Bridge to be built across Pandaruan River
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Dato' Sri Mohd Najib nin Tun Hj Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, discussed the construction of a bridge spanning the Pandaruan River. The leaders agreed that the bridge would be built jointly by the government of both countries and its construction is without prejudice to the final outcome of the joint land border demarcation between the two countries.

The annual consultation between His Majesty and Dato' Najib was held in the capital yesterday. It was the 15th meeting between His Majesty and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

They discussed the construction of a bridge spanning the Pandaruan River and reviewed their decision at the 14th Annual Consultation. In this regard, the leaders welcomed the signing of the agreement between the Government of Brunei Darussalam and the Government of Malaysia relating to the construction of a bridge spanning the Pandaruan River.

The leaders also noted that a groundbreaking ceremony to officiate the project site for the bridge by the Minister of Communications, Brunei Darussalam, and the Minister of Works, Malaysia, will take place today in Temburong, Brunei Darussalam. The leaders urged the Joint Project Team to ensure the expeditious construction of the bridge.

The consultation was held in an excellent atmosphere reflecting the close political, economic and cultural ties and warm friendship shared between the two countries and their peoples. Both leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen and expand relations for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries.

They reviewed the implementation of the Exchange of Letters signed by the leaders of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia on March 16, 2009 in Bandar Seri Begawan and expressed satisfaction with the progress made in implementing the various elements agreed in the Exchange of Letters.

Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the existing economic cooperation between Brunei and Malaysia, particularly economic collaboration with the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

They welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of Brunei Darussalam and the Government of Sarawak, which will facilitate cooperation between both sides in energy, telecommunications, transportation, tourism, halal hub, agriculture and fisheries.

Both also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Investment Cooperation between Bandtree Sdn Bhd (Brunei Darussalam) and Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority which encompasses collaboration in areas such as agriculture and livestock, aquaculture, information and communications technology (ICT) and telecommunications, energy and tourism.

The leaders expressed confidence that these memoranda of understanding will provide a more comprehensive framework for economic cooperation and expand existing cooperation into new areas based on the principle of mutual benefit.

Both welcomed the close and excellent relations between Brunei and Malaysia and noted significant progress in trade and investment, energy, defence, education, agro-business and industries, tourism, health, information and communications technology (ICT), and information and broadcasting.

They noted that a meeting took place between the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam, and the Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Malaysia, yesterday in Brunei. The ministers discussed ways to deepen cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and livestock and measures to address food security. They also agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to formulate, implement and supervise various aspects of these areas of cooperation and to work towards the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

Both leaders welcomed the roundtable meeting organised by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia, and facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam, yesterday, and hoped that this would lead to increased collaboration in trade and investment between both countries.

They expressed the desire for deeper cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia in the Financial Services sector. In this regard, they agreed to pursue appropriate arrangements that would facilitate such cooperation between both countries.

Both expressed their shared commitment to establish and expedite an agreement to enhance trade and investment cooperation between Brunei and Malaysia which would provide a strong platform for the development of strategic economic partnership to enhance long term cooperation in areas that are mutually beneficial to both countries.

The Malaysian premier welcomed Brunei's participation in Malaysia's economic corridors namely, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), the Iskandar Development Region and the East Coast Economic Region.

His Majesty expressed appreciation for the continued participation of Malaysian companies in projects under the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and the Brunei Industrial Development Authority (BINA). His Majesty looked forward to the increased involvement of Malaysian companies in projects under these economic and investment authorities.

Both welcomed the good efforts made to enhance the facilitation of cross-border trade in ensuring the smooth flow of goods and services and instructed relevant officials to continue their discussions and resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.

They expressed pleasure with the excellent defence relations and underscored the commitment of the two countries in promoting regional peace and stability. In this regard, both leaders expressed satisfaction with the continued participation of Brunei Darussalam in the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in southern Philippines.

His Majesty also extended his warmest appreciation to the Government of Malaysia for its participation in the Brunei International Tattoo, the 3rd Brunei International Defence Exhibition (BRIDEX), and the International Fleet Review held in July 2011.

Both leaders expressed happiness with the expanding cooperation in the field of education which has contributed to greater friendship and understanding. They also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Higher Education in October 2010, which reaffirmed the commitment to further enhance education programmes and activities.

They acknowledged the close cooperation by the Ministries of Health of the two countries and noted the progress made on the Joint Work Plans comprising information exchange, capacity building, research and joint operations, traditional medicine and non-communicable diseases.

They noted the proposed launch of the pioneer project of the Frequent Travellers Facility (FTF) and expressed confidence that it would further strengthen people-to-people interaction and travel between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.

Both noted the on-going efforts in enhancing tourism cooperation and in this regard, encouraged greater collaboration in the Islamic Tourism Package, aimed at attracting tourists by showcasing Islamic history and artefacts.

They welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding on Youth and Sports signed in July 2011 and expressed confidence that this will pave the way for closer cooperation and exchanges among youths, amongst others, in sports-related activities.

Both leaders recognised the importance of continuing cooperation in all sectors and, in the spirit of closer bilateral cooperation, urged the relevant authorities of both countries to work towards concluding as soon as possible: the Shipping Agreement; the Memorandum of Understanding on Exemption from Tax and Permission to Work for Qualified Individuals; and the Memorandum of Understanding on Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Both leaders also discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest. They looked forward to the convening of the 19th Asean Summit and its related Summits in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2011, in particular the expansion of the East Asia Summit and welcomed the participation of the United States and Russia at the Summit.

The leaders commended Indonesia on its Asean Chairmanship in particular the progress made in finalising the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea; facilitating the discussion process between Thailand and Cambodia on their border issue; and in ensuring Asean as a driving force in the regional architecture. The leaders expressed their best wishes and continued support to Indonesia in its preparations for the Summit meetings and in promoting an "Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations".

Both leaders expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of their Annual Consultation and expressed confidence of a new successful chapter in 2012. They recognised the importance of regular exchanges and visits in deepening the close relations and pledged to encourage more exchanges in the future.

His Majesty expressed his warmest greetings to all Malaysians on the blessed month of Ramadhan and wished them a joyous Hari Raya Aidilfitri 1432 Hijrah. The Malaysian Prime Minister returned his warmest greetings and wished all Bruneians a happy Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Both leaders agreed to meet in Malaysia in 2012 at the 16th Annual Consultation. - Borneo Bulletin (12th September 2011)