KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is looking forward to strengthening bilateral relations with Brunei Darussalam now that borders on both sides have fully reopened, says Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
Making his maiden visit to Brunei on Thursday (Sept 29) since becoming the Chief Minister in 2020, Hajiji said he is optimistic that cooperation in various fields, especially trade, will grow between the two Bornean neighbours.
This is after seeing Sabah’s trade with Brunei growing more than fourfold from RM311.7mil in 2017 to RM1.48bil in August 2022.
“Sabah always values the relations with Brunei,” said Hajiji during an audience with Ruler of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan.
The Chief Minister also shared with the Sultan information on the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah - Barisan Nasional (GRS-Barisan) state government's Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) development roadmap.
Since the GRS-Barisan government took over the reins of administration two years ago, he said, Sabah has recorded RM5.449bil in revenue in 2021.
Besides that, the state also achieved RM389mil in domestic investments from January to June 2022, as well as RM9.9bil in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from January to September this year.
Hajiji said Sabah also welcomed visitors from Brunei which has grown steadily after the reopening of borders with the first Royal Brunei Airlines flight into the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on May 6 this year.
Following the border reopening, Bruneians also travelled by road to visit Sabah beginning Aug 1 this year.
A total of 78,605 Bruneians visited Sabah in 2019, but the numbers plunged to 5,494 in 2020 following border shutdowns.
Hajiji also extended an invitation to the Sultan for a reciprocal visit to Sabah.
Accompanying the Chief Minister in the visit were State Assembly Speaker Datuk Haji Kadzim Yahya, Special Tasks Minister Datuk Arifin Arif and State Secretary Datuk Seri Safar Untong.