TPP: Royal call for practical and pragmatic approach
Danial Norjidi in Phnom Penh

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to attend a number of meetings on the final day of the 21st Asean Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh yesterday.

His Majesty together with other leaders first attended the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Leaders' Meeting. In this meeting, the monarch delivered a statement expressing satisfaction on the progress of the TPP agreement, the development of the negotiation and welcomed Mexico and Canada into the group.

His Majesty commented that the negotiation in Auckland, New Zealand is an important one towards reaching agreement in several areas, as there is a common objective for substantial work completion by next year and Brunei Darussalam is ready to cooperate with TPP partners to address any challenges in the discussions.

His Majesty also stated that for Brunei Darussalam, TPP is the most ambitious free trade agreement that is being embarked upon and there are significant challenges that a small developing nation need to address.

The monarch was appreciative of the assistance offered by the partners especially in clarifying the understanding of matters raised. His Majesty shared some key concerns on some of the chapters and on a number of commitments proposed for Brunei Darussalam, saying that it is important for the agreement to have built-in flexibilities and scope for capacity-building. His Majesty believed this is one of the ways forward to encounter the challenges.

His Majesty, in his titah, continued to support the end-goal of a 21st Century agreement and by doing so, there is a need to be practical and pragmatic in approach, adding that there should be an agreement that all partners can support and implement effectively.

His Majesty suggested that the negotiators be innovative and exercise more flexibility and continue to work in the spirit of cooperation and friendship to ensure the success of the discussions.

After the meeting, His Majesty consented to join other leaders to attend the East Asia Leaders' Luncheon.

Later, His Majesty and other leaders proceeded to the Plenary Session of the 7th East Asia Summit (EAS), which His Majesty said has seen much progress over the past seven years and some ideas are being implemented.

His Majesty touched on a few areas of cooperation where more work could be done such as in the energy security which provides opportunities to further strengthen efforts to respond to the uncertainty in the global energy market and the growing energy demand.

The cooperation on energy should complement the work in addressing climate change, and His Majesty stated that Brunei has already embarked on Green initiatives through renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation and the establishment of a national institute to develop energy technologies.

The monarch welcomed all EAS members to work on these efforts and also to the United States of America which has come up with a proposal on an energy partnership such as renewable and cleaner energy, which are some of the matters to be explored next year.

His Majesty then encouraged EAS members to work together to enhance the cooperation on sustainable development and environmental protection.

His Majesty stated that Brunei Darussalam will offer ten Masters' scholarship on Public Policy including on Energy and Environmental Policy and Management annually for the first three years to EAS countries.

His Majesty also added that the other aspect of climate change is the relation to the increasing number of natural disasters. In recent years, there has been a need for a collective and coordinated response to disasters, and to build on this, next year in June, Brunei Darussalam will host a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Military Medicines Exercise under the ADMM Plus. His Majesty expressed appreciation on the participation of all EAS members to the events.

At the end of the titah, His Majesty suggested to the EAS members to review the EAS process to enhance cooperation so that it can bring benefits to the people in the region and the world at large.

After the session, His Majesty together with other EAS leaders proceeded to attend a retreat session of the 7th East Asia Summit. In this session, His Majesty stated the efforts to achieve regional and international peace, stability and security are continued to be undermined by geo-political and economic challenges.

The monarch also mentioned that the leaders are also faced with uncertainty of ensuring that the people have access to food and energy as leaders worry about the impact of climate change and the fear of prolonged economic and financial slowdown.

His Majesty believed as a collective regional grouping, EAS can concentrate efforts on activities that will promote an understanding of each other's culture and beliefs and strengthen the relationship by forging deeper friendships between the people.

His Majesty also suggested a few initiatives by supporting educational programmes which will encourage interaction between the youths and support initiatives that will prioritise tolerance and mutual respect between the countries.

Such examples are the Alliance of Civilisations as well as the Global Movement of Moderates. These, His Majesty said, can add new dimensions to the cooperation and give new meaning to the work.

The monarch added further that the Gaza situation continues to worsen and the plight of the Palestinian people remains unresolved. Despite the shared hope for a peaceful resolution, all sides remain entrenched in their respective positions.

His Majesty advised the wider international community to find a lasting and durable resolution to this conflict and at the same time, to recognise the value that tolerance and understanding can play in the effort to achieve peace in the conflict as well as others around the world.

His Majesty lastly hoped that the leaders can seize every opportunity to promote such principle.

After the summit, His Majesty consented to join other leaders at Nuon Srey Hall, Peace Palace for the official launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Negotiation, before receiving the Asean Chairmanship from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in the closing ceremony.

Aside from the summit meetings, the monarch also consented to hold separate bilateral meetings with John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand and Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.

During the bilateral meetings, the leaders exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual concerns.

Accompanying His Majesty to the summits and related meetings yesterday were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awg Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awg Hj Mohammad Yasmin bin Hj Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office and other senior officials. - Borneo Bulletin (21 November 2012)