(QHA) - The Sultan of Brunei on Tuesday introduced tough Islamic punishments including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, making his oil-rich realm the first East Asian country to do so at the national level, Hurriyet Daily News. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - one of the world's wealthiest men - said a new Sharia Penal Code in the works for years was officially introduced Tuesday and would "come into force six months hereafter and in phases", sparking sharp criticism from rights groups. Under the code, which applies only to Muslims, punishments can include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption. "By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled," the sultan, 67, said in a speech. An absolute monarch whose family has tightly controlled the tiny, languid realm of 400,000 people for six centuries, the sultan first called in 1996 for sharia criminal punishments. As reported, Brunei already practices a brand of Islam that is relatively conservative compared to its Muslim neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia, banning the sale and public consumption of alcohol and closely restricting other religions. Nearly 70 percent of Brunei's people are Muslim Malays while about 15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese.