Closer Brunei-NZ ties lauded

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday hailed the close relations between Brunei and New Zealand in education, defence and trade.

His Majesty delivered a titah at the State Banquet held in honour of His Majestyís State Visit to New Zealand, which was held at the Government House, Wellington.

His Majesty was received on arrival at the Porrit Room of the Government House by Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor General of New Zealand and his spouse, Lady Janine Mateparae.

At the State Banquet, Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Governor General of New Zealand made his welcoming remarks and His Majesty in a titah expressed his appreciation to the Governor General, the Government and the people of New Zealand for the hospitality they have rendered to His Majesty and delegation.

His Majesty stated that it was his fourth visit to New Zealand and was impressed with the scenic landscape, culture and history and the friendliness of the people. His Majesty further added that Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand have had diplomatic relationship for nearly 29 years and have known each other better through frequent visits and through working together in many areas both bilaterally and regionally.

His Majesty mentioned that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince have had fond memories of his visit to New Zealand 10 years ago. Hence, despite the physical distance, Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand have always remained close friends, the monarch said.

His Majesty further stated that he met the Brunei students in Wellington yesterday and added that many of Bruneiís future medical professionals are studying at Otago University. The students are contented with their studies and stay in New Zealand, His Majesty said.

The ruler once again conveyed his appreciation to New Zealandís longstanding support in the area of education which helps to enhance the human resources development and the increasing number of Bruneians coming to study there have brought the two countries much closer.

Another feature of cooperation, His Majesty added, is in the field of defence, as military personnel from both countries have undergone trainings and joint exercises together. These have been mutually beneficial, said His Majesty and hoped the people of New Zealand have found the training in Bruneiís jungle valuable to their career and is happy to continue the arrangement.

His Majesty also valued the cooperation between the Defence Academy and Massey University which have benefited the countries in the region. His Majesty said he was pleased that the collaboration was being expanded to include a Masters Programme later in the year as it is an encouraging progress towards realising the Academyís aim to be a centre of excellence.

His Majesty said New Zealand is an important trading partner and is satisfied with the progress of moving beyond the existing agreements such as the P4 and the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area into more comprehensive engagements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which have the potential to further deepen the relationship and open new business opportunities for the private sector within the wider East Asia and Asia-Pacific Region.

Other potential areas which His Majesty touched on are of agriculture, technical education and the environment all of which New Zealand is renowned for. His Majesty further added that as two small and peaceful nations, both countries are actively collaborating in international bodies like Asean, Apec, the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

Brunei Darussalam, the monarch said, values New Zealand as one of Aseanís older dialogue partners and for the active role in the international affairs.

His Majesty stated that Brunei Darussalam is the Asean Chair and will look forward to working closely with New Zealand to further enhance the cooperation both in the dialogue relations and East Asia Summit (EAS) and later expressed gratitude for the continued support.

His Majesty lastly conveyed his appreciation to the people of New Zealand for their contribution in Brunei Darussalamís development as many Bruneians remember New Zealanders as their teachers, mentors, colleagues and friends.

His Majesty believes the spirit of friendship between the two countries will always be anchored by the people-to-people links.

His Majesty said he looked forward to welcoming the Governor General and the Prime Minister of New Zealand to Brunei Darussalam.

Accompanying His Majesty to the meeting and the ceremonies were Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Education; Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Penggawa Laila Bentara Istiadat Diraja Dalam Istana Pengiran Haji Alauddin bin Pengiran Paduka Tuan Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, the Grand Chamberlain; Datin Paduka Tan Bee Yong, the non-resident High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to New Zealand; and Permanent Secretary at the Prime Ministerís Office as well as other senior government officials. - Borneo Bulletin (27 March 2013)