| Azlan Othman |
MINISTER of Foreign Affairs II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof said Brunei has established bilateral diplomatic relations with 170 friendly nations and set up 43 representative offices at international organisations such as ASEAN and the United Nations (UN).
The bilateral diplomatic ties are crucial especially in enhancing internal capability through bilateral cooperation that brings benefits on a long term basis.
Such ties can help in eradicating terrorism and extremism, and also in countering transboundary crime, the minister added.
He said bilateral diplomatic relations benefit socially through exchange programmes involving students, youth and visitors as well as economically through increasing investments.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is active in regional and international organisations such as ASEAN, the UN, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Commonwealth, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM),” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan added.
“With the uncertain global geopolitic and geoeconomic challenges, our membership in the relevant organisations could strengthen our position as a sovereign nation,” he said.
The MFA also plays a role as ‘coordinator’ and ‘contact point’ of government agencies not only for resident and non-resident foreign missions in the country but also for regional and international organisations.
Additionally, it plays a role through its government agencies overseas.
“Our representatives overseas provide assistance such as promoting local products, businesses and investment opportunities,” the minister said, adding that it is in line with the ‘Whole of Nation’ approach to realise Brunei Vision 2035.
Another role of the MFA and its representatives is that of ‘consular affairs’ where it takes matters seriously involving its citizens both domestically and overseas.
In this context, the ministry’s representatives render temporary assistance when Bruneians face emergency situations such as an earthquake or an accident.
“What it means by ‘temporary’ is that help is provided until a family member can give further assistance,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan said.
For the MFA representatives to identify and provide assistance to any Bruneians overseas, such individual needs to be on the list through e-registration on the homepage of the ministry.
Through such information, the ministry is able to act swiftly to help the individual in face of an emergency situation.
The minister said that global challenges such as fake news and facts, disruptive technology and violent extremism are other concerns.
This requires concerted efforts from partners and cooperation at regional and international levels, he added.
In this context, a nation will be respected by the international community through a strong foreign policy which is time tested.
The MFA has been allocated BND113,041,410 for the financial year 2019-2020 to cover wages for officers and staff, recurring expenses and development expenses (BND8 million).