#2. Brunei Boycott, Immigrant Detention: Human Rights vs. Economic Interests

Brunei’s new penal code marks the country’s regression in human rights protection

The beginning of this week marks the start of a new oppressive penal code in Brunei, the wealthy oil exporter of South East Asia.

The new set of laws include harsh punishments such as amputation for thief, and most notable of all, stoning and flogging to death for gay sex and adultery.

You see, this is the negative effect associated with different time zone. Some countries are UTC + 7. Some countries are UTC – 8. Others, 1800s.

All jokes aside, Brunei’s new penal code instigates international outrage, with a call for the Brunei hotels boycott from notable Hollywood celebrities, among whom are George Clooney, Ellen Degeneres, and Elton John.

Of course, it would work, one may think. Placing an economic pressure on the oppressive monarch by not patronizing its luxurious hotels is an excellent move.

Except the numbers and the statistics dictate something different.

  • When the law was first phased out in 2014, there was (also) a call for the boycott.
  • However, since 2014, the Dorchester Collection – the Brunei’s Investment Agency-owned hotels – has prospered with a 30% increase in revenues.
  • The economic pressure from the hotel boycott is hardly effective as the hotels’ price point targets upper-class travelers, who may not pay attention to the country’s oppressive laws.

Ironically, to the dismay of protesters, the backlash and the Brunei boycott only ignite the Brunei Sultan’s passion for oppression further.

I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger and more visible.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

The Sultan resembles the misbehaving child, whom we are reluctant to look after when his parents go on a vacation.

“Don’t do that,” one might say to the child, “your behaviors are violating human rights and basic humanity kindness.” To which the child replies, “Fuck that, watch me,” as he dives into exporting oil, collecting gold-coated Rolls-Royce, and destroy human rights as a side project.

As with every other human rights problems, the economic power that everyone needs – the influential parents that can stop the child from misbehaving – refuses to speak out.

Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia – Brunei’s largest oil importers – have no say in the prominent problem. The economic interest at stakes seems to be a heavy price to pay for the progress of human rights, perhaps?

Someone needs to turn on the time machine in Brunei and bring Brunei back to the presence, yo!

And while you are at that, please consider taking Texas with you.

In an attempt to combat illegal immigrants, immigration authorities in Texas proceeded to arrest 280 employees in a workplace raid – the largest immigrant detention since 2008.

The separation of the employees with the use of green wristband for authorized workers and yellow wristband for undocumented workers carries within itself a notion of segregation – a thing belongs to the past.

Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses.

Katrina W. Berger

The yellow wristbands draw a portrait of the fearsome illegal aliens. The aliens who are supposed to take the jobs out of the decent Americans. The aliens who create a mass market for labor exploitation.

The aliens who have a face, a name, and a family to take care of, like any of the decent Americans who they steal the jobs from.

These workers are now in the hands of an agency that is abusive and negligent towards the physical and mental well-being of the people they target.

United We Dream Texas

In contrast to Brunei, it seems no economic power has an economic interest in the illegal immigrant.

As the economic power lays asleep in its oil-wealth dreams, ICE agents brutally and happily bring nightmares to their targets with great efficiency, acting true to their hidden slogan: Deporting the aliens back to their home. With a stick. Because fuck human rights.

We sometimes focus too much on the “illegal” part, and forget that behind all of these fear-mongering policies and brutality, the “aliens” are also human.

All of us are human, first and foremost. And thus, we all have the right to stay.

Photo credits: Arab News

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