I live in the US and can post without fear. I’ll also be adding Brunei to my list of places to never, ever visit.
I first think of the people of Brunei, and how easily something like Sharia - even if it’s used in a well-intentioned sense of trying to lead people to a holy discipline in adherence with a majority faith - can become a tool of despotism. The groundwork is already there - the Sultan is an absolute monarch and nothing short of a military action (foreign or domestic) or his voluntarily absconding to a democratic government will remove that power. Without checks on authority, there’s no limit, and when church and state co-inhabit the same space used to dispense justice and arbitrate disputes, there’s a very real risk of abuse of power. That’s just in a general sense. We see it in Pakistan where a Christian woman was accused of blasphemy and told to either convert or be executed. In the US where we still retain an active distrust of authority and the ability to push out authority through the vote, by recalls and by open protests, we call out every possible example of abuse of power, recognizing that those with ability but without accountability tend too easily to become corrupt.
In a functional sense, I don’t see how such draconian measures benefit anyone. Giving the death penalty for every infraction - something more extreme than sharia - would discourage most crimes, but then actually having to carry it out (your 8-year-old walked the dog without a leash, in violation of a leash law, and the police will flog and hang him and the dog publicly in compliance with the law) leads to a difficult choice for the government - either implement the measures and appear sadistic and brutal, or give mercy to the child and lose the deterrent value of the death penalty. The system fails to truly deliver justice.
Harsher judicial punishments - even those that fall short of the death penalty or even of those given out through Sharia - may also work as perverse incentives. If you incur the death penalty for kidnapping someone, you have no reason to allow the kidnapped victim to live. This is a complaint with “Three Strikes” laws. By the same token, if Sharia were ever imposed in the U.S. (no, it will not happen) and harsh penalty such as stoning or amputation asserted for practicing the Catholic faith, I’d have zero reason to comply with any government laws. In fact, I’d have a gun in hand and be actively fighting against the government, knowing that my death will come sooner or later anyway. If the penalty for a theft is to lose a limb (which may mean death if you cannot, then, work) then a thief has no interest in surrendering or taking non-aggressive actions.
I’ll keep the people of Brunei in my prayers. Terrible thing to see religion of any kind used as an excuse for brutality.