Brunei Darussalam, better known as Brunei, is an absolute monarchy-based country located in Southeastern Asia, around the coast of Borneo and bordering Malaysia. The country is mostly known by its high economy levels, based on the exportation of oil and natural gas.

It is one of the nations with the most influence around the world, due to its economy and exportation materials, leading Brunei to be an extremely rich land. Brunei is led by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, which has brought an extreme version of government to the country. With the imposition of sharia law, the Sultan’s political views and ways to rule Brunei have been widely criticized across the world. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah marked 50 years of ruling Brunei this past Oct. 5, 2017.

Regardless, the Sultan’s criticized way of governing the country has not had any major negative impacts on the schooling system and education in Brunei. In fact, Brunei’s education has been positively affected within the past decade, when the country joined UNESCO in 2005.

Education in Brunei took a turning point when it was included as a part of a worldwide-known organization called Education For All (EFA). EFA is an initiative geared towards expanding early childhood education, increasing adult literacy and promoting learning skills for both young people and adults.

Based on the British education system, Brunei divides its education into three levels. The first one, the pre-primary level, is meant to teach children from age three to five. Pre-primary schooling follows the EFA initiative of introducing education as early as possible. The primary level follows the pre-primary level. This second education stage is six years long and introduces the national language of Malay as well as English. As a final level, secondary school is focused on preparing students for a college-like education. It can also be considered a pre-university level.

Brunei has a particular education system that seems to please the country’s citizens. The fact is that not only is schooling organized and something everyone can afford, but there are different options for students who might want to study not-so-traditional career paths.

Vocational education is a special schooling system which includes technical and craft colleges; agriculture, nursing, teaching and more are taught in this level of education.

Education in Brunei can also be classified within two categories: the first one being nongovernmental schools, or private schools and the second one being government-based school, or public schools.

Brunei has an exemplary education system. Different options, education levels, and a wide range of universities, technical colleges, institutes and more provide different choices for Brunei’s citizens. Organizations such as EFA are working tirelessly in order to have a positive impact on education in Brunei so that it may improve in the future.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Brunei DarussalamBrunei is a small nation located in the northern coastal area of the island of Borneo, which also encompasses parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei’s territory extends itself through an area of 5,765 kilometers of land, where about 423,000 citizens live.

How to help people in Brunei is not an easy question to answer at first glance. The fact is that despite its size, Brunei’s economy is considered to be one of the best performing in the world.

The country mainly exports liquefied gas and crude oil across the globe; natural gas and petroleum represent 60 percent of the country’s economy. Brunei’s extended forest territory allows it to produce abundant amounts of non-renewable resources and energy.

In spite of Brunei’s level of productivity, the issue of how to help people in Brunei remains because, despite the country’s great wealth, the social and political system causes difficulty for Brunei’s citizens.

As an absolute monarchy led by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, freedom of speech has been limited within the media, including radio, television, and print, as well as for citizens.

In 2014, Brunei adopted sharia law, a list of laws based on the religion of Islam. Consisting of three phases, two of which have to be yet implemented, sharia law is currently enforced among Brunei’s citizens.

The only approved phase for the moment includes prison sentences for what most developed first world countries would consider minor. Pregnancy outside marriage, failing to attend Friday prayers, propagating religion other than Islam, among other offenses, are severely punished with prison sentences or fines.

Organizations such as the United Nations have spoken out regarding Bolkiah’s intentions, but despite commenting on the sultan’s ideas for the future of Brunei, the country remains part of the United Nations due to providing free medical care, education and more to its citizens.

Boycotts of the Beverly Hills Hotel and other properties that Bolkiah owns have been enacted by numerous international companies to put pressure on the sultan to repeal sharia law. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John have taken up the issue to bring awareness to the inequality and discrimination that is currently taking place in Brunei.

How to help people in Brunei is a social issue rather than an economic one. Brunei is a country that violates human rights every day and no organizations are actively fighting against it. The imposition of sharia law in Brunei is continuous and awareness is key in order to eradicate such human rights violations.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in BruneiBrunei, a high development country that benefits from a wealth of natural resources, has one of the highest gross domestic products in the world. While there is no reported poverty line, all signs point to a very successful population and a government structure that could act as a model to the world. In other words, poverty in Brunei is not nonexistent, but it is minimized. Unfortunately, even though Brunei is highly developed and their infrastructure is smoothly run and effective, the nation is a special case, and thus their model cannot be applied to the rest of the world that does struggle with high levels of poverty and strife.

The government of Brunei has not only set up an excellent infrastructure, but the population is also highly educated and benefits from not having to pay income taxes or for medical care. Yet, the government can only afford this social system because of the breadth of natural resources they have at their disposal. Brunei refines crude oil, which is then exported to economic powerhouses around the world such as Japan, which is the primary export market. Since the natural resources are so abundant for the time being, Brunei does not have to worry about them running out, leading to a recession or worse.

Yet, despite the strength of industry, the nation does struggle to make modern adjustments, raising the possibility of a future where poverty in Brunei could become an issue. The recent decline in oil prices has made this concern more plausible, and officials have made it a priority to diversify industry and bring in more foreign investment. The wealth of the country allows them to fix problems before they begin, and the threat of a “resource curse” is one such issue.

Another concern lies in the very small level of poverty in Brunei. While the country has no official measurement of a poverty line, the UN Millennium Development Goals report in 2011 indicated that 5.04 percent of the population is impoverished. The government is already taking steps to deal with the issue, creating a Poverty Issue Special Committee and drafting an action plan for eradicating poverty. While this committee has not led to an official poverty line, it does show that the government of Brunei is proactive and willing to fight for their citizens’ interests.

While Brunei does not struggle with a high percentage of poverty, they still remain an example on how to combat poverty through government action. Creating a committee to deal with this issue before it becomes too problematic and planning to diversify industry and modernize makes the government of Brunei an idealistic, forward-thinking country to observe and emulate.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

The Hidden Face of Poverty in BruneiBrunei Darussalam, the Abode of Peace, is a small Southeast Asian country with a population of approximately 350,000 people. Data on poverty in Brunei is scarce, but it shows that roughly five percent of the country’s population lives in poverty. Nevertheless, there is another face of poverty in the small nation: the poverty of freedom and opportunity.

Brunei is an Islamic Sultanate Kingdom ruled by a monarch in whom rests the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the State. The reigning monarch, Hassanal Bolkiah, is the 29th ruler in an unbroken line of succession for the past six centuries. The country’s citizenry has allowed the monarchical rule to survive for this long because of two reasons: welfare benefits and the respect for social and political order enforced by the state.

Economic poverty in Brunei is not a big problem because it is a rich nation and the third largest exporter of oil and gas, which allows the subjects of the King to enjoy a high per capita income of nearly $24,000 annually. The human development index (HDI) ranks it 30, which falls in a very high human development category, over countries such as Malta, Qatar and Cyprus, which rank 33. Brunei also ranks well in the gender development index (GDI). According to the 2015 HDI report, the female HDI value for Brunei is 0.854 which is a GDI value of 0.986, placing it into Group 1 with countries such as Norway, Australia and Singapore.

However, poverty in Brunei exists in the sense that there are reported problems of smaller economic inequalities and the lack of freedom and opportunity. Development across some areas is uneven and opportunities for younger generations to participate actively in the State affairs through education, employment and promotions on merit are less than encouraging. Brunei has no representative institutions due to the total control of the King’s authoritarian regime. Analysts believe that the State has been able to maintain harmony due to the vast wealth at its disposal for welfare activities.

The less diversified nature of economy, dependency on the oil and gas industry and the spread of ideas due to the rise of Internet and globalization among the younger generation do seem to pose a challenge for the current socioeconomic and political model. Economic and political measures in Brunei must be taken to address the emergent issue of poverty of opportunity and freedom and, simultaneously, sustain growth and prosperity.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Brunei DarussalamBrunei is one of the few countries where the legal system is based on sharia law, a code based on interpretations of the Quran by Islamic scholars. There is a fairly wide variance in the interpretations of the scholars, with some offering much more conservative views than others. The Penal Code was amended in 2014 to more strictly adhere to sharia law. Since then, human rights in Brunei have been perceived to be under attack, largely due to many of the more conservative interpretations of sharia law which the Penal Code adheres to.

The overall track record of Brunei’s legal system has been quite good. Despite not specifically outlawing torture, there were no instances of cruel and unusual punishment in 2016. Additionally, there were zero instances of government-instigated murders or disappearances. Although fair and impartial judgment is not guaranteed under the constitution, the majority of cases are uninfluenced by outside intervention.

However, caning is still a legal punishment for most adult males, a punishment that may strike many as barbaric. A major concern for human rights in Brunei is the prison system, which is currently experiencing severe overcrowding.

Not only do some of the legal retributions violate Western human rights in Brunei, the freedoms of speech and press are not protected under the constitution, and under the Sedition Act, the government has severely restricted such basic rights. Any and all public performances must be approved beforehand by a government agency, making any subversive or controversial displays unlikely.

Besides being one of the few countries with sharia law as the basis of its legal code, Brunei is one of the only countries ruled by an absolute monarch. The sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, maintains absolute power in his country, and has actually enjoyed a good deal of popularity among his subjects.

The approval that Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has enjoyed is due in large part to Brunei’s high standard of living. It has a good education system, and the per capita GDP is among the highest in the world. Sultan Bolkiah has done a lot of good work to utilize the energy reserves of his country and turn it into a profitable nation. Despite the many oversights related to human rights in Brunei, there remains a large amount of happiness and prosperity.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in BruneiBrunei is a country in Southeastern Asia that borders the South China Sea and Malaysia. The country used to be a British colony until 1984, when one family took control of the nation from the British military. That family has maintained control of the country to this day and has also maintained the country’s status of having one of the highest per capita GDP in the world. Despite its high GDP, the country still suffers from many harmful diseases. The purpose of this article is to discuss a few of the most common diseases in Brunei.

Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the most common disease in Brunei. When last measured in 2015, about 31.2 percent of people in Brunei suffered from this illness. IHD is a disease which decreases the flow of blood to the heart as a result of restricted arteries leading to the organ. This disease can cause severe chest pain and eventually heart attack if left untreated for an extended period.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is the fourth most common disease in Brunei. COPD is an umbrella term used to describe lung diseases including persistent bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. This disease is described by people who suffer from it as an increased feeling of breathlessness, wheezing and tightness in the chest.

One of the reasons for this disease being so common in Brunei is due to some people who smoke tobacco products on a regular basis in the nation. When last measured in 1988, around 20 percent of individuals over the age of 16 smoked tobacco products regularly. Even though this common disease in Brunei is preventable, many inhabitants of the nation choose to continue to smoke tobacco, making it difficult to decrease the prevalence of COPD.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

CKD is the seventh most common disease in Brunei, and between 2005 and 2015 its prevalence increased a shocking 30.6 percent. CKD is a blanket term for a variety of illnesses that damage a person’s kidneys and decreases their ability to filter toxins from the blood. Without toxins being eliminated from the blood properly, people who suffer from CKD often develop complications like high blood pressure, anemia and nerve damage. If left untreated, this disease can lead to premature death.

The Takeaway

Highly developed nations often suffer from high rates of preventable disease. IHD, COPD and CKD are all common diseases in Brunei, which are all avoidable given an individual takes the proper steps to live an active and healthy lifestyle. With more information about these diseases being released on a daily basis, these common diseases in Brunei are sure to see a fall in the number of people they kill.

Nicholas Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Brunei
Brunei is a sovereign state located in Southeast Asia. Landlocked on all sides by Sarawak in Malaysia except for its South China Sea coastline, the country became a highly industrialized state after it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1984. The country has a tropical climate characterized by high temperatures and rainfall. Water quality in Brunei has the potential to decrease in the future if action is not taken.

Surface water supply, which makes up about 99 percent of water utilized for all purposes in Brunei, comes from the four river basins of Brunei: Daerah Tutong, Kuala Belait and Temburong. The Brunei River’s upper reaches have been a major freshwater source for the western part of the country. Despite being used for everything from transportation to waste disposal, it has largely been unaffected due to its natural capacity for self-purification.

High levels of water pollution in the Brunei River have been traced to wastewater treatment plants, industrial discharge, and polluted streams. The government has identified population density and urban catchment systems as the most common reasons for the level of pollution prevalent in rivers, especially Brunei. Point and non-point pollution sources – including residential, industrial and agricultural outlets – are currently the main sources of pollution in Brunei River.

Domestic wastes and surface runoff in the rivers of Brunei constitute about 50 percent and 29 percent, respectively, of the load discharged into water courses. An increase in population and greater economic development is likely to have adverse effects on water quality in Brunei.

In the Sungai Liang and Seria areas of the Belait district and in the Berakas area of the Brunei-Muara district, limited reserves of groundwater have been identified.
The country is considering taking steps to address the water problem, including introducing legislation to improve watershed protection and manage pollution.

Six government treatment plants in different parts of the country maintain good drinking water quality in Brunei. Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) and Brunei Shell’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) operate private water treatment plants. Bottled water factories make use of advanced water technology in purifying drinking water for the local population.

Under the Tenth National Development Plan, upgrades to existing monitoring systems and quality management frameworks have been proposed by the government. Despite the fact that 99.9 percent of the population is now provided with clean water, the government has evinced intent to maintain high levels and quality of water in the country in order to meet the changing demands of an increasing population and accommodate rapid industrial development.

Water conservation and sustainability measures have been proposed to maintain the supply and distribution of clean water in the country. New designs in focusing on riverside development and integrated water resource management plans have also been unveiled. This has included construction of new water infrastructure, including drainage systems and treatment plants, and further upgrading. Enhancement of water quality monitoring is being proposed with a new water lab and 11 new water quality parameters.

The country has built reservoirs and dams to help prevent seawater intrusion and manage its river flow, utilized hydrological data network with technological advances, secured international cooperation from countries like Singapore and improved water quality monitoring. Furthermore, the country has had initial success in adapting to the threats of climate change.

It is also managing its water resources and provisions by utilizing the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) framework’s goals and action plans. Together, these steps will sustain and enhance the quality of life, together with improving water quality in Brunei, for all Bruneians.

Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

Hunger In Brunei
Brunei is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Brunei is the only country on the island and has territory between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Hunger in Brunei is a growing problem inherently linked to the government.

Recently, the leader of the country, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, announced his intention to make Shari’a law the primary form of law in the nation. This change stems from the fact that two-thirds of the country’s population is Muslim. This shift of policy in conjunction with growing governmental corruption led to the United Nations expressing grave concern for the country.

In Brunei, food is scarce due to the insurgent groups in the region and arid climates, making growing crops difficult for the farmers in the area. Due to its tropical climate and proximity to the ocean, the main supply of protein comes from marine catches. Marine wildlife acts a primary source of food for the people of Brunei, and the government has made an effort to increase the yields of fishers to meet the requirements for the nation’s food supply.

Outside of the fishing industry, a majority of food is shipped into the country internationally. Although the Brunei government states that they have adequate food distribution policies that ensure food products get distributed to the majority of citizens, data shows that this is not the case. Regardless, the food distribution system distributes sugar, rice and other basic foods. Once transported to communities, they get sold at “fair” food prices.

Political corruption began right as the country found independence in the early 18th century and has continued to affect the country’s population since. Due to much of the food supply being under control by the government and militant groups roaming the country seizing the little amount of food available for the country’s citizens, the amount of hunger in Brunei has increased dramatically since the country’s independence.

Malnutrition in Brunei is commonplace, and children under the age of five are the group most affected. This issue is compounded by the high prevalence of citizens being underweight. For females under the age of five, there is an 8.5 percent chance of being underweight, and males have a 10.8 percent chance.

The significant amount of hunger in Brunei stems from political corruption and the shift to Shari’a law as the primary form of governance. In general, a pregnant mother will struggle to find the volume of food necessary to have babies that are born healthy. The rate of babies born underweight is now at 11.9 percent, an increase since Shari’a law was implemented in the nation.

Beyond issues with the country’s government, the food that is available to the citizens of Brunei is either of low quality or often gets contaminated with toxins. This low quality of food has led to children growing up in the nation to be underdeveloped. About 22.8 percent of males and 16.7 percent of females suffer from stunted development as a direct result of malnutrition and toxic foods.

The political situation in Brunei has contributed significantly to the country’s inability to feed its citizens. Although the government has tried to make strides in better distributing the food the country has, many people still face the issues created by hunger in Brunei.

Continued pressure by the EU should ensure that the government continues to distribute food and sell that food at fair prices. However, as present trends suggest, this may not be possible until more political change occurs in the country.

Nicholas Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Stateless People of BruneiBrunei Darussalam or Adobe of Peace, is a state on the northeastern coast of the island of Borneo. Since the discovery of vast oil fields in the 1920s, the state is among the wealthiest in the Asian Pacific region with a high standard of living among those living there.

The population of Brunei totals around 330,000, consisting of only 16 percent indigenous peoples. Roughly 64 percent are Malaysian and 20 percent Chinese. The government of Brunei has not reported that anyone in the state is seeking asylum. However, many stateless people are residing without citizenship. Here are seven facts about the stateless people of Brunei.

  1. Brunei has cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) by agreeing to share statistics of the number of stateless people of Brunei, and the number of those who have been granted citizenship.
  2. As of 2016, there were 20,524 stateless people living in Brunei. This is about 6.2 percent of the population living without citizenship.
  3. Obtaining citizenship in Brunei is difficult and can only be done after passing rigorous testing. Between 2009 and 2012, 2,420 stateless people were granted citizenship.
  4. Brunei law prohibits non-Bruneians, including stateless permanent residents, from owning property.
  5. Although somewhat hesitant to grant citizenship to stateless people of Brunei, each stateless person is given an International Certificate of Identity that enables them to travel overseas and do anything that you need identification for.
  6. Minors can be registered as nationals as long as the Sultan sees fit. And foreign women who are married to a national man can obtain citizenship by registering themselves as married to a citizen.
  7. Furthering the recognition of stateless people, the Brunei government has instituted a birth registration program for stateless children. The program establishes a record of where a child was born and who his parents are to prevent children from slipping through the cracks of the legal system. This information will help children to get education, healthcare and employment when they are adults.

Despite the fact that Brunei does not have asylum-seekers, it is moving forward in setting standards for its non-national residents.

Madeline Boeding

Photo: Flickr

Fighting Diseases in BruneiBrunei is an incredibly small country that shares borders with Indonesia and Borneo. Some of the top diseases in Brunei include various cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases. These non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a widespread issue for countries in The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN focuses on improving political and international economic relations to improve the stability of Southeast Asia. Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Brunei comprise the organization.

Brunei’s Ministry of Health is working to promote prevention and treatment of these diseases. The ministry is concerned because the prevalence of these NCDs has paralleled the economic growth of ASEAN countries. Consequently, they called a meeting in 2013 with the health sector of ASEAN. Together, the two groups established goals that will attempt to control NCDs in the region by 2025.

For 30 years, NCDs have been among the most common diseases in Brunei and have been the leading cause of death. The government launched the Brunei Darussalam National Multisectoral Action Plan, which is working towards reducing NCD mortality rates by 18 percent by 2018. This is part of the larger goal to reduce mortality rates from NCDs by 25 percent before 2025.

This action plan includes five main goals to combat common diseases in Brunei. They aim to reduce tobacco use, promote healthy diets, increase physical activity, identify at-risk individuals and improve NCD treatment. With these goals in place, Brunei expects to see a reduction in the rate of diabetes by 1 percent before 2018. Diabetes is a major issue in Brunei, where 62 percent of people are overweight.

These programs have been successful thus far. The World Health Organization (WHO) created the NCDs Progress Monitor to track the progress of ASEAN countries. According to the WHO, Brunei has made the most progress in terms of fighting NCDs out of all ASEAN countries. The WHO has highlighted Brunei’s progress in particular areas, including drug and alcohol counseling, tobacco usage warnings and public awareness programs.

Although there is still potential for further progress, this report from the WHO indicates that Brunei is moving in the right direction to combat NCDs.

Photo: Flickr