Brunei-Viet Nam: Warm relations will grow from strength to trength

WVR - On the occasion of the official visit of Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son to Brunei Darussalam on 6-8 September, Chargé d'Affaires of Brunei Darussalam to Viet Nam, Ms. Syaffeenazz Tahir shared the significance of the visit and the development of the relations bilaterally and within ASEAN Community.
People-to-people exchanges between Viet Nam and Brunei instill a sense of belonging ASEAN Community
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son co-chairs the second meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between Brunei Darussalam and Viet Nam with Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof. (Photo: WVR/Nguyen Hong)

Could you please share us your expectations of the visit of Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son to Brunei Darussalam?

The visit by His Excellency Bui Thanh Son to Brunei Darussalam, his first after being appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to co-chair the second meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam with Honourable Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam, is expected to help strengthen the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries in a more substantive way.

Given that the first JCBC was held in Ha Noi in 2017, the latest meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to review our bilateral cooperation over the past 5 years and identify potential new areas of collaboration. The visit also reflected the two countries’ commitment to increase exchanges at all levels, including high–level exchanges, which will bolster our mutual trust and build upon the good rapport between Brunei Darussalam and Viet Nam.

In addition, it also enabled both sides to exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual concern, with both sides underscoring the importance of upholding ASEAN centrality and enhance coordination through multilateral cooperation. This is particularly crucial in our efforts to address current and future challenges for the shared benefit of our peoples, countries and region.

What are the prospects of cooperation between the two countries in the coming time especially in the economic field?

I believe that the warm and friendly relations between Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam will continue to grow from strength to strength as reflected in the active and increasingly multifaceted cooperation between our two countries.

With regards to economic cooperation, Vietnam remains a crucial trade and investment partner for Brunei Darussalam and this was demonstrated by the fact that our two countries have realised the bilateral trade target of US$500 million before the identified year of 2025, which was pledged during His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s State Visit to Viet Nam in 2019.

On this note, Brunei Darussalam looks forward to working closely with Viet Nam in strengthening existing cooperation and exploring potential collaborations in energy and aquaculture.

2020 is the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Diplomatic Relations between Vietnam and Brunei, what are your comments of the people - to - people exchanges between the two countries in recent years, at the bilateral level and within the framework of the ASEAN Community?

Over the years, there has been significant progress in our people – to – people exchanges. In the tourism sector, Vietnam has increasingly become a popular destination for many Bruneians. I am pleased with the resumption of direct air services between Bandar Seri Begawan and Ho Chi Minh City on 1 September 2022. I believe that deepening tourism cooperation will foster greater understanding between our peoples especially with regard to each other’s culture and we welcome more Vietnamese nationals to come and visit our beautiful country.

People-to-people exchanges between Viet Nam and Brunei instill a sense of belonging ASEAN Community
Chargé d'Affaires of Brunei Darussalam to Vietnam, Ms. Syaffeenazz Tahir. (Photo: PA)

We also have substantial cooperation in the area of education through the Brunei Darussalam Government Scholarships for foreign students, as well as the Brunei Darussalam Scholarship on Enhancing Professional Communication Skills for ASEAN Citizens. In addition, Vietnam is considered an education destination for our university students to undergo their Discovery Year programme. The continued development in our education cooperation is important to the enhancement of our people – to – people linkages and we encourage more Vietnamese nationals to apply.

Moreover, our two countries also enjoy good progress in culture, youth and sport exchanges through the mutual participation of our people in events and activities organised in our respective countries. These include Brunei Darussalam’s participation in the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games successfully hosted by Viet Nam in May 2022, as well as Viet Nam’s involvement in the Southeast Asian Youth Al – Quran Reading Competition and the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for ASEAN Youth Football Championship organised by Brunei Darussalam.

It can be surmised from the abovementioned points that our people–to–people exchanges are not solely focused on bilateral cooperation, but also on enhancing the linkages between the people of ASEAN. I believe that efforts to strengthen these exchanges should be further consolidated in order to foster understanding, friendship and solidarity not only between people of our two countries but also among all ASEAN Member States. In addition, this would also promote greater awareness and instill a sense of belonging and togetherness towards a more holistic ASEAN Community.

Could you share your impressions with Vietnam’s culture when living and working in Vietnam?

It has been almost four years since I started living and working in Viet Nam and I am impressed by the country’s rich and diverse culture along with its beautiful landscapes.

Since cultural diplomacy is considered an important strategy to facilitate the international integration of Vietnam, agencies and organisations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as well as the ASEAN Women’s Circle in Ha Noi have actively conducted various activities to promote Vietnamese traditions and heritage to foreign diplomats in the country. These include conducting trips to several craft and pottery villages, organising cultural exhibitions and fashion shows as well as inviting foreigners to the making of Vietnamese delicacies.

I had the honour to attend and even participate in some of the aforementioned events. In particular, the one that I fondly remember was the making of the Banh Chung, a traditional cake eaten by Vietnamese people during the Tet holiday. I enjoyed the activity, especially as I was given the chance to make my own Chung cake using Halal ingredients. I was impressed at how the dish was meticulously and intricately prepared. I am thankful for such opportunities, as they enable me to better understand and experience firsthand the beautiful and unique culture of Vietnam. This, coupled with the warmth and kind hospitality of the Vietnamese people, will leave me with fond memories to cherish when I leave the country.

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