The Brunei Ministry of Home Affairs has instructed all business premises and offices, centres of entertainment, recreation and sports including Cineplex and playground, foodstalls, markets and other business establishments to close on Fridays from 12pm to 2pm, starting November 2, 2012. This would in effect, bring the country’s entire commercial activities to a halt for 2 hours every Friday.
The Ministry stated that this is in conjunction with the recent titah by His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei. In his titah delivered on the eve of Hari Raya Aidil Adha, the monarch called for shops to close from a suitable time of the day until the conclusion of the Friday prayers. He said that this was to uphold the image of the nation as an Islamic country and to prevent errant Muslims from skipping the obligatory prayers. He also pointed out that the move is aligned with Syariah or Islamic law. His Majesty said, “From this command of Allah (SWT), no one will lose out but instead, the country will get a good name and image, as well as the blessings that we can anticipate from Allah (SWT).”
His Majesty pointed out that temporarily closing all business premises during Friday prayers will solve the “loafing syndrome” of some of the youths at shopping centres or walkways while other Muslims are already in or on their way to the mosque. If this matter is neglected, His Majesty stressed that it will tarnish the nation’s image and also its Islamic image.
Oil & gas continue to account for 90% of Brunei’s government revenues
With a stagnated economy that is now ASEAN slowest-growing, and an incessant falling living standard when adjusted to inflation, Brunei is increasingly turning towards religion for spiritual support. Its ‘Wawasan 2035 Negara Zikir’ vision dictates the implementation of regulations relevant to the ‘Zikir Nation’ goal, which aspires it to be the purest Islamic economy in the region by 2035.
The economic decline of Brunei is visibly apparent. In 1980, the Bruneian GDP per capita was US$25,538 - 5.3 times wealthier than Singapore’s US$4,857 or 11 times that of Malaysia’s US$2,324. In 2011, the gap has been widely narrowed, with Brunei’s GDP per capita at US$36,583 - 35% poorer than Singapore’s US$49,270 or 3.5 times that of Malaysia’s US$10,466.