Sultan graces HSBC banquet
By Aemy Azlena & Yusrin Junaidi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night consented to attend a banquet held in celebration of the 60 years HSBC has been in Brunei at the Plenary Hall of the International Convention Centre.

Also present at the banquet were 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, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Sarah, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Malik and other members of the royal family.

His Majesty and the royal family were greeted on their arrival by Mr Stephen Green, the Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc, Mr Vincent Cheng, Chairman of HSBC Asia Pacific, and Mr Tareq Muhmood, CEO of HSBC in Brunei.

The royalty witnessed a rousing welcoming dance entitled "Berdatang Sembah Menjunjung Duli" performed by dancers in colourful attire.

This was followed by a welcoming speech by Mr Green who reminisced about the growth and development of HSBC Brunei along with Brunei over the past 60 years.

Their 'shared history', as Mr Green described it, started since 1974 when His Majesty consented to open their head office, to HSBC being the early adviser to the Brunei Government in Islamic Banking and even by playing its small yet significant role in the development of the country's economy.

Mr Green touched upon a number of developments seen in HSBC's growth including the contribution by the Brunei Processing Centre in Jerudong, the 24/7 services provided by their branches and the new HSBC business banking centre to support small and medium enterprises. He also spoke about the roles played by members of HSBC in the community, especially through the youth and education initiatives of 'HSBC Cares' programme.

"Your Majesty and His Government deserve enormous credit for bringing peace, prosperity and happiness to the people of Brunei," he said and expressed his support in His Majesty's ambition to "make the country a recognised centre for financial services and a world leader in the Sukuk market", as well as His Majesty's emphasis that Brunei should diversify its economy to become less reliant on oil and gas reserves.

He further praised His Majesty's stance in protecting the world's precious resources with initiatives such as the Heart of Borneo project saying that Brunei is in very capable hands. Mr Green said he was confident about Brunei's future.

He gave HSBC's support towards the country's economic growth and added that the bank will do everything it can to enhance its position as Brunei's leading bank.

A special video was played showcasing the 60 years HSBC has been in Brunei, its growth, changes and achievements since its establishment in 1947.

To enliven the night, a number of stage performances were held by HSBC staff members and local artistes to entertain the hundreds of guests. A special guest artiste from Indonesia, Rossa, serenaded guests with songs from her album.

Among the performers were Ak Shahminan performing 'Naindung Pulau', Pepeh performing 'Kasih', Dk Nurulqalbi performing 'Sakura', Maria performing 'Bisikan Hati', Faten performing 'Puteri Panggung', Normaya performing a duet with Ak Shahminan called 'Selasihku Sayang' and members of HSBC staff.

Also present at the event were Cabinet Ministers from various ministries, VVIPs, special guests, as well as the members of HSBC group.

At the conclusion of the night's festivities, His Majesty and the royal family consented to mingle with HSBC management and staff. - Borneo Bulletin (14th Jan 2008)