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'Fireside Chat' with Chandran Nair Sets Tone for ASEAN 100

Sep 30, 2011

By Debie Too for The Brunei Times

 

The first day of the Asean 100 Leadership Forum has set the tone for the rest of the forum, with participants attending a "Fireside Chat" with Chandran Nair, author of the book Consumptionomics: Asia's Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet.

The session saw Nair raising questions and posing possible scenarios of where the global economy is headed should it be completely driven by overconsumption, and although it was controversial, the chat was thought provoking enough that it made the dialogue session enjoyable.

"I think that Chandran is very thought provoking and he challenged us a very clear challenge, and a very clear dilemma," said Basil Ong, chairman of the World Presidents' Organisation and moderator of a masterclass session in the Asean 100 Forum.

He added that the timing for the forum was also opportune and "very good" where the group of participants have come together to "throw headlines and important issues on the table" and to get different input from different parts of the world. "The beauty about this particular forum is that there is no 'one right answer', and it is about getting together and figuring what the right answers are," he said.

Commenting on the session, he said that Nair was successful in raising the awareness and the consciousness that many businessmen don't want to think about on a daily basis. "Like Dato Timothy said, 'there is a lot of work to be done', and now that we know the challenges, we can try to find the solutions for the nation," said Ong, who added that it isn't necessarily about finding one solution, but that different countries and regions will find their own way.

Nair also added that the start of the forum was "pleasantly surprising" for him, mainly because of the openness and the nature of the questions that were raised during his fireside chat. "I had no expectations, but quite often I go to forums where the questions are a bit banal, and I was pleasantly pleased with the nature of the questions, and how clearly the chairperson, Dato Timothy did the summation of today, so I am excited to engage tomorrow," he said.

With questions being thrown back and forth between the participants and Nair, from countries like the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei, forum convenor, Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, said that this was his measure of how successful the forum kicked-off. "You can tell from the questions and answers session; my measure of how successful things are is when there is a lot of questions and answers, so I think it went well," he said, adding that Nair has raised a lot of important questions for the participants.

One of the formula that Dato Ong has put in place for the Asean 100 Leadership Forum, is to encourage its participants about asking the "big and difficult questions". "We are not interested in asking 'easy questions' because anyone can answer the easy questions, but when we ask these questions, we accept that sometimes we don't have the answers, but that there may come a time when we do have the answers," he said.

He hopes the rest of the meetings will continue with the same tone and manner as the fireside chat. "You will notice that the Asean 100 'formula' is very little protocol, and there is free seating, and the whole idea of the Asean 100 is to come as individuals prepared to challenge each other; sometimes we disagree but we always do it with good will," he said.

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