Stronger Brunei, Bangladesh ties

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam and Bangladesh share many commonalities and the relationship between the two countries are getting stronger day by day.

This was shared by High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain in a message delivered in conjunction with Bangladesh’s 50th Independence and National Day, which falls today.

“We pay our deepest respects to our Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and millions of martyrs who laid down their lives for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971,” said the high commissioner.

“On this momentous occasion, we express our deepest gratitude to 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 Darussalamfor his goodwill and care to the expatriate Bangladeshis in Brunei.” The high commissioner noted that the Year 2020 becomes a historic moment in the history of Bangladesh as the country is also celebrating the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“I think it to be a most fitting tribute to his memory if I say briefly a few words about this great man. His is a story of a Bengali whose life-long struggle after an ideal led to the creation of Bangladesh.”

High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain. PHOTO: HIGH COMMISSION OF BANGLADESH TO BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Sheikh Mujib is an icon of post-colonial liberation. He became the first leader in post-colonial system who fought enormous number of struggles as to what nationalist identity meant on the basis of language.

In Bangladesh, the Year 2020 is declared the Mujib Borsho or ‘Mujib Year’. World leaders and eminent personalities will visit Bangladesh to attend various programmes to be held marking Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centennial throughout this year.

“His personal philosophy suffuses his approach into foreign policy as well. His foreign policy dictum ‘Friendship to all, malice towards none’ is the touchstone of Bangladesh’s relation with the world. The philosophy of foreign policy given by the Father of the Nation continues to remain the rallying point for Bangladesh’s relationship with the outside world. It is premised on four pillars,” said the high commissioner.

The high commissioner also shared the four pillars of Bangladesh’s foreign policy, which are: pragmatism; peace and stability; innovativeness; and humanitarianism.

As for economic growth, Bangladesh has been growing around seven per cent for the last five years.

The GDP growth for 2020 has been predicted at 8.1 per cent. One of the secrets behind Bangladesh’s progress, economists said, is the extraordinary strength displayed by Bangladeshi women. Bangladesh is ahead of any other South Asian nation in gender equality.

The country sustained investment in primary education. A large proportion of this money went towards the primary education of girls. The policy-makers understood that if there is one mantra for developmental success it might be this: Educate girls. The World Bank has noted that Bangladesh is that rare example among developing nations where gender parity has been achieved in primary education.

This means an approximately equal number of boys and girls receive the same quality of primary education in Bangladesh.

This has led to more women entering the workforce in the manufacturing sector; 80 per cent or more of the organised textile jobs are held by women.

Bangladesh is now the world’s second largest garments exporting country after China which is a USD35 billion economy.

The other most important factor in the growth of Bangladesh is its export-driven economy. Bangladesh is expected to transition from Least Developing Country status to that of Developing Country by 2024. Europe is Bangladesh’s largest export destination. Statistics show almost 70 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports are made for European countries and the United States (US).

The US is Bangladesh’s largest buyer followed by Germany. Bangladesh is now looking for other destinations in Africa and Asia to diversify its export destinations.

In the aspect of Bangladesh relations with other nations, Bangladesh has formulated the statement on the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation which is ‘The Goal of Foreign Policy in the Mujib Year Harmony and Prosperity’.

“This statement rightly answers our commitment towards relationship between Brunei Darussalam and Bangladesh,” said the high commissioner.

“The relation is getting stronger day by day. Last year, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina made her first official visit to Brunei. “

During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit, both countries signed six government-to-government and three private-to-private Memorandums of Understanding covering agriculture, livestock, fisheries, youth, sports, energy, and Halal products and geo-seismic cooperation.

Both countries have already started cooperating in these sectors.

In agriculture, Bangladeshi workers are involved in the production of vegetables, cereals and other agricultural produce. For instance, the famous muskmelon grown by the Bangladeshi farmers is sold in the foreign markets at a very lucrative price.

Bangladeshi workers have made significant contribution to the infra-structural development of Brunei, such as roads, bridges, and highways. Many workers who constructed the impressive Temburong and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha bridges were from Bangladesh. The formation of South East Asian Cooperation (SEACO) as a track-2 trading relation had its launching ceremony in Dhaka just last year.

The objective is to build stronger ties of economic cooperation among the private entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. As a result, these days, many Bruneians have started visiting Bangladesh for commercial and trade opportunities.

The high commissioner highlighted that Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. “Brunei can benefit a lot by both investing in and from Bangladesh. One of the future prospects for both countries lies in establishing direct air links to facilitate transshipment of goods and people.”

“Both Brunei and Bangladesh share many commonalities. Brunei Vision 2035 and Bangladesh’s Vision-2030 are strategic programmes focussed toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals,” he continued.

“Bangladeshis in Brunei express their deepest gratitude to His Majesty, and take the opportunity on this momentous day to offer their prayers for sound health, long life and well-being of His Majesty, and members of the royal family. We, the expatriate Bangladeshis, wish the people of Brunei continued happiness, peace and prosperity,” added the high commissioner.