July 2015 – Clovis Lai

Clovis, Brunei Speakers’ Club’s  Charter President and one of its founders, is an enthusiastic Toastmaster, leader, and mentor who empowers and motivates others through great enthusiasm and positive energy. Clovis was Brunei Speakers’ Club’s President for the term 2000-2001 and 2008-2009.

Clovis Lai, CTM

Clovis Lai, CTM

How did you first hear about Toastmasters?

I first heard about Toastmasters in 1985 when my manager at Diners Club International Singapore told me about it. I decided that if I ever had the opportunity I would join it.

What inspired you to set up a Toastmasters Club in Brunei?

I joined my first Toastmasters Club in Parksville, British Columbia in 1994. My wonderful experiences as a Toastmaster in Canada in meeting so many amazing people and learning so much inspired me to get a group of dedicated friends together and start forming The Brunei Speakers’ Club in 1999.

Clovis as BSC's President for the term 2008-2009

Clovis as BSC’s President for the term 2008-2009

Tell us about the challenges you faced back then and the things that you have learned from the process.

The greatest challenge was registration as the ROC rejected our application the first time. Without approval we couldn’t  have a club. What I learnt then is that a small band of dedicated people working together can make a big difference. The other challenge that we faced was succession and from this I learnt the truth of the saying that a true leader is the one who nurtures future leaders. I thought doing everything myself would help but it didn’t; a really polite president and her executive committee members put it in the nicest way – to leave them alone and trust them to do the job. I was initially taken aback, then had a great laugh upon this important realisation and then learnt another great lesson: trust people to do their best, and they will.

Clovis with Hazwan Kamarulzaman (BSC’s President 2014-2015) and Chris Woo (BSC’s President 2015-2016)

Clovis with Hazwan Kamarulzaman (BSC’s President 2014-2015) and Chris Woo (BSC’s President 2015-2016)

As a founding member of BSC, in your opinion, how has the club progressed over the years?

As the Charter President I am constantly amazed at a couple of things. First that we have done so well for so long, sixteen years? Wow. The truly wonderful occurrence is that great new leaders appear every term to take up the leadership role supported by an able executive committee; all dedicated members who give of their time selflessly for the greater good of the community. How amazing is that? I feel that these past few years the club has really become a fine example in Brunei as a learning community of motivated people working together for themselves and others. The Brunei Speakers’ Club is no longer by itself but has mothered three other thriving clubs, putting Brunei on the Toastmasters International map with members participating fully and passionately at division and district level. Together we have come a long way in the most positive imaginable way possible.

How long have you been in Toastmasters and how has Toastmasters helped you so far in your professional life?

I have been an ever learning member of Toastmasters for 21 years! Another wow of a realisation! I can truly say that Toastmasters and all I have learnt from it, the skills and the friendship over the years, have been a major part of my success in life. My life has been so much richer because Toastmasters enhanced my skills as a communicator and a leader, opening up opportunities that have supported my family.

Clovis giving Table Topics Evaluation at Brunei-Labuan joint meeting

Clovis giving Table Topics Evaluation at Brunei-Labuan joint meeting

Who is your inspiration in life and why?

Gandhi inspires me for his selfless commitment to his people and his vision of freedom and equality through non-violent civil disobedience. The frailty of his person, the simplicity of his life and the tenacity of his willpower shows us all that the power of love to conquer all is a practical truth.

What advice you would like to give to our fellow Toastmasters?

For my fellow Toastmasters, you are all role models of the best in our community. You are true leaders of the highest order in a world that need leaders who care enough to continuously seek self improvement and to be of service to other members and our community at large. Never forget that we all get by with a little help from our friends and extend this same love to everyone who touches your life.

Clovis with Brunei's Toastmasters at Miri Convention in 2014

Clovis with Brunei’s Toastmasters at Miri Convention in 2014


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