Close Brunei, Myanmar ties
By Aemy Azlena

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night lauded the good working relationship built up between Brunei and Myanmar through personal contacts and some extremely useful cooperation with primary focus on health education and technical assistance.

His Majesty delivered a titah during a banquet hosted in honour of General Thein Sein, the Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar, at the Istana Nurul Iman. The Myanmar premier is in the country on a three-day official visit.

Upon his arrival at the Istana Nurul Iman, the Prime Minister was received by Pengiran Penggawa Laila Bentara Istiadat Diraja Dalam Istana Pengiran Hj Alauddin bin Pengiran Paduka Tuan Pengiran Hj Abu Bakar, the Grand Chamberlain.

Soon after, His Majesty consented to receive the Prime Minister in audience before proceeding to another room for a four-eye meeting.

Later, His Majesty hosted a banquet to the visiting Prime Minister and his entourage.

Also present at the banquet were HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince Abdul Malik.

"We hope you will enjoy your stay and get to know a little more about our people and our country," His Majesty told the visiting PM. "I hope that you will also be able to see first hand our current development priorities."

His Majesty highlighted the 15 years of establishment of the diplomatic relations between Brunei and the Union of Myanmar, where the two "have built up a good working relationship through personal contacts and some extremely useful cooperation" with primary focus on health education and technical assistance.

"We believe that they provide the basic foundation for all development and the crucial ones are the human ones. These involve doing all we can to help our people gain the skills and confidence they need to cope well with today's complex challenges.

"That is where Brunei Darussalam has made a commitment to our partners to do whatever we can to assist both bilaterally and regionally through the Initiative for Asean Integration," said the monarch.

With regard to receiving Myanmar people in Brunei's technical assistance programmes at the national University, His Majesty said he looked forward to continuing such assistance in the future. His Majesty also appreciated the contribution to Brunei's development made by many of Myanmar's people working in Brunei.

His Majesty also said both countries have been partners in the regional association for over 10 years and after signing the Asean Charter at last year's summit in Singapore, His Majesty hopes to see a two-fold effect, the first of which is strengthen the common commitment to regional integration in order for Southeast Asia to face the many challenges successfully.

His Majesty also pointed to the second effect that he hopes to see from the Charter, which is to bind the region not only in economic development but also in political, cultural and social development.

"It offers us a greater opportunity than ever before to share not only practical cooperation but also ideas, thoughts and views on common concerns," the ruler added.

Asean's policy of consultation and dialogues can lead to consensus and Brunei hopes this will deepen and flourish under the provisions set out in the Charter. His Majesty sees the Asean of the future as being a "significant force in world affairs especially in assisting the United Nations meet its objectives for peace, stability and prosperity".

His Majesty concluded his titah by expressing his eagerness to work with the Union of Myanmar and all the colleagues of Asean to promote these objectives and bring them to reality in the region. His Majesty also looked forward to every opportunity that arises to build on the cooperation the two countries have enjoyed over the last 15 years.

In his return speech, the Myanmar premier thanked His Majesty for the warm welcome he and his delegation has received during his visit and expressed his gratitude for making all necessary arrangements for them to visit places of interest in Brunei.

He described Brunei as a country that is famous for its beautiful scenery and prosperity and was delighted to have the opportunity to be in Bandar Seri Begawan to witness the beauty and serenity of Brunei.

He also expressed his hope that his visit will contribute to the betterment of the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries and continue to promote close relations between the countries' leaders. - Borneo Bulletin (17th Jan 2008)