Call to realise twin visions to make Bimp-Eaga attractive
By Azaraimy HH in Jakarta

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday attended the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit along with his counterparts from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the Jakarta Convention Centre.

The summit amongst others discussed progress that had been achieved since the First BIMP-EAGA Summit in 2003.

The 18th Asean Summit concluded yesterday and His Majesty attended the Retreat Session; a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic; 18th Asean Summit Plenary Session (concluding); and the BIMP-EAGA Summit.

In a titah, His Majesty commended the achievements of BIMP-EAGA in strengthening connectivity within the sub-region, particularly on easing the movement of goods and people through its borders, and believed that this momentum should be continued.

His Majesty emphasised that BIMP-EAGA should expedite work towards achieving its twin visions as the "Food Basket" for Asean and Asia as well as a "Premier Eco-tourism Destination", as this would provide greater business opportunities for its people and would increase the sub-region's attractiveness in bringing more investments from outside the region.

His Majesty noted that the implementation of projects and programmes remain a great challenge in the sub-regional cooperation and an "Implementation Blueprint" was currently being prepared, which would identify the necessary steps and measures to ensure that BIMP-EAGA's projects and programmes are being followed through and implemented in a timely manner.

While BIMP-EAGA continues to look into the development of infrastructures and industries within the sub-region, His Majesty also believed that BIMP-EAGA's wealth of ecological diversity is also something which it could capitalise on in a sustainable manner.

At the end of the summit, the leaders agreed to issue a joint statement.

Meanwhile, His Majesty called for an overall review of Asean's Plus One relations and came up with recommendations on the future direction of the relationships in order to ensure that Asean would reap the fullest benefits from these partnerships.

His Majesty suggested the East Asia Vision Group to look at steps to intensify collaboration in human resource development; education; trade and economic cooperation; as well as in disaster management.

At the Retreat Session, leaders of Asean, amongst others, discussed about Asean's external relations.

In a titah, His Majesty noted that Asean's external relations has evolved into various processes and has become pivotal to Asean's developments.

On Asean's relations with the Plus One partners, His Majesty highlighted that while looking at how best to strengthen these, Asean should take advantage of the partners' strong points and look at how best it could work with them.

On the Asean Plus Three cooperation, His Majesty emphasised that it has developed into one of the most progressive and comprehensive mechanisms in the region.

On the East Asia Summit (EAS), His Majesty stated that it has evolved into another important regional framework in the region and much progress has been achieved in the five priority areas, namely energy; finance; education; avian influenza protection; and disaster management. His Majesty added that there is a need for Asean to prepare itself, and clearly identify its interests, and reach a common approach on how Asean could maintain its lead. His Majesty reiterated that Asean could look at areas beyond the five priority areas and strengthen its work in disaster management and connectivity.

His Majesty further reiterated the importance of ensuring the Asean Plus One, Asean Plus Three and the EAS processes remain flexible and dynamic, so that Asean and its partners could optimise the benefits in a win-win partnership.

His Majesty also touched on the theme of the 18th summit and stressed the need for Asean to chart a long-term view of how an Asean Community could help shape the dynamic regional architecture and global order and stressed the importance for Asean to raise its profile in the global community through actions and contributions to show its relevance and have its say in the international affairs.

In this regard, His Majesty underscored the importance of realising the goal of Asean Community, as this would further increase Asean's standing as an effective and responsible regional association capable of contributing globally.

In the afternoon, His Majesty attended the 18th Asean Summit Plenary Session (concluding) along with other heads of state and governments of Asean.

At this 18th Asean Summit, leaders agreed to issue a Joint Statement on the Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations; a Joint Statement on the Establishment of an Asean Institute for Peace and Reconciliation; and a Joint Statement on Enhancing Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons in South East Asia. - Borneo Bulletin (9th May 2011)