Sultan in Hanoi for summit
By Azaraimy HH in Hanoi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived last evening in Hanoi, Vietnam to attend the 17th Asean Summit.

On arrival at the Noi Dai International Airport, His Majesty was greeted by Hoang Van Phong, Minister of Science and Technology of Vietnam and Cao Tran Quoc Hai, Deputy Chief of State Protocol, Vietnam.

Also present at the airport was Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awg Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dato Paduka Haji Mahadi bin Haji Wasli, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Vietnam and officials from the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Hanoi.

The summit, which among others, is scheduled to adopt joint statements, which will include a Master Plan on Asean Connectivity - an important element to help develop the region and build the Asean Community by 2015.

Pursuing greater connectivity has been a long time coming for Asean, but it first came about during the 15th Asean Summit in Thailand, where the 10 leaders made a statement on Asean connectivity.

At that time, His Majesty, in his titah, noted the importance of enhancing Asean connectivity, as greater efforts to link countries in the region together could play a vital role in building the Asean Community.

His Majesty said that such connectivity would facilitate the movement of goods, services, capital and skilled labour to promote economic growth and create other opportunities. His Majesty also highlighted the need to improve coordination and accessibility during emergencies.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers from Asean signed two legal instruments yesterday, which are expected to help realise the Asean Charter.

They agreed to adopt the Rules for Reference of Unresolved Disputes to the Asean Summit and the Rules of Authorisation for Legal Transactions under Domestic Laws, both being legal instruments to realise the Asean Charter, Xinhua reported.

They also agreed to adopt several other documents, including the Asean Declaration on Cooperation in Search and Rescue Persons and Vessels in Distress at sea.

At the 7th Meeting of the Asean Coordinating Council, the ministers gave their final touch to complete preparatory works for the 17th Asean Summit and related summits which are scheduled to be held from Thursday to Saturday. At the meeting, the ministers endorsed the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, the draft Asean Leaders' Statement on Human Resources and Skills Development for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth.

After the meeting, the ministers signed the Instrument of Incorporation of the Rules for Reference of Unresolved Disputes to the Asean Summit to the Protocol to the Asean Charter on Disputes Settlement Mechanism.

"We hope that the Master Plan of Asean Connectivity will be fully endorsed - certainly the leaders of Asean will. And then main dialogue partners will have contribution to make and they can participate in the implementation in the 700 plus projects and programmes. The volume of investment would be something like US$380 billion. We do hope that there will be participation both in terms of contribution and private investment and private-public, public-private investment - PPP," Surin Pitsuwan, Asean's Secretary-General, said.

Having entered into force on Dec 15, 2008, the Asean Charter serves as a foundation in achieving the Asean Community by providing legal status and institutional framework for Asean. It also codifies Asean norms, rules and values, sets clear targets for Asean, and presents accountability and compliance.

Experts believe that greater connectivity between Asean countries will help the regional grouping to improve its competitiveness with China, which experts believe is a greater magnet to foreign investments in the East Asian bloc.

Brunei will also benefit most in a greater Asean connectivity in areas including tourism as noted during the Asean Tourism Forum hosted by Brunei earlier this year.

Leaders and top officials from six Asean partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - will also be participating in the summit to address cooperation in response to global challenges and areas of common concern.

The 17th Summit will be the region's most important meeting of the year as it will also see the first participation of what will be Asean's new partners: the United States of America and The Russian Federation.

Earlier, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday left for Hanoi in Vietnam to attend the 17th Asean Summit and related meetings that begins today.

Present to bid farewell to His Majesty was His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office. Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik as well as other members of the royal family.

Prior to the departure, a doa was read by the State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned before proceeding to the tarmac of the Brunei International Airport, where His Majesty was bade farewell by senior government officials. - Borneo Bulletin (28th October 2010)