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Brunei International School: 16th - 18th February 2005

From the 16th to the 18th of February, 12 Patana students, accompanied by Mr. Wood and Mrs. Berghuis, attended the Borneo Global Issues Conference in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. This annual conference, much like the MUN, is designed to be a simulation of the United Nations Organisation, and indeed, all resolutions that are passed in the General Assembly are forwarded to relevant non-governmental organizations. The BGIC is intended to facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of international relations in politics, economics, environmental conservation and conflict through a productive and enjoyable medium; it stresses the importance of knowing how economic, cultural and political events affect our lives in an increasingly interdependent global society. Students attending the conference were divided into four committees before reconvening as the General Assembly (GA) on the final day. Daniel Kastner (India), Jared Haube (Canada), Meet Shroff (China) and June Chan (Russia) tackled the issue of how to establish permanent peace and security in Kashmir in the political committee, of which I was co-chair; Sarah Fisher (Vietnam), Heena Karamchandani (Canada) and Pooh Eamcharoenying (China) debated potential government and/or UN responses to potentially highly lethal pandemics such as SARS and avian flu in the committee on health, co-chaired by Lillian Suwanrumpha; Reine Ng (Russia) and Myrna Carlebur (India) discussed strategies to reverse the “brain drain” from developing countries losing highly skilled citizens to jobs in more affluent, developed countries in the economic and social committee (ECOSOC), whilst Dominique Chao (Vietnam) addressed the preservation of natural areas, rare ecosystems, an wildlife habitats while considering the economic and social needs of encroaching human development in the environmental committee. All of our delegates took advantage of the unique opportunities provided by this conference to express the interests and beliefs of their respective countries, some with more diplomacy than others; indeed, in her committee summary, Lillian elaborated on ‘when Thailand and Canada seemed about ready to pull each other’s hair out’.

The conference opened with an informal first day of caucusing and lobbying at the International School Brunei (ISB), in which delegates merged, rewrote and gathered support for their resolutions, whilst chairs provided advice, and in some cases, disapproved of some very unlikely partnerships, such as one between the USA and Iran.

The second day opened with ISB’s Senior Ensemble, introductory speeches, various performances, including a Chinese fan dance, and an address by the keynote speaker, Awang Mohammed Hamid Bin Mohammed Jaafar, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and a highly experienced UN diplomat. Mr. Hamid Bin Mohammed Jaafar elaborated on the dominant culture of ignorance in youths today and how students’ participation in the BGIC proves this ‘is not the case’ universally, that such students will ‘use this experience to discover how to help after this conference’ and that ‘if you are ignorant of these issues, you are unlikely to help’.

In the political committee, delegates were involved in very heated debate throughout the day, as well as giving some very entertaining rights to statement (one minute speeches about anything related to one’s country). Debate was dominated mainly, amongst others, by Danny and Meet, who had an insatiable tendency to speak ‘against’ most resolutions (occasionally in a seemingly ‘intimidating’ manner) and engaged in a friendly rivalry with Jared. Moreover, as we finished 45 minutes early, there was adequate time to entertain some very amusing rights to statement, emphasizing the importance of maple syrup, Chinese export products and Russian Babushka dolls and vodka.

In the committee on health, Sarah, Heena and Pooh were also very actively involved in debating their resolutions, and indeed, Sarah and Heena’s passed flawlessly with not a single vote ‘against’. Besides actively speaking about the topic, Sarah also elaborated on the soothing qualities of Vietnamese rice paddies. As co-chair, a position which she exercised very impressively, Lillian was also confronted with the challenge of urging delegates to speak more frequently.

In the ECOSOC committee Reine’s and Myrna’s contributions to debate were integral, and like those of Meet and Danny however, largely against most resolutions. Their resolution also passed and involved more original methods to solve the problem of the “brain drain”, such as the establishment of hybrid companies and increasing scholarship programmes.

Lastly, Dominique’s contribution to the environmental committee was also vital in debate and she co-sponsored a resolution which passed both in committee and the GA.

In the GA (in which Lillian and I represented Sudan) Patana delegates actively continued their enthusiastic involvement in debate as the speakers lists always contained one, if not two or even three, of the countries represented by these delegates. Indeed, Danny spoke very persuasively at every given opportunity and represented India with great enthusiasm and even vigor, whilst Pooh and Meet repeatedly demanded the attention of the GA with their insightful and convincing speeches. All of us maintained a continued onslaught of points of information throughout the day. However, I was personally very impressed by the contributions made by Sarah, Pooh and Heena, all of whom have previously only attended one MUN conference and spoke effectively and with eloquence. If one appreciates that at such a conference one addresses around 100 students, all well prepared, knowledgeable of the issues at hand and all of whom closely scrutinize one’s arguments for flaws (and frequently ask questions to attempt to expose those flaws), one can grasp exactly what the delegates who have participated in this conference have achieved.

The BGIC has provided us all with the opportunity to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of how to attempt to solve international problems, improve our oratory, debating and writing skills, as well as forming new acquaintances, friendships, and ultimately, partaking in a very enjoyable experience.

On behalf of everyone who attended the BGIC, I would like to thank Mr. Wood for organizing a very enjoyable trip and for his advice and guidance throughout the conference, as well as Mrs. Berghuis for accompanying us; such an experience would not have been possible without them.


Kevin Chen

H. Berghuis