Brunei. In May, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah dismissed four ministers and unexpectedly carried out the first major government reform in 17 years. The biggest change was the dismissal of the Minister of Education. He had been sitting in the post for 20 years, but had been criticized by middle-class parents since he expanded religion teaching at the expense of science and technology. A new portfolio was introduced: an energy minister responsible for the country’s important oil reserves.
According to countryaah, Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Brunei. The redevelopment meant more young ministers, and new were also ministers with experience from the private business community. Among the new ministers, there was also a non-Muslim for the first time. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah raised his son, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, from Deputy to Ordinary Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. According to analysts, the sultan thus wanted to make sure that the eldest son inherited the throne.
Analysts saw the transformation of government as another step towards modernizing the state apparatus after the re-establishment of parliament in 2004. In August, another step was taken in the democratization process. Then the National Development Party (NDP) was registered as the country’s third political party. All political parties were banned in 1962, but in the 1980s and 1990s, two parties were allowed. However, these two, the Brunei National Solidarity Party (PPKB) and the People’s Awareness Party (PKR), are not active.
Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore signed a free trade agreement in June – the first between countries on both sides of the Pacific. The agreement, which was to enter into force at the beginning of 2006, entails duty free between countries and a liberalization of trade in services.