Sultan accepts invitation for State Visit to Sípore
Hakim Hayat

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore reaffirmed the strong and longstanding ties between Brunei and Singapore during an audience ceremony held after being officially welcomed at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.

Joining His Majesty to welcome the visiting President and his spouse Mrs Mary Tan was Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha. The President is here on a three-day State Visit at the invitation of His Majesty. This is his first State Visit to Brunei after being elected as President in 2011.

According to a press statement from the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the audience held at the Cheradi Laila Kenchana, both leaders noted the close defence cooperation between both countries and the President expressed his appreciation to His Majesty and the people of Brunei for allowing the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to conduct training in Brunei.

It added both leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Currency Interexchangeablity Agreement in facilitating trade, investment and tourism between Brunei and Singapore.

Both leaders also welcomed efforts to strengthen close cooperation in other areas such as education, healthcare and promote stronger people-to-people ties, especially amongst youths, between both countries.

His Majesty and the President also agreed on the importance of maintaining regular high-level exchanges. The press statement also said, ďHis Majesty accepted the Presidentís invitation to make a State Visit to Singapore.Ē

The President also expressed satisfaction that the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Teo Chee Hean would be leading a delegation of young Singapore ministers to meet His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Ministerís Office and young Bruneian leaders later this year.

Both leaders also discussed regional and global developments. The President also expressed Singaporeís full support for Bruneiís Chairmanship of Asean and welcomed Bruneiís leadership towards achieving an Asean Community by 2015.

Earlier at the official welcoming ceremony, Their Majesties formally welcomed the President and his spouse at the forecourt of the Istana Nurul Iman.

Present yesterday were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Ministerís Office and HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and HRH Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah as well as HRH Prince ĎAbdul Malik.

Also present were HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Saíadatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other members of the royal family.

Their Majesties together with President Dr Tony Tan and his spouse duly proceeded to the royal dais to receive the royal salute. National Anthems of both countries were played followed by a 21-gun salute. Both leaders later inspected the guard of honour mounted by personnel from the Royal Brunei Land Force.

Following the official welcoming ceremony, the Singaporean President and his spouse were introduced to members of the royal family; state dignitaries; Cabinet Ministers; Deputy Ministers; Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF); Commissioner of Police and foreign envoys in Brunei as well as Permanent Secretaries at the Prime Ministerís Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and their respective spouses.

Their Majesties were later introduced to the members of delegation of the Singaporean President. His delegation includes Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health; Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Education; S Jayaratnam, High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to Brunei Darussalam; Mr Ong Teng Koon, Member of Parliament; Mr Alex Yam, Member of Parliament; and other senior officials from Singapore.

The Singaporean President and his spouse were welcomed by some 2,000 students cheering and waving miniature flags of both countries along the road towards the Istana Nurul Iman.

During the visit, the President is also scheduled to visit the Muara Naval Base and Youth Centre. He will also attend a lunch with Bruneian ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries who have previously studied in Singapore. In addition, the President will meet with overseas Singaporeans based in Brunei at a dinner reception, and visit SAF personnel and families based in the Sultanate. - Borneo Bulletin (29 May 2013)