Sultan in Hanoi for 16th Asean Summit
By James Kon in Hanoi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday afternoon arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam to attend the 16th Asean Summit held at the National Convention Centre.

His Majesty was the first Asean leader to arrive for the summit.

His Majesty is accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

On arrival at the Noi Bai International Airport, His Majesty was greeted by Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. Also present at the airport was Dato Paduka Haji Mahadi bin Haji Wasli, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Vietnam.

The 16th Asean Summit is scheduled to start on Thursday, April 8, and will be attended by the grouping's heads of state and government. The theme of the summit is "Towards the Asean Community: From Vision to Action".

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

Prior to the departure, a doa selamat was read by the State Mufti. Also present at the airport to bid farewell were Pengiran-Pengiran Cheterias, members of the privy council, Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and senior officials.

In Hanoi, the heads of state and government will have the opportunity to discuss Asean cooperation and its future direction as well as exchange views on regional and international affairs.

The Asean Charter that came into force on December 15 two years ago has put in place a new legal and institutional framework for the grouping to help improve its implementation, coordination and decision making process.

The Asean Charter and the Roadmap for the Asean Community by 2015 have set out the vision and framework for Asean members to enter into a new level of cooperation and realise the vision, making this year's theme timely.

The summit, the first under Vietnam's chairmanship, is expected to play a significant role in defining Asean's cooperation in 2010. Based on priorities identified this year, the summit will concentrate on major issues such as accelerating the implementation of the Roadmap for an Asean Community and realisation of the Asean Charter, promoting cooperation in improving regional capacity to address emerging challenges, with an emphasis on economic recovery, sustainable development and climate changes, expanding Asean's external relations, consolidating and enhancing Asean's central role in regional cooperation processes.

His Majesty will be joined by other heads of state from the member countries to discuss some of the main agendas of the implementation of the Asean Charter and Roadmap for Asean Community; Asean Connectivity; Climate Change and other global challenges; as well as regional and international issues during the summit.

Meanwhile, the meeting of Senior Officials committee on Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council yesterday noted the progress of implementation of the ASCC Blueprint and looked forward to the implementation of the recently adopted monitoring system for the ASCC.

The meeting agreed that the draft ASCC Communication Plan will be recommended for adoption at the 3rd ASCC Council meeting today. The communication plan aims to enhance public awareness, shape public perceptions and generate greater participation of the general public in building the ASCC by 2015.

The meeting expressed support to the draft Asean Leaders' statement on joint response to climate change and the draft statement on sustained recovery and development. The two statements shall be part of the outcome documents of the 16th Summit.

The meeting also further welcomed the scheduled inauguration of the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) today. Brunei Darussalam will be represented by Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The first meeting would be held right after the inaugural ceremony in the afternoon on the same day. - Borneo Bulletin (7th April 2010)