Brunei Darussalam will offer two fully funded scholarships every year in the next three years for Timorese students to pursue their education at local tertiary institutions. This was stated by 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 in a titah during the state banquet in honour of Timor-Leste President Dr José Ramos-Horta and delegation who are in the country for a four-day state visit.
His Majesty also welcomes Timor-Leste’s interest in furthering health cooperation, including through training for medical professionals.
As oil-producing countries, His Majesty also welcomes the opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the energy sector through learning from each other’s experience to maximise the benefits of natural resources.
The pursuit of shared hope for each other’s development and growth between Brunei and Timor-Leste has led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on labour yesterday, which the monarch believes will create many new opportunities mutually benefiting the people of both nations and the private sector.
In welcoming Dr José Ramos-Horta and delegation, His Majesty acknowledged the long withstanding friendship and the collaborations in various capacities on numerous occasions in the past.
“The year 2002 was significant for our nations as we established diplomatic ties and welcomed you to Brunei Darussalam as Guest of the Chair at the 35th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting,” His Majesty said.
“Over the past two decades, we have consistently nurtured warm and amicable relations, including establishing missions in our respective capitals. History will always remember your unwavering commitment and dedication in leading Timor-Leste towards its full independence in 2002. This momentous achievement was followed by implementing robust policies to realise Timor-Leste’s vision of becoming a strong and prosperous nation. I congratulate you, Mr President, on all these accomplishments and wish you, the Government and the people of Timor-Leste every success in these endeavours.”
His Majesty also noted on the continued close cooperation in education and people-to-people exchanges between both countries, taking into account on the forging of strong collaborations through various technical exchanges and capacity-building programmes.
“Brunei Darussalam has consistently supported Timor-Leste to become a member of ASEAN since it officially announced its intention in 2011. Our commitment remains steadfast, and today, I wish to reiterate Brunei Darussalam’s unwavering support for Timor-Leste’s membership in ASEAN,” His Majesty said.
“Towards this end, to foster a deeper understanding of ASEAN, starting this year, we have welcomed officials from Timor-Leste to participate in the ASEAN Junior Fellowship Programme.”
The monarch said the participation will help build deeper trust and friendship among junior officials and help them work closely together to ensure the centrality and unity of ASEAN in the future.
His Majesty ended the titah by extending best wishes to the president, as well as to the Government and people of Timor-Leste for continued peace, progress and prosperity.
This was followed by a speech from the president.
Dr José Ramos-Horta expressed gratitude to His Majesty and the Government of Brunei Darussalam for the welcome and hospitality.
“Brunei was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Timor-Leste on the day of our Restoration of Independence in May 2002. Your Majesty has been consistent in supporting Timor-Leste’s national institutional building and our endeavour to join ASEAN,” the president said.
“I visited Brunei two decades ago in my capacity as then senior minister for foreign affairs. Brunei has accomplished and changed so much in 20 years regarding its infrastructure and socio-economic development, including the building of the iconic Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge, I believe the longest in Southeast Asia.”
Dr José Ramos-Horta added, “There is great synergy between our countries and Timor-Leste has much to learn from Brunei’s experiences on many fronts particularly in the fields of health, education, energy and environment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us important lessons, particularly in the health sector, but also about self-sufficiency and food security. May I suggest that South Coast of Timor-Leste has vast amount of fertile land and we also have manpower for rice production, which would provide food security for both Timor-Leste and Brunei if appropriate investments could be secured. Both countries have a combined population of roughly two million inhabitants, small enough in numbers to be sustained in the long run.”
The president ended his speech by extending best wishes to His Majesty, Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha binti Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohamed Alam, members of the royal family and the people of Brunei.
The state banquet was attended by members of the royal family as well as the delegation from Timor-Leste.
The state banquet began with the recitation of Doa Selamat by State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned.
The state banquet was held at Istana Nurul Iman. – Adib Noor