His Majesty in Singapore to attend leaders meeting
By Waleed PD Mahdini in Singapore

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived at the Changi International Airport last night to attend the two-day 17th Asia Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) with 20 other leaders from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).

His Majesty was greeted on arrival by Lim Boon Heng, Minister at the Prime Minister's Office in Singapore. Also present was Hj Abdul Ghafar Hj Ismail, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Singapore.

During His Majesty's three-day stay in the city-state, aside from the two-day deliberations and expected declaration of the 17th AELM, the monarch is also expected to hold two separate bilateral meetings - one with the Singaporean host, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this afternoon at the Istana and the second one tomorrow morning with the new Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama.

Earlier, at the Brunei International Airport, HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Jefri Bolkiah, and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik bade farewell to His Majesty.

On the first day, the Apec leaders will attend the First Retreat Session and the Dialogue with members of the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC). Later that evening, the leaders will be invited to an official dinner hosted by the Singapore premier.

On the second day of the meeting, the leaders will attend the Second Retreat Session and the closing luncheon and are expected to adopt the Declaration on "Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region" and a statement on "A New Growth Paradigm for a Connected Asia Pacific in the 21st Century".

With sustainable economic recovery foremost on the agenda of the trade-focused 21-member Pacific Rim organisation, His Majesty will be supporting the recommendations forwarded to him by the senior officials and finance ministers that have deliberated and fine-tuned the focus for their respective economic leaders to endorse their final stamp of approval that economic growth will indeed be guaranteed through carefully measured principled and pragmatic steps.

On the second day of the AELM, the 21 economic leaders will round off their deliberations, which will then be compiled as the 17th Declaration of the leaders meeting. As is customary, ever since the establishment of Apec, 20 years ago, the leaders will then emerge from the venue for one of the most highly-anticipated political fashion-show of the year when they will don the specially designed host attire, which this year will feature Singapore's 'Peranakan' qualities.

The leaders of the 21-member organisation will undoubtedly be focusing on different priorities and concerns.

During a collective press conference of all the organisation's finance ministers yesterday, they were asked 'how they would describe in one word or sentence the current world financial situation'. The Sultanate's Second Finance Minister, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Rahman Hj Ibrahim replied: "I agree...that this is a good recovery. It's going to be very positive for the economy." Responding in alphabetical order of membership, the other ministers were very succinct in their responses. The US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, answered: "Better."

However, it was Maria Olivia Recart, the Chilean Vice Minister of Finance, who summarised it best when she shared an analogy that was said by the Australian Finance Minister, Wayne Swan.

"It's like a trip to the dentist. It hurts a lot. What the world experienced was just a trip to the dentist, but in the end, the world's in a better situation because of it." - Borneo Bulletin (13th November 2009)