By Azlan Othman
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Dato' Seri Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi have reaffirmed their strong commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation and agreed to forge strategic partnerships in new growth areas.
This was highlighted in a Joint Statement at the end of the 12th Annual Leaders' Consultation between Brunei and Malaysia in Johor Bahru, Malaysia yesterday.
The leaders expressed their further commitment to foster closer collaboration in friendship and cooperation between Brunei and Malaysia, based on mutual respect, understanding, benefit and effective cooperation.
The two leaders, while noting the progress of bilateral cooperation, in particular in trade and investment, finance, transportation, information and communication technology, defence, health, education and tourism, shared the view that such cooperation should be intensified to maximise and take advantage of the true potential of both countries.
Both leaders were satisfied on the launch of the Frequent Travellers Card (FTC) last year, which has facilitated greater interaction between the people of Brunei and Malaysia. The two leaders agreed that FTC should be further improved to ensure greater usage by the public.
The two leaders highlighted the need for both countries to continue working together in facilitating and creating a more conducive business environment, especially for the business communities of Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak.
In this regard, Malaysia welcomes investment from Brunei especially in Iskandar Malaysia, the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (SCORE) and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).
Both leaders recognised the importance of continuing cooperation in the air services sector and agreed that an increase in flight frequencies and operations between the two countries could further promote tourism and help foster closer friendship and understanding between the two peoples.
In this regard, the leaders took note of the ongoing negotiations between the two countries to further explore cooperation in this sector.
Both leaders were satisfied with the good and positive progress made on the longstanding issue of maritime boundary, and other related issues and were optimistic of reaching a successful resolution soon that would benefit both countries.
They also welcomed the signing of the Asean Charter by the 10 Asean member countries during the 13th Asean Summit in Singapore last year. The leaders further viewed the ratification of the Charter by both Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia in February 2008 as a demonstration of both countries' commitment towards strengthening Asean.
The leaders expressed the hope that the Charter would be ratified by all members at the next Asean Summit in Thailand.
The two leaders exchanged views on regional and international matters of mutual concern. Both leaders expressed concern on the global food and energy security issue and agreed that a concerted effort by the international community was necessary to reduce the hardship faced by those affected by the crisis.
The two leaders continued to encourage international efforts to bring peace and stability to the Middle East, in particular the people of Palestine. The two leaders also welcomed the diplomatic efforts to move all tracks of peace process in the Middle East and urged the disputing parties, Israel and Palestine, to continue efforts towards reaching an agreement consistent with the roadmap and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Drawing upon the common religious ties between both countries, the two leaders expressed their best wishes to the people of both countries in conjunction with the coming month of Ramadhan.
His Majesty expressed his sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi, the State of Johor and the people of Malaysia for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to His Majesty and the Brunei delegation, which manifests the warm, long standing and close ties between the two countries.
The leaders agreed to hold the 13th annual leaders' consultation in Brunei Darussalam in 2009.
- Borneo Bulletin
(27th August 2008)