President: Build on Singapore-Brunei ties

President Halimah Yacob and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attending the state banquet hosted by the sultan at Istana Nurul Iman yesterday. Bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength, said Madam Halimah.
President Halimah Yacob and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attending the state banquet hosted by the sultan at Istana Nurul Iman yesterday. Bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength, said Madam Halimah.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Madam Halimah pays tribute to relationship, witnesses signing of 2 agreements during visit

Future generations of leaders have the responsibility to build on the existing relations between Singapore and Brunei, and bring ties to greater heights, said President Halimah Yacob last night.

In a toast speech at a state banquet hosted by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at the Istana Nurul Iman, Madam Halimah paid tribute to the special relationship between the two nations.

This dates back to the close personal ties shared from the 1960s by the late Seri Begawan, the Sultan's father, and the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, she noted.

"They recognised that as small countries, Singapore and Brunei share many similarities and a strategic outlook on many regional and international issues. I am heartened that this friendship has remained steadfast, especially in today's uncertain and complex world," said Madam Halimah, who is in Brunei on a four-day state visit.

Bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength, she said.

Earlier in the day, the President witnessed the signing of two agreements to boost cooperation in financial technology and fighting financial crimes, together with Sultan Bolkiah.

Another memorandum of understanding (MOU) on info-communications media to facilitate study visits between the two countries will be be inked next month.

Both countries can further enhance economic cooperation in the area of aquaculture, she said. She cited a Singaporean company, Barramundi Asia, which has signed an MOU with Brunei's Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism to develop a 6,600ha fish farm in Brunei, and export an estimated 40,000 tonnes of fish to Singapore.

Madam Halimah also visited the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces yesterday.

In her speech, she highlighted the close defence ties between the two countries, leading to their militaries training alongside each other for decades, and thanked Brunei for providing training areas for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops.

Finance is another key pillar of bilateral relations, said Madam Halimah, pointing to how the Currency Interchangeability Agreement - in place for almost 51 years - has helped to facilitate trade, investment and tourism.

"More importantly, the agreement reflects our deep mutual trust and confidence," she added.

She also congratulated Sultan Bolkiah on the Golden Jubilee last year, which marked 50 years of his accession to the throne, and said that Singapore, as Asean chair this year, strives to emulate Brunei's successful chairmanship in 2013.

In his speech, Sultan Bolkiah said he was confident that Madam Halimah's visit will deepen ties between the two nations. "Our special and unique relationship is underpinned by strong people-to-people ties."

Raising the example of the Young Leaders' Programme between the two nations, he added that it will also enable the next generation of leaders to get to know and understand one another.

Madam Halimah will visit SAF troops training in Brunei today, and meet Singaporeans in Brunei at a dinner reception.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'President: Build on S'pore-Brunei ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe