MEN in Jazz, a multi award-winning jazz band from Hong Kong, was in the country recently to give a performance at the Youth Centre in the capital and as part of the final leg of their Asean tour.
The successful event, organised by Brunei Enterprise (BE) in partnership with ELCHK, was held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee celebration of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Accession to the Throne, said a press release.
The band, comprising over 30 Hong Kong citizens, performed orchestra music consisting of tunes from ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘I Will Follow You’ and ‘Rasa Sayang’ in front of an audience made up of young professionals, secondary and primary students, corporate officers and more.
The group performed in Singapore and Miri prior to their Brunei visit.
Men in Jazz was formed by the ECLHK to provide a platform for senior citizens in Hong Kong to learn musical instruments and perform in front of the public.
Since its inception in 2011, the group has performed to over 100,000 people in and around Asia. The performance at the Youth Centre marked the first time Men in Jazz has ever played in Brunei.
Members of the band found Brunei interesting. “The whole group, including myself, really love the atmosphere of the night market in Gadong,” said Billie Lau Chung, ECLHK’s service director.
“We especially enjoyed the various types of durian sold there, particularly the red-coloured ones.”
For many of the Hong Kongers, it was their first time visiting Brunei. Some said that they would gladly return to visit the country again with their family members and friends.
Lin Ka Chun, a member of the band, praised the beauty of Brunei’s green environment as well as the country’s ever-growing infrastructure, such as Brunei International Airport and the night market, projects which he said “are attributed to His Majesty’s wise leadership and foresight”.
Lin also mentioned that he had in fact visited Brunei seven years ago, adding that he could see the huge increase in the number of cars compared to back then, and the harmonic melding of urban infrastructure with greenery, something which he mentioned is “very unique” when compared to Hong Kong.
He further noted the relaxed pace of life here and the easygoing manner of Bruneians.
Brunei Enterprise head, Abdul Malik Omar, in his opening speech stressed the importance of understanding history as a way of strengthening the special bond between the people of Brunei and Hong Kong.
“Our historical relationship can be traced back to when Hong Kong and Brunei were both under British colonial rule – Hong Kong as a British colony and Brunei as a British protectorate,” he said.
“Between the 40s and 70s many people from Hong Kong migrated to Brunei.
“Since then, many have made key contributions to society, creating schools, businesses, industries and jobs in the process.
“Many have utilised their skill sets in Brunei Darussalam’s nation-building efforts.”
Abdul Malik also said that Hong Kong and Brunei are similar in many ways.
“We are both small states surrounded by big players in the region, we’re both hungry for jobs and investments and, above all, we both have a shared history of strong partnership and familial ties.
“I hope through this cultural performance we can unlock doors to further strengthen Hong Kong-Brunei relationship.”
“This is just the beginning for many of us as we advance into and through the Asian Century to create a more tolerant and open society for all,” he added.
The event was supported by the Youth Centre team, Royal Brunei Airlines, Herodotus & Co Consultancy, Thrivers Travels, Southward Research Institute president Jacky Li and orchestra manager Lin Ka Chun.
Volunteers from Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and other local organisations also gave a helping hand.
Men in Jazz’s performance in Brunei was covered by the Hong Kong media, providing further useful exposure for the Sultanate in the region.
The Brunei-Hong Kong cultural showcase is an annual Youth Centre event which started last year.