His Majesty at the Asean Summit
By Azaraimy HH

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam joined nine other leaders for an Informal Meeting of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

It was held on the sidelines of the 14th Asean Summit held at the 5-star hotel Dusit Thani Hua Hin located in Pinchaburi province of Thailand.

His Majesty the Sultan is accompanied by HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the 14th Asean Summit.

His Majesty also joined other Asean leaders for a working lunch with Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC) leaders. HRH Prince Abdul Qawi was amongst those present at the working lunch as one of the ABAC leaders.

The Informal Meeting with Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly is the first time all 10 Asean leaders and representatives of AIPA and its Special Observers (Brunei and Myanmar) met after the entry into force of the Asean Charter on Dec 15 2008.

Both sides expressed a willingness to work together to build an Asean Community by 2015 and was in agreement that both should meet on an annual basis to foster closer ties between Asean and AIPA.

The Thai Prime Minister as the Asean Chair expressed his admiration for the crucial role that AIPA has played in offering constructive suggestions concerning the Asean Charter and the Asean Human Rights Body.

Furthermore, as the representative of the Peoples and the Legislative Branches of Asean nations in the future Asean Community, AIPA can play a crucial role on several aspects; such as where necessary, bring legislation into closer harmony; help nurture a sense of "Asean Identity" among the people; and play the part of goodwill Ambassadors to create a sense of mutual sense.

Meanwhile, a group of Asean parliamentarians on Saturday formed a caucus on right and free expression calling the Asean leaders to uphold press freedom.

His Majesty the Sultan also joined in an informal meeting with Asean Civil Society. - Borneo Bulletin (1st Mar 2009)