Minorities like Christians, who make up 16 percent of the population, are feeling increased pressure.
Brunei has been a sultanate for more than 600 years, and all important positions are still held by the Sultan himself, including prime minister, finance minister, minister of the interior and head of religion. People deeply revere and respect him and any criticism is seen as unacceptable. His government provides free medical services and subsidizes goods such as rice and housing. There are no school fees for state schools, and citizens of Brunei do not have to pay income tax. His politics are based on revenues from large oil and gas fields, covering 90 percent of the government`s GDP. Most of the citizens have never lived under any other system. Even the sultan’s announcement of introducing Sharia penal law in May 2014 did not change the peoples’ affection for him. The second phase encompassing corporal punishments was supposed to begin in May 2015, but has been delayed due to international pressure. Minorities like Christians, who make up 16 percent of the population, are feeling increased pressure, since the sultan leans more and more towards conservative Islam. This seems to give the tiny and rather young state an identity, possibly used as a uniting factor in preparation for the time when the country runs out of oil and gas.