Lest We Forget

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES

Compiled by Faruq Bostaman

Millenium Hari Raya

Hj Md Said & Azlan Othman

JANUARY 10, 2000 – This years Hari Raya is extra special because it is the first open house at the Istana Nurul Iman in the new millennium.

The palace ground was open yesterday, the second day of Hari Raya, for Bruneian subjects and members of the public to pay respect and extend greetings to the royal family on this festive occasion.

Food and drinks are available for everyone who later in separate queues to shake hands with 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 and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha binti Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohamed Alam and other royal family members. Yellow boxes with the royal crest, and a greeting card with His Majesty’s photo are later given to each and every well-wishers.

The royal palace is open once a year to the public for three days to celebrate Hari Raya.

Photos show visitors during the open house at the Istana Nurul Iman

World record by people’s monarch

Ignatius Stephen

JANUARY 11, 2000 – At the end of this day the Brunei royal family led by 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 would have perhaps completed, in keeping with a unique Brunei tradition and standing in line to greet a continuous stream of people, a world record.

For four hours a day, three straight days on their feet, the Brunei ruler and the rest of the royal family shake hands with all comers who make their way up the splendid Istana Nurul Iman, near the capital on the bank of Sungai Brunei, in their thousands.

“Nowhere else in the world does such a thing,” marvelled Lund Olsen, from Norway surveying the scene at the Istana yesterday.

“It is indeed a sign of a strong bond between the ruler and the ruled which not many Western democracies are able to achieve in this day and age,” he remarked.

“The visits to the Istana by the people are a manifestation of the cardinal element of His Majesty’s style of government in the context of the daily lives of Bruneians,” an official told him.

The key to Sentiasa Bersama Rakyat however is the accessibility of the rakyat to the highest order of government – between the ruled and the ruler.

The symbiotic relationship has been passed from generation to generation for centuries in Brunei and is now fortified by the national philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

The present ruler’s late father Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam began the yearly three-day Istana visit many decades ago, when he initiated the trend which over the years had become a tradition.

Like his father, the present monarch too has proven to be a wise ruler and his subjects hold him in high esteem. And so his subjects as well as casual visitors throng the palace each year as the tradition is kept up.