| Siti Hajar in Busan, Republic of Korea |
WITH renewed focus on the Asean region as a bloc of fast developing nations and untapped economic as well as socio-cultural opportunities, many among the region’s allies are looking towards the 10-member grouping for enhanced cooperation that aims to benefit the people and governments of those involved.
As part of a number of initiatives towards this direction, the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit will take place today where leaders, including His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, are scheduled to meet and discuss areas of mutual interest with the Republic of Korea (ROK).
With the theme to mark 25 years of relations between the bloc and South Korea – “Building Trust, Building Happiness” – as an indication that the republic is set at leveraging on the already solid foundation as it aims to bolster the strategic partnership with Asean, the leaders’ summit will be held in the heart of the port city’s Busan Exhibition and Convention Centre. A number of related events are also taking place including bilateral meetings between leaders of nations, the CEO Summit as well as an exhibition showcasing the prowess of Korea in the fields of agriculture, technology, energy and humanitarian assistance.
In the wake of Brunei’s chairmanship of Asean last year, the Asean-ROK gathering has been pegged as the beginning of the ‘Partnership of Trust and Happiness’ proposed by President Park Geun-hye during the Asean-ROK Summit in October 2013 in the Sultanate, which also marked the ROK’s first female president’s inaugural visit to the country.
In his welcoming remarks published in the Asean-ROK Commemorative Summit website, ROK’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said the summit “will represent an excellent occasion to explore a whole spectrum of fields for the pursuit of our shared prosperity” as the region prepares itself to usher in 2015 with the end of next year slated to see the formation of the Asean Economic Community that carries a projected GDP of US$3 trillion that will also provide a variety of new business opportunities for Korean companies.
“The 2014 Asean-ROK Commemorative Summit will serve to generate fresh momentum for us to move forward together, on a basis of mutual trust, towards a bright future,” said the foreign minister.
As for Brunei Darussalam, His Majesty’s just concluded State Visit to South Korea saw Brunei and S Korea agreeing to expand progress in a number of areas including S Korea expressing interest in the participation of construction projects in Brunei, especially the $3 billion, 30-kilometre bridge linking Brunei-Muara to the Temburong District.
Last year, during the Asean-ROK summit in Brunei, His Majesty noted that the republic has been a consistent supporter of Asean centrality and had also expressed his support for President Park’s proposal to commemorate the 25-year relationship.
“I believe this is most relevant to us, especially at a time when Asean is looking beyond 2015,” the monarch had said and then went on to express his admiration for Korea’s remarkable economic transformation.
Meanwhile, His Majesty was greeted on arrival at the Gimhae Air Base in Busan by Suh Byung-soo, Mayor of Busan; Ahn Chong-ghee, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; Yi Won-woo, Vice-Secretary-General of the Preparatory Office for the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit 2014; Cho Won-myung, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Brunei Darussalam; as well as senior officers of the Government of the Republic of Korea.
Also present to greet His Majesty were Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; 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 Dato Paduka Awang Haji Harun bin Haji Ismail, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Republic of Korea.
His Majesty received a bouquet of flowers and walked past a static guard of honour mounted by 20 personnel from the Air Force of the Republic of Korea before boarding the motorcade to the Park Hyatt Busan Hotel, where His Majesty will reside.
Upon arrival at the hotel, His Majesty was greeted by the Hotel’s General Manager, Ross Cooper.
Accompanying His Majesty to the Republic of Korea is 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.
In the evening, His Majesty consented to attend a welcoming dinner for the Asean Heads of State and Government hosted by President Park.
Upon arrival at the Lobby of the Convention Centre, His Majesty was greeted by Choi Jong-moon, Secretary-General of the Preparatory Office for the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit 2014.
His Majesty proceeded to the upper level of the Convention Centre where His Majesty was greeted by President Park.
Later, His Majesty joined other heads of state and government to view a cultural exhibition where the leaders were greeted by Kim Jongdeok, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea.
After viewing the Cultural Exhibition, His Majesty together with the other heads of state and government proceeded for the welcoming dinner. During the dinner, President Park delivered her remarks welcoming all leaders and delegates to the commemorative summit.
Then, U Thein Sein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar as the Chairman of Asean for the year 2014 delivered his welcoming statement.
The leaders and delegation were entertained with a cultural performance.
Accompanying His Majesty to the welcoming dinner were 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; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; 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.