BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (BRUNEI): Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg were among the 4,000 guests at the 73rd birthday celebration of Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman here on Monday.
Other foreign dignitaries attending the royal banquet were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Malaysian Economics Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Singapore Heng Swee Keat and their spouses.
Taib was accompanied by his wife Toh Puan Raghad Kurdi Taib. Also attending the celebration were Abang Johari’s wife Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang and Awang Tengah’s wife Datuk Dayang Morliah Awang Daud.
The Sultan and Queen Saleha led the royal family to enter the hall before the start of the royal banquet which was preceded by the singing of Brunei’s national anthem and the ‘Doa Selamat’ by Mufti Pehin (Dr) Ustaz Awang Abdul Aziz Juned.
A fireworks display lit up the sky near Istana Nurul Iman towards the end of the banquet, marking the beginning of the two-week-long nationwide celebration of His Majesty’s 73rd birthday.
All the Malaysian dignitaries headed to the Brunei International Airport to fly home after the banquet.