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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why the Sultan of Brunei got rid of the “extra” wives

After last fall died the king of Thailand, “silver” (after Elizabeth II) record on duration of stay on the throne passed to Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah. He is considered to be the richest monarch in the world. The tiny state which he ruled, hard to find on the world map, but brunati can boast one of the highest in the world.

photo: kremlin.ru

The Sultan of Brunei met with Putin in Sochi at the summit Russia–ASEAN (2016).

In October 2017 71-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his stay on the throne of Brunei — the country is very small (its area is only 5.8 thousand sq km). The population is also very small: about 400 thousand people. But in other rankings, a small Sultanate, having vast oil and gas reserves, takes first place — including on his wealth. From 1999 to 2008, GDP grew here by 56%. According to the IMF, the Sultanate is the fifth economy in the world by GDP per capita. Education is free, like medical care — and this is only part of the social advances enjoyed by brunati.


Hassanal Bolkiah was born on 15 July 1946. Graduated from the Institute of “Victoria” in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and the Royal military Academy Sandhurst (UK). In 1964 crown Prince, Sultan, proclaimed 5 October 1967. 1984 — Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and the Minister of defence of Brunei.

Considered to be the richest monarch in the world — in 2010, his personal fortune was estimated at $20 billion Built in 1984 for the Sultan’s Palace Nurul Iman has an area of 200,000 sq m, has 1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, a main hall for 5,000 people, the mosque with a capacity of 1500 people, garage for 110 cars.

The ruling last fifty years, Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah came to power in virtue of belonging to the ruling dynasty — a century ago his father, Sultan Omar Ali abdicated in his favor from the throne. And then the question arises: what is the merit of the monarch, if he reigns in a small country with very large reserves of hydrocarbons? After all, to make it prosperous much easier than the large size with small reserves of minerals.

— The current Sultan and former monarch are difficult to separate, because in the early stages of Sultan actually rules together with his father, who played the role of the monarch is a mentor — there is a historically developed concept in South East Asia, when my father went backstage, but he continued to instruct his successor on the right path, until he acquired the appropriate experience and didn’t become a full-fledged monarch, says the author of several books on world leaders, including the biography of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of “Fair and noble”, Sergey PLEKHANOV, personally met with the Brunei monarch. — Such was the case in Brunei. By the way, since the Sultan Omar Ali was a great friend of the Singapore leader, Lee Kuan yew, in Singapore, this model is also borrowed. When Lee Kuan yew left power, his son made Prime Minister, and himself left the position of Minister-mentor. Omar Ali was a very interesting and influential in the regional context figure — not incidentally another interesting and influential person, like Lee Kuan yew, saw him as a kind of guru.

So, the main merit of the tandem Hassanal Bolkiah Omar Ali — that’s not what the country became rich because of oil. Oil wealth was provided by the fact that the oil fields here were discovered and developed by the British. The merit of the monarchs is in the preservation of Brunei as an independent state. The fact that the Sultanate had a very strong influence from the mother country, Britain and the Malay Federation in the early 1960s to force to join the newly formed state of Malaysia, which consisted of actually the Federation of Malaya and the two British colonies of North Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah). And between them was sandwiched a tiny Brunei, and the chance in this situation to resist he was little.

At this time the British similar projects promoted in several places. They discussed in detail the prospect of leaving the colonies and was engaged in the formation of the three federations. It is the Federation of the sultanates of South Arabia (the territory of present-day Yemen), United Arab Emirates (in addition to the current seven Emirates was to join Qatar and Bahrain) and the creation of Malaysia. Lee Kuan yew in his memoirs wrote that the Sultan of Brunei has shown great sagacity and wisdom, resist this pressure (by the way, Singapore seceded from Malaysia in a couple of years after joining there, and came out with the scandal, shouting).

That is Brunei, “covered” the territory of Malaysia, likely to take place as a separate state was very small. If it was then eaten, then no one would have remembered that there was a Brunei, and all his wealth went to Malaysia. Of course, the welfare of Bruneian what would be the impact…

His Majesty himself sits at the helm of an airliner.

■ ■ ■

As an independent state of Brunei there not so long ago — only 33 years: the British protectorate was officially repealed until January 1, 1984. From “mistress of the seas”, the Sultanate broke almost after all other parts of the once enormous British Empire.

— It was a very combination of Sultan Omar Ali and his son: holding out for as long as possible the Declaration of independence, — says Sergey Plekhanov. — Here we see one of the rare occasions in history when the protectorate has forced the state-protector (in this case the UK) to serve their interests. That is, Britain was used as an umbrella political, military, etc., which did not allow the neighbors to take Brunei. And the delay in the Declaration of independence was caused by the fact that the country needed to train personnel — military, administrative, diplomatic. If Brunei got out of the British orbit in 1963, he, of course, would not be ready and “swallowed” to the neighbors…

However, the relationship with neighbouring Malaysia brunati feel. Not by chance the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah his concept called “Malay Islamic monarchy”.

“Brunati always emphasize that they are part of Malay civilization, — confirms Sergey Plekhanov. But at the same time feel themselves a separate nation. The concept of “Malay Islamic monarchy” has a hidden subtext: “We are one-the only full-fledged Islamic Malay monarchy, because the nine sultanates, which are included in the Malaysia — more decorative public education with no real power.” Moreover, in Brunei, not just the monarchy — an absolute monarchy. Hassanal Bolkiah is common with the Malaysian monarchs, but it feels much higher.

And the concept of “Malay Islamic monarchy” is very similar to what it once was we have formulated by count Uvarov (Orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality). Almost full analogue: the religion, absolute monarchy and nationalism. On these three pillars and stands. Why it is important to underline the word “Malay”? Because in Brunei are not only Malays — there are so many Chinese and other peoples. The Malay language is the national language. Islam in Brunei powerfully inculcated from the time the previous Sultan, and as soon as the British left, the country has undergone extensive changes in lifestyle. Strict Islam (not fundamentalism!) also perceived as a condition of survival in the outside world. And autocracy there is the present. All clearly coming from one person.”

photo: ru.wikipedia.org
Brunei Sultan received military education.

■ ■ ■

A few years ago in Brunei was adopted fairly rigid Sharia law that caused a wave of criticism in the West and even the boycott belonging to brunata hotels. In particular, it was about the stoning of gays, chopping off the hands of thieves. And on the other hand, the criticism was based on claims that the background of these stringent laws the Sultan himself lead a luxurious lifestyle, has a considerable staff of concubines.

“Despite the rigidity of practice in Brunei Islam he is ruthless to any kind of extremism and terrorism, — says Sergey Plekhanov. — In this country consistently cut off the extremist and unconventional flow.

As for concubines, that once when the Sultan was young, and the blood was playing, he was probably a concubine. But now he, on the contrary, over the years, becoming more reserved. He had three wives, but he divorced his second and then a third. So now he’s only got one — first — wife. And talk about a harem absolutely not relevant. The current Islamization pursued by the Sultan, is reflected in its age-related changes. As far as we know, no one there while not stoned. In the country there is a certain implicit opposition. There the attorney-General — lady — says we need all this detail to explain to the citizens, including non-Islamic origin, what does this Islamization. Incidentally, in Brunei of Chinese this Islamization does not apply. Their girls quietly walk around in shorts, no hijab wearing them no one is forcing. This is not Saudi Arabia. Clothes in Brunei is very colorful, and the ladies present at all the events, around the Sultan always a flower garden — the wife, sister, daughter-in-law…”

If we are talking on the Royal relatives, not to mention the younger brother of the Sultan, 63-year-old Prince Jeffrey. He is not only famous for his violent and extravagant lifestyle. In the late 1990s Prince accused of embezzling the sum of $14.8 billion While Jeffrey denied the charges, he still had to pass their personal assets to the government in exchange for avoiding criminal prosecution and a permit to own a personal residence in Brunei.

— Yes, he’ve sinned a lot, — says Sergey Plekhanov. But now Prince Geoffrey, too, settled down, sitting quietly, lives in Brunei (at one time he was denied entry into the country, but the Sultan forgave him, however, the Prince seized much of his property). At the time he caused considerable damage. This guy was really a rascal, a playboy, he had many novels…

Although Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — a young man (he is over 70), age does not prevent him during visits abroad to fly their own “Boeing”.

— And not only during overseas trips — says our expert. — Every week he’s doing pirouettes on the “Boeing” in the sky of Brunei — is training not to lose skill. Fly the helicopter himself sitting at the helm. He never sat with the driver always at the wheel of a car…

Speaking of small Brunei, you can resort to the “size doesn’t matter”: the country has an active foreign policy, especially at the regional level.

“Brunei’s wealth is converted into political influence, — says Sergey Plekhanov. The country participates actively in regional organizations (ASEAN, APEC, the East Asia partnership, the planned TRANS-Pacific partnership). Brunei is very actively developing relations with China — while China as a Communist country allied to the rebel organization was “taboo” in the Sultanate. Now Brunate are very pragmatic — in recent years, the Sultan met several times with leaders of China. Monarch has a great relationship with Japan. And in General, he is pursuing a truly multi-vector policy. It is not confined to any single foreign policy. Several times the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah arrived in Russia. He has a great relationship with Putin, he respects, he feels kinship: one fly with cranes on hang-glider, the other on “the Boeing”.

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