Closer Brunei, Thai ties
By Zasika Musdi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night assured Thailand of Brunei Darussalam's lasting commitment in doing all the country can to strengthen both countries' traditional friendship and enhance much-valued cooperation in his titah during the official dinner with the Prime Minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej.

The Thai premier arrived yesterday on a two-day official visit.

Present during the official dinner were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Mudtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Malik and HRH Princess Hajah Masna.

Also present were Cabinet Ministers, foreign dignitaries and senior government officials.

Calling the long history of the countries' relations as extremely successful, His Majesty said, "It has seen us establish strong ties in trade, education, air services, labour, defence and broadcasting. These have brought many benefits to our people and, on this official visit, I wish to express my strongest hopes that they will do more than just continue. We wish to see them develop at a new pace that matches the exceptional demands imposed on our people by today's social, security, economic and political challenges."

His Majesty also said the knowledge about each other's countries, beliefs, values and traditions throughout the years have deepened and broadened, as well as the respect for each other, as fellow members of the regional association, Asean.

His Majesty said that the spirit of the Asean Charter is clear - it commits leaders to building a modern region that will give all people confidence in the future. This commitment has faced the kind of challenges that are inevitable in this modern, globalised and interdependent age that will not lessen in scope and intensity and, as Asean leaders, many more will be faced in the coming year.

The Prime Minister of Thailand, in his return speech, congratulated His Majesty on the auspicious celebration of the ruler's 62nd Birthday Anniversary on July 15, stating that the occasion is most meaningful and joyful for the people of Brunei.

"This year also marks the 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, which can be described as harmonious, cordial, strong and mature. Most importantly, both our countries share fundamental core values in their respect and reverence for the institution of the monarchy," said the Prime Minister.

He also added that the firm relations between Thailand and Brunei Darussalam have been nurtured by the exchange of visits at all levels, most notably by His Majesty's visit to Thailand during the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol's Accession to the Throne in 2006. He also said that he is looking forward to receiving His Majesty the Sultan for the 14th Asean Summit from December 15-18 this year.

Prior to the official dinner, His Majesty consented to receive the Thai Prime Minister in a pre-dinner audience. Present during the audience were HRH the Crown Prince, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Malik and HRH Princess Hajah Masna.

His Majesty then held a bilateral meeting with the Thai Prime Minister before proceeding to the official dinner. - Borneo Bulletin (4th July 2008)