SIBU: The morning drizzle did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of the spectators converging on the town square here for the grand parade yesterday, held in conjunction with Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 82nd birthday celebration this year.
Crowds of people had gathered at the event’s venue as early as a couple of hours before the arrival of Taib and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib at around 8am.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his wife Datin Patinggi Dato Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang led the guest list of Sarawak dignitaries, who included Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and his wife Datin Amar Fatimah Mohamad Iskandar, International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and his wife Datin Sri Pauline Leong, as well as former deputy chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and his wife Tan Sri Empiang Jabu.
For the record, Wong was the minister-in-charge of the celebration.
Upon the arrival of Taib and the Sarawak dignitaries, the ceremony commenced with the singing of the national anthem ‘Negaraku’, followed by Sarawak anthem ‘Ibu Pertiwiku’.
The event proceeded with Taib inspecting the guard-of-honour, which comprised members of the Royal Malay Regiment (RMD).
Later, Abang Johari joined the Head of State in inspecting the participating contingents – all 121 of them representing government’s ministries, departments and agencies, as well as the corporate sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
After Abang Johari delivered his speech, all members of the contingents chanted ‘Dirgahayu’ (Malay word for ‘longevity’, referring to the ‘Long Live’ wish to a King or a Head of State) three times.
This was followed by Taib leading the cake-cutting ceremony, witnessed by Raghad, Abang Johari, Uggah, Awang Tengah, Asfia, Jabu, Wong and other dignitaries.
The contingents later paraded along the square, cheered on by the spectators who appeared unperturbed by the rain.
Many of them were spotted taking selfies and wefies using their smartphone cameras, which they carefully manoeuvred under umbrellas or plastic sheets to protect their devices from getting wet.