BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Celebrations for National Day were subdued this year due to the third wave of COVID-19 currently sweeping Brunei, with the size of the annual parade scaled down significantly.
Around 3,800 people took part in the march-past, with participants representing a range of government agencies, community groups and sporting associations.
This year’s parade also featured COVID-19 frontliners to highlight their efforts in combating the pandemic.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and other male members of the royal family also took part in the celebration.
The field performance which usually caps off the event was scaled down to just 2,500 participants.
Past performances typically involved schoolchidren, but this year kids under 12 were nowhere to be seen as safety protocols dictated that all participants be fully vaccinated.
Other restrictions were also put in place to ensure public safety, such as mandatory ART testing and limiting public seats to just 200.
Daily COVID-19 cases reached another record high on Tuesday with 3,251 cases reported.
On the eve of national day, the monarch delivered his annual titah which highlighted the progress and challenges the country has faced during 38 years of independence.
“The coronavirus outbreak has tested our patience and the country’s capability to curb this pandemic,” His Majesty said.
“We recognise that economic recovery also requires precautionary measures, such as easing restrictions that previously affected economic activity and forced public and private sectors to adopt the use of information technology in daily life.
“This accelerated the need for us to strengthen digital transformation to ensure that the new normal can be implemented effectively,” he said.
The sultan also outlined the country’s most significant achievements, including the construction of the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Bridge which connects Brunei-Muara with Temburong.
His Majesty added that the Temburong District Development Authority has been established to plan projects — such as large-scale agriculture and eco-tourism — to spur economic development of the once-isolated district.