Leaders from neighbouring countries join NDP celebrations

(Second row, from left) Indonesia's First Lady Iriana Widodo and President Joko Widodo, Brunei's Queen Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and Malaysia's First Lady Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attending the National Day Parade at the Padang yesterday. Surrounding them were (bottom row, from left) Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, as well as other Singapore parliamentarians. They were watching two F-15SGs perform a shackle manoeuvre, where they crossed paths in mid-air. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The leaders of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia yesterday attended the bicentennial edition of the National Day Parade (NDP) at the Padang.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and their spouses, were seated among Singapore's leaders in the VIP stand.

They were in Singapore at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to attend the Parade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement yesterday.

Before the Parade, the foreign leaders met PM Lee and Mrs Lee at the National Gallery Singapore.

MFA said that PM Lee expressed appreciation for them attending the celebrations, and reaffirmed the deep historical ties and friendship that Singapore has with Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Tun Dr Mahathir also put up a post on his Facebook page last night about attending the Parade and meeting the other leaders.

Earlier in the day, Sultan Bolkiah paid a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob.

Pleased to receive a call by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan...

Posted by Halimah Yacob on Thursday, August 8, 2019

During the meeting, both leaders reaffirmed the close ties and special friendship between Singapore and Brunei, underpinned by strong historical bonds and frequent high-level exchanges, said MFA.

They welcomed the robust cooperation across various sectors, including defence and finance, and agreed to continue to build on the momentum of exchanges and explore new avenues of bilateral cooperation, the ministry added.

Madam Halimah said in a Facebook post: "We had a fruitful discussion while reaffirming our close ties and special friendship between Singapore and Brunei.

"We look forward to more robust partnership across various sectors and exploring new avenues of bilateral cooperation."

In a Facebook post after the Parade, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "Honoured to have the leaders from our neighbouring countries here at NDP. These are precious relationships."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.