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The British High Commission held a Queen’s Birthday Party reception at the Empire Hotel and Country Club on Tuesday 11 June 2013. The theme of the evening was the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, which took place in London sixty years ago this month. A second motif was the knowledge economy, and the science, innovation and creative industry linkages between Britain and Brunei.
The High Commission declared their coronation theme with hundreds of paper crowns made by primary school children across Brunei. Guests were greeted in the foyer of the Indera Samudra Grand Hall by the first of eight towering trees, with crowns in its branches. Nearby was the High Commission’s hybrid vehicle, in new livery – itself the result of a competition (dubbed “aMaZeUs”) for the design community in Brunei.
Guest of Honour were Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office and Yang Mulia Datin Hajah Sapiah binti Haji Sabtu. In his speech High Commissioner Rob Fenn complimented Brunei Darussalam on its Chairmanship of ASEAN, particularly the way progress in the Economic Pillar was delivering benefits for people across the region, “storing up goodwill, within and between ASEAN member states”. As gifts for their Guests of Honour, the High Commissioner and Mrs Fenn presented Yang Berhormat Pehin with a limited edition “Coronation Plate” and Datin with porcelain from the Buckingham Palace and a bouquet of flowers. Pehin and Datin helped His Excellency and Mrs Fen cut the crown-shaped “Coronation Cake”.
For the hundreds of crowns donated on the night, His Excellency Rob Fenn thanked students, parents and teachers from St. Andrew’s School, Seri Mulia Sarjana International School, Panaga School, Hornbill School, Stella’s School, International School Brunei and Jerudong International School. Two young artists were singled out for a special mention – Siti Amal Rabbiyatul Farah Haninah from Seria Mulia Sarjana international School and Yeoh Yi Jing from Panaga School, in the latter case for creating a crown made of our beans with came with the legend: “May all Her Majesty’s subjects in England have enough to eat.” The High Commissioner commented that this young person clearly understood that modern Monarchy meant caring for people.
On the Knowledge Economy theme, the High Commission unveiled the results of its Digital Scrapbook Competition. Rob Fenn announced the names of three Bruneian students in UK whose short films about their experience of British education had secured First, Second and Third places. Guests viewed the top-ranked film – by Ijjojji bin Nordin.
Guests were also able to view excerpts of a new film made by last year’s winners, students from Glasgow University who had interviewed older generations of students on their experience of study in the UK. The High Commissioner said the “Glasgow Project had unearthed a treasure trove of shared history”.
During the second half of the reception, the High Commissioner screened a series of his home-movies – the highlights of “four years in this photogenic country”. The films included footage of the Diplomatic Corps’ intrepid participation in Regatta 2013 earlier this year; and a look-back at Brunei’s energetic involvement in the Olympic and Paralympic Games – “London 2012”. But the High Commissioner said “the Film I’m most proud of” was the DVD with which guests went home at the end of the evening: “English as an ASEAN Language: The Brunei Story”. Co-produced with CfBT, and made in close association with the Ministry of Education, the film explores Brunei’s success with English as a medium of learning, and the advantage this confers on the Sultanate given that English is the working language of ASEAN.