The Nation of Brunei Darussalam is located in the northwest of the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, Southeast Asia, divided between Malaysia and Indonesia. The official capital is Bandar Seri Begawan, home to all government services. Brunei's development and wealth derive from the export of oil and natural gas that make up the main source of national income.
IDYLLICALLY SAFE IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Southeast Asian countries trudge through a spate of terrorist threats. Many local and transnational terrorist groups and organizations perniciously mushroom across the region, such as JAMAAT ANSAR AL-KHILAFA AND JAMAAT ANSAR AL-DAWLA, which are two ISIS-affiliated networks in Indonesia; they carried out many vicious attacks. Equally important, Malaysia also thwarted several terrorist attacks and paralyzed terrorist cells.
Fortunately, the Nation of Brunei Darussalam was cordoned off from all such terrorist activities; it was not even listed in the annual reports of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). While some countries across the region have been sustaining for decades much ethnic and religious turmoil, Brunei has maintained stability, security and peace; Brunei is one of the top countries with low crime rate and violence be it political, economic, religious or ethnic. For decades, Brunei has not experienced any manifestations of turmoil; none of such hardship is expected to sneak into the near future of Brunei. The US State Department has described the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, as a safe, low-threat terrorist destination.
The Nation of Brunei has no recent history record of terrorism, no homegrown terrorist organizations or groups. Again, it has shown no support or sympathy for transnational terrorists. However, the threat of transnational terrorism remains lurking somewhere. By the same token, indiscriminate terrorist attacks can sneak into the country overnight. Such a threat cannot be brushed aside or downplayed; it slinks off from the vulnerable and porous areas. With this in mind, the Bruneian Government takes proactive measures to confront potential threats to remain intact.
BRUNEI AT GTI
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) measures the direct and indirect impact of terrorism, including effects on lost lives, injuries, property damage, and subsequent psychological effects, providing an alphabetical country-based ranking list according to the impact of terrorism on a scale from (0) with no impact, to (10) the highest impact.
The GTI (2016-2019) provides a close interpretation of the situation of the Nation of Brunei Darussalam. Impressively enough, Brunei was not flagged by the GTI over the 2016-2019 lifetime. Although other countries in the immediate vicinity were ensnared by terrorism, Brunei remained idyllically safe and peaceful. Several neighboring countries were marked high at the GTI: the Philippines 7.137 points, ranking (9); Thailand 6.029 points, ranking (18); Myanmar 5.521 points, ranking (26); Indonesia 5.07 points, ranking (35); Malaysia 2.495 points, ranking (74) and Vietnam 0.999 points, ranking (97) globally.
Structural and organizational factors have cemented and bolstered the Bruneian Government to better combat violent extremism and counter terrorism. Set as a safety valve, such actions nip in the bud the impact of the transnational calls of terrorist groups. Pivotal pillars, inter alia, that buttress counterterrorism efforts include:
1. Domestic Laws and Regulations
Brunei has civil and Islamic legislation, applied in perfect harmony and in concert to impeccably maintain internal security. In Brunei, two main civil law enforcement agencies operate in tandem: the Royal Police Force (RBPF) and the Homeland Security Department (BISD), which are both entrusted and mandated at a large scale to address national security concerns, such as terrorism, organized crime, smuggling, trafficking, and domestic threats. As such, legislation, laws and security agencies can control the domestic situation in an immaculately safe manner.
Sectarian, ethnic, tribal, religious and class differences and conflicts in any region have always been a breeding ground for extremism, violence and terrorism, especially when the interrelationship between the components of the social fabric is unhealthy and unbalanced, glaringly causing conflict in interests.
• Religion: the majority of the population in Brunei is Muslims, with a minority of denominations, such as Buddhists and Christians.
• Ethnicity: Most of the population is of Malay ethnicity, with a Chinese minority, and less than that of the indigenous population.
• Culture: the predominant culture is Malawi of a conservative Islamic nature.
• Language: the widely used and common language is Malay.
3) Economic Factors
It is one of the main factors contributory to spreading violent extremism and terrorism, given the general frustration and anger yoked together with the economic collapse. Remarkably, Brunei has a strong global and regional economy; it has achieved an advanced global position in indicators of well-being, par excellence. For example, the GDP per capita in Brunei is high vis-à-vis the world counterparts; the average per capita income is more than $76,000 per annum, and the unemployment rate is remarkably low.
4) Administrative Factor
Brunei has crossed administrative failure, corruption and repression over, making it rank high at international performance indicators. It ranked at an advanced position among countries in the human development index and at a high rate of the literacy index, according to UNESCO (96+%). At the crime rate index, Brunei has achieved a low rate globally. In terms of health and social services, Brunei is a well-developed welfare state; Bruneian citizens receive basic medical and dental free-of-charge care through a network of government polyclinics and centers across the country. More so, regular field visits are organized and made to remote rural areas by the Flying Doctor Service of the Government.
5) Global Counterterrorism Partnership
Brunei contributed to many regional and international organizations; it was an active party to such programs and sessions, such as the regional counterterrorism work group in Southeast Asia, notably contributing to the global counterterrorism efforts. One key partnership, among several others, is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Brunei joined in 1984. ASEAN is an organization of ten regional countries; one main objective, inter alia, is to establish peace and stability across the region. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) supports dialogue and consultation on political and security issues, especially regional counterterrorism activities.
Under the umbrella of the said regional partnership, Brunei enhances the capacity of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and to enhance cooperation in intelligence and information sharing to address terrorism and transnational crimes, such as the illegal arms trade, drug smuggling, human trafficking and goods smuggling. It also promotes cooperation and legal frameworks for the prosecution and extradition of terrorists, and close cooperation in accordance with bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties to better prevent terrorist attacks and act against the perpetrators of such horrendous acts.
All the aforementioned factors alongside the plans and methods adopted have had an impact on the Nation of Brunei Darussalam, nestling and snuggling in peace while steer clear of the regional and global ripple effect of terrorism. However, the threat of terrorism, the schemes of terrorist groups, and indiscriminate operations require due and constant vigilance to best combat violent extremism and terrorism that comes into play as a corollary that lurks just round the corner.