Prince attends ACD meetings

HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, yesterday attended the opening ceremony of the 12th Asia Cooperation Dialogue meeting in Manama conducted by Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

His Royal Highness delivered a statement on the theme of the dialogue, “Promoting Intra-Asean Tourism”.

His Royal Highness yesterday afternoon joined fellow ministers and heads of delegation at an audience given by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain at Gudhaybiya Palace.

The audience was followed by a banquet luncheon hosted by His Majesty.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah Sunday evening joined fellow ministers and heads of delegation at a dinner hosted by Shaikh Khalid to welcome delegates to the 12th Asia Cooperation Dialogue.

In the statement delivered at the ACD, HRH expressed deepest sympathy “to our fellow citizens of Asia in the Philippines who are suffering from the terrible effects of Typhoon Haiyan”.

HRH welcomed friends and colleagues from the Republic of Turkey. “They have a tremendous contribution to offer, and it’s good to have them with us. Historically, they form a unique bridge between east and west, so on this occasion, my congratulations to them from our Asian side of the bridge.

“I mention ‘bridges’ deliberately because we may not be talking about them much longer. Just before coming here, I heard a broadcast about the global economy. ‘In less than ten years,’ it predicted, ‘it will be driven by Asia’.

“So, if that is true, we won’t be crossing bridges any more, they won’t exist. Corporations and companies will have knocked them all down. We’ll all be travelling along an open road. This means that the ACD needs to do more than just wander along behind. It needs to be up at the front, setting the pace. And that means having a clear sense of direction and purpose. In the words of our first declaration 12 years ago, it should represent ‘a cohesive region in its own right’,” HRH said.

“Asia as the driving force of the world economy now seems to be a certainty and the big powers and the global corporations will certainly benefit from this. But the possible benefits to Asia’s ordinary people are in no way certain. They could well end up being just the fuel in the machine, rather than the drivers.

“The ACD has a part to play in ensuring that this doesn’t happen. Our people all across Asia must benefit from globalisation. They have to have confidence in the process. That comes from a feeling that they are all part of modern development. Deep down, they need to know that their history, their culture, their faiths and their ways of life are valued, protected, and enjoyed.

“That is why I think the proposal here to start doing this through tourism is an excellent one. After all, the tourism industry is a symbol of globalism.

“And like all aspects of modern development, it can have very different results. On the one hand, it can confirm all that our people fear about globalisation, or if successful, it can build common respect and common hope in a world community. So, our efforts have to be imaginative and thoughtful.

“The Manama Declaration, we feel, commits us to this approach, and this is why we thank you very much indeed for the imagination and thought that has gone into it. We will be pleased to give it our full support,” said HRH. - Borneo Bulletin (26 November 2013)