What Are The Roles Of The Sultan Of Brunei?

By Victor Kiprop on January 9 2020 in Politics

Brunei's Sultan marked 50 years on the throne with a glittering procession. Editorial credit: james wk / Shutterstock.com

Brunei is the only absolute monarchy in Asia. The Sultan of Brunei descends from a family that has ruled the country for centuries and has maintained their royal line by intermarriage among relatives. There are no political activities, including political opposition in the country. It is believed that Bruneians do not object to the absolute monarchy system and are proud to have the oldest reigning monarch in the world. Since independence in 1984, the country has maintained a social philosophy that encompasses a robust Malay culture, the importance of Islam in governance and daily life, respect for the monarch and the Sultan, and tolerance. Bruneians regard the monarchy with reverence and much respect. The Sultan has the absolute power to prosecute those who insult members of the royal family. It is also an offense to disclose information about the wealth of the royal family publicly. On July 15, the country marks the birthday of the Sultan with parades and festivals. On this day, the Sultan pardons petty crime offenders. Only the male offspring of the Sultan can succeed in the monarchy. In the event of a contest, the Council of Succession determines the legitimate successor as per the constitution. 

Duties And Roles Of The Sultan Of Brunei

The Sultan is both the President and Prime Minister of Brunei. He is the absolute monarch, head of state, head of government, and the supreme executive authority in the country. Only one sultan has governed Brunei since the country gained independence in 1984. In 1991 the monarch introduced the Malay Muslim Monarchy, which makes the Sultan the Defender of the Muslim culture and faith in the state. Besides, the Sultan is also the Finance Minister, Defense Minister, Commander of the Armed Forces, Chief of Police, Supreme Leader of Islam, Foreign Minister and the Chancellor of the National University. He has the power to appoint and dismiss directors of government agencies. Several councils assist the Sultan to perform his duties, including the Council of Succession, Privy Council, Council of Ministers, Legislative Council, and Religious Council. 

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

Hassanal Bolkiah is the incumbent Sultan of Brunei. He became the prince in 1961 at the age of 15 and assumed the crown in 1968 when his father abdicated. Hassanal ascended to power when the country was a British protectorate. The country was already developed thanks to the vast oil resources. During independence, Brunei had a per-capita income of about $48,650. It isolated from regional and international activities for a long time. Sultan Hassanal is one of the richest men on the planet; he attracts attention and controversies for his spending culture. He has amassed a collection of expensive vehicles, constructed a large polo complex, a stud farm, and a 1,788-room royal palace. In April 2019, the Sultan made global headlines when he passed a law to punish same-sex marriage and adultery punishable by stoning.  

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