Flickr / Ryoko Oshikawa

Brunei is the first Asean countries to introduce syariah criminal law beginning 2014 according to the country media reports.

The Oil-rich Brunei will enforce syariah criminal law with possible punishments including stoning to death for adultery and flogging for drinking alcohol.

The law would be enforced from April, said the 67-year-old sovereign, Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world’s wealthiest people, who has presided over a shift to more conservative Islam and anti-sedition laws in recent years, Reuters reported.

“It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilize them to obtain justice,” Reuters quoted the sultan, who also holds the post of prime minister.

Many crimes under the new code have a high burden of proof and sharia court judges would have discretion over punishments, which could also include amputations for theft.

The tiny kingdom, which has Southeast Asia’s highest per-capita income after Singapore, has been preparing to introduce the sharia penal code for years.

The country imams yesterday preached about the Syariah law, reminding Muslims of their duty and obligation to fully accept the laws in their weekly Friday sermon.

The sermon explained that these laws were not made based on the thoughts, knowledge or experience of a society; and are unaffected by the influence of time and the change it brings.

“Islamic laws are complete and thorough, taking all parts of life including the individual, the family, the society, the nation and the communication between humans,” Brunei Times reports.

Syariah law was decreed by Allah SWT, in the form of religious texts including the Quran.

In the past, the sultan has said that sharia criminal law should be established to work alongside the country’s civil law more prominently.

Brunei, which neighbors two Malaysian states on Borneo island and has a population of just over 400,000, already enforces Islamic teachings more sternly than Malaysia and Indonesia, the other majority Muslim countries in Southeast Asia.

The sale of alcohol is banned and evangelism by other religions is strictly forbidden.

The sultan added that the government’s overall policies would not be affected by the legal change, in a possible nod to foreign investors.

With its oil reserves set to run out in about two decades, the government has embarked on a strategy to promote development in sectors such as tourism, halal products and manufacturing.