Brunei seeks big time investors
By Azlan Othman

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, arrived in Singapore yesterday, where His Royal Highness will deliver a luncheon address on the occasion of the Inaugural Southeast Asia Lecture (ISEAS) at the Grand Hyatt hotel today and attend the Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat at Sentosa.

HRH Prince Mohamed is accompanied by Her Royal Highness Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Zariah.

On arrival at the Changi International Airport, Their Royal Highnesses were met by Dr Balaji Sadavisan, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts.

Later in the evening, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah called on Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the Istana, ChannelNewsAsia reported.

The Asean Foreign Ministers Retreat will also be held in Singapore on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Several cabinet ministers, senior government officials and prominent businessmen have converged in Singapore for the inaugural forum, where alphabetically it is Brunei's turn, followed by other Asean countries in the years to come.

It is co-organised by the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), based in Singapore. BEDB was established in November 2001 to broaden and diversify Brunei's economy.

Working in partnership with investors and other stakeholders, the BEDB seeks to promote investment opportunities in new industries based on Brunei's competitive strengths, develop the infrastructure required for a competitive economy and maximise business and employment opportunities for the people.

The BEDB projects include developing a world-class petrochemical hub at Sg Liang Industrial Park, developing Pulau Muara Besar into a deepwater container port and an export processing zone and promoting the development of new business clusters such as aquaculture, information and communications technology and halal products.

The forum aims to promote awareness of Brunei Darussalam in a number of areas including its economic diversification, eco-tourism, education and development of human resources, energy issues, and foreign policy issues, which encompasses its role in Asean. This Forum also aims to facilitate opportunities for economic collaboration and partnerships between Brunei and its neighbours. Such aspects will be discussed under the various sessions.

"Brunei's Changing Economic Landscape: New Opportunities for Business", will be presented by the Acting Chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board, Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, which would then be followed by a panel discussion by Mr Tareq Muhmood, CEO of HSBC, Mr Kinya Tsuji, CEO of Brunei Methanol Company, Mr Louis Heuze, General Manager of TOTAL, Brunei and Dr Linda Low, Head of Strategy, Department of Planning and Economy, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"Brunei at the Heart of Borneo: What it means for eco-tourism, the region and the world", will be presented by the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Chairman of the Brunei Tourism Board, Dato Paduka Awg Haji Hamdillah bin Haji Abdul Wahab. It will be followed by a panel discussion with World Wildlife Federation Special Advisor, National University of Singapore professor and a Deputy Director of Biodiversity Centre, NParks, Singapore.

The historic agreement to conserve the Heart of Borneo (HoB), the most important centre of biological diversity in the world, covering 220,000 sq km of equatorial rainforests and numerous wildlife species, was officially endorsed in January last year by Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. A statement by leaders attending the Summit of BIMP-EAGA last year outlined its importance.

"Developing Human Resources for the Challenges of the 21st Century", will be the topic of the speech by Brunei's Minister of Education, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Taib, followed by a panel discussion

"Managing Energy Resources in an Energy Scarce World", will be the focus of attention of the speech by Brunei's Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Yahya, followed by a panel discussion including Hj Mohd Ja'afar, CEO of Petroleum Brunei.

As Brunei is grappling with a mounting oil subsidy and rising energy usage, Pehin Dato Hj Yahya said recently that the government was looking at ways to cap the runaway petroleum consumption. If the situation does not improve, the government may not have a choice but to fix a more realistic market price for petroleum products based on the actual cost of producing them. The government subsidy for vehicle fuel reached a staggering B$500 million in 2005 and 2006.

"Brunei in Asean: Past, Present and Future", will be the title of the talk by Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, followed by an open forum discussion including by Mr Rudolf Severino, former Asean-Secretary General. - Borneo Bulletin (19th Feb 2008)