New partnership with Singapore
By Rohani Hj Abd Hamid

Brunei and Singapore opened new doors of cooperation yesterday by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote collaboration in the areas of food, agri-technology, agriculture, fisheries, and also stretching into nature and biodiversity conservation.

Signing on behalf of Brunei's Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources was Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar and for Singapore, the Minister of National Development, Mr Mah Bow Tan.

The MOU outlines the scope of cooperation by both ministries, identifying four key areas for further such as information networking and exchange, capacity building and human resource development, promotion and facilitation of trade and investment and research and development.

According to Pehin Haji Awang Yahya, the MOU will help MIPR tap into Singapore expertise in the areas of food production, diagnosis and management of infectious animal and health diseases, research and development in biodiversity and nature conservation, particularly Brunei's Heart of Borneo Initiative, and international trade.

The MOU he said will assist MIPR in carrying out its mandate to accelerate sustainable economic diversification by facilitating, developing and strengthening trade, competitive industries and dynamic entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, Singapore Minister Mr Mah said the MOU will take the partnership between the two countries to the next level. "It opens new doors for collaboration and for the sharing of expertise and experience in areas like primary production, biodiversity research and nature conservation. We encourage our private sector to work hand-in-hand with us, to leverage on this enhanced partnership to enjoy greater returns," he added.

Earlier before the signing, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya received a courtesy call from Mr Mah Bow Tan who is in Brunei in conjunction with the 14th Brunei-Singapore Exchange Visit, at MIPR in Berakas.

In a press statement yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of National Development applauded and supports the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in promoting the sustainability of Brunei's natural heritage.

The initiative - of which Indonesia and Malaysia, are partners - is one area that may see further collaboration between Singapore and Brunei.

The rich biodiversity that exists in Borneo rivals that found in the Amazon and the Congo. Its endowment of forestry resources is an important carbon sink which contributes significantly to the global reduction of greenhouse gas.

Mr Mah hoped Singapore can learn from Brunei's unique experience and work with Brunei to contribute to the HoB initiative. "We will be exploring with Brunei collaboration in areas such as biodiversity surveys, management of nature reserves and outreach programmes to educate our younger generation about nature conservation", said the minister.

Witnessing yesterday's signing were the Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources; Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources; the High Commissioner of Singapore to Brunei Darussalam, Mr Joseph Koh; Mr Ng Lang, CEO of the National Park Singapore; Dr Chua Sin Bin, CEO of Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA); and Mr Lian Ghim Hua, Assistant Director Infrastructure Division, Ministry of National Development Singapore.

The MOU will be implemented by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Parks Board (NParks), working in collaboration with the MIPR departments in charge of agriculture, fisheries and forestry. - Borneo Bulletin (15th Mar 2009)