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Hassanal Bolkiah is the 29th and current Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei

By Curtis Ellis

The southeast Asian nation of Brunei has adopted a brutal penal code based on Shariah law with punishments such as flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as adultery and sodomy, but the Obama administration doesn’t care.

The Obama administration is seeking deeper ties with the Islamic sultanate of Brunei even as human rights groups, religious freedom advocates and gay and women’s rights groups protest a regime that supports the public flogging of women who have abortions, the jailing of women who become pregnant outside of marriage and the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians.

Ellen DeGenneres and Jay Leno are among the Hollywood celebrities joining the Human Rights Campaign, the Feminist Majority Foundation and the city of Beverly Hills in blasting Brunei and calling for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the government of Brunei.

Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson announced his companies will boycott all hotels owned by Brunei, worldwide. These government-owned investments provide financial support to the medieval brutality in Brunei.

In contrast, the Obama administration wants to deepen America’s economic involvement with Brunei’s bigoted dictatorship.

The very day Brunei was phasing in Shariah law, Obama’s chief trade negotiator, Michael Froman, was on Capitol Hill selling the TransPacific Partnership agreement, a deal that would bind the U.S. to the Islamic Sultanate of Brunei.

The TransPacific Partnership, or TPP, is a sweeping pact with 12 nations that would tie the U.S. more closely to Brunei and give the Brunei government special investment privileges in the United States.

If the Obama administration gets its way, Brunei could bypass U.S. courts and go before an international tribunal to sue for lost profits from the boycott being pushed by the city of Beverly Hills, Hollywood, celebrities and human rights advocates.

The barbarism in Brunei shows us everything that’s wrong with the TransPacific Partnership. We should not give special privileges to countries that spit on basic American values. The Obama administration should be standing up for American values and human rights, not the sultan of Brunei.

It boggles the mind that the administration wants economic sanctions on bad actors in Eastern Europe at the same time it wants to give economic rewards to bad actors in East Asia.


Curtis Ellis is communications director of the American Jobs Alliance, an independent nonprofit promoting pro-jobs and Buy American policies. Ellis has worked in Congress and on federal, state and local campaigns. His work as a journalist, producer, writer and reporter has appeared on “60 Minutes,” HBO, NBC, CNN, NPR and in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and other outlets. He hosts a radio show, and his commentary has appeared on CNN and MSNBC and radio stations nationwide.

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