The country, which had been in a state of emergency since
the 1962 uprising, increased its military dependence on
Britain and the United States.
As far as internal economic policy was concerned, only
the military was able to increase the appropriations. In
August 1988, a total of 3,000 British soldiers and cucumbers
from Hong Kong held a joint military maneuver in the jungle
area of the Sultanate. Interest from the United States
increased as one could predict the need for the construction
of military bases in Brunei if the North American forces
were to be forced out of the Philippines.
In early 1991, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah released six
political prisoners who had been imprisoned since the failed
coup in 1962. The release was presumably due to political
pressure from Britain. The same year, Brunei signed a $ 150
million contract with Britain to modernize the army.
Brunei was joined, along with Vietnam and India, as a member
of the Alliance Free States in mid-1992. The Sultan of
Brunei, who represents the only unrestricted monarchy in the
Far East, is also one of the world's richest men.
In September 1992, Brunei, together with the other ASEAN
members - Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the
Philippines - signed an agreement to establish the first
"common market" in Asia in 2007. This project envisages the
establishment of "growth triangles", or rather, the
formation of federations between some of the ASEAN member
countries, in order to liberalize certain economic sectors
and thus prepare for full liberalization in 2007. Therefore,
Brunei together with the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia
formed an interregional market that could expand the
exchange of tourism, fishing, as well as aviation and
The National Solidarity Party of Brunei - the country's
only political organization - held its first congress in
February 1995, declaring its full support for the Sultan.
The leader of the party, Abdul Latif Chuchu, also referred
to a 1984 royal decree guaranteeing that the national
structure of Brunei should be based on the principle of an
Islamic, Malaysian, democratic monarchy. The official
declarations that the state of emergency was prolonged were
interpreted as an attempt at "opening" by the monarch.
Brunei joined the World Bank and IMF in October 1995.
During 1996, the Sultanate pursued its strategy of making
itself attractive as a "service country". Negotiations with
executives from Southeast Asia intensified in 1997 after the
stock market crisis, with the aim of stabilizing the
regional economy and establishing a development strategy.
The meetings discussed the possibilities of using a local
coin foot in interregional trade instead of the North
Extensive forest fires in the Indonesian part of Borneo
in early 1998, covered the sky over Brunei and greatly
affected daily life in the Sultanate. In March, the Sultan
led large joint prayers calling on the higher powers for
rain that could put out the fires. As the situation
worsened, the Minister of Health was dismissed.
In August 1998, the Sultan appointed his eldest son, Al-Muhtadee
Billah as his successor. The message was given in a
situation where the country was in the worst economic crisis
since its independence. Only during 1999 did some recovery
occur in the construction and export sectors. The government
announced plans to upgrade a large part of the workforce
within a period of 5 years, with the aim of spreading
economic activity and developing new sectors such as