Brunei. The old conflict over the Sprat Islands in the South China Sea, which Brunei claims, among others, was heated again during the summer. Vietnam had launched a military exercise with sharp ammunition in the area and was accused by China of violating that country’s sovereignty. According to Countryaah official site, China has annexed the Sprat Islands, but Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei also claim all or part of the archipelago and the sea area where they are located.
The Sprat Islands consist only of small uninhabited copper and inserts, and the great interest is due to the fact that there is probably oil in the area. In October, Vietnam and China signed a new cooperation agreement that, at least temporarily, resolved the conflict. As early as 2002, all parties to the conflict had agreed on a code of conduct which meant that they would not carry out any acts that could exacerbate tensions in the area.
In July 2007, a law was passed that banned TV commercials for “junk food” before 7 p.m. 22. In particular, the law was intended to protect young people who were the primary target of these advertisements. The previous years saw a significant increase in the number of obese children and cases of diabetes – two serious consequences of consuming this type of “food”.
The Sultan is fond of cars. The British daily Daily Mirror reported in October 2007 that the Sultan owned 232 Mercedes cars, 224 Ferraris, 245 Bentleys, 150 BMWs, 165 Jaguar, 125 Porscher, 130 Rolls-Royces and 20 Lamborghinis. He is also fond of gold, so one (but only one) of his Rolls-Royces is coated in 24-carat gold.
In 2009, Brunei signed a bilateral agreement with the Philippines and development of agriculture, trade in agricultural products and investment.
According to the IMF, in 2011 Brunei was the only one of 2 countries in the world without public debt (the other was Libya).
In 2013, the country chaired ASEAN and hosted this year’s summit.
Despite international warnings, Brunei implemented in-depth tightening of its criminal law in 2014 and allowed it to base on Sharia. In many respects, there have been setbacks to international human rights standards:
- Far more crimes can now be punished with death.
- Use of medieval penalties such as whipping, stoning and cutting of limbs.
- Restriction of freedom of expression and religion.
- Discrimination against girls and women.
Even minor misdemeanors such as alcohol or theft can be punished by whipping or chopping limbs. Even children can be sentenced to amputation. At least 3 whipping sentences were sentenced in 2014. Brunei also had previous death sentences in his Penal Code, but did not use that penalty. However, the new Penal Code opened up the possibility of also imposing the death penalty by stoning for sex outside marriage, same-sex sex, robbery and rape. Abortion can be punished with public whipping and pregnancy outside marriage can be punished with fines or imprisonment. Already in February, the Sultan banned journalists from reporting critically on the new criminal law.
In 2015, Sultan Hassanal banned public Christmas celebrations, including the use of Santa’s costume. However, the ban only applied to Muslims. Christians could continue to celebrate Christmas privately.
After Thailand’s King Bhumibol died in 2016, Sultan Hassanal was the world’s richest monarch. In October 2017, he celebrated his 50th anniversary on the throne with a lavish celebration.