Closer Brunei-Vietnam ties
Fadhil Yunus

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam underscored that cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has grown in depth and scope over the past 20 years, covering many mutually beneficial areas ranging from technical assistance in education, to specific joint activities in trade, agriculture and defence, in a titah during a State Banquet hosted by His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha in honour of the State Visit of Truong Tan Sang, President of Vietnam and spouse at the Istana Nurul Iman last night.

Earlier in the day, after an audience ceremony, His Majesty and President Truong Tan Sang witnessed the signing ceremony of the Agreement between Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and the State Bank of Vietnam followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of oil and gas between Petroleum Brunei and PetroVietnam.

As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Brunei and Vietnam, His Majesty in the titah at the State Banquet said that "it is a fitting moment for us to celebrate this occasion together".

"We have a deep appreciation of the many firm friendships that we share throughout Southeast Asia particularly as members of Asean.

"And in this sense, Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam are bonded together by a very special memory," His Majesty said.

The monarch recalled, with great pleasure, the hoisting of the national flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Bandar Seri Begawan "when your country was admitted as a member of Asean in 1995".

"Three years after your country's admission Mr President, Vietnam hosted the 6th Asean Summit, which launched the Hanoi Plan of Action and started us on the path towards the Asean Community, which we all hope to realise in two years' time," His Majesty continued.

His Majesty added: "During the years since then, we have witnessed the remarkable growth of your country, both in terms of industrial and economic progress, and the development of your capital city of Hanoi into a vibrant centre for finance and business."

Also present at the State Banquet were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al- Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam as well as other members of the royal family.

His Majesty also expressed his admiration of Vietnam's commitment to regional and international understanding and congratulated on all of the nation's achievements. In concluding his titah, His Majesty wished Truong Tan Sang and spouse, Madam Mai Thi Hanh, a pleasant stay in Brunei.

In a return speech, President Truong Tan Sang expressed his appreciation of His Majesty's leadership in turning Brunei Darussalam into one of the wealthiest countries in the region, which proudly owns a well-developed oil and gas sector and various advanced social security policies.

"We firmly believe that under the wise reign of Their Majesties, the people of Brunei Darussalam will achieve the "National Vision 2035" and turn Brunei Darussalam into a country of prosperity and development with an increasing role and position in the region and the world, where the people enjoy the lives of great well-being and happiness," Truong Tan Sang said.

He also highly valued Brunei's role as one of the leading investors in Vietnam with 129 projects totalling US$4.9 billion.

"We are confident that with the determination of our leaders and people, potential areas of cooperation such as labour, oil and gas, tourism and construction will be tapped and see positive growth, commensurate with the countries' huge potential and excellent bilateral relations," Truong Tan Sang said.

The Vietnamese President elaborated the significance of Brunei as a country that marked an important milestone in Vietnam's history of regional and international cooperation. "It was in the beautiful capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan where Vietnam officially became the seventh member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in July, 1995," Truong Tan Sang said.

He noted with great satisfaction the positive growth in their friendship and cooperation in all areas. "Our political ties have been increasingly strengthened by the exchange of high-level visits and contacts while our ties in economic, trade, investment, security and defence, education and training, agriculture and fishery have been expanded with substantial outcomes," Truong Tan Sang continued.

On Brunei's Chairmanship of Asean and AIPA in 2013, the Vietnamese President took the opportunity to wish Brunei every success and towards "making proactive and effective contribution to Asean's enhanced solidarity and centrality in an evolving regional architecture".

In ending his speech, Truong Tan Sang looked forward to welcoming Their Majesties to Vietnam. - Borneo Bulletin (28 November 2012)