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Sultan Bolkiah, whose full name is Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien is estimated to have accumulated a fortune amounting to billion thanks to vast natural reserves of oil and gas.
He also regularly makes the headlines for his indulgences in custom-built high-performance cars and lavish homes.
The tiniest country in the region, it is also one of the least visited.
But despite its small size, there are enough things to do in Brunei to keep you busy for at least two to three days, just like I did.
Ellen De Generes, Elton John, Jamie Lee Curtis and Billie Jean King have joined in calling for a boycott. Even though boycott may have a limited impact on the billion dollar fortune of a Sultan who is an absolute monarch, it is better than the meager nothing that would be its alternative. Video Flash Slate = function show Flash Slate(container) ; Play Video Exist = (Play Video Exist === true) ? Video Player Properties(config Obj.markup Id, auto Start Video, is Live Player, is Video Replay Clicked, mute Player Enabled); CNN.
As a visitor, you can roam freely and safely, for the Sultan’s generosity with his people and the country’s limited freedom of expression makes this a peaceful country.
The views expressed in this commentary are her own. "It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilise them to obtain justice," declared Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in October 2013, when he first announced a three-part plan for the implementation of Sharia law in his tiny, wealthy and once oil-rich Kingdom of Brunei.
Many of those who would essentially be sentenced to death by these laws considered fleeing, but some stayed in the hope that they would ultimately not come to pass.
The Western part of the country only accounts for 10% of the 400,000 Bruneians and is entirely made of lush and pristine jungle, the best preserved in Asia and not connected to the Eastern part but surrounded entirely by water or Malaysia.
The most famous park in this part of Brunei is the beautiful Ulu Temburong, home to several endemic species including the very shy Proboscis monkey, which you can also find in nearby Sabah State and Kota Kinabalu Park in East Malaysia.
Those who wish to take action or speak out against these laws should also point out that Brunei is propping up an obsolete version of Sharia law as a means of covering up its political conundrums and failed efforts at economic diversification.