Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 08:56 GMT

Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2003 - Brunei

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2003
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2003 - Brunei, 2003, available at: [accessed 18 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The sultan, who has also been prime minister since 1962, as well as defence and finance minister, rector of the university, police chief, and "Head of Religion," has never encouraged growth of diverse media.

The authorities did not have to use in 2002 the press law passed the previous year providing for up to three years in prison for publishing "false news." Criticism in the local press was extremely rare. But the sultan's subjects could see a range of cable TV stations, such as the BBC, whose programmes contrasted with the stiffness of Brunei's one TV station, controlled by the government.

The officially unrestricted growth of the Internet in the country made it impossible to censor material offensive to Islam or the royal family, which the law allows to be done.

The country's second biggest newspaper, News Express, closed in September and its publisher, Peter Wong Lik Young, was arrested for tax evasion as he and his wife tried to flee the country leaving behinds debts of more than 3 million euros. Since the closure, Borneo Bulletin has been Brunei's only daily paper. It has a picture of the sultan or news about him on its front page nearly every day.

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