Between Tabligh and Covid

Couverture Asie du Sud-Est 2021Marie-Sybille de VIENNE

Brunei distinguished itself by its early management of the pandemic, prohibiting as of 4 February any movement to the infected areas. A first case of covid-19 on 9 March, imported from Malaysia by participants in the Tablighi Jama’at rally, led to the closure of educational institutions and places of worship. On 7 May, Brunei launched the BruHealth app, which has a bar code that allows access to all shops and public spaces, which has proven to be very effective. Despite the implementation of the Islamic Penal Code in spring 2019, Brunei's diplomacy managed to preserve its partnerships: renewal in February of the defence agreement with the British and taking the ASEAN Presidency at the end of November. On 15 November 2020, Brunei joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). While Brunei’s economy is expected to grow slightly in 2020, its difficulties are likely to increase in the near future given the fall in oil and gas prices, all the more problematic since its finances have been in deficit since 2014.

Keywords: Covid-19; Tablighi Jama’at; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership; BruHealth; Asean; hydrocarbon prices; budget; deficit