Short for BN by Abbreviationfinder, Brunei is a hereditary sultanate. In practice, the Sultan governs easily and sets up his own government. The Sultan has introduced a state ideology called “Malay Islamic Monarchy”. According to it, Brunei is governed by three principles: Malay culture, Islam and monarchy.
Hassanal Bolkiah is the 29th Sultan of a family that has ruled the country for over 400 years. He is Head of State and Prime Minister, Defense and Finance. In 1998, the Sultan appointed his eldest son, Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, as heir to the throne.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Brunei for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The Constitution was adopted in 1959 and gives far-reaching powers to the Sultan, but it also states that there should be a legislative assembly (legco). An election to legco was held in 1962, but an uprising that erupted after the election (see Modern History) led to the issue of an emergency permit. This has since been renewed every two years and has largely put the constitution out of play. Instead, the Sultan rules by decree.
The Sultan reopened legco in 2004 and at the same time presented a revised constitution. It provides for legco to have 45 members, 30 of whom are elected by the sultan and 15 are elected by the people in general elections.
However, when legco first met in 2005, only 29 members appointed by the sultan participated. No general election has been held. The members meet a few days each year to formally approve the government’s budget. In 2011, the sultan expanded legco to members appointed by himself.
Parliament is essentially an advisory function. The Sultan has the right to veto all legislative proposals. The exceptions law from 1962 remains.
The Sultan has said that political parties lead to chaos, even if they are formally allowed. Several lots have been registered but then dissolved and deregistered. The National Development Party (Parti Pembanguan Bangsa, PPB) is now the only registered political party in Brunei. PP formed in 2005 is loyal to the sultan.
Government administration is steeped in corruption, despite the establishment of a anti-corruption authority in 1982. A series of corruption scandals have shaken the country. In 2013, the owner of Brunei’s big oil company Brunei Shell Petroleum was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption. In 2018, Brunei was ranked 63 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Index of Corruption in the World.
Judicial system and legal security
The Supreme Court members are appointed by the Sultan, but the courts are relatively independent. The legal system follows the British model.
For the country’s Muslims, Muslim sharia laws are also applied in civil law areas such as inheritance and divorce, and in April 2019, sharia laws for Muslims were also introduced in criminal law. The changes in the law mean that rape, adultery, same-sex sex, robbery and slander of Prophet Muhammad can be punished with death. Anyone who engages in same-sex sex or adultery risks being stoned to death. Abortion must be punished with public punishment in public places and the person who steals should have his hand or foot amputated. It is illegal to expose Muslim children to other religious beliefs and customs.
In Brunei, however, there is a moratorium (a kind of stop) for the execution of the death penalty and no execution has been carried out since 1957. Following sharp criticism from the outside world, the Sultan emphasized that the moratorium also applies to death sentences issued in accordance with Sharia law.
In the past, pregnancy outside of marriage, neglect with fasting during Ramadan, absence from Friday prayers and propaganda for other religions can result in fines or imprisonment. Alcohol consumption can result in punishment.
Violence is common, even against children. It is used in a dozen different crimes. Among other things, immigrants can be sentenced for failing to renew their work permit.