Brunei and Timor-Leste aim to boost cooperation
Siti Hajar

THE bilateral relationship between Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste is slated to be taken to new heights as both nations begin to explore potential areas of cooperation.

In a titah delivered last night at a banquet held in honour of Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and Security of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said the Sultanate, “looks forward to working with Timor-Leste in the areas of education, tourism and energy”. The monarch emphasised that this move has in mind not just the welfare of both populations but also the region as a whole.

Welcoming Timor-Leste’s setting up of an embassy in the Abode of Peace, His Majesty said, “Your visit gives us an opportunity to enhance both the personal friendship as well as the warm bilateral ties between our two countries and peoples”.

Accompanying His Majesty during the banquet were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik, as well as Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“As one of the world’s newest nation states,” His Majesty said, “Timor-Leste has developed into an exemplary nation and valued member of the international community”. And with the prime minister’s leadership, which the monarch described as astute, Timor-Leste has risen “to impressive levels of development and achieved positive economic progress despite the global crisis”.

Considered a very young nation that was founded in 1975, His Majesty highlighted that Timor-Leste has achieved a number of milestones in spite of its stature. Among its accomplishments are assuming Chairmanship of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asean-Pacific as well as Presidency of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries this year.

“In addition,” elaborated His Majesty, “the establishment of the Timor-Leste Cooperation Agency to provide assistance to post-conflict states reflects the readiness of your country and people to help others through your own hard earned experiences”, and such an effort “should be commended”.

With Timor-Leste expressing interest in being a part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), His Majesty assured the country that, “Brunei Darussalam will continue to support your membership to Asean”, as he mentioned Timor-Leste’s attendance when Brunei hosted the 35th Ministerial Meeting over a decade ago.

In expressing confidence that the prime minister’s visit “will pave the way for greater cooperation between our two countries”, His Majesty said the country’s government and the Bruneian people extended “our warmest greetings and best wishes to you and the people of Timor-Leste”.

In his reply speech, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao expressed his gratitude for the hospitality that his delegation had received since his arrival yesterday afternoon.

He described Brunei as a “sparkling diamond in our region as a place of peace, prosperity and culture”. He said the country “demonstrates what can be achieved with a clear vision, effective governance and outstanding leadership”. He said, “Timor-Leste has much to learn from Brunei’s success and we are pleased to be here to draw inspiration from your achievements.”

During their three-day official visit, the prime minister shared that his delegation “will be closely in touch” with their respective counterparts “with the aim to explore opportunities of cooperation between our two countries”, whilst at the same time looking into a number of areas to be followed with further correspondence to “address the issues of mutual benefits”.

With Timor-Leste “committed to being a positive member of our regional community”, he extended his appreciation to His Majesty for the monarch’s support of Timor-Leste’s ambition towards becoming a full member state in Asean.

“Asean is a global success that has created a regional zone of peace, stability and economic development and Timor-Leste looks forward to contributing to this regional body and working together with our neighbours.”

He said Brunei is “a true friend of Timor-Leste and I hope, one day soon, to be able to return this hospitality to you in our capital of Dili”. - Borneo Bulletin (16 March 2014)