Living off topic 

Brexit from the view of an European living in Thailand

So. Two Three (took me a while to get less emotional) days passed since the Brexit became a reality and while nothing really happened a lot already happened without anything happening. Confusing times. Why does an expat living in Thailand now need to write about that? I’ll elaborate on that in a minute. As so often with off-topic articles this mostly to collect my thoughts and understand stuff for myself. In this case I’m quite sure I’ll get lots of blame and condescending comments. Can’t wait for that. Bracing myself already.

Immediate implications for Asia

According to most financial experts and economists Asia will probably not be that much effected by the Brexit. I read that the Japense Stock Exchange held trading for a few minutes due to the Brexit but that was probably just a safety measure and lasted, according to the news I read, only a short time. Other than that economists say that Asia has it’s agreements with the EU and hence does not need to worry too much for now. For further economic articles feel free to read the economist or other similar publications. I’m just stating that here to show that we don’t need to panic in that regard over here.

Implications for ASEAN

So now let’s start with the opinionated piece. Will the Brexit have any implications on ASEAN? In theory there shouldn’t be any direct implication of course. ASEAN should just continue working as planned and keep all the contracts and deals with the EU in place. The latter is obviously going to happen since there’s no reason why a British Exit should change anything in this regard but whether or not ASEAN stays on its planned path forward needs to be seen.

On a less theoretical but more emotional (and heck are we emotional here) note the ‘failure’ of the European Union might signal ASEAN opponents that Unions don’t work and that if, an established Union like the EU can’t make it work, ASEAN can’t model its concept after that. Moreover most people here consider the immigration crisis as the biggest problem for the EU and the main reason for the Brexit. So if the EU can’t cope with immigrants, why should we here in ASEAN countries help refugees?

Same then goes for other aspects. Economical, financial, etc. You see where this is going and yes, I can imagine one (or several) of ASEAN member states pull that argument. Now ASEAN just came to live less than a year ago but it’s obvious that not all member states are happy and this might give them some leverage to make their points.

Why does it worry me?

So. As someone who is not directly affected and who doesn’t necessarily wants to go to Great Britain any time soon (now even less, thanks to all those racist incidents recently. Well done, GB) and someone who’ll neither miss the British weather nor the cuisine (let’s boycott everything British. Like rain and spam from now on!) I shouldn’t be too bothered by our arch enemies to leave the union. I bet some of you already think ‘Shout up you Kraut, what do you know?’, right? That’s exactly the thing. People born in the 80s and later as well as people living abroad for a longer time (and I don’t get those expats in GB who voted ‘leave’) quite likely have a different feeling of companionship. It’s not ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, it’s more a ‘we are in this together’. That sounds cheesy, I know, I didn’t even want to write it, but it’s true.

Lots of Thai friends asked me why I’m so upset / disappointed with the decision. “If they want to leave, that’s their decision. Let them leave.”. That’s true of course but it shows that egoism rules over togetherness. In 2016 we shouldn’t be all restricted by borders and only think in territorial aspects, we should all work together to make the world a better place (next cheesy sentence).

Lastly (actually there’s much more but I want to stop being angry now) what is also disappointing is that apparently lots of leave voters didn’t have a clue what their vote actually means. Google Trends released a graphic saying that “What is the EU” was the second most searched for term in the UK right after the announcement of the outcome of the referendum, interviews with voters in Great Britain show that they didn’t really understand the implications and politicians on the leave side already backtracked from their promises and look like they don’t have a plan for what’s going to happen now when Britain will be on their own.

One comment I read stated “As much as it hurts me to say, we now have to see Britain suffer so other nations understand that working together is the better option”. How sad is that? Moreover stats show that the ‘old’ people voted out while most young people voted in (however the young voter turnout was quite small). So the old decide what the young have to live with. Once Article 50 (the article that says ‘we want to leave’) is triggered by the UK there’s no turning back. It’s not as if you can just jump in and out of the EU. That’s probably also something most voters didn’t take into account. It’s not a ‘let’s see if we can do better alone and if it doesn’t work, we’ll just go back’. Once you’re out, you’re out and there won’t be any special treatment just because it’s the UK. What has the world become? Instead of a place where we all stick together to help each other, we are fighting about who doesn’t have to help.

Now with the decision to leave the EU, Great Britain might have started what could easily become a movement of uninformed hatred across the EU. 

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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