Remise de la Légion d’Honneur à M. Pierre Imhof, Directeur de la Baiduri Bank
Discours prononcé par S.E. Loan Forgeron, Ambassadrice de France au Brunei, lors de la remise de la Légion d’Honneur à M. Pierre Imhof, Directeur de la Baiduri Bank :
Pehin Pehin, Dato Dato, Datin Datin Distinguished guests, Cher Pierre, 16/10/2015
I am very honored and it gives me a great pleasure to welcome you all here tonight at the residence of France, you, distinguished guests and Pierre Imhof’s closest friends, gathered on the occasion of the Legion d’Honneur decoration ceremony for Pierre. I hope Pierre, you won’t suffer too much given your modesty, although I know you need to be valued, and more loved than admired.
Pierre Imhof, who are you ? It’s not an existentialist question but an urgent and deep desire from your friends to know you better and how you came to get the Legion d’Honneur, the most famous French decoration, created by Napoleon.
Before my arrival in Brunei last year, I conscientiously read all the reports on this country covering more than ten years and I was surprised to see that Pierre Imhof’s name, the only one, kept appearing report after report. I asked myself about this key person certainly formidable.
Pierre, after discovering your biography with a great interest, I wanted to put forward a proposal of the Legion d’Honneur for you to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, last November.
Through your biography, you were predestined from a very young age to travel a lot, to stay abroad for a long time. You were born in January 14th 1953 in Saint-Cloud (a very residential suburb near Paris) and your family were located in a historical and beautiful region of France, Burgundy, famous for its wine.
You were predestined to be a “passeur”. A “passeur” represents somebody who helps people to cross a border for going from one country to another, somebody who builds bridges between people of different cultures, different religions, who encourages the dialogue of culture and civilization.
Another quality too, you’re faithful ! You’re faithful to Paribas since you were 24 years old, as you were making your career in Paribas Bank holding high responsibilities you were progressing very quickly, to become CEO of Paribas Abu Dhabi at 38 years old.
You began your career in Africa, Ivorian Cost, at the tender age of 25 years old, and after some years in Paris, you went on to Cameroun. After Africa, it was the Middle East, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, then Qatar.
And last but not least, Pierre, you fell in love with Asia : after a first stay in Shang Hai during the 4 years where you were in charge of the opening of the 1st Paribas Bank, you moved to Brunei where you have blessed us with your presence now for more than 13 years, the longest stay in your professional career. Why ? Because for you Brunei isn’t a passenger thunderbolt, Brunei could be considered as a genuine lasting love in your life. An one time more, you are faithful to Asia, faithful to Brunei !
Thanks to Brunei, located in the middle of Asia, you have learnt year after year to discover and to love, through your travels, the way of life of Asian people, its way of thinking and being with each other. Your roots are here today in Asia and tomorrow perhaps, more than in France, although the link with your mother country has never been interrupted.
In fact, it has been more than 30 years since you left France, you were always watching over this affective link, because you’re always staying faithful to France as for Paribas ! During your career you have always been keen to build a win-win partnership between France and all the other countries where you have stayed. You continued to work for France even you’re far from your mother country. The French proverb, “loin des yeux loin du coeur”, “far from eyes far from heart” isn’t true for you.
In Brunei Pierre Imhof has played an indisputable role of “passeur” between public and private sectors, between France and Brunei during these last 13 years. Thanks to him, the Baiduri bank is now recognized as the most important domestic Bruneian bank, involved in the development of Brunei Darussalam, in the support of its people and companies, in the encouragement of the entrepreneurship. Nobody can deny it, not even the Baiduri bank’s competitors. Pierre was becoming a true Bruneian French !
But Pierre Imhof is also tirelessly committing himself in the Bruneian civil society, through his active role as President in the French Bruneian Business Association (FBBA). He has further consolidated the unbreakable economic link between Bruneian and French companies for a long time. Moreover through his participation in the activities of Alliance Française, Pierre Imhof is playing a dynamic role in encouraging the promotion of the French language and culture.
The sound and longstanding political, economic, cultural links, that Pierre Imhof was forging during all his life and career, have enabled us to consider him as a “link man” or a “passeur”, serving the interests of France and the countries where he worked, serving the interests of their people, because his noblest aim is to keep on tirelessly building the friendships beyond his own advantage.
A friend of Pierre once reported to me that Pierre doesn’t like to be alone, for he’s scared of being alone as a child, he needs presence, because he always needs to share something with his fellow men. We can testify it in his career, we can qualify Pierre Imhof as an authentic “humanist” devoted to others without borders.
Thank you for your attention.
Au nom du Président de la République et en vertu des pouvoirs qui nous sont conférés, nous vous faisons Pierre Imhof Chevalier de la légion d’Honneur.
Bandar Seri Begawan 16/10/2015
S.E. Loan Forgeron, Ambassadrice de France au Brunei, remettant la médaille de la Légion d’Honneur à Pierre Imhof, Directeur de la Baiduri Bank.