By Ignatius Stephen in Bali
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam addressing an international forum in Bali on Thursday won high praise and admiration from those attending and especially those who saw him for the first time.
His Majesty addressed the second Bali Democracy Forum here during which he gave a moving speech on his nation's hopes and aspirations which drew positive comments.
He spoke soon after Indonesian President Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Yukio Hatoyama, the Japanese Prime Minister addressed the gathering in which 36 representatives of Asian countries and 12 other observers including the US and China attended.
In thanking the Indonesian leader for his kind invitation, the Brunei ruler said that Brunei greatly appreciated the respect accorded to his country and it was an honour and a pleasure to be in Bali again.
The Brunei monarch also extended his warm greetings to the Japanese leader, Mr Hatoyama and expressed his appreciation for Japan's great contribution to "lasting friendship and goodwill" throughout the region.
Also the Brunei ruler said, "Our gathering here is very special.
"As you said last year, Mr President, we have a chance to come together on behalf of our people not to debate, dictate or negotiate but to share our feelings and experiences as companions in the world we share.
"In this spirit, I thank all our friends from the region and beyond.
"Their presence here inspires us. Their words and thoughts unite us in common purpose."
The rest of the Brunei ruler's speech was just as moving and meaningful. This led a veteran journalist attending the meeting to say that he was indeed touched. Mr Huma Ali, editor of Daily Din in Rawalpindi, in Pakistan said, "Being a Muslim country we pay much attention to Brunei.
"Now that I have had the honour and privilege of seeing His Majesty at the conference I am happy to say that I am greatly impressed.
"His bearing was dignified yet full of humility and his speech, which was different, hit the correct pitch.
"It showed that here was a leader who was indeed concerned about the well being of his people."
Others echoed similar sentiments. Jamal El Mohafide, Director of Information, Agence Meghreb Arabe Presse, in Rabat, Moroco said, "After hearing His Majesty I wish to visit Brunei should there be a chance. Like others I admire him and I fully agree with him."
Meanwhile the two-day meeting aimed to further the democratic process in Asia concluded yesterday and the leaders expressed their optimism that Asia, regarded as the world's most dynamic region, is becoming increasingly democratic.
The Japanese leader Mr Hatoyama told representatives of 36 Asian countries attending the second Bali democracy forum, co-hosted by Indonesia and Japan that Asia had chartered a unique course in making the transition to democracy, while achieving economic growth and developing civil society.
"China, home to the largest population in Asia and experiencing remarkable economic growth, has undergone economic and social transformation to open itself to Asia and the world," he said.
Hatoyama said he also saw "positive developments" in Myanmar with the US taking new approach by engaging rather than confronting the countries military junta.
He called on Pyongyang to follow the democratic trends "underway elsewhere in Asia and throughout the world.
"I hope that North Korea will eventually become a state open to the international community as the process of establishing a framework for peace in Northeast Asia moves forward."
China and Myanmar sent delegations to the two-day meeting, which Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said in his opening remarks would maintain its inclusiveness.
The United States, which only sent its ambassador last year, delegated its top diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J Burns who participated in the Bali meeting.
- Borneo Bulletin
(12th December 2009)