Sultan arrives in Bangkok
Danial Norjidi in Bangkok, Thailan

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived in Bangkok yesterday, marking the start of an official four-day visit to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Present to greet His Majesty at Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport were: Air Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, the Privy Counsellor of Thailand; General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; and, Arak Chonlatanond, the Minister of Energy of Thailand as the Minister-in-Attendance.

Also present were Apichart Phetaratna, the Ambassador of Thailand to Brunei Darussalam; Dato Paduka Awang Haji Kamis bin Haji Tamin, the Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Thailand; and, other senior officials from the Government of Thailand.

His Majesty later consented to inspect a static guard mounted by the Royal Thai Armed Forces.

During the visit, His Majesty will pay a goodwill call on His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and will also be meeting Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minster of Thailand.

This official visit of His Majesty to the Kingdom of Thailand is on the invitation of Thailand's Prime Minister.

According to a press release from the Prime Minister's Office, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand enjoy close bilateral ties, covering a wide range of cooperation including trade, agriculture, education, defence, information and health. Both countries have also been active in promoting regional cooperation within Asean. Both countries have enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations since 1984.

An official welcoming ceremony will be held late in the evening today at the Government House, followed by bilateral discussions with Yingluck.

According to the Department of Information under Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, topics of discussion between the two leaders will include various issues of cooperation, particularly agricultural cooperation, educational cooperation and cooperation in the Halal industry.

A dinner will also be hosted by Yingluck in honour of His Majesty at the Government House.

A statement from the Department of Information under Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "The official visit to Thailand of His Majesty will provide a good opportunity for Thailand and Brunei Darussalam to further enhance their mutual cooperation for the benefit of the two countries and peoples.

"The frequent exchanges of high-level visits in the past 28 years have helped expand cooperation between the two countries.

"Both sides are keen to expand and deepen cooperation in the areas of agriculture, energy, education, labour and the Halal industry."

The Chief of Protocol for Thailand, Chakarin Chayabongse, said: "This is a very, very special visit. It is a pleasure and honour to receive His Majesty, not only for the Thai Government but for the whole nation ... The people have been looking forward to it very much, as you can see from the welcoming signs along the way from the airport."

According to him, ties between Brunei Darussalam and Thailand are not only close in terms of relations between nations but also between the two royal families, whereby the Thai King and the Sultan of Brunei are also Heads of State.

When asked if this visit would further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, Chakarin said: "Yes, certainly. As the Chief of Protocol and as a Thai citizen, we have very much looked forward to the visit of His Majesty, and this is very, very special for us."

Earlier, while in Brunei, His Majesty was bade farewell at the Royal Hangar in Rimba by HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik. - Borneo Bulletin (30 June 2012)