Today, 23rd February 2010, we as a nation celebrate our beloved the land of unexpected treasures country, Negara Brunei Darussalam national day. "Negaraku Brunei Darussalam" a simple theme yet with deep meanings. What does it mean to us? I am sure each individual will interpret it in their own way. To me it simply says, proudly, Brunei Darussalam is my country. It brings strong sense of belonging, sense of ownership. Owning and belonging will make us, most people, to feel attachment and love. This leads to actions of care and not wanting to lose the one we love. Automatically we will be acting responsibly. Responsibilities we will be willingly doing. All will be natural to us. Respecting the authority, the religion, the laws, the culture are among the things that will come natural to us. In true spirit of our national day, not just today, but every day, let’s remind ourselves proudly "Negaraku Brunei Darussalam". MY COUNTRY BRUNEI DARUSSALAM.
Recalling back over 26 years ago, the evening of 31 Dec 1983. Rain could not stop thousands thronging Masjid Omar Ali Saiffudien for the hajat prayers ushering Brunei Darussalam gaining full independence. Sitting outside, not managing to get space inside, a lot of us were wet under the drizzle. None of us care. We just had to be there.
As the hours pass, events moved on to the adjacent Taman. Used to be the old Padang Besar, the centre of Bandar Seri Begawan, centre of everyday lives for so long. It was fitting the proclamation of independence was held there. As the clock struck 12 midnight, His Majesty made the proclamation. Some in the crowd shed tears and shouted "merdeka". The late Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan led the shout of "Allahuakbar", the crowd roared. Standing at the centre of the Taman was surreal even for a teenager. I was a teenager then. In my shirt and jeans. Looking back, I should have been in my best baju melayu for the historic day. Baju melayu or not, the moment His Majesty proclaimed our full independence and the shouts of "Allahuakbar" will forever etched strongly in my mind, my memory. A moment we will never experience again...
Part of being responsible to our country is being responsible in the use of our scarce resources especially water and energy. On average, we use 450 litres of water every day. One of the highest in the world. That’s equivalent to 300 big bottles of bottled water. Around $240 worth of bottled water yet we are paying only 5 cents for it. Almost ten times cheaper than the production cost. Recently, the Energy Authorities declared “Brunei's roughly 400,000 inhabitants consume electricity similar to that of a country with a population of one million”. Both shocking figures. Let’s do something about it. Start saving. Save water, save electricity. And save money too. At least the extra money we save from our utility bills can help us pay off our credit card debt.