The quaint nation of Brunei Darussalam entered its 34th year of Independence on 1st January 2018. As an annual event, the people around the Sultanate would come together to celebrate this glorious milestone along with our beloved Sultan himself. The celebration this year was held on 24th February 2018 at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien where Bruneians from all walks of life culminate into a patriotic crowd at the capital.
It was as early as four in the morning when the vendors from all the districts arrived at the capital to prepare stalls for the event. By 6am, thousands of people in a plethora of costumes had already flocked together at the capital in excitement. They were all eagerly waiting for the sound of the marching bands, marking the start of the preparations for the march past line-up.
At around 8.30 in the morning, the arrival announcement of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was made and promptly followed by the National Anthem. His Majesty then consented to personally inspect the guard of honour as of tradition except that this year, the female officers also joined the guards. This was a first in our National Day’s long history.
The event then moved on to the march past, starting with the marching bands from the different participating groups in the uniformed units. The march past consisted of 138 contingents with around 30000 participants. This ranges from the ministries, uniform groups, education institutions, governments and non-government associations taking part in the march. Smiles and flag-waving commenced as they passed His Majesty showing their spirit of loyalty to the Sultan and country.
The area was further livened by the reading of the ikrar which resonated throughout the field; this pledge brought out a sense of patriotism to the atmosphere. This was then followed by the cultural performances from the different age groups belonging to various institutions such as primary schools, the uniformed group of Program Khidmat Bakti Negara (PKBN) and plenty others.
The cultural performances used patriotic songs which rouses the crowd. Showing their love for His Majesty and the country, the participants formed a human mosaic of the National Crest along with His Majesty’s face no less. A vibrant wave of the National Flag marks the end of the brilliant performance as attendees’ thundering claps resonated throughout the field. It was truly a spectacular and symbolic performance for this year’s Independence Day.
Before leaving, the Sultan didn’t want to miss the opportunity to interact with his people as he went to the performers for a meet and greet session. The performers reciprocated by rushing up for a handshake and to take pictures with the benevolent leader. It was definitely a sight that shows the people’s love for His Majesty and vice versa.
The grand celebration subsided with visitors and performers taking pictures at the SOAS field as a prized memory of the event. With this year’s theme of “Achieving the National Vision”, the amount of youth joining the event will surely be an encouraging factor for the development of the country towards Wawasan 2035.