His Majesty lauds close relations with Thailand
By Azrol Azmi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam lauded the lasting ties of friendship between Brunei Darussalam and the Kingdom of Thailand.

His Majesty delivered a titah at the official luncheon in honour of the official visit of Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. It was held at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.

Earlier, His Majesty received the Thai premier in audience and later held a four-eye meeting.

In the titah, His Majesty also appreciated Thailand for its chairmanship of Asean last year during the first year of the Regional Charter.

"This was in the great tradition of the Kingdom's long commitment to our region. Thailand's contribution to the founding and subsequent development of our Association is a permanent part of our region's history," said His Majesty.

The monarch said the Prime Minister's visit to Brunei "is a happy opportunity for us to appreciate things that are even deeper and much more personal".

His Majesty also acknowledges the much-valued contribution of over 5,000 Thai people working in Brunei.

The ruler also reaffirmed the commitment to a closer cooperation in the many crucial areas of modern life that challenges us as governments.

In his return speech, the Thai premier said that Thailand and Brunei Darussalam share one very important tradition and that is the unwavering respect for the monarchy.

He further added that the royal families in the respective country are the symbol of independence and the binding force of national strength and spirits and the monarchies have also played a significant part in enhancing closer ties between the two countries' people.

The PM added that the two countries still have vast potential complementing strengths to further develop cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries and its people, and the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding on Health Cooperation, represents one such potential for the joint effort in fostering bilateral cooperation.

He believes that Thailand and Brunei can become active partners in development and added that Thailand could learn from the vision of Brunei's "WAWASAN 2035" and the example of His Majesty's dedication to the well-being of the people of Brunei and the development of the country.

He also acknowledged Brunei's efforts towards attaining self-sufficiency in food security and added that Thailand, with their long experience in agricultural development and agricultural technology, could render their support and cooperation, especially in rice production.

He highlighted the recent visit of Brunei's Minister of Industry and Primary Resources to Thailand and the ongoing discussion on the draft MoU on Agricultural Cooperation that reaffirms the shared commitment to working closely together in this sector.

The Prime Minister also said that the Halal business and industry is another great potential area for cooperation as Thailand is considered one of the world's major food producing and exporting countries with abundant raw materials and expertise in agro-business and industry and in the development of Halal science.

He said that the Halal Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University has been collaborating closely with the Ministry of Health of Brunei in providing forensic laboratory trainings to Brunei's food scientists and hoped that the collaboration would pave the way for the standardisation of both countries Halal products, which eventually lead up to a mutual accreditation of the Halal certification process between the authorities concerned on both sides.

In conclusion, the Thai PM said that he was certain that under Brunei's chairmanship of Asean next year, the grouping will make substantive progress especially in cooperation for the community building process. - Borneo Bulletin (30th March 2010)