Sultan calls for closer Brunei-Vietnam ties
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said Brunei is delighted to have played a small part in assisting Vietnam's development through education and training.

"We are also delighted to have a growing number of your people working here to help our own development. It shows that we have a lot to offer each other."

His Majesty delivered a titah last night during the banquet hosted in honour of the visiting Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr Nguyen Tan Dzung. The premier and his delegation are in the country for a two-day official visit.

His Majesty said that both nations are looking forward to many future opportunities to expand trade and open up further cooperation.

"We are very happy indeed with the relations our countries and people enjoy and we look forward to many future opportunities of working with your people to widen and deepen the scope of our friendship and cooperation," the Sultan added.

Touching on Asean regional grouping, the monarch said, "This year we are all celebrating the 40th anniversary of our regional association. And 12 years ago, we in Brunei had the privilege of hosting the Ministerial meeting when Vietnam became a member of Asean.

"It was a great honour for us and it has left us with very happy memories and a special link between us. Since then, our people have become close friends and strong regional partners. Like our fellow members, we have all benefited from what Vietnam has brought to the association," the monarch said.

His Majesty added that this has been most evident in the contribution Vietnam's government and people have made to shaping the direction of the regional policy. "You have constantly emphasised the need for action that transforms the day-to-day lives of our people.

"You have regularly urged that our plans for economic integration are not merely academic and theoretical. They must go hand in hand with the need to benefit every community and every family in practical form.

"For this, we much appreciate the contribution Vietnam has made to making sure that the association truly represents all its members and all its peoples. As a regional partner, we have valued this immensely. We acknowledge your strong commitment to the region we share and we are proud to be the member that hosted your entry to the association," the ruler said.

The monarch also said that regional affairs, however, represent only one side of the relationship. The other is equally important. This is what is called our "bilateral relationship".

"This is far more personal and is growing ever stronger as we get to know and understand each other. It is now a very happy and successful relationship encompassing many areas notably defence, trade, labour and education," said His Majesty.

In his return speech, the Vietnamese premier, who is accompanied by his wife Madame Tran Thanh Kiem on a five-nation tour with Brunei being their last stop, said the Vietnamese people always admire the enormous achievements made by the people of Brunei in their cause of national construction and development.

"Despite your small stretch of land and population, but under the wise reign of His Majesty, Brunei has now become a prosperous nation in the region, possessing a modern oil and gas industry and rapidly developing economy.

"We strongly believe that the people of Brunei will continue to record more success in the building of a prosperous country and let Brunei ever be 'a home of peace'."

The premier added that Vietnam and Brunei are two neighbouring countries, which enjoy an excellent traditional friendship. This year, we celebrate with great joy the 15th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations.

During the last 15 years of cooperation, with the strong determination of the two countries' top leaders, the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and Brunei have been consolidated and developed in various fields, including politics, economic, trade, national defence, culture, education, sports etc., he added.

Also present at the banquet were Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah and other members of the royal family.

Earlier, His Majesty and Nguyen Tan Dzung held a bilateral meeting followed by an audience ceremony. Present at the audience were Her Majesty, Her Royal Highness and other members of the royal family. - Borneo Bulletin (16th August 2007)