The nation of Brunei has received much scrutiny in recent weeks for a new law that will encourage physical punishments, such as lashing and stoning, for women and for people who are LGBT. Today, CNBC reported on the continued pressure being placed on hotels in California owned by Brunei's Sultan.
CNBC's Amy Langfield wrote in a piece called, "Dorchester says it's unfairly singled out for Sharia ties":
As losses from an anti-Sharia boycott mount for the Bel-Air and Beverly Hills hotels, its effect on the owner's bottom-line may not be as important as the public shaming that comes along with it, according to an official at Human Rights Watch.
"I don't want to put some chambermaid at the Beverly Hills Hotel out of a job so the Sultan of Brunei might lose money on a minimal investment," said John Sifton, the Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch. "Naming and shaming" is usually a better option than a boycott, he said.
The hotels' owners, the Brunei Investment Fund, has an estimated value of $40 billion, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. But calculating the actual value and its full investments is nearly impossible. "They are one of the least transparent funds on the planet," said Michael Maduell, president of the institute.
"The hotel assets are a real small part of their portfolio," which also include a lot of oil, real estate, stocks and exchange-traded funds, Maduell said. Brunei formerly made high-risk investments, but likely turned more conservative after a high-profile lawsuit, he said.
And yet the boycott of the Dorchester Collection hotels continues to grow, following publicity about the owners connection to the new Islamic law (Sharia) penalties in Brunei, an oil-rich country in southeast Asia on the island of Borneo next to Malaysia. The Bel-Air and Beverly Hills properties are among the 10 Dorchester luxury hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a branch of the government. . .
GLAAD also said it is returning donations from the Beverly Hills Hotel. In a letter posted Thursday on the organization's website, Sarah Kate Ellis,GLAAD's president and CEO wrote: "I know that you are working to rebuild your hotel's standing with the LGBT community as well as our allies, but GLAAD is not interested in being a public relations pawn."