Sultan lauds cordial ties with Indonesia
By Azaraimy HH

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Dato Laila Utama Dr Hj Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia both praised the cordial and strong relationship between both countries.

His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pg Anak Hajah Saleha hosted a State Banquet at the Istana Nurul Iman last night in honour of the State Visit by the Indonesian president.

His Majesty in a titah said besides being a close neighbour, both countries share many similarities, especially in language, culture and religion.

His Majesty said these are all factors that create a better understanding between the two nations. Because of that, Brunei Darussalam is always sensitive towards the developments in Indonesia.

This has led both countries to forge an ever evolving two-way cooperation, which His Majesty said could be clearly seen in the increasing number of exchange visits at every level.

The monarch said besides being the third largest trade partner, Indonesia is the most important contributor of foreign workers in Brunei.

This contribution is most appreciated to help towards the development and progress of Brunei, His Majesty stated.

His Majesty also stated that both countries continue to explore new opportunities in order to enhance the scope of cooperation.

"As an example, we have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of agriculture," His Majesty said, adding, "I believe this agreement will provide more benefits to both countries, especially in strengthening the existing friendship.

"It can also create an added value in other fields, especially cooperation in the field of defence, education and communication."

As Brunei celebrated its 27th anniversary of its independence (Wednesday), it also means that Brunei and Indonesia diplomatic relations have lasted for a good 27 years, His Majesty said.

"Throughout these years, Indonesia, like other friendly countries, has worked closely with Brunei, especially in handling the challenges in the region," His Majesty said.

This year, His Majesty said, Indonesia becomes the chairman and host to Asean meetings, including the Asean Summit.

The theme "Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations" is in line with the aspiration of the Asean member nations to ensure that the Asean grouping will stay relevant inside and outside the region.

"I am confident that Indonesia as chairman this year will provide good leadership in the efforts towards realising the Asean Community by 2015," His Majesty said.

"To reach the aspiration and goals of the region, Brunei will always provide full support and work closely with its Asean neighbours, especially Indonesia," His Majesty stated.

"We have seen the role of Indonesia in handling important issues in the region and internationally, such as globalisation, climate change and democracy.

"The enrolment of Indonesia in G-20 grouping has also made us proud as Indonesia continues to address important issues of the region," His Majesty said.

The ruler also took the opportunity to wish Indonesia success during its chairmanship and hosting of 26th Asean meetings this year.

President Yudhoyono in his speech thanked Brunei for welcoming Indonesians to work in the Sultanate.

The president said Indonesia is really appreciative of Brunei's support and efforts towards establishing the Asean Community, which could be difficult without Brunei's support.

He said as a leader and on behalf of the people of Indonesia he would like to thank Brunei for the solidarity and assistance shown by the people and Brunei's leadership for the victims of tsunami in Mentawai and the earthquake in West Sumatra, and volcanic eruption in Central Jawa. He said Brunei's contributions have been meaningful in lessening the burden of the victims and in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

Also present at the State Banquet were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim; HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik; HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Masna, Amabssador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and HRH Princess Hajah Umi Kalthum Al-Islam as well as other members of the royal family.

The Indonesian president was accompanied by his wife Datin Ibu Hajah Ani Bambang Yudhoyono and a large entourage. - Borneo Bulletin (25th February 2011)