Brunei silenced on South China Sea claims

Brunei silenced on South China Sea claimsBrunei is an absolute monarchist, Islamic state of 420,000 people on the north coast of Borneo, wedged into the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Indonesia and Malaysia own 99 percent of Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world, located at the maritime center of Southeast Asia. It has become a key pawn in…

Power Struggle in Brunei?

The oil-steeped Sultanate of Brunei is awash in reports that a turf war for power has broken out between Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and his younger brother, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the minister of foreign affairs and trade. The story started to come to light when Timothy Ong, one of Brunei's most prominent Chinese citizens, was suddenly…

Brunei Finally Gets its Gunboats

The Sultanate of Brunei this week took delivery of two 80-meter Darussalam-class offshore patrol vessels, with a third on the way, 14 years after the sultanate went looking for warships to replace its now 30-year-old Waspada-class missile gunboats. It was also several years after the Royal Brunei Navy bit off more than it could chew. The…

Brunei on the Bounding Main

Want to buy a high-speed warship, cheap, never used, bristling with some of the most advanced weaponry on the high seas? Three of them, in fact? Call Brunei. They can’t use them. Ever since the sultanate settled a confidential contract dispute over the vessels in the International Court of Arbitration in June 2006, its navy…

Pampered People

In 1991, when the Seria oilfield in Brunei Darusssalam produced its billionth barrel of crude oil, Brunei Shell Petroleum built a monument near Well No. 1, composed of an Islamic arch topped with the national crest and flanked by a pair of hands open to the sky in thanks. Thankful they should be. Brunei’s oil…