Brunei sultan removes brother from cabinet

Brunei sultan removes brother from cabinet

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah salutes during the Commemoration Parade paying tribute to 200 years of Gurkha service to the British Crown and Brunei's valued partnership with the Gurkha regiment, held in Bandar Seri Begawan on Oct 12, 2015. (Reuters photo)
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah salutes during the Commemoration Parade paying tribute to 200 years of Gurkha service to the British Crown and Brunei's valued partnership with the Gurkha regiment, held in Bandar Seri Begawan on Oct 12, 2015. (Reuters photo)

SINGAPORE — Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, in which he removed his brother as minister of foreign affairs and trade and himself took over the post, in a move which appeared to centralise his own powers while reducing the presence of royalty in the cabinet.

The sultan, who is also prime minister, defence minister and finance minister of the tiny oil-rich kingdom, announced the cabinet change on national television on Thursday.

Prince Mohamed Bolkiah was not given any other cabinet post. A source said he will retire but will remain in Brunei's Privy Council.

The sultan's eldest son, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, remains as senior minister.

The sultan also appointed two deputies to assist him - Hamdan Abu Bakar and Md Roselan Daud.

With the removal of his brother, there is now no other direct member of the royal family in the new cabinet other than the sultan and the crown prince.

In the Foreign and Trade ministry, the sultan will be aided by Lim Jock Seng, who remains as the second minister of foreign affairs and trade, and also by Erywan Md Yussof, who has now been promoted to deputy minister of foreign affairs and trade.

A political analyst based at a Singapore think tank said the changes showed that the sultan is trying to give a greater role in running the country to those who are not from the royal family, while still keeping a firm hand over the cabinet.

In his speech announcing the reshuffle, the sultan reminded those who were appointed to the cabinet to be responsible and fair to the people. "We must remember the definition of fairness should be guided by the right religious, legal and ethical principles," he said.

They should also work as a team and not for personal gains so as to benefit the country and help it to prosper, he said.

Brunei's last cabinet reshuffle was in 2010.


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