President Halimah Yacob departed Brunei Monday morning, ending a four-day state visit to the sultanate — her first as Singapore’s president.
During her maiden trip, Halimah held bilateral talks with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at Istana Nurul Iman, covering a range of issues from defence to investment.
Remarking on the bilateral relationship at a state banquet on Saturday night, she said:
The friendship between our two countries dates back to the close personal ties between the late Seri Begawan and Mr Lee Kuan Yew. They recognised that as small countries, Singapore and Brunei share many similarities and a strategic outlook on many regional and international issues. I am heartened that this friendship has remained steadfast, especially in today’s uncertain and complex world.
Both leaders stressed that the “unique and special relationship” needed to be carried forward to the next generation of leaders.
Here’s a round up of the key moments of the president’s visit:
COOPERATION IN FINTECH, FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE
The Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore signed a fintech cooperation agreement to foster innovation in financial services between the two countries.
In a statement, AMBD said the central banks of both countries would also work together to “enhance the retail payment ecosystem”.
AMBD’s Financial Intelligence Unit also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office of the Singapore Police Force, agreeing to exchange financial intel that may help investigate suspected of money laundering and terrorism financing.
Brunei currently has similar MoUs with Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Bangladesh and Cambodia.
His Majesty said the two agreements would provide “a solid base on which financial institutions, private sectors and investors alike are able to cooperate and benefit”.
Last year, the two nations celebrated the 50th anniversary of the currency interchangeability agreement, which pegs the Brunei dollar to the Singapore dollar.
President Halimah said the agreement has helped to facilitate trade, investment and tourism between Brunei and Singapore, but more importantly “reflects our deep mutual trust and confidence”.
Brunei’s monarch added that he was pleased to see increasing business and investment from the island state.
On Saturday, Singaporean firm Barramundi Asia inked an MoU with Brunei’s Department of Fisheries to develop a major offshore aquaculture site that will produce up to $300 million of sea bass each year. The fish will be exported to secondary markets in Singapore, Australia and Europe.
The company will develop an area of 6,613 hectares at Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture Site, as well as establish a hatchery, fish nursery and processing plant in Tanah Jambu, potentially providing up to 200 jobs for locals.
When the site is in full operation by 2021, the facility is expected to produce 40,000 metric tonnes of sea bass per year.
On Sunday, President Halimah visited Brunei’s easternmost district to meet with Singaporean soldiers at the Lakiun Camp in the Temburong jungle. She also paid a call to the Defence Academy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces on Saturday afternoon.
Defence ties form an important component of the bilateral relationship — SAF and RBAF soldiers have trained alongside each other for decades. Since 1976, Singaporean teenagers have carried out part of their national service training in Temburong.
SINGAPORE’S ASEAN CHAIRMANSHIP
His Majesty also offered his “full support” during Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018. The bloc is trying to rally against protectionism amid fears that tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China could escalate into a global trade war.
All eyes will also be on Singapore next month as it hosts much anticipated talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.