The Bangladesh High Commission of Bandar Seri Begawan recently hosted a soiree to honour Bangladesh’s 52nd Independence and National Day.
Held at the Rizqun International Hotel, the Songket Ballroom was filled with distinguished guests consisting of diplomatic corps, senior officials, legislative council members and the Bangladesh community residing in the Sultanate.
Present as the guest of honour was the Minister of Development, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Muhammad Juanda Haji Abdul Rashid and his spouse, Datin Fadzlin Hashim who were welcomed by the High Commissioner, Nahida Rahman Shumona.
In her welcoming speech, Her Excellency paid tribute to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for liberating Bangladesh and effusively praised the strong leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the incredible economical performance of the country despite the pandemic.
She also highlighted His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muízzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Saádul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s state visit to Bangladesh and its positive outcomes.
“Friendship between our two countries is based on mutual respect, trust and cultural similarities. During the past year, our bilateral relations strengthened more with the much-expected and awaited visit of His Majesty,” she said.
“His Majesty’s royal presence in Bangladesh uplifted the mood of the people after a three-year-long vicious pandemic. Four important Memoranda of Understanding were signed which are in the process of implementation and will benefit both countries,” she added.
The High Commissioner additionally shared that the MoU on Energy Cooperation was swiftly followed up with the visit of a Bangladesh delegation led by the Honourable State Minister of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, MP.
With this, she hopes Bangladesh will import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from Brunei starting this year.
“Bangladesh (also) hosts an inclusive society which believes in progressing with the strength and existence of religious harmony, tolerance and acceptance, and the power of collectiveness. In bahasa Melayu “Kitani” is the word for this!”
“We organise an array of different events to recognise the potential of women leadership and inclusive society, the hidden talents of the specially-abled youth and children.”
High Commissioner Nahida said that locally, the High Commission recognises and promotes such talent through collaborations with organisations such as the Reading and Literacy Association of Brunei Darussalam (ReLA), La Vida, Pusat Ehsan and the Impian Project.
“Our events would have been lacklustre without the participation of these beautiful minds,” she said.
She then praised Bangladesh’s development as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and one of the most attractive investment destinations.
“If you look at Bangladesh, you will see the transformation of the basket case to an economic miracle with first-class infrastructure to offer world-class facilities to potential foreign investors, thanks to the wise and visionary leadership of our Honourable Prime Minister who dared to declare that the Padma Bridge would be built with domestic funds. She did it with domestic funds and it is a reality now.”
She added that in December last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also formally inaugurated the country’s first metro rail.
“Bangladesh is set to graduate from its status as a Least Developed Country (LDC) in November 2026. Our exported basket has expanded from traditional items, we are now ready to take full advantage of our thriving pharmaceutical sectors too and IT products. Bangladesh is on the path to becoming the next technology outsourcing destination in South Asia.”
The High Commissioner then shared that Bangladesh emerged as the 21st-best country in the world for IT outsourcing according to the Global Service Index.
“Bangladesh’s IT sector is forecasted to be a five billion USD sector by 2025, which rapidly grew from only 300 million USD in 2006. We have more than 4000 registered IT companies and those employ almost half a million IT personnel.”
On human resources in the Sultanate, she mentioned the existence of a huge number of Bangladeshi workers in Brunei as well as in other countries in the world.
“(This) is an indication of the human resources that we are proud of. We are hopeful that the MoU signed between Brunei and Bangladesh on the Recruitment of Bangladeshi Workers during His Majesty’s visit to Dhaka will resolve the existing problems and will also serve as a model for other countries that also want to ink such MoUs to address the rights and privileges of their labours in Brunei.”
“We are grateful to His Majesty for allowing highly skilled professionals from Bangladesh to contribute to Brunei’s health and education sector.”
There are currently 65 Bangladeshis residing in Brunei comprising 35 doctors, 20 academicians and ten students.
With this, the High Commissioner believes there is ample scope for both countries to collaborate in the areas of education, agriculture, sports and climate resilience.
“May I mention that to strengthen our bond with Brunei we have already started the construction works for our High Commission Complex.”
“We (are also working) closely with Universiti Technology Brunei (UTB). I am very grateful to Vice Chancellor Datin Zohra and her team in UTB for their continuous support to us,” adding that there is a Bangabandhu-Bangladesh Book Corner at the university’s library.
Furthermore, the High Commission has endowed Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) with a research fund named the Bangabandhu Fellowship.
“We are looking forward to having a researcher to study the economic miracle that Bangladesh is!”
High Commissioner Nahida subsequently remarked on Bangladesh’s upstanding cooperation with Brunei in areas of defence.
“Since 2012, one mid-level military officer from Bangladesh has attended a staff course at the Brunei Defence Academy. This year (2023), Major Md Khabir Hossain Talukder, psc is participating in the 13th Royal Brunei Armed Forces Command and Staff Course.”
“Brunei also sent their military officers to Bangladesh to participate in the National Defence College Course. The International Night arranged by the talented and creative participants of the RBAF Command and Staff Course is thoroughly enjoyable and colourful.”
She shared with the guests that since 1988, Bangladesh advocates peacekeeping and consistently ranks top among the highest peach keepers contributing nations, establishing the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training (BIPSOT) in 1999 — a military-owned and operated institution that trains Bangladesh military and police personnel for peacekeeping in United Nation (UN) missions.
“We look forward to receiving officers from Brunei to attend courses offered by BIPSOT and Armed Forces Institutions.”
To further strengthen people-to-people bonds, the High Commission celebrates their cultural heritage such as the Pohela Boishakh or Bangla New Year, bringing along Bruneian friends.
“(Additionally) we strongly advocate for the preservation of all the native languages of the world,” said Her Excellency, particularly with the observation of ‘Language Martyr’s Day” and International Mother Language Day’ on 21 February with participation from Bruneian and Bangladeshi communities.
She hopes to organise a book fair in the Sultanate to promote books as well as reading and welcomes everyone to drop by the High Commission to visit the ‘Bangabandhu Corner’ filled with books and memorabilia to remember Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation.
“Our High Commission in Negara Brunei Darussalam does not have armed security guards or concrete barriers, it is always open for all during work hours.”
High Commissioner Nadia expressed her heartfelt gratitude towards His Majesty the Sultan for his kindness and generosity to the Bangladesh community.
“Our prayers for sound health, long life and well-being of His Majesty, and members of the royal family. We wish the wonderful people of Brunei continued happiness, peace and prosperity.”
“To conclude, on the occasion of observing our 52nd Independence and National Day, we commit to building a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ as envisioned by our Honourable Prime Minister Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina.”
The speech was then followed by the unveiling of a collaborative artwork focused on Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent country led by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by Bruneian Artists; Pengiran Wahab Hasan, Awangku Muhammad Hazim and Siti Kaprawi.
A book titled “Bangladesh through the eyes of the Bruneian Children” was then launched – a collaboration between the High Commission of Bangladesh, LaVida and ReLA.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN