Bangladesh’s newly-appointed high commissioner Nahida Rahman Shumona pledged to continue strengthening diplomatic relations between Brunei and Bangladesh that have been established since 1997.
For over 20 years, both countries have been cooperating in several key areas and that Bangladesh is keen to explore new opportunities with the sultanate.
In the field of education, Brunei has awarded scholarships to Bangladeshi postgraduate students to study in the country with hopes that Bangladesh to offer the same to Bruneian students, especially in the area of agriculture.
Apart from that, the high commissioner hopes to also assist Brunei in the health sector by sending more specialists, doctors and nurses to Brunei on a government to government basis.
“Brunei can also send its students to Bangladesh to study medical sciences as we have quite a number of world-class medical facilities,” she said.
Moreover, noting the similar Muslim population in both countries, the high commissioner continued that there is a potential for halal food and apparel exports from Bangladesh to Brunei.
“Bangladesh also has interests to harness the blue economy as part of its development plan and as Brunei is a coastal country; both countries can have a joint venture and benefit from this collaboration,” added Nahida.
The high commissioner expressed her interest to spend more time with organisations that help children and the community.
Since her debut in Brunei, she has been working closely with SMARTER, An-Nur Harapan, the Brunei Reading and Literacy Association (ReLA).
“This has been a passion of mine and I make it a point to do this at every country I’m posted to,” she said.
For her countrymen, Nahida extended her appreciation to the sultanate for allowing Bangladesh nationals to contribute towards the development of the country.
“Since 1984, Bangladeshis started coming to Brunei to work at various levels such as doctors, engineers, oil and gas workers, researchers, university professors as well as skilled and unskilled workers,” she added.
The high commissioner has been a diplomat for 23 years and previously served in Australia, India, Canada and Brazil.
“Brunei has been the only country where Bangladeshis could set up their own businesses and become prominent. Hence, I would like to tell my fellow Bangladeshis to always respect the rules and regulation of Brunei; learn the culture and language of Brunei and stay united as the Bangladeshi community here,” highlighted Nahida.
Furthermore, during her tenure in Brunei, she is eyeing to establish a Bangladesh Centre for cultural studies where Bruneians and Bangladeshis can benefit from learning about each other’s culture and language.
“I would also like to collaborate with the local culinary training institutes to promote food diplomacy – not just between Brunei and Bangladesh, but all countries. Food is a universal language and I believe that through food, we can help people understand other culture and tradition,” she added.
The high commissioner further expressed her gratitude to the monarch for providing assistance and jobs to Bangladesh nations especially amidst the pandemic.
“It is my dream to make it possible for His Majesty the Sultan to visit Bangladesh in the near future. Long live His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam,” said Nahida.
Bangladesh recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence and the centennial birth anniversary of the founding leader of Bangladesh, “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 26 March.
“For Bangladesh, independence means we have the freedom to drive our own economic direction, freedom of speech and equal opportunity for all. We can now work together without any division to bring Bangladesh to a position where the father of the nation envisioned it to be,” said the high commissioner.
The country also marked another milestone this year as it has graduated from the “Least Developed Country” status to the “Developing Country” status.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN