Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Local places and progress: Royal birthday landscape

Every July, Brunei's streets and public areas will undergo a festive transformation. Flags will be flown, banners with His Majesty's likeness will start swinging from lampposts, celebratory banners will start appearing everywhere - all in commemoration of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's birthday anniversary on July 15. 

In recent years, large posters sponsored by companies and organisations were put up strategically by road junctions using space that, during other times, would carry advertisements. 

This year the same trend may not reappear, as His Majesty questioned the use of advertising space for this purpose during a visit to the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this month. According to this Brunei Times article on the subject:

The monarch pointed out how some [posters] are put up at inappropriate places such as junctions with the idea that it would be seen by all motorists who pass by as if it were advertisements. "Why I am commenting on this, because even as I speak, the places which normally carry these advertisements, will soon be replaced with my images," said His Majesty.

This has been going on for quite some time, said His Majesty, as he queried on how the choosing of locations for these promotional campaigns that normally carry advertisements automatically become the place where national celebrations are promoted as well.

"Is there no other place which is appropriate or strategic?" asked His Majesty. "It is my opinion that, national celebration landmarks are not advertisements, and should not be intended to charm consumers as advertisements do, but should be strategically placed to evoke the spirit of patriotism and nationalism," said His Majesty.

The festive landscape that appears during National Day and the royal birthday celebrations is a temporary one - dismantled as soon as the celebratory period is over. Would His Majesty's titah alter the July incarnation in a significant manner?

According to Ken, who alerted me to this story (thanks Ken!), he's going to make this story his next project. Look forward to his findings and sharing them here. 

If you have any thoughts or opinions about this topic, feel free to contribute in the comments section.

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