“This celebration is ours to share — between myself as king and the people of Brunei,” His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said in his Golden Jubilee titah earlier this morning.
The sultan said October 5 marked one of Brunei’s most historic moments — the 50th anniversary of his accession to the throne: “My history is also the history of our people and our country.”
Outside of the Istana Nurul Iman, clouds hung low, providing shade to the 80,000 people who gathered in the heart of the capital in anticipation of the Golden Jubilee procession.
Waves of greetings echoed through the streets: “Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik! Daulat!” (Long live the king). The loud cheers started as soon as His Majesty stepped onto his gilded chariot in front of the Bandar Fire and Rescue station.
His Majesty and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha were seated on the Usongan Diraja (royal chariot) which was drawn by 50 selected personnel down a five-kilometre route.
Their majesties were joined on the chariot by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, HRH Prince ‘Abdul ‘Azim, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik, HRH Prince Abdul Mateen, HRH Prince Abdul Wakeel and HRH Princess Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah.
Steeped in the sort of tradition reserved only for royal ceremonies, tourists and residents alike stood in awe of the beating of drums and elaborate show of gold and silver armory such as the Kalasak (shield) and Kampilan (dagger).
For 70-year-old Hjh Jamilah Hj Wayan, bearing witness to the historic Golden Jubilee procession was worth her commute from Kuala Belait.
The senior citizen also made the trip to the capital when His Majesty was installed as king in 1967 and again in 1992 during his Silver Jubilee celebrations.
“I came down from KB in 1967, in 1992 (for Silver Jubilee) and Alhamdulillah, today I get to see His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee. It’s different every time… There are more people this time around too, compared to 25 and 50 years ago,” she said.
What hasn’t changed, she said, was the high spirits and love for both king and country: “It makes me feel proud to be Bruneian.”
Hjh Jamilah said that she is thankful for the progress the country has enjoyed over the last 50 years.
“During 60s, 70s and 80s, it would take more than two hours to drive to Bandar. Now it takes less than 90 minutes thanks to the new highway and recently opened Seria Bypass.”
Leading the royal procession was the Grand Chamberlain, followed by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Forces marching bands. The parade was living testament to the country’s 600-year-old monarchy, said a senior regalia keeper who rode in the entourage.
“Brunei is well known for its customs and traditions in the region because we continue to practice and strengthen them,” said Pengarah Hj Ibrahim Hj Yussuf, who began his service with the Adat Istiadat Negara Department in 1992.
Together with his colleague, Pengarah Hj Ibrahim was tasked with guarding the Changkah (giant two-pronged spear) onboard a customised vehicle which was part of the royal procession.
Yesterday’s event brought back fond memories for Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Hj Hashim Hj Zainal Abidin. A member of the Retired Military Personnel Association, the 74-year-old was on duty during His Majesty’s coronation ceremony in August 1961.
“I was just an ordinary army (officer) back then and we were tasked with ensuring the safety of the people,” he said. Before his retirement in 1992, he rose through the ranks to become Commandant of the Training Institute of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces .
“Today’s event is one that will be talked about for years to come. Alhamdulilah, I was given the chance to experience the Silver Jubilee in 1992, and now, this Golden Jubilee.”
An expatriate from the Australian army, who has been living in Brunei for the past 10 months, brought his family and friends to catch a glimpse of the monarch.
Major Keeran told The Scoop this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the golden jubilee celebration of a monarch, and was happy to share it with his loved ones.
“Being in the army, I love history and so I really loved the ceremonial traditions that took place just now. I have never seen anything like this before,’’ he said.
The major said he was glad to see the Bruneian community gather in large numbers to cheer on the monarch and join in the celebrations.
Throughout the month of October, several events will to be held to mark the historic occasion of His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee, including the opening of the Sungai Kebun bridge on October 14 and the launching of the BSB Eco-Corridor on October 22.
Tomorrow evening Their Majesties will host a lavish state banquet for invited guests, including leaders from ASEAN countries, as well as British, Malaysian and Middle-Eastern royalty.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah is the 29th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, and was installed as Sultan on October 5, 1967, following the voluntary abdication of his late father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien. The sovereign was crowned the 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on August 1, 1968.
The Sultan is also the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam.