It was a rare occasion of the world sparing a thought for Brunei.

The country’s decision to implement the final two phases of the controversial Syariah Penal Code (SPC) in April this year led to the international community paying an unprecedented amount of attention. Western governments expressed concern and considered imposing sanctions, human rights groups rushed to issue statements condemning the introduction of laws they described as posing “grave threats to basic human rights”, and activists were joined by celebrities like George Clooney in calling for a revival of boycotts that first emerged following implementation of the first phase of the SPC in 2014. For its part, the foreign media developed an insatiable appetite for Brunei, with extensive coverage from major news outlets, including the BBC, CNN and Reuters.

Then, just as quickly as it had all begun, interest in Brunei seemed to vanish overnight.

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Matthew Woolfe

Matthew Woolfe is an Australia-based freelance writer, human rights advocate and the founder of The Brunei Project, an independent initiative that raises awareness about human rights issues in Brunei.