local singer and Filipino pianist.

Before leaving, His Majesty and the royal entourage consented for a group photo with the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and their spouses.

Also present at the dinner last night were Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials. - Borneo Bulletin (26th July 2007)