On Thursday 12th October we revisited Brexit with a panel discussion to consider the likely implications for Brunei, ASEAN and our members. Our guest speakers were His Excellency Mr Richard Lindsay, the British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam; Shazali Sulaiman, Senior Partner, KPMG; and Haslina Taib, CEO of BAG Networks.
Last year the previous British High Commissioner, David Campbell, spoke to us in the aftermath of the referendum vote. This was our opportunity for an update. Richard Lindsay brought us right up to date with a clear summary of the negotiations so far and the rationale behind the British Government’s negotiating position. In particular, he stressed that the UK Government wanted a settlement which was good for both the UK and the EU and which took account as best it could of the wide range of views held by the British electorate. Richard recommended that we read the text of Theresa May’s speech in Florence last month and the UK Government’s White Papers on Brexit, particularly the latest on trade policy.
Our other two panelists, Shazali Sulaiman and Hazlina Taib, gave both their professional and personal views on what Brexit might mean for Brunei and Bruneians. This was a tall order since the UK still has a long way to go before it can even begin to recalibrate its trade and other relations with the rest of the world. Nevertheless, a clear message from our panelists was that the UK-Brunei relationship was a long and successful one which was happily set to continue, come what may.
Questions from the audience, including some from our younger members, were wide-ranging and often penetrating, putting our panelists on the spot! Although there was a temptation by some to analyse the reasons for the result of the vote, the High Commissioner stressed that the focus now needed to be on honouring the democratic will of the people and delivering the right deal for the United Kingdom as a whole.
Refreshments and networking concluded the afternoon’s proceedings in the normal way.