JAKARTA – Petroleum-rich Brunei rarely makes the news. Hardly a surprise, given that the Sultanate’s 422,000 population and 5,200 km sq. land area make it one of the world’s smallest countries. But last year the Abode of Peace was headline material. And it wasn’t because 2014 marked 30 years since independence from the United Kingdom, a time-marker that went unnoticed. In April, Brunei’s autocratic ruler Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced harsh punishments for infractions of Islamic law.
JAKARTA – In the short term, the outlook for the economy of Brunei-Darussalam is positive, with annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) expected to approach 6 per cent for 2014, after contracting last year. Longer term, however, the outlook for the US$16 billion economy is murky, at best.
BANDAR SERI BAGAWAN — At the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and related summits in Brunei-Darussalam this week, there has seemingly been scant mention of the ongoing sectarian violence in Burma, which will chair the bloc for the first time in 2014. Asked if the issue had come up during the course of the various meetings and summits ongoing in Brunei, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natelagawa told The Irrawaddy, “Not to my recollection, except at the Asean meeting, when the Myanmar delegation briefed us on the situation in their country.”