Outgoing envoy shares Brunei memories

James Kon

The outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Nicola Rosenblum will be leaving Brunei Darussalam after completing her tenure of nearly four years.

In an interview, Rosenblum said, “This is my family’s home. My eldest daughter was just 10 months old when we arrived, and my second daughter was born here, so this country is absolutely her home.

“We’ve had such a wonderful time here. It’s hard, especially for my family, to imagine what life will be like after Brunei. We will miss the people and the warmth of this country. The people are open, warm and friendly.

“Among our most memorable experiences was celebrating Hari Raya, which is an amazing tradition here. We were welcomed into the Istana, as well as into the homes of ministers and senior officials. The fact that you are welcomed to people’s homes to celebrate such a beautiful tradition is very warm and open. It’s such an unparalleled experience.”

Rosenblum and her family will also miss Brunei’s pristine forests.

She said, “We go out once a week for hiking in Tasek Lama or Bukit Shahbandar. We also went to Temburong last weekend, for hiking.

“Hiking in the Temburong rainforest was a different experience. I could see that it was older, cleaner and cooler. So it was lovely to bring the kids to see something different. We were also lucky to watch the Temburong Bridge develop and looking forward to go on it.”

Outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Nicola Rosenblum with her family

Nicola Rosenblum arrived in Brunei Darussalam in September 2016. Among her memorable experiences of the past few years were welcoming His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to Australia in 2018, for the ASEAN Australia Special Summit.

She also welcomed the arrival of Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne to Brunei.

Rosenblum also recalled, “I completed two regattas in conjunction with His Majesty’s birthdays. I also organised three Taste of Australia festivals and supported numerous Australian students’ visit to Brunei Darussalam in the New Colombo Plan. I had a baby in
July 2018.”

Describing the bilateral relationship between both countries, she said, “The relationship between Brunei Darussalam and Australia is very warm and underpinned by the people-to-people relationship. There have been a lot of people travelling and with experiences in both countries.

“Australia led the Allied Forces landing in Brunei 75 years ago, which liberated the country. We also share the Commonwealth heritage where we have a lot of common system and institutions.

“Australia also puts emphasis on ASEAN. We have close ties as neighbours and shared interests of supporting prosperity and security in the region.”

“Trade between Brunei and Australia, she revealed is worth around BND1 billion a year where among the imports from Brunei are oil and blue shrimps, while exports to Brunei are fresh fruits, vegetables, live cattle and others.

On military cooperation, she said, “Defence is one of the pillars of the strong and growing relationships between Australia and Brunei, especially during my tenure. The relationship actually started off from the landing of the Allied Forces in 1945.

“The modern relationship involves many military ships visiting, joint exercises, training and high-level exchanges.

“One of the military exercises carried out was Exercise Malibu with the Royal Brunei Land Force (RBLF), as well as Exercise Penguin, involving the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN).

“In March this year, we had a submarine, HMAS Dechaineux visiting Brunei, and we were very privileged to have His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office on board the submarine. That was really amazing.”

Rosenblum concluded the interview by saying, “These latest developments have demonstrated the increasing deep cooperation and engagement between Brunei and Australia.”