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Walter Sim
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

Singapore

Bilateral exchanges 'help sustain close S'pore-Brunei ties'

The Straits Times | Walter Sim | Friday, Sep 5, 2014

Brunei Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. They discussed developments in the two countries. Mr Lee also hosted the Prince to lunch.

SINGAPORE - Frequent exchanges between Singapore and Brunei help ensure close bilateral ties would be sustained into the future, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said when he met Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah yesterday, on the second day of the latter's five-day visit here.

They discussed developments in the two countries, including education and the economy. PM Lee said he looked forward to further bilateral exchanges. He also hosted the Prince and his delegation to lunch.

Prince Billah, Brunei's Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, is here at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean for the Singapore- Brunei Young Leaders' Programme (YLP), launched last year to strengthen ties between both countries' younger leaders.

As chair of his country's financial regulator Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam, Prince Billah also met Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

They reaffirmed the bilateral commitment to the Currency Interchangeability Agreement, which was signed in 1967 and continues today. Under the agreement, Bruneian dollar notes can be used in Singapore, and vice versa.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement yesterday that the agreement has promoted investment, tourist and trade flows between the two countries.

In the morning, Prince Billah visited the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Multi-Mission Range Complex at Pasir Laba Camp, where he tested some of the hardware.

He fired the Singapore Assault Rifle 21, or SAR 21, and drove the upgraded Light Strike Vehicle Mark-II (LSV MK II), which is usually used for covering rough terrain at high speed.

The visit to the marksmanship training centre - launched in October last year - was hosted by Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing.

At the complex, the Crown Prince also viewed live-firing demonstrations at the 50m indoor shooting and urban operations ranges, as well as a static display of the Skyblade III Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

He was later presented with an honorary Advanced Combat Skills badge, and an honorary LSV MK II driver's licence.

Singapore's Defence Ministry said yesterday that the visit underscored longstanding defence ties between the two countries.

Both the SAF and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces interact regularly through bilateral exercises, regular visits and professional exchanges.

The Singapore army and the Royal Brunei Land Force will mark the 20th anniversary of the flagship bilateral Exercise Maju Bersama in Brunei next April.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 3, 2014.
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