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13

STRICT ISLAMIC COUNTRY

The country may well like to appear modern and western, but on 1 May 2014 the Sultan nev-

ertheless introduced the controversial Sharia law. Adultery, homosexual activities, theft and

the use of alcohol or other stimulants now attract medieval penalties such as stoning, flogging

and amputations. The international protests against the introduction of the Sharia law was

loud and many Hollywood stars proclaimed that they would no longer stay in hotels owned by

the Sultan of Brunei. But these things tend to die down and in the meantime the criticism has

already subsided. The controversy does not seem to be noticeably affecting the relationship

with other fellow Royal houses. This became clear when Hassanal Bolkia celebrated his golden

government jubilee on 5 October 2017 - which makes him the longest reigning Monarch in

the world after Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom. Many crowned heads were happy to

accept the invitation and joined the party celebrations. In addition to many princes from Asian

countries, for example, Britain’s Prince Edward and his wife Sophie attended the event.

Incidentally, a salient detail: The Sultan himself and his family cannot be persecuted under

Sharia law. And they are only too happy to make use of that. While the behaviour of the ordi-

nary Brunei people is severely restricted, the male members of the Bolkiah clan in particular

shamelessly do everything that is not permitted under the law of Allah. How quickly the holy

Quran can be put aside, can be read in the book of Jillian Lauren ' Some girls: My Life in a

Harem', where she talks frankly about the time when she was' fully at the service of the Sultan

and his youngest brother Jefri’, so to speak.

WHAT IS THE LIFE OF THE NORMAL BRUNEI PEOPLE LIKE?

Thanks to the oil, Brunei is a prosperous country. There is no poverty. In the five decades that

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has been at the head of his country, he has transformed it into one of

the most developed countries of Southeast Asia. The Monarch generously allows his subjects

to enjoy the wealth of the country. Haji lists the blessings of his home land: free education

and health care, no income tax and loans at extremely low interest rates. Young people who

can study abroad at the expense of the state. Although there is one condition attached to this:

after their studies they have to work for several years in the service of the Brunei government.

Okay, that is a way to keep track of possible deserters, we think right away. All in all, the

inhabitants of Brunei are satisfied, and you don’t hear them complaining. Even though, in our

eyes, their sluggish life leads to a certain form of lethargy. If everything comes naturally, why

make an effort? Don’t get us wrong, you won’t hear a bad word from us about the friendliness

of the Brunei people, because they are all very lovable, but they’re not the most enterprising.

Although their lack of initiative is certainly also largely due to the religion that dominates daily

life. There is not much opportunity for happiness, freedom and entertainment. Nightlife is

non-existent. Especially for young people, that does not seem much fun. Although Haji tells

us with a chuckle that there is a lot that can be done in this respect if you know the right

channels. A trip to nearby Malaysia also always helps, because even though you cannot buy

alcohol in Brunei, you can import it, albeit to a limited extent: two litres of spirits and twelve

cans of beer per person. All quite hypocritical if you ask us. In any event, the country will never

slip into an extremist variant of Islam. The desire for peace and stability of the Brunei people

is too great for that.