The oil-rich state which borders Malaysian Borneo has banned residents from celebrating the Christian holiday publicly, with the threat of up to 5 years in prison for offenders.
About 20% of Brunei’s population are non-Muslims. The state says they will be permitted to celebrate the holidays normally but only within their own communities and any planned celebrations outside the home must apply for the approval of authorities.
Those found lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing carols or wearing Santa Claus outfits could face a hefty fine or jail time. The Grinchy measures were first introduced last Christmas as the country brought in a stricter system of Sharia law aimed at preserving Muslim beliefs.
"These enforcement measures are intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly, which could damage the beliefs of the Muslim community," said a statement by the country's Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The Scrooge like measures extend to wearing a Santa hat which could be considered a crime under laws to 'promote the Muslim faith.'
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Bruneim lives in the Istana Nurul Imam, also the seat of Brunei government (which is effectively the sultan and his family). The palace has a reported 1788 rooms, a 110 car garage, a stable for the sultan's 200 polo ponies, 5 swimming pools and 350 toilets.
The Sultan owns the Dorchester Collection of hotels, including 2 iconic U.S. properties, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air. Both of those are fully decked-out with Christmas décor.
The Daily Mail reports that despite the no alcohol, no smoking and strict sexual laws in place in Brunei, the Sultan has an infamous playboy brother. Prince Jefri gained notoriety for his harems of beautiful women, his flotilla of luxury yachts including a boat named 'Tits,' and his alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars while he was finance minister.
Merry Christmas everyone – of all faiths – we just wish you all well and enjoy spreading a little cheer.