Brunei perfectly suited to lead ASEAN

Emily Fleckner

The best thing about old friends is the way they stand by you through the good times and the bad.

Brunei has no more resolute friend than the United States (US). Yes, the world is coming through one of the most difficult years in recent history – a year that will keep testing our two nations for some time to come.

But we also have much to be thankful and optimistic about.

At the end of 2020, our 170-year friendship remains stronger than ever as the US stands ready to support Brunei, its government and 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 throughout the ASEAN Chair year.

Chargé d’Affaires US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Emily M Fleckner. PHOTO: UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

The theme for Brunei’s ASEAN year – We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper – could not be more appropriate. The US cares deeply about the central role ASEAN continues to play in helping countries across the region rebound from the pandemic. The US-ASEAN Health Futures initiative, launched at the beginning of this pandemic, continues to grow, building on decades of US and ASEAN caring for the health of others.

Throughout the pandemic, the US maintained a robust security cooperation with Brunei that included the 26th consecutive Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise as well as other engagements designed to enhance our interoperability and readiness as we work together to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As regional recovery advances, we will ramp up efforts to increase trade and help develop the next generation of Bruneian entrepreneurs. At every turn, the US is prepared to assist in Brunei’s economic diversification efforts and support ASEAN initiatives to build more inclusive economies in the region.

As soon as global travel resumes, we plan to send more Bruneians than ever before on academic and professional exchanges to learn and share best practices with US experts and counterparts as part of the US-ASEAN Billion Futures initiative.

Chairing ASEAN in 2021 is a major honour as well as a big responsibility.

The Government of Brunei is perfectly suited to lead ASEAN in tackling the global challenges of 2021, and the government and people of Brunei should know that they can always count on the US to assist in these big moments.

From that day in 1845 when the USS Constitution first dropped anchor in Brunei Bay, ours has been a friendship that has endured through the hard times and the good. That’s what old friends are for.”