Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Chapter 7: Brunei
Stephen W. Litvin Introduction Brunei Darussalam, generally referred to as Brunei, is located 4 degrees north of the Equator, snuggled within the confines of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the northern shore of the island of Borneo. The nation, a remnant of the British Empire, is a small petroleum-rich Malay-Islamic-Monarchy. At 5765 km2, Brunei is virtually the same size as Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, and just smaller than USA’s state of Delaware. Interestingly, the Brunei government owns a cattle ranch in Australia considerably larger than the entire nation itself (United States Department of State, 2008)! In 1963, the British territories on the Malaysian peninsula, including Singapore, as well as the British North Borneo territories of Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei were offered independence – and the nation of Malaysia was born. The lone abstainer from the new federation was the Sultanate of Brunei. (Singapore joined, but was expelled two years later and became an independent state.) Brunei’s royal family opted not to join due to concern that its vast oil reserves would be nationalized by the new Malaysian government. Following this decision to pursue its independence, Brunei held initial elections. However, when the winner was a socialist party running on an anti-Malaysia and antiBritish platform, the Sultan invalidated the results and the nation remained a British protectorate until 1984, when formal independence was finally obtained. Brunei is still ruled by the royal family, with the current Sultan the twenty-ninth in his family line. Today, Brunei’s population approximates 380 000,...
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