Halimah pays tribute to Singaporeans in Brunei

President Halimah Yacob, accompanied by Chief of Army Goh Si Hou (on her right), speaking to SAF officer cadets during their training in Temburong in Brunei yesterday. When she visited the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces on Saturday,
President Halimah Yacob, accompanied by Chief of Army Goh Si Hou (on her right), speaking to SAF officer cadets during their training in Temburong in Brunei yesterday. When she visited the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces on Saturday, she was struck by the spirit of mutual camaraderie between the two armed forces, she said.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

They've helped forge strong ties on a people-to-people level and play an important role, she says

Over the years, Singapore and Brunei have forged strong ties, including at the people-to-people level, and the Singaporean community in Brunei plays an important role in this, said President Halimah Yacob.

At a dinner reception with some 370 Singaporeans based in Brunei last night, Madam Halimah said ties between the two countries are excellent. "Over the years, bilateral ties have been anchored by a deep sense of mutual respect and profound trust. The friendship between the two countries and peoples has also flourished," said Madam Halimah.

She told the audience: "Through your time here, you would have personally experienced some of these unique bonds which are deeply rooted in historical significance."

She paid tribute to the Singaporean community, saying that they have helped forge strong ties apart from the exchanges between leaders and officials.

Sales manager Firdaus Abdul Samad, who relocated here with his family four years ago to work in his firm's Brunei office, said Brunei is a conducive place to live in. "Bruneians hold Singapore in high regard. There was an Asean youth football tournament here a few weeks ago and many of them were cheering for Singapore," said the 42-year-old, who was at the reception hosted by Singapore's High Commissioner to Brunei, Mr Lim Hong Huai.

Madam Halimah is in Brunei on her first state visit since she became President last September.

Yesterday, Madam Halimah encouraged the Brunei-based Singaporeans to maintain their strong networks and friendships, and also to keep one another updated on developments at home.

DEEP RESPECT AND TRUST

Over the years, bilateral ties have been anchored by a deep sense of mutual respect and profound trust. The friendship between the two countries and peoples has also flourished. Through your time here, you would have personally experienced some of these unique bonds...

PRESIDENT HALIMAH YACOB, speaking to the Singaporean community in Brunei.

"With social media platforms, it is now so much easier to stay connected with your friends and loved ones in Singapore," she said.

Madam Halimah cited the countries' close defence ties, in place since 1976, as an example of the close bilateral ties. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) conducts regular training in Brunei, and there are frequent bilateral exercises and visits. When she visited the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces on Saturday, she was struck by the spirit of mutual camaraderie between the two armed forces, she said.

Yesterday morning, she also visited SAF officer cadets undergoing jungle and survival training in Temburong, Brunei's easternmost district. Accompanied by Chief of Army Goh Si Hou, she observed soldiers completing a combat swim, and was shown how soldiers are trained to forage for edible food.

"That was probably as close as I will ever get to a military operation in the unique terrain of Temburong, but at least I can now say that I have a much better appreciation of the realistic training that our troops undergo," said Madam Halimah, who also emphasised the importance of training leaders who care for their soldiers and lead with purpose to the troops.

Earlier in the day, she took a morning walk with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah in Bandar Seri Begawan, where she visited street-side handicraft booths and food stalls. She was later hosted to breakfast by the Sultan, and also visited the University of Brunei Darussalam Botanical Research Centre.

Madam Halimah returns to Singapore today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Halimah pays tribute to S'poreans in Brunei'. Print Edition | Subscribe