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Timor-Leste seeks closer ties with Brunei

Timor-Leste President Dr José Ramos-Horta conveyed his 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 Darussalam for the care and concern for Timor-Leste since achieving independence as well as the support for Timor-Leste’s bid to join ASEAN membership.

The president said this in his keynote address at the Pro-Chancellor Art Centre, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.

Dr José Ramos-Horta also invited His Majesty to visit Timor-Leste and is looking forward to more cooperation as well as partnership with the Sultanate.

He also highlighted that Timor-Leste is working hard to become a full member of ASEAN by 2025.

“We are looking forward to joining ASEAN,” the president said, expressing his appreciation to ASEAN leaders on the decision for Timor-Leste to join ASEAN in principle during the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. In May, the ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo approved the roadmap for Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste President Dr José Ramos-Horta and UBD Vice-Chancellor Dr Hazri bin Haji Kifle exchange mementos. PHOTO: JAMES KON
Dr José Ramos-Horta and Minister of Home Affairs Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ahmaddin bin Haji Abdul Rahman as the Acting Minister of Education in a group photo with Ambassador of Timor-Leste to Brunei Darussalam Abel Guterres and senior officials from the Ministry of Education, officials from UBD and higher education institutions. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“We are confident we will deliver on the expectation. For Timor-Leste to develop further, we have to integrate into regional and international economies.”

The president also hoped that medical doctors from Timor-Leste will be able to train in Brunei in specialised medical fields. “Today, we have some 1,200 medical doctors of which majority has done their first three years of medical education and training in Cuba. They graduated with medical degrees in Timor-Leste and we are now sending them abroad for specialisation,” he said.

“I hope we can send some of our doctors to Brunei to be trained in specialised medical fields. We are now lacking in dentists, ophthalmologists and we only have a few heart specialists and paediatricians.”

Meanwhile, UBD Vice-Chancellor Dr Hazri bin Haji Kifle extended an invitation to the Timor-Leste’s youth and students to join UBD for full-time studies and short-term training programmes. Emphasising on the university’s values of continuous education and lifelong learning, Dr Hazri said, “UBD has expertise in various fields, including biodiversity and bio inspiration, energy sciences and catalysis, digital technology including digital public health, genome studies and sustainable development, among others.”

Minister of Home Affairs Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ahmaddin bin Haji Abdul Rahman as the Acting Minister of Education and the Minister-in-Attendance attended the event.

Ambassador of Timor-Leste to Brunei Darussalam Abel Guterres and spouse, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Timor-Leste Wan Hadfi Lutfan bin Haji Abdul Latif, ministers from Timor-Leste, senior officials from Brunei Darussalam and UBD senior management and students were also present.

The visit to UBD was part of the president’s state visit to the Sultanate from November 5 to 8. – James Kon

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