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Brunei, the Qatar of South-East Asia

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Brunei gained its independence from the UK in 1984. It is led by one single man, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, in office since 1967 (then under Queen Elizabeth’s protectorate). He currently holds the titles of Head of State, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Dean of the University, chief of Police, supreme commander of the Army and leader of the Faithful.

The sultanate is the first state of South East Asia to adopt Sharia law, on October 15th 2013. This pious measure wraps up the organization of the principality : from now on, not only is the sale of alcohol forbidden, but businesses are compelled to remain closed during friday prayer, and Muslims have the obligation to attend prayer.

Since 1962, the sultanate lives under a state of emergency. Demonstrations are fobidden. The Sultan received military training at the Sandhurst Royal Academy (UK). The order is enforced by British troops stationed on the island, which receive a salary from the Sultan.

The Sultan’s 400 000 subjects are represented by a parliament, whose 21 members are picked by the monarch. Political parties are banned, save for the one conducted by the Sultan.

With an economy exclusively based on oil revenues, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is the second wealthiest head of state in the world, after King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia.

Brunei is evocative of a sort of Qatar in South-East Asia. However, while the Emirate is controlled by Exxon-Mobil (Rockefeller), the sultanate is Shell’s stomping ground.

It is in this capitalist paradise that the United States reckon on building their largest military base.

Translation
Alizée Ville

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