His Majesty, PM Lee vow to enhance special relationship
Fadhil Yunus

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam underlined the warm and mutually beneficial relationship that both Brunei and Singapore have enjoyed for many decades, which traced back before the independence of both nations, in a titah during an official dinner hosted by His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha in honour of the official visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong and his spouse at the Istana Nurul Iman.

"This special relationship was established by my late father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, and your own distinguished father, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew," His Majesty added.

Continuing the progress that the two nations have built on and achieved in their respective ways, His Majesty agreed that it "is testimony to the far-sighted leadership of our fathers".

"It is now your duty (Singapore PM Lee) and mine to further nurture and strengthen this relationship into the years ahead," His Majesty added.

His Majesty said that in reference to the Singapore Prime Minister's recent speech in Singapore, "the past can be a good guide for the future, the future will not necessarily continue in accordance with the past".

Also present at the official dinner were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah; HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik; HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; as well as other members of the royal family.

His Majesty further elaborated that the rapid pace of globalisation presents many challenges, adding that all countries have to confront both individually and collectively.

"These challenges affect among other things, international finance, economics and all aspects of security.

"They also have an impact upon our people's day-to-day lives and their view of the future," His Majesty said.

With the view that if these challenges are not met successfully, His Majesty said that "they could threaten the peace and stability, which we all rely upon to ensure a brighter future for our people".

His Majesty highlighted the need to ensure that "globalisation, which brings with it new technology, free trade, economic integration and modern communications, does not endanger the security and well-being of the people".

His Majesty also expressed pleasure that in areas where globalisation is commonly driven in a rapid pace with far-reaching change, the most significant aspects of cooperation between both nations are in the areas of education, health, trade and defence.

"The confidence that we have in our work together is evidenced in our long standing monetary agreements and our defence consultations, including training programmes and joint exercises," His Majesty said.

His Majesty further added that both countries have established useful cooperation in the areas of health and medicine, as well as in business, commerce, educational, cultural and sporting exchanges.

Regionally His Majesty said both are engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which both countries are two of the originators.

His Majesty also expressed appreciation to the many Singaporeans presently living, working and offering their energy and talent to contribute to the development of the nation.

"We look forward with keen anticipation to continue to work closely with Singapore and all other members of our regional community during Brunei's Chairmanship of Asean next year," His Majesty continued.

His Majesty offered his warmest congratulations on Singapore's remarkable achievements in so many areas of modern life.

In ending his titah, His Majesty expressed great pleasure in welcoming the Singapore Prime Minister and Madame Ho Ching to Brunei.

In a return speech, the Singapore Prime Minister said both leaders Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Al-Marhum Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan worked hard to secure the future of Singapore and Brunei, and in the process became friends.

"We were small states in a turbulent region, grappling with the British withdrawal," the Singapore Prime Minister said, before continuing that with their leadership at that time, it was the beginning of the nations' long and close partnership.

The prime minister said many Bruneians fondly remember their times as students in the Brunei Government Hostel on Tanglin Hill in Singapore. He thanked His Majesty, the government and all Bruneians for welcoming the Singaporean community in Brunei with open arms.

"Our relationship continues to benefit from strong personal ties at all levels," reaffirmed Prime Minister Lee.

The prime minister also expressed his confidence that under the guidance of His Majesty, Brunei's Chairmanship (of Asean) will be successful and productive.

"Singapore pledges Brunei our full support during your chairmanship," he added.

Expressing his appreciation on the cooperation in defence, especially with regards to jungle training, PM Lee said that training in Temburong has become a rite of passage for many Singaporeans.

"Just last week, we commemorated 45 years of National Service. I attended the celebration, and was struck by how fondly our national servicemen remember their time in Brunei and their warm reception by Bruneians," he said.

With the 45th anniversary of the nations' Currency Interchangeability Agreement (CIA), which further highlighted the countries' strong relationship in the many areas of existing cooperation, PM Lee said that the CIA is a unique and mutually beneficial arrangement, which has facilitated trade, investments and travel.

"I am therefore glad that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) are starting a formal dialogue to discuss financial issues of mutual interest," the prime minister said.

"I am also happy that we are deepening our cooperation in education, including in Malay Language teaching, special education, pre-school education and school twinning. As Your Majesty mentioned at the recent Asia Cooperation Dialogue Summit, education is the best way to prepare our citizens to face the challenges of the modern world," he continued.

He emphasised that these new initiatives will keep their cooperation current and relevant as well as to deepen their mutual understanding.

He also thanked His Majesty for agreeing to his proposal for Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to bring several of his younger ministers to Brunei next year to meet with His Majesty's younger ministers and officials.

In ending his speech, he said that he looked forward to working with His Majesty to enhance their ties and build on the special relationship between both countries for many years to come.

"I deeply appreciate Your Majesty's personal efforts to strengthen the ties between our countries and encourage closer interaction among our ministers, officials and people," he said.

Earlier, His Majesty had a four-eye meeting with the Singapore Prime Minister at the Istana Nurul Iman.

According to a media release by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the leaders expressed satisfaction with the strong ties between Brunei and Singapore.

PM Lee noted that their defence relationship was one of the hallmarks of their ties. Both defence establishments have built up excellent links through joint exercises, training and other cooperative agreements.

Both leaders also noted that their respective postal authorities would jointly launch a commemorative stamp later this year as part of the 45th anniversary of the CIA.

Among the issues agreed by both leaders are the importance of maintaining regular exchanges, in which the Singapore Prime Minister extended an invitation to His Majesty to visit Singapore and the importance of strengthening people-to-people ties. - Borneo Bulletin (30 October 2012)