“Allahu Akbar!” True to traditions practiced since Brunei first declared independence in 1984, praise for the Almighty punctuated the mid-morning celebration in downtown Bandar today marking Brunei Darussalam’s 34th National Day.
More than 20,000 people were caught up in the National Day fervour, after weeks of practice culminated in the grand parade at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien.
The national event saw His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and members of the royal family join in to witness the patriotic zeal.
Dressed in the Royal Brunei Armed Forces’ Supreme Commander uniform, the monarch saluted as the national anthem, Allah Peliharakan Sultan, played, before he inspected the guard of honor. In a first, female officers of the Royal Brunei Police Force participated in the guard of honour, a role usually reserved for their male counterparts.
The overcast weather soon cleared up, allowing schoolchildren, government and private sector employees and members of NGOs to march on in the annual procession.
His Majesty stood at attention for more than two hours, standing to acknowledge the 138 groups — representing all sections of Brunei society — who marched past the royal dias.
The parade concluded with a contingent led by Her Royal Highness Princess Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, a bronze medalist for polo at the last SEA Games. The group comprised people who have brought pride to the nation such as paratheletes, youth leaders and national qari and qariah champions.
Organisers said the final contingent is testament that Brunei can produce youth who are able to compete in the global arena — moving towards achieving the national vision 2035.
Thirty-four individuals then took to the field to recite the National Day oath, led by an officer from the Fire and Rescue Department, Pg Azizul Rahman Pg Hj Yusop. In a show of inclusiveness the team included the differently-abled, with a member of the National Association of the Deaf (OKP) seen signing the oath in front of the thousands-strong crowd.
Speaking to The Scoop after the event, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports stressed the importance of inclusiveness in planning for the country’s future, which include youth’s participation in formulating policies and strategies.
“We also have to provide a platform for them. It’s a two-way thing,” said Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin .
“The youth have to be brave, as what was highlighted by His Majesty. Youth have to be very brave in putting out their point of views,” he said, referring to the monarch’s National Day titah on Tuesday, which urged youth to take up leadership roles in the community.
He added that while there are several existing platforms for dialogue between the youth and the government, they need to be revamped.
“We would like to hear their point of view… We have to revitalise the youth assembly and council,” he said. “The [youth] is going to lead the next generation, the 2035 vision in 17 years. Seventeen years is not that long [to go].”
Watch out National Day video here: