Brunei: Sarawak-Brunei ties on track

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Cooperation between Sarawak and Brunei in five key areas – energy, agriculture, telecommunications, manpower exchange and tourism – is expected to increase following the visit of a state delegation here on Friday.

BILATERAL TIES: Hassanal (right) speaks to Taib (centre) and Awang Tengah.

The delegation led by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was granted an audience with the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman.

“There is mutual trust and this has made easy our proposed joint-ventures and economic cooperation between Sarawak and Brunei, and I am happy with the progress,” Taib said after attending Hassanal’s 65th birthday parade.

The delegation included Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Gani, State Planning Unit director Datuk Ismawi Ismuni, Sarawak Energy chairman Datuk Hamed Sepawi and Sarawak Energy CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit.

“We have had very positive talks with His Majesty, and the five core areas are moving towards concrete results,” said Awang Tengah.

In terms of manpower cooperation, he said, Bruneians would be placed in SESCo when a proposed joint-venture in power generation and trans-border power transmission materialises.

“It is not just about power purchase but also cooperation in manpower between Sarawak and Brunei in win-win arrangements.”

In terms of telecommunications, plans are afoot for Sarawak and the sultanate to collaborate on network expansion through Brunet with its wide international fibre optic connections, while Sacofa’s coverage can be used for extensions to Kalimantan.

For the energy sector, both sides have already discussed the potential of Limbang and Lawas hydroelectric dams and the development of power interconnection between Sarawak and Brunei.

The potential of Brunei as an international gateway to the brand value of the Borneo destination and the leverage of organising joint local festivals and developing eco-tourism products were also discussed to boost the tourism industry in BIMP-Eaga.

Brunei also showed keen interest in the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub Green Special Economic Zone and how investors from the sultanate could participate in the seven key areas of agro and aqua industries, logistic, infrastructure, real estate, tourism, renewable energy and education, along with the development of livestock, aquaculture and rice production.