Diplomats laud Sultan's vision
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pg Anak Hajah Saleha consented to attend a reception organised by the resident Heads of Diplomatic Mission accredited to Brunei Darussalam.

Also present at the ceremony held at Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna and YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz.

Welcoming His Majesty and the royal family were a party of High Commissioners and Ambassadors and their spouses led by Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Joseph Koh, the High Commissioner of Singapore to Brunei.

Following the arrival of Their Majesties and Their Royal Highnesses at the Royal Berkshire Hall, Their Majesties joined other members of the royal family in a group photograph with Heads of Diplomatic Mission and their spouses.

On behalf of the diplomatic corps, the dean thanked Their Majesties for giving the diplomats the opportunity to demonstrate their great respect and deep admiration for Their Majesties, and expressed their profound appreciation for all the hospitality, graciousness, and friendship that Their Majesties have extended to the diplomatic community. The dean also thanked other members of the royal family for their presence and their friendship and support.

His Majesty consented to receive, as a pesambah, a carved walnut panel created for His Majesty by a craftsman from Turquoise Mountain. Turquoise Mountain is a charitable foundation in Afghanistan, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of local Islamic and artistic traditions.

The diplomatic corps chose this gift for His Majesty from Turquoise Mountain as a token of admiration for His Majesty's leadership in support of Islamic art and culture.

Mr Koh said, "On behalf of the diplomatic corps, we want to pay tributes and salute His Majesty for exemplary statesmanship and we can see this very clearly in the active participation in Apec in Hawaii, Asean and related summit meetings in Bali.

"We would like to salute His Majesty for extending assistance to disaster relief operations around the world. Around the globe, the "Abode of Peace" has continued to contribute to humanitarian efforts to ease suffering from natural disasters and joined in peace monitoring missions. To combat climate change, Brunei has been making strides to protect the environment, preserve its biodiversity, and increase energy efficiency and conservation.

"To build up a knowledge-based economy, it has been promoting research and investing in human capital development. I speak for all of us in the diplomatic community when I say that we stand ready to continue to work with His Majesty's Government in these and other endeavours."

Meanwhile US Ambassador Daniel Shields said he enjoyed the direct interaction with His Majesty. "It is very kind of him to spend some time with the diplomatic corps. It is our intention to express our appreciation to His Majesty and the Brunei Government for making lives in the Sultanate so productive and enjoyable.

"We certainly expressed our appreciation. Brunei Darussalam has been doing so much in the Asia-Pacific community. As the US Ambassador, one thing that is very much in my mind is the very active and positive role that Brunei was able to play under His Majesty's leadership in the recent Apec meeting in Hawaii.

"I know that President Obama greatly enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to interact (with the leaders) in Hawaii. We very much welcomed the news that Sikorsky, would be supplying the Royal Brunei Air Force with 12 S-70i helicopters which we see as part of the closer relations between the two countries. There are still some details to be finalised. But we are grateful for the decision that Brunei has made."

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador Noriki Hirose said he appreciated His Majesty's initiatives especially in the area of economy. "Brunei needs fresh growth to accommodate the younger generation with jobs. One way to expand opportunities is by exploring downstream oil and gas sector. His Majesty has decided a good way by inviting world leading companies to invest in Brunei, as it is a good place to invest due to its political stability and good natural resources.

"It is fortunate for leading Japanese companies like Mitsui to invest in the Sultanate. Mitsubishi and Mitsui are the two major Japanese groups that have their presence in Brunei. I hope the new investment will provide good job opportunities for Bruneian youths." - Borneo Bulletin (30th November 2011)