C'wealth Games baton to pass through Brunei landmarks

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, speaking about Queen Baton Relay 2010 Delhi at Dewan Muzakarah ICC Berakas yesterday. Picture: BT/Yusri Adanan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

KG AYER and Bumbungan Dua Belas are just two of the unique attractions the Queen's Baton Relay 2010 Delhi will traverse on Wednesday.

The traditional curtain raiser to the Commonwealth Games, the relay commenced from Buckingham Palace on October 29 last year with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II entrusting the baton to current world and Olympic champion in the 10m air rifle event, Abhinav Bindra from India.

Similar to the Olympic Torch relay, the baton will travel across 71 countries before arriving in New Delhi, India, for the opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games on October 3. The baton is currently in Norfolk Island. Brunei is the 65th stop and will welcome the baton from Singapore next Tuesday.

The Rizqun International Hotel will host a reception in the afternoon but the real highlight of the event is the 15km relay throughout 16 checkpoints in the nation's capital the next day. Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council BNOC aims to use the relay to showcase some of Brunei's historical landmarks.

"We are trying our best to show our country to other Commonwealth countries," said His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, BNOC President, during a press conference yesterday.

"We want to show places of significance ... unique places like Kg Ayer," added the president, whose idea it was to bring the relay to the famed water village.

The fact that nearly half of the 16 checkpoints are located along the Brunei River is a testament to the country's roots in Kg Ayer. Dubbed the "Venice of the East" when Ferdinand Magellan visited it in 1521, Kg Ayer remains Brunei's traditional and cultural heart.

One of the oldest buildings in Brunei, Bumbungan Dua Belas (House of Twelve Roofs) was the official residence of the first British Resident in Brunei, Malcolm McArthur. Completed in 1907 and still maintaining its grand architecture, Bumbungan Dua Belas was built on top of a hill along Jalan Residency and boasts a view of Kg Ayer and the Brunei River. Turned into an exhibition centre in commemoration of the relationship between Brunei and the United Kingdom, it was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she was here in 1998.

More than 900 people are expected to take part in the relay and the public is welcome to join at any part of the relay.

They will be comprising national or ex-national athletes who have tasted glory in the international arena. Top junior athletes, leaders of national sports associations and people with special needs are also on the list.

A clearer picture of the baton bearers will be painted during a meeting on Saturday.

HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah is expected to launch the relay at the Yayasan Sultan Hj Hassanal Bolkiah Complex in the capital at 7am.

The second stop of the relay, the Yayasan Sultan Hj Hassanal Bolkiah Complex jetty, is mere metres away.

The baton will then be taken on a traditional boat ride around Kg Ayer and to the Sultanate's newest landmark, the $3 million Kg Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery. The baton will be back on land at the Sg Lampai jetty, with Bumbungan Dua Belas the fifth stop.

The participation of the eight Commonwealth countries which have high commissions in the country — Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Kingdom — will start at this point and end at the Jln Elizabeth II clocktower.

The baton will be divided among the eight countries equally and the relay will go past the Arts and Handicraft Training Centre before stopping at the Jln Elizabeth II clocktower.

At the clocktower, the baton will be handed over to a group of various sports associations, students from the Sports School as well as people with special needs.

The eighth stop will be the Royal Regalia Building, the ninth the Bandar Seri Begawan firestation and the 10th checkpoint will be along Jln Sekolah.

Next on the list is Supa Save in Mabohai. The baton will then travel to the Legislative Council building before going along Commonwealth Drive onto the International Conference Centre.

Budiman Walk is the penultimate stop and 40 students each from Jerudong International School and International School Brunei are expected to join the relay at this point.

They will accompany the baton to the final stop, the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas where the last baton bearer passes the baton to HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, who will then pass the baton to a representative of Malaysia, the host country for the next Queen's Baton Relay.

Apart from the Queen's Baton Relay, the Queen's Baton Exhibition will be organised at The Mall in Gadong next Thursday. It will be held from 10am to 12noon and from 2pm to 4pm.

The exhibition's goal is to give the public the opportunity to get a closer look at the Baton and at the same time allow them to see and recognise Brunei Darussalam's cultural costumes that will be worn during the exhibition.

The Brunei Times