His Majesty hails Brunei’s special ties with Singapore
Syafiq Affendy

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night lauded the special ties between Brunei and Singapore that the ruler has seen them grow into an all-encompassing relationship that it is today and suggested that both governments develop a “Future Generation” programme to instil greater friendship and appreciation between the peoples of both countries, particularly youth.

His Majesty said this in a titah as the monarch and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha last night consented to attend a State Banquet hosted by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore and Mrs Tan Keng Yam. Prior to the State Banquet, His Majesty held a four-eye meeting with Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Dr Tony Tan in his welcoming remarks expressed his happiness to see His Majesty and Her Majesty on a State Visit to Singapore and praised the continuous close relationship between both countries.

A new leadership programme for youths in Singapore and Brunei will commence in the second half of this year, said Dr Tony Tan. He also said he was looking forward to commemorating the Currency Interchangeability Agreement’s 50th anniv-ersary in 2017.

Upon arrival at the President Palace for the State Banquet, His Majesty and Her Majesty were greeted by Dr Tony Tan and wife.

Accompanying Their Majesties were HRH Prince ‘Abdul Malik and HRH Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

His Majesty firstly expressed his and Her Majesty’s appreciation to the President, the Government and people of Singapore for the generous hospitality accorded to both of them and their delegation. Both His Majesty and Her Majesty were happy to see many friends attending the dinner, who have contributed to the special relations between the two countries.

His Majesty said Singapore has always been a good and close friend of Brunei. In this regard, His Majesty thanked the President most warmly for his contributions throughout his distinguished career in nurturing the unique friendship between the two countries.

His Majesty further stated that for almost half a century, Brunei and Singapore have enjoyed a deepening of an expansion in the special relations. The friendship began when His Majesty’s late father first met Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Brunei 54 years ago, and has developed over time and across generations.

His Majesty was very pleased to see it grow into an all-encompassing relationship that it is today, extending from the leaders all the way to the people. His Majesty added that it is important that the special ties between the two countries are always nurtured so future generations continue to benefit and uphold the significance of the relationship.

His Majesty acknowledged that Singapore is a prime example of a multicultural global city and has been at the forefront of many commendable accomplishments. The country has become a confluence of numerous centres of excellence in law, business and finance, education, medical care, the arts, and also in technologies and biological research. The achievements of Singapore and its people have definitely inspired Brunei as the country pursues its own development vision.

His Majesty highlighted that the bilateral relations have continued to flourish over the years. Trade between the two countries has progressed steadily and Brunei appreciates the valuable contribution of Singaporean companies in Brunei’s development efforts. The country’s respective currencies have been customary tender in each other’s countries for more than 45 years. This arrangement has facilitated trade, tourism and investment, thus benefitting the people. His Majesty was also pleased that officials from both countries have agreed to work even closer in the area of finance. Brunei would certainly welcome the knowledge of Singaporeans in developing Brunei’s financial markets.

The monarch also stated that defence cooperation is an integral part of the relations. The links between the countries’ armed forces are stronger than ever, with regular military exercise and training. Meanwhile, Singapore’s health institutions have continued to care for patients from the Sultanate. Brunei also appreciates the practical training offered to Bruneian doctors and nurses.

In terms of the way forward, His Majesty suggested that both governments develop a “Future Generation” programme to instil greater friendship and appreciation between the peoples of both our countries, particularly the youth. His Majesty, therefore, encouraged more exchanges amongst students, teachers, higher education institutions and think-tanks.

The monarch acknowledged that Singapore has proven itself as a global player with the best interest of the regional and international community at its heart, especially in promoting peace, prosperity and harmony and upholding the rule of law. As in the past, Brunei and Singapore should continue to work closely together in contributing to and shaping the future of our region. His Majesty added that both countries face similar political, economic and social challenges and share similar aspirations. Whether in Asean, the United Nations or in other forums, Brunei has always found a good friend in Singapore. In this regard, His Majesty thanked the President and the Government of Singapore for the support and goodwill that have been extended to His Majesty and to Brunei Darussalam.

His Majesty looked forward to further strengthening the enduring bonds of friendship shared between both countries for the mutual benefit of the peoples.

Accompanying Their Majesties were Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Environment and Water Resource of Singapore and wife, as Minister-In-Attendance; YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar; Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Education and Datin; Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office and Datin; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II and Datin; and Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office and Datin.

Prior to the State Banquet, His Majesty consented for a four-eye meeting with Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the President Palace.

Upon arrival at the Annex Building, President Palace, His Majesty was greeted by Anthony Tan, Special Assistant to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and then invited His Majesty to Lee Kuan Yew’s Office.

During the four-eye meeting, His Majesty and Mr Lee Kuan Yew shared views on bilateral relations of both countries.

During the State Visit, two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) will be signed, ChannelNews Asia reported.

The first – between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam – will enhance financial cooperation between the two countries in areas such as capital market development, capacity-building and the exchange of best practices.

The second is the renewal of Singapore-Brunei Broadcasting MoU that was first signed in 1990. In addition, the Singapore Police Force and Royal Brunei Police Force are working towards renewing an MoU on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation. - Borneo Bulletin (22 April 2014)