Brunei to send BIA team to explore opportunities
By James Kon

Brunei will be sending a team of officers from the country's investment arm, the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), to explore opportunities in the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor in Johor, Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying.

He said the decision to send the team was made by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam after His Majesty visited the corridor and was briefed about its development yesterday.

"To me this is a very good development," he told reporters after bidding farewell to His Majesty at the Senai International Airport in Johor.

His Majesty and the Malaysian prime minister participated in the 12th Malaysia-Brunei Annual Consultation Tuesday at the Pulai Spring Resort.

Abdullah, who is also the joint chairman of Iskandar Malaysia, said the team from Brunei could be expected to come very soon.

According to him, BIA officers had come to the southern corridor some time back to explore investment opportunities there.

Brunei might have been attracted by the development taking place at Iskandar Malaysia based on the exploratory mission done by the first BIA team, he said.

The corridor launched in Nov 2006 has attracted investments valued at RM37 billion thus far.

During His Majesty's tour, a briefing on the progress of the development corridor was presented by Dato' Ikmal Hijaz Hashim, Chief Executive Officer of the Iskandar Development Regional Authority.

Upon arrival at the Dewan Kencana Puri, His Majesty was greeted by Abdullah and Dato' Haji Abdul Ghani Othman, Chief Minister of Johor.

Iskandar Malaysia is one of five development corridors launched under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The development region encompasses a total area of 2,217 square kilometres, which covers nearly half of the state of Johor. Among the main industries being promoted at Iskandar Malaysia are shipping and transportation, the halal food industry and bio-fuel production.

At the end of the tour of the exhibition, His Majesty received a pesambah from Dato' Seri Abdullah.

His Majesty later went on an aerial tour of Iskandar Malaysia onboard a helicopter. Accompanying the monarch were the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chief Minister of Johor.

His Majesty also visited the site of the Johor State New Administrative Centre and received a briefing on the progress of construction of the administrative centre by Chief Minister of Johor.

In the afternoon, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Iskandar ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Ismail, the Sultan of Johor, hosted a luncheon for His Majesty at the Istana Bukit Serene. Also present were the Prime Minister of Malaysia and dignitaries of both countries.

Accompanying His Majesty throughout yesterday's events was His Royal Highness Tunku Ibrahim ibni Sultan Iskandar, the Tunku Mahkota of Johor.

His Majesty left Johor yesterday afternoon. Before departure, a doa was read by the Mufti of Johor.

Accompanying His majesty from Istana Bukit Serene to the Sultan Ismail International Airport was the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Present at the Sultan Ismail International Airport to bid farewell to His Majesty were Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dato Shahrir bin Abdul Samad, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs as the Minister-in-attendance; Dato' Haji Abdul Ghani bin Othman, Chief Minister of Johor; Dato' Abdul Latiff Yusof, Johor State Secretary; Datuk Ku Jaafar bin Ku Shaari, High commissioner of Malaysia to Brunei Darussalam and members of the Malaysian government.

Also present at the airport were officials from the High Commission of Brunei Darussalam in Malaysia.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah hosted a dinner in honour of His Majesty. Also present were Duli Yang Mulia Sultan Iskandar ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Ismail, the Sultan of Johor, and Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultanah Zanariah binti Al-Marhum Tunku Ahmad, the Sultanah of Johor; His Royal Highness Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Sultan Iskandar, the Tunku Mahkota of Johor and Her Royal Highness Raja Zarith Sofia binti Al-Marhum Sultan Idris; Cabinet Ministers and dignitaries of both countries.

The dinner was held at the Dewan Ramayana, Pulai Springs Resort, during which cultural performances were presented by the Orkestra Melayu and artists from the Yayasan Warisan. - Borneo Bulletin (28th August 2008)