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2008-02-01

The "Playboy" Prince

February's Southeast Asian of the Month comes from the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam!


Who says being a member of the Royal Family is boring?

With Prince Jefri Bolkiah's lifestyle, you'll doubt whether Prince Charles really is living the royal way.

His Royal Highness Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien or most commonly known as Prince Jefri Bolkiah is the brother of Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the richest man on earth.

Prince Jefri (b. November 1, 1954) was once the top minister in Brunei's cabinet and chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency. Prince Jefri used his influence and access to the country’s vast oil revenues to help develop Brunei’s infrastructure and diversify its economy. In 1990, he was accused of spending US$14.4 Billion on personal investments and another US$13.8 Billion for unknown expenses.

Disgraced Prince Jefri is said to have acquired more than 500 properties both in Brunei and abroad, more than 2,000 cars, more than a hundred paintings, five boats and nine aircrafts for which he was ordered to surrender. But the Brunei Investment Agency, which used to be headed by Jefri, launched court proceedings in 2004, saying the prince had not transferred ownership of five U.S. and European properties and a trust fund as required by the settlement.

The prince claims that after numerous meetings with the Sultan, they both entered into a "Lifestyle Agreement" which allowed him to retain several assets including the New York Palace Hotel, St. John's Lodge and Cavell House in London, Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles, Palace Vendome in Paris and other properties. The prince in fact kept these assets (and lived in many of them) for several years following his discussions with the Sultan.

As initial chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency, the prince continued the modernization and diversification of the economy. Brunei had succeeded in lessening oil’s high percentage of its GDP by the mid-1980s, though it still accounted for the majority. Foreign investments such as government bonds, foreign currency, and real estate contributed to the GDP as well, however much of the balance was coming from the government instead of private industry.

Unsatisfied with the bureaucratic nature of the government, Prince Jefri developed Amedeo Corporation, a private development company. Its purpose was twofold: First, it helped boost private industry in Brunei at a crucial time and created thousands of jobs. It was also the vehicle through which Prince Jefri “undertook many projects with the aim of improving conditions within Brunei.” Through Amedeo he continued to develop Brunei’s network of roads, built power stations and a state-of-the-art hospital, and increased housing.

Jefri understood that “an opening up was needed if Brunei is going to survive in the world…” To this end, he also built an amusement park and luxury hotel in an effort to attract tourists. As minister of culture, youth, and sports, he oversaw Radio Television Brunei, “the lead and only public broadcaster,” which offers both imported and locally produced programs. He also brought satellite to Brunei, enabling “viewers and listeners…to tune in to foreign radio services…and more than 14 television channels such as BBC World…and MTV.”

Prince Jefri has four wives, 17 children and 18 adopted wards, an alarming figure that might have earned him the title, "playboy prince".


-The process is chosen by alphabetical order according to the country of origin.

photo: the Associated Press



1 comment:

Jiwa Matahari said...

Hey bro Allen, I guess you're right then; money can get you anything you want, well almost...