Australian-owned company begins Brunei ad campaign


harvey norman brunei
Photo: Facebook

As multi-national finance and travel companies implement boycotts of Brunei-owned businesses, Australia-based retailer Harvey Norman has begun advertising on Brunei radio.

Recently, worldwide outrage greeted the Sultan of Brunei’s introduction of whipping, amputation and death by stoning as penalties for various ‘crimes’.

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Among other actions celebrities, government organisations and multi-national finance and travel companies announced boycotts of Brunei owned businesses.

The European Union condemned the new laws prompting the all-powerful sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to pen a letter of defence.

However, one Australia-based retailer recently began an advertising campaign on Brunei’s KRISTAL FM Radio targeting Bruneian customers for a new retail outlet.

Harvey Norman

Harvey Norman has more than 280 stores worldwide. Among those are 17 outlets in Malaysia. The newest opened on May 3 in the small city of Miri in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, just across the border from Brunei.

Locals in Brunei’s capital say KRISTAL FM ran ads for the store in recent days.

KRISTAL FM is owned by the Bruneian DST group of companies, founded in a privatisation drive by the sultan. While little information is available about DST, it is thought to be owned by a government investment fund.

Malaysian news site The Star reported Harvey Norman Asia CEO Kenneth Aruldoss as saying, “We also cater for Bruneian customers. They can come to Miri and shop at our store, and we’ll give them the same support and quality service including after-sales service.”

Harvey Norman Miri Times Square is just over two hours drive from the Bruneian capital Bandar Seri Begawan.

Sarawak and the gay man who saved the Bolkiah dynasty’s throne

Sarawak was once part of Brunei. However, after English adventurer James Brooke assisted the Sultan of Brunei put down a rebellion in 1841, the Sultan made him Rajah of Sarawak.

Brooke and two successor White Rajahs ruled Sarawak until 1946. Sarawak then became a founding member of the Federation of Malaysia.

James Brooke never married and reputedly conducted an affair with Sarawak’s Prince Badruddin of whom he wrote, “my love for him was deeper than anyone knew.”

Later he took up with the grandson of the Earl of Elgin of the Elgin Marbles fame. Those colonial plunderers certainly stuck together in more ways than one.

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A recent biography of Brooke states that in his declining years back in England, “there is little doubt… he was carnally involved with the rough trade of Totnes.”

Shell urged to boycott the Sultan of Brunei

Eumedion, a Dutch investor group will meet with Shell in coming days to pressure the petroleum giant to take steps to protect Shell workers in the sultanate.

Shell has a 50-50 partnership in Brunei Shell Petroleum with the Brunei government. That company generates 90% of the sultanate’s oil and gas revenues.

So lucrative is the partnership for Brunei, locals sometimes refer to their nation as the Shellfare state.

The group represents investors like Blackrock, Standard Life Aberdeen and Capital Group.

JPMorgan Chase & Co also joined other global banks in recent days in boycotting the sultanate.

Sadly, the outrage of Blackrock and JPMorgan Chase & Co did not extend to Saudi Arabia. Both companies sent representatives to a financial summit there last week. Days before the kingdom executed 37 men on trumped up terrorism charges based on confessions coerced under torture.

Boycott Brunei in Australia plans a nationwide day of action to oppose the Brunei laws on June 1. For more information about the rallies, visit the Facebook page.

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