Brunei and S'pore reaffirm close ties
By Waleed PD Mahdini in Singapore

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday afternoon called on the President of the Republic of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, and senior statesman of the island republic, Mr Lee Kwan Yew.

His Majesty was greeted at the steps of the Istana by Dr Tan and ushered in to sign the Visitor's Book before proceeding to the second floor of the Istana West Drawing Room for the bilateral meeting.

Prior to being elected as the island republic's seventh President, Dr Tan had also served as Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister from 1995 to 2003.

Both leaders welcomed the close and strong ties between Brunei and Singapore, and reaffirmed their commitment to further increase bilateral cooperation across a wide range of fields including defence, finance and people-to-people exchanges.

Both leaders also agreed on the importance of working closely in Asean to ensure regional stability, particularly in today's unpredictable global climate, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

His Majesty was later led to the Istana East Drawing Room for a four-eye meeting with Mr Lee Kwan Yew.

Despite his age (89), Mr Lee, often popularly dubbed the 'Father of Modern Singapore', still has that glint in his eye as he politely asked the media frantically taking photos of the two famous statesmen of Asean whether they had taken enough, as the room continued to be bathed by camera flashes.

At both meetings, His Majesty was accompanied by Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II and Pengiran Hj Abdul Haris bin Pengiran Hj Shabudin, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office.

Yesterday evening, Singaporean Prime Minister hosted His Majesty to an informal dinner at the upmarket Clifford Restaurant at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.

Welcoming His Majesty upon arrival was Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, for their informal dinner.

PM Lee thanked His Majesty's strong support of the Singapore Airshow and for the close defence relationship between Singapore and Brunei.

Both leaders also exchanged views on regional and international developments, and discussed various proposals to strengthen the bilateral relationship even further.

Also present were Pehin Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, as well as Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam.

Following their fine French dining, the two leaders took a stroll to the Lantern Cafe, on the hotel roof top, where they were joined by Madam Ho Ching, wife of the Singaporean premier.

After taking in the waterfront sights and sounds, the Singaporean First Couple escorted His Majesty back to the foyer to bid the monarch farewell. - Borneo Bulletin (17th February 2012)