News and Events 2016

Christmas and End of Year Events

17th December 2016

Life is so busy for everyone and each Christmas season is a welcome time to enjoy meeting up with friends and stakeholders and giving them our best wishes before another year draws to a close. As always, we were pleased attend many events, including the Lord Mayor`s Board Reception, the Brisbane City Council`s Corporate Reception, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Reception. The Japanese Consulate also hosted a reception in honour of the Emperor`s Birthday which happened to fall in the Christmas period as well. 

Each event is very memorable - the Lord Mayor and Brisbane City Council of course have the beautiful and historic Brisbane City Hall as their venue, while the Department of Foreign Affairs uses the wonderful Gallery of Modern Art as a spectacular venue looking across the Brisbane river.  However, the Japanese Consul's event is always a great night as well, hosted in a enormous Hamilton mansion, with copious amounts of delicious sushi and a sake bar with especially chosen beverages straight from Japan.


To all our members, supporters, and friends, we wish you the best for a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year in 2017. Thank you sincerely for your support.  

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

AMBCQ Film Screening and Drinks: "I am not Madame Bovary"

27th November 2016

AMBCQ members had a lovely time at our AMBCQ Drinks and Film Screening of the movie ‘I am not Madame Bovary’ (Wo bu shi Pan Jin Lian) by director Feng Xiaogang, as part of the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, the premier film festival and awards in Asia, which is permanently based in our home city of Brisbane. AMBCQ guests enjoyed a selection of Australian, Japanese and European beverages and European and Japanese finger food at the Palace Cinemas, at The Barracks. Our event coincided with the German Film Festival and we were able to catch up briefly with many of our German business friends and with the German Consul Prof Michael Rosemann. The film that Shona had selected also happened to win the ‘Achievement in Directing’ Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane, which is Asia’s version of the Oscars. It was a great film, and our members enjoyed it very much. Thank you to AMBCQ President Shona Leppanen-Gibson for organising this great event. Shona is also an Ambassador for the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival. Thank you also to Ruth Griffin from the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, and to one of our QUT student leaders Riley Lim who was a volunteer at the BAPFF.

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Asia Pacific Screen Awards

24th November 2016

Brisbane is the permanent home of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Asia and the Pacific’s version of the Oscars. This year’s entries included films from Korea, the Philippines, Australia, India, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and many other countries. We were invited to attend the Awards and the marvellous gala dinner, with more than 800 other guests. 

The venue at the Convention Centre was artistically themed, with the centrepiece being a very long table for the nominees and other special guests, beautifully appointed. David Wenham and Anjali Rao were the comperes, and there was a performance by Korean opera singer Sumi Jo, as well as a duet performance by Sumi Jo with Dami Im (a local Queensland girl who finished second in this year’s Eurovision song contest). Kiong got the chance to shake hands with the legendary Australian actor Jack Thompson when our wonderful friend Manju Jehu asked us to take a picture of her with Jack Thompson. And for those of us who would like to indulge their giddy dreams, there was the red carpet entrance which all could traverse. It really did feel like being at the Oscars (except we got a nice meal as well).

We were especially pleased to see that “I am not Madame Bovary” was awarded for Achievement in Directing, because that is of course the film we choose for our AMBCQ Christmas Drinks at the Barracks. The big winner of the night was Turkish film “Cold of Kalandar” which won three categories including Best Feature Film. It was also great to see “The Dark Wind”, an Iraqi film with a Kurdish director about the plight of the Yazadi people, win the UNESCO award for cultural diversity.


As a film and media graduate, I do have a very strong interest in film in general, and particularly in Chinese cinema. It is intriguing to watch the growth and development of film industries such as the Chinese, Korean, Indian and Iranian. These cinemas a generation ago looked like the poor cousins of Western cinema, but they are now incredible success stories – for different reasons. I could go into the national industrial complexities of the individual cinemas and the effect on textual and artistic output, but that would take too long. I would like to highlight the Chinese and Iranian film industries in particular – these are countries which practise strong censorship, including of artists, but look at what their cinemas have achieved.


For more photos, please visit the gallery

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Premier's Indian Business Reception

8th November 2016

It is always a pleasure to attend the Premier's Indian Reception in October or November, coinciding with Diwali/ Deepavali. This year the focus was on the Indian Business Community, and we were very pleased to have our AMBCQ contingent in attendance. It was great to meet up with many friends and hear from the Premier and the Trade Minister about opportunities for Queensland businesses. 

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Malaysia and Hong Kong Visit

November 2016

Senior Vice President Wai Kiong Chan represented the AMBCQ at the Australia Asia Business Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Australia Asia Business Conference brought together Australian Chamber of Commerce and Business Councils from across Asia and was a great platform for networking and exchange of ideas.  Kiong also hosted a reunion of AMBCQ members in Malaysia, a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with many of our valued members.  He also took the opportunity to meet up with many contacts including political representatives, diplomats, analysts, commentators, journalists and others.  Here is a brief rundown of some of the highlights of his visit:

  1. Meeting with the Australian High Commissioner, Austrade, Matrade

  2. Meeting with various Malaysian business leaders

  3. Engagement with Nordic and European counterparts and stakeholders

  4. Meetings with senior media leaders including top investigative journalist Citizen Nades (The Sun), Terence Fernandes (former Managing Editor of The Malay Mail), and a senior analyst from NST and others

  5. Brief meetings with politicians from many political parties including YB Tian Chua MP, YB Teresa Kok MP, YB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin MP (former Deputy Prime Minister), YB Liew Chin Tong MP, YB Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail MP, YB Gobind Singh Deo MP, YB Saifuddin Abdullah MP, YB Lim Guan Eng ADUN/MLA MP (Chief Minister of Penang), YB Dato Sri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir ADUN/MLA (former Premier of Kedah and former Deputy Federal Minister for International Trade and Industry), YB Rafizi Ramli MP, YB Anthony Loke MP, YB Mat Sabu MP, and numerous other political leaders

  6. Meeting with AMBCQ members based in Malaysia, and the Undersecretary of Agriculture Malaysia

  7. Meeting with the Australian Trade Commission in Hong Kong and the Queensland Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong 

  8. Visit to the Malaysian Consulate General in Hong Kong

  9. Visit to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park

  10. Visit to the Secretariat, Malaysian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and Macau

  11. Meeting with the Vice Chairman Dato` Sri Cheah Cheng Hye, Malaysian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and Macau

  12. Visit to Matrade Hong Kong


For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

QYO Finale and 50th Birthday Concert

29th October 2016

We once again attended the Finale of the Queensland Youth Orchestras concert at QPAC, as guests of the QYO. The QYO is the biggest and best youth orchestra in Australia. We caught up with our good friends the Immediate Past Chairman Collin Myers and the legendary founder John Curro AM MBE and his wife Carmel, and with the Chairman Peter Geroff, as well as other friends.

This being also the 50th anniversary of the QYO, the 80 plus year old founder and conductor John Curro treated us to three encores including a special rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ with audience participation. It was a full house of 1,800 people and made for a spectacular Finale indeed! After the concert, Shona and I joined the Chairman and directors and all the conductors, special guests and of course the founder himself at the post-concert cocktail reception. Happy 50th Birthday QYO, and Happy 50th wedding anniversary to John and Carmel!

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

Memorial Dinner with the Punjabi Community

28th October 2016

As founding members and advisors of the Punjabi Welfare Association of Australia, we were looking forward to this year's Diwali Dinner. However events overtook all the planning, and it became a solemn occasion when a popular member of the Punjabi community in Brisbane Mr Manmeet Alisher was tragically killed in a senseless attack on a Brisbane City Council bus. The community united and we paid tribute to the departed, and to think of all those who were affected. A message from the Lord Mayor was read out by Cr Angela Owen. Our condolences go out to the loved ones of Mr Alisher. The Sikhs have a well-deserved reputation as loyal friends and patriots. Let us all stay united as Australian patriots. President Pinky Singh and the community rallied together to face the challenges. Shona reiterated on the tragedy that unfolded, that Deepavali is a reminder that light will overcome darkness and that good will prevail over evil, and that we must remain calm and united. To our Punjabi and Sikh friends, we wish you Saat Sri Akal, and Diwali greetings.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

UQMSA Think Tank Competition

22nd October 2016

It was a great pleasure to again be part of the UQ Malaysian Students' Association - UQMSA Think Tank competition this year. This business case competition saw groups of students from various disciplines presenting proposals around sustainability and climate change. The proposals ranged from recycling clothing, reducing and reusing food wastage, and recycling chicken manure (the winning proposal!) Each pitch was just 8 minutes long, with questions following, and we were really amazed to see the innovation of the proposals and to experience the professionalism of the presentations. Judging of the competition was carried out by AMBCQ President Shona Anikka Leppanen-Gibson and Senior Vice-President Wai Kiong Chan, who judged the presentations and provided feedback to participants, in conjunction with Mr Nimrod Klayman from Idea Hub at UQ who judged the written proposals. Congratulations to the winners and all participants on a job well done.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

UQMSA Mamak Night

18th October 2016

It is always lovely to be invited along to UQMSA's mamak-themed dinner at the University of Queensland, and they always treat us as VIPs! Our hosts did a great job in replicating the food, beverage and ambience of Malaysia and Singapore's ubiquitous but unique mamak shops, which are South Indian tea and curry shops. I often go to mamak shops for tosai, roti, curry and tea everyday when I am in Malaysia, and spending time with friends in these curry and tea shops is almost a national past time apart from shopping. We enjoyed teh tarik, roti canai and dal, rice, curry chicken and vegetable acar, and were entertained by some great live bands. Thank you again UQ Malaysian Students' Association - UQMSA for your wonderful hospitality. 

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Meeting with Austrade's Assistant Trade Commissioner to KL

17th October 2016

At short notice, we hosted Austrade's Assistant Trade Commissioner to KL, Ms Naila Mazzucco, who was visiting Brisbane. It was a great opportunity to meet Naila and discuss AMBCQ, Austrade and the High Commission's current projects and focuses in Malaysia and Australia. It is wonderful to have a very cordial relationship with so many of our trade officials and diplomats from both countries.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Oktoberfest 2016

7th October 2016

What a privilege it was to be invited guests of the German Consulate at Brisbane’s Oktoberfest, one of the top ten Oktoberfests in the world. It was a great evening and we caught up with many good friends, such as Cr Norm Wyndham, Cr Matt Bourke, Cr Angela Owen, Mark Boothman MP, Steve Minnikin MP, the Hon Ian Walker MP, and briefly with the Hon Grace Grace MP, Tim Mander MP and Jon Krause MP and of course our hosts for the evening the German Consul Prof Michael Rosemann and Assoc Prof Mia Woodruff. Many other friends from the German (and other European) business and industry and community were there including the founders of Oktoberfest Brisbane – Louise Moeller and Reimer Moeller, the King of Cakes Wolfgang Kelke, K and K’s Wolfgang Kaspar, Wolfgang Olbertz, GABA German Australian Business Association's Gabi Sartori, Richard and Marlene Arnold, Prof Max Brandle, the Lord Mayor's student ambassador for Vietnam Phuoc Tran, the Count of Berga Sir Bernhard Graf von Berga and Lady Annalise Wenzel and many other great friends. I also caught up with my good mate and fellow member of the Lord Mayor’s roundtable Serge Voloschenko OAM and Anna Voloschenko. 

The Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk had the duty of tapping the first keg and pouring the first beer. There was great music by a Bavarian oompah band flown in from Germany, and plenty of stalls, and amusement rides etc., and lots of music, dancing, eating and drinking. We enjoyed some great Bavarian beers, and great Bavarian food including curry wurst, and some great bakery items from King of Cakes such as giant pretzels, cinnamon pretzels, cinnamon pastry sticks, gingerbread and apple strudel with custard sauce. My favourite beer each year is the Oktoberfest Brisbane Dunkel (dark beer). It was lovely to see thousands of people enjoying themselves, and the festivities will run this weekend and next weekend. What a great evening. Prost!

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

Confidence Workshop with UQMSA

4th October 2016

The AMBCQ has a great relationship with the University of Queensland and we always enjoy supporting activities at the University. In the lead up to this year's Think Tank (an annual business case competition), the University of Queensland Malaysian Students' Association (UQMSA) hosted a Confidence Workshop for participants. Myself as President and AMBCQ executive member Kiong Chan featured on the confidence panel along with other distinguished speakers.  We also gave a presentation on presentation skills for the participants. Participants then had a chance to deliver a presentation complete with slides, for immediate feedback from Kiong and myself. It's always a privilege to participate in these initiatives and we look forward to the Think Tank finale, as we have been asked to assist once again as judges for the event.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

AMBCQ Australia Malaysia Ball 2016
6 August 2016

We had another spectacular AMBCQ Australia Malaysia Ball in Brisbane. Official guests at the 2016 Ball included, in no particular order:
• Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, and Lady Mayoress Anne Quirk
• Cr Peter Cumming, Leader of the Opposition in Council, Councillor for Wynnum Manly Ward
• Deputy Mayor of Logan, Cr Cherie Dalley, and Mr Stuart Dalley
• Cr Norm Wyndham, Councillor for McDowall Ward
• Cr Matthew Bourke, Chairman Lifestyle and Community Services Committee, Councillor for Jamboree Ward
• Cr Vicki Howard, Councillor for Central Ward
• Mr Zamani Ismail, Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of Malaysia
• Cr Peter Matic, Chairman Field Services Committee, Councillor for Paddington Ward, and Moira Matic
• Cr Angela Owen, Chairman of Council, Councillor for Calamvale Ward
• Ms Cheryl Stanilewicz, State Director Austrade (Australian Trade Commission)
• Ms Alison Carrington, State Director, Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
• Cr Kim Marx, Councillor for Runcorn Ward
• Cr Nigel Hutton, Livingstone Shire Council (Yeppoon), and Tanya Hutton
• Mr Duncan Pegg MP, State Member for Stretton, representing the Premier of Queensland
• The Hon. Ian Walker MP, State Member for Mansfield and Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Justice
• Dr Andrew Laming MP, Federal Member for Bowman, and Olesja Laming

Our annual AMBCQ Australia Malaysia Ball is our peak annual event where we get together to thank supporters and to celebrate our own traditions including our formal rites and rituals in addition to traditional universal customs and attire. Our annual Ball allows members and supporters to celebrate AMBCQ's achievements and participate in our various rituals and rites, including:
• Our dress code –classic black tie, or tropical black tie (white dinner jacket). Kilt, or original (aka civilian) mess dress (as an acknowledgement of the Second Earl Spencer), or clergy robes, or academic dress, or service dress, or military mess dress (the mess dress that the military adopted from civilians and schools) and tailcoats are all acceptable.
• The saying of both Ante Coenam and Post Coenam grace in Latin and English
• Our various admission rites, benediction rites, loyalty rites, approbation rites, and dissolution rites and other rituals.

Guests enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail in the reception area. Following the Quarter Call by our Piper, guests were able to finish their drinks and freshen up. Young Ilkka Chang and our Marshall Maniphon Follbring then introduced Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt, who announced that the Dining Hall was open, and members led their guests into the Ballroom. The official party (Federal MPs, Councillors, Mayors, State MPs etc) entered the Ballroom last, piped in by our Piper to the to the tune of ‘Cock O’ the North, and led by the President and the Lord Mayor. The Deputy Marshall announced the appointment of AMBCQ President Shona Leppänen-Gibson as 'Magister' (the Master) and officially handed her the gavel and sounding block to perform the admission rite and preside over the dinner.

Following the Royal Anthem of Australia ‘God Save the Queen’ and the national anthems of Australia and Malaysia, the Master asked Senior Vice Mr Wai Kiong Chan to say Ante Coenam grace. The Master made the welcome address, and guests enjoyed a wonderful Australian and Malaysian buffet, and were able to mingle freely during intermission. This year’s Member of the Year was awarded to Mr Garth Wong, and Young Member of the Year went to not an individual but to the University of Queensland Malaysian Student Association - UQMSA.

Speeches at this year’s event were given by the AMBCQ President Shona Leppanen-Gibson, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Duncan Pegg State MP, Deputy High Commissioner Zamani, and Andrew Laming Federal MP.

Our wonderful singer Mr Rhydian Lewis opened up with Teresa Teng’s Mandarin Chinese classic ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’ (月亮代表我的心). Rhydian did a great selection of crooner songs including numbers by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin, and even Asian superstar Jay Chou. Incidentally Jay Chou’s wife is a Brisbane girl and his Grandfather-in-law was at our event, and he was most impressed with Rhydian’s performance. He told us that Jay was performing in KL on the same evening as our Ball, and the same evening as Rhydian Lewis was singing covers of Jay’s songs. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane was also most pleased, and as the head of one the largest elected local governments in the Asia Pacific, he had previously met Jay Chou when Jay was touring China.

This year dinner consisted of a selection of Oriental and Occidental dishes such as beef rendang, chicken in pepper sauce, fish in Pernod Sauce, fried Hokkien noodles, fried rice, salads and cold cuts. Dessert was a particularly decadent affair with numerous types of cakes and sweets. Beverages included Swedish sparkling drinks, some splendid Australian white wines and red wines, champagne, and two of Malaysia’s favourite drinks Carlsberg beer and Guinness, and some classic Malayan drinks from the imperial era such as Whisky Stengah, East India Cocktail and Gin Pahit.

Present were several members of the Lord Mayor’s Roundtable including AMBCQ’s SVP Wai Kiong Chan, Sir John Kahlert, and Mr Serge Voloshenko OAM. Also present were many special friends, including the Honorary Consul of Germany Prof Dr Michael Rosemann and Associate Prof Mia Woodruff and several other professors (QUT, Griffith University and UQ), and the worldwide head and Grand Prior of the Order of Knights of St George in Austria and Carinthia (founded by the Hapsburgs to defend Europe from invasion), Sir Dr Berhard Graf von Berga, the Count of Berga and his wife Annalise.

At the resumption of proceedings signalled by the Piper, the Master asked the Senior Vice to say Post Coenam grace. Our Stewards escorted our piper Mr Lachie Munro for the Piper’s toast, and to be hosted by the President, with some wonderful single malt to drink to each other’s health. This was followed by the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty the Queen, and other toasts by our Fellows, Ms Nicole Graham, Assistant Commissioner Andrew Short, Ms Maniphon Follbring, Mr Wai Kiong Chan, Mr Garth Wong, and Mr Wai Kiong Chan). After the completion of the toasts, the Senior Vice proposed three cheers to Her Majesty and members responded with three very sonorous "Hip Hip Hip! Huzzah". The playing of Auld Lang Syne by our piper and the performance of the dissolution rites by the Senior Vice signalled the end of the official proceedings and the start of informalities. The piping of Auld Lang Syne was augmented by the audience.

A big thank you to all the great helpers, entertainers and supporters, to University of Queensland, Griffith University, AirAsia, Minuteman Press Darra, Logan City Council, Petronas, Infiniti Cars, CH and Lyna Chen, to our print programme designer and photographer Lucas Follbring, and our videographers Riley Lim and Roy Yan, Danial Lee, Holly Chan, Nicole Graham, Huey Fang, Lilian Chan, Aileen Williams, Lachie Munro, Dr Keith Low, Rhydian Lewis, Garth Wong and others!


More photos are available on Facebook and in the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Dedication of Rod and Mary Burrows Park
25 June 2016

In times of great tragedy, it is important for our community to come together and offer comfort as best we can. It is healing for those who have borne the tragedy, and it is healing for those who bear witness. The MH370 tragedy, in which a Malaysian Airlines aircraft disappeared in March 2014, was played out in international media across the globe, with little thought for the great difficulties for the families and loved ones of those missing. The AMBCQ stood with local Malaysian Airlines staff to support them through this difficult time - many lost colleagues in the disappearance. Late in 2014, we were given the opportunity to support a petition that sort to memorialise two of the missing, Rod and Mary Burrows, with the renaming of a local park in their honour. The Burrows family had lived next to the park since 1992 and had looked after it and beautified it over the years. We first met with their daughter Karla towards the end of 2014 to discuss her plans and it is a solemn yet happy feeling to see her initiative to have her parents remembered has finally come to fruition. We discussed some strategies on how to convince and persuade the Brisbane City Council to support the idea. After a lot of hard work by Karla and her family, and an overwhelming amount of support from the community, the BCC agreed to rename the park.

It is hard to imagine how difficult it must be to comprehend this great tragedy for the family. In a bit of an odd coincidence, Kiong and I happen to live in Camelot Crescent, and this park is our local park. Mary was also a colleague of Kiong's at the Police Academy, and on reflection, he realised that he had spoken to her many times. Although our paths crossed, we did not really know each other, however, like our other neighbours, it does give us a special feeling that we could support this petition.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Marking the Historic Brexit Vote
25 June 2016

Earlier this year, we hosted a forum with the provocative topic "The Bright Side of Brexit" which examined the opportunities and possible futures the British referendum on membership of the EU entailed. It was a bit of surprise that the result of Brexit was known so quickly with the Leave the EU vote proving the winner much earlier than anticipated. So in honour of this historic event, we hosted a rather last minute event at the Pav Bar at the Stamford to commemorate the vote.

It was a great night for reflection, speculation and debate with a friendly and lively group.  Though witnessing this moment in history is fascinating, the unprecented work of unpicking the all enveloping folds of the EU to release one nation, will be even more interesting. I have often reflected that the EU is no model for economic integration, it has morphed into a far bigger and all encompassing project than that. It faltered when it sought to impose homogenity onto the diverse and varied landscape of Europe.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Lunch with Senior Trade Commissioner to Malaysia and State Head Austrade
22 June 2016

The AMBCQ has always had a great relationship with Austrade so we were very pleased to be able to host not only Cheryl Stanilewicz, State Director of Austrade, but also Daniel Havas, incoming Senior Trade Commissioner to Malaysia.  Daniel has served in this role for Austrade in Peru over the last four years. Daniel is originally from Brisbane and has worked for a number of Brisbane entities, and also has a past career in the arts.


We enjoyed a casual lunch at the Pav Bar at the Stamford Plaza, and we had a great small group there to meet with Cheryl and Daniel and chat about Daniel’s upcoming posting.  We spoke very openly about the challenges and differences of doing business in Malaysia, South America and other places, particularly the importance of relationship building, and the precedence of face-to-face communication.  Ethics and the challenges of doing the right thing were also spoken about at length, and it was very interesting to hear the personal stories of the participants.  Everyone found a lot of value in the meeting, it is not often one has the opportunity to meet and connect with senior trade officers in a small group environment.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Lunch with Health Minister, the Hon. Cameron Dick MP
7 June 2016

It was a privilege to host a boardroom lunch with guest of honour the Queensland Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services the Hon. Cameron Dick MP. Numbers were restricted to allow guests to interact with each other. Attendees included numerous leaders in the health and medical industry including deans and heads of school of university faculties, heads of medical research facilities, founders of pathology laboratories, heads of various institutes and medical and health industry business leaders and senior professionals, and several of our key members and supporters including the University of Queensland and Griffith University.

We hosted the event at Augustine’s on George, across the road from Queensland Parliament. Following a round of champagne on the balcony, we sat down to a lovely lunch. The Minister is a UQ graduate and obtained degrees in law, commerce and arts. He later completed a Masters of Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was also the Attorney General of the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu at the age of 27, and practiced law as a solicitor and then as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He was previously Attorney General of Queensland and Minister for Industrial Relations and later on Minister of Education and Industrial Relations.

Following the Minister’s speech, guests were able to discuss various issues with the Minister. The Minister shared news about his Government’s exciting initiatives in transforming and revolutionising the whole health industry. The Minister noted that we had assembled a very high level group of leaders and said that it was testament to the calibre of the AMBCQ. The Minister also highlighted the major role played by numerous former Malaysians in the hospitals, universities, and research institutes. We presented the Minister with a handmade gift of a personalised and framed reproduction of a print of Queensland Parliament in 1886, made by our friends and Australia’s only remaining antiquarian map and printmakers, Edwin Clark and Karen Harper in Marburg, Queensland. The Minister was greatly delighted and said that it was by far the most thoughtful gift he has received.

For more photos of the event, please go to the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea and Croquet
29 May 2016

What a splendid afternoon we all had, when we jumped down the rabbit hole and indulged in an Alice in Wonderland themed lavish afternoon tea with champagne and classic cocktails as well as a game of croquet at the McIlwraith Croquet Club (with full professional coaching – one coach per four players). It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other members and supporters in a fun, family-friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

The Queen of Hearts had decreed that those ladies not in fancy dress should wear an elegant dress and a hat (or fascinator) and those gentlemen not in fancy dress should wear a coloured bow tie, jacket and "Mad Hat" befitting a Mad Hatter's Tea Party! Those who did not adhere to the dress code were given some mad hats NOT of their choice!!!

Apart from champagne, cider, Imperial era cocktails, punch and tea, we indulged in a lovely selection of ham and smoked salmon ribbon sandwiches, mini pastries, white chocolate and pretzel cookies, numerous confections, and specially made Madders’ Brothers sweets including lavender cheesecake, apple trifle with macaroons, red velvet cupcake topped with macaroons, triple chocolate and gold leaf cupcake, jaffa mousse spheres, strawberry mousse, passionfruit tart, macadamia mousse, raspberry melting moments, lemon myrtle melting moments and many other lovely treats.

It was a perfect Autumn Sunday. Many people are asking for a repeat, so we will certainly be back. Happy Empire Day 2016!

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

St George's Day Dinner and Business Forum: The Bright Side of Brexit
23 April 2016

We’ve had some great events over the years, and our very first St George’s Day event ranks as one of the best. The right occasion, a great and entertaining speaker, delicious food, wonderful company and beautiful surrounds – all the ingredients for a fantastic night. Thanks to Senator the Hon James McGrath, Senator for Queensland in the Australian Senate and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, for joining us to talk on the topic of “Brexit” – the impending vote regarding the exit of Britain from the European Union. With this in mind, we posed the questions: As UK citizens go to the polls on 23rd June to decide whether to remain or to leave the European Union, why is there such a strong and growing support for Britain to leave the EU? How will Brexit affect business and trade? What are the opportunities for the UK and for Commonwealth countries?

St George was adopted as the patron saint of England during the reign of King Edward III. St George was a soldier in the Roman Empire in the 4th Century, and during a purge of Christians from the Roman army, he declared his Christian faith and was martyred. But he is remembered more as a dragon slayer. St George’s story is one of strength, but also of sacrifice and faith. In an English context, the legend of St George represents the strength of tiny, isolated England, a world power for centuries, and the faith of its people in its destiny, and the sacrifices its people will make to preserve their nation.

So, St George’s Day is a fitting time for us to look at “The Bright Side of Brexit”. Because there are many positives from this tumultuous time, not only for the people of England, but for Australia and all Commonwealth nations and nations of the Anglosphere. And Senator McGrath gave us some great insights into these positives, and into the politics at play not only in England, but also in the conservative party itself. Senator McGrath is uniquely placed to comment on these matters, as he not only served as Deputy Campaign Director for Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, a strong advocate of Brexit, but also as an adviser to David Cameron, during his campaign to take the Prime Ministership, who has aligned himself with the ‘No’ Brexit campaign. Senator McGrath gave a wonderfully entertaining speech which had the audience delighted, and freely answered questions from the floor. We will all be watching with great interest to see the results on the 23rd June 2016, the day of the Brexit vote.

St George’s Day 2016 was a wonderful occasion to celebrate – made all the more special with Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday having fallen just two days earlier, and on the weekend of ANZAC Day too.

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Hosting the German Ambassador and Farewelling Prof Michael Scheutz, Honorary Consul


24 March 2016


We had the pleasure of hosting a Diplomatic Roundtable Luncheon at the Stamford Plaza in honour of the German Ambassador His Excellency Dr Christoph Müller (who was visiting Brisbane from Canberra). We also conducted our own farewell to the German Honorary Consul Prof Michael Schütz (one of the top trauma surgeons in Australia who is returning to Germany to take up the position of Chairman of one of the top trauma surgery institutes in the world), and welcomed the German Deputy Consul General Mr Hubertus Legge (visiting from Sydney), and our members, supporters and friends. The event was deliberately kept small to a total of only 18 people to allow all guests to spend time with the Ambassador and the consuls.

After drinks and informal chats, we held a moment of silence to pay our respects to all those who were affected by the two Islamist jihad attacks in Brussels that left more than 30 dead and more than 270 injured the day before.

Shona delivered the welcome address and spoke to the gathering on the close and historical links between Queensland and Germany, and the key role of German settlers from the early settlement days in founding the modern Australian state. She also shared her views about the importance of maintaining our links to Germany and to Europe, and expressed her hope that successive governments at all three levels will stop viewing our links with Asia and with Europe as somehow conflicting and mutually exclusive. It has been a very myopic approach to international relations, and this myopia is reflected in the rapid and significant removal of the teaching of German (and French) in favour of Asian languages in Queensland schools. Since shortly after the beginning of British settlement in Queensland, German was the second language of Queensland, and hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders have German heritage and a quarter million still identify as being descendants of German settlers. German immigrants to Queensland have always been very highly regarded for their hard work, loyalty and commitment, and successive waves of German migrants continue this practice to this day. Shona closed her speech by quoting Sir Thomas McIlwraith, three- times Premier of Queensland between 1879-1893), who said in the Queensland Parliament:
"Having disembarked from the ships and spent one or two days in the Immigration Depot, the German immigrants disappear. One hears or sees nothing of them for 18 months or a couple of years, when some fine day they return from the bush in their own attractive turn out, wife and children seated high, and all well-dressed and happy-looking."


After lunch, Ambassador Dr Müller thanked us for our support for Europe, and he shared his memories of events leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks. He also spoke about the many exciting things happening with the bilateral relations, and shared with us the efforts of the German and Australian governments in forming the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, the visit of Chancellor Merkel to Brisbane for the G20 meeting, and the delegation to Germany with Australian Senator, Sen. the Hon. Mathias Cormann and German Honorary Consul in Queensland Prof Michael Schütz.


Shona invited me to reply to the Ambassador’s speech and I spoke about my own recollection of 9/11 when I was working in a government agency in Australia, and how that event obliged some in government to finally face some of the realities. I also spoke of the various futures studies that Shona and I (as very young analysts) had both conducted almost 20 years ago regarding the possible futures for Europe, how the post-cold war euphoria had in hindsight ‘coloured the glasses’ of policy makers and how the identification and analysis of these possible scenarios could guide policy makers in terms of what and what not to do. I emphasised the basic obligation of migrants to contribute positively and to adopt the values and lifestyle or the host country, and about how easy it should be to love and cherish any European and Western country that one migrates to (rather than to hate and try to impose the migrant’s own values and systems). I also discussed the importance of bilateral relations especially in challenging times, and the need for countries with similar values and standards to support each other. I finished by reminding the audience of the qualities of the German people that will always prevail and ensure that Germany remains a great country.


We presented the Ambassador with a framed replica antique print of Brisbane and the retiring Honorary Consul with a similar framed print but of a different view of Brisbane, made in Queensland by Australia’s last remaining master antique map and print maker Edwin Clark and Associates in the German-Queensland town of Marburg, much to their delight. Marburg in Queensland is named after the city of Marburg in Germany, where Prof Schütz first studied. Both prints were originally engraved in 1886, and show views of Brisbane in the earlier days of settlement, when German settlers were arriving in large numbers to help to build Queensland into a successful country.


Guests enjoyed a lovely buffet, a great selection of Australian, New Zealand and Nordic beverages and some terrific desserts. Ambassador Dr Müller was most generous with his time, and he stayed back to spent time meeting and talking to everyone present over tea, coffee and dessert.

In the evening, we were privileged to attend the formal reception for the Ambassador and

farewell for Prof Schütz at Old Government House on the premises of QUT. The crowd was overwhelming - such is the high regard for Prof Schütz.  It was a heartwarming farewell and a well deserved send off for this excellent man.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

AMBCQ Business Leaders Forum: Managing Corruption, Misconduct and Business Risk


18 March 2016


Greg Williams (Barrister, Managing Director of One Practice – a legal recruitment and law firm merger business, and Whistleblower of the Year) was our guest speaker for our first Business Leaders Forum of the Year. Apart from his professional successes, Greg has developed a reputation as one of the most fearless campaigners for justice in Australia, and has taken on and held to account some of the largest and most powerful organisations including so-called “independent commissions”, law enforcement agencies, governments and even politicians. For us, ethics is a topic that is close to our hearts, and one that we have tried to develop a deep understanding of and immerse ourselves in. In a time when leadership is sometimes viewed through a narrow prism of superficial statements, surface appearances, and feeble risk aversion, doing the right thing is all the more important.

Case after case illustrated the dismal state of affairs and the bipartisan indifference of many politicians. We as Australians may sometimes like to point the finger at other nations, and pride ourselves on our reputation as a relatively transparent country. However, time and again when prominent cases of injustice come to light it shows that our federal agencies and our state agencies are just as culpable and just as prone to serious misconduct, and politicians and other leaders are just as keen to ignore these issues as in many other third world countries. Perhaps part of this is the dearth of proper and real leadership in politics and in government (with exceptions, of course. Some departments are cleaner than others, and a few politicians are much better than the bulk).

Kiong delivered the vote of thanks, emphasising to our members that each of us have a role to play. We must ensure we do the right thing, model ethical behaviour, do not shut our eyes to wrongs, and support the search for truth, even when that truth is difficult or troubling to uncover.

Greg Williams reminds us of our other good friends, fearless investigative journalists overseas such as Citizen Nades R, Steven Gan and Terence Fernandez, and like them he consciously performs his moral and ethical duties as a real and responsible citizen – to speak out, to help the voiceless, to seek justice, no matter the obstacles thrown at them by governments, politicians, and the indifferent establishment. These people perform an invaluable service for all of society. From a business perspective, these few people help to create a better social and business environment that is governed by rule of law, and create conditions that are conducive to ethical business conduct.

If only more leaders in government, politics, universities, crime commissions, independent commissions, parliaments and the judiciary actually even half cared about issues of corruption, misconduct and ethics, our country would be greatly better off. Thank you Greg Williams for all your service to our country.

​Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Hosting Malaysia's Former Foreign Minister
16 March 2016


We had the privilege of hosting His Excellency Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Syed Hamid Albar, his wife Puan Sri Sharifah (a former teacher, now an artist and a fashion designer) and a senior diplomat Suresh Kumar. Tan Sri Hamid spent many years as Malaysia’s Foreign Minister. Today he is a special envoy, and plays a role in the UN and other organisations. He was also previously Defence Minister, Home Affairs Minister, and Justice Minister. I also met former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans AC QC, whom Tan Sri Syed Hamid knows very well. Gareth Evans is every bit as formidable as I recall when he was Foreign Minister of Australia. Gareth Evans headed the International Crisis Group and various international panels such as the International Commission on International Intervention and State Sovereignty, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament etc after he left politics. He has also written extensively and has authored 13 books and published more than 100 articles and is now Chancellor of the Australian National University.

We also asked Tan Sri Syed Hamid to pass on our warmest regards to our former guest speaker the Hon Bob Carr, when he was the Australian Foreign Minister. He is also the former long serving Premier of NSW (Tan Sri Hamid was due to meet Mr Carr in Sydney), and to our many friends in the diplomatic and foreign affairs community. It was a lovely experience to discuss numerous strategic and international issues with Tan Sri Syed Hamid, given his incredible knowledge in international relations, defence, regional security, and other areas. Shona and I really enjoyed the in-depth and very open discussions we had with Tan Sri Hamid. We have promised Tan Sri Hamid and Puan Sri Sharifah that we will catch up with them in KL, and Puan Sri Sharifah is very keen for us to meet her family and for us to enjoy her home cooking. One of the great privileges of our interest and engagement in strategic and international issues is that we get to discover the human side of very senior international leaders.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

Chinese New Year
15 February 2016


Each year the AMBCQ is invited to the Premier's Chinese New Year function at Parliament House and a small group of us enjoy the hospitality of offer and the opportunity to connect with old friends. This event is well attended and no doubt it is one of the highlights for the Members of Parliament, as they get to be involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations and meet a great many constituents and voters all at once.  There is always a huge turn out each year, and it is encouraging to see this tradition continuing to attract a crowd.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

Australia Day Activities 
29 January 2016


Each year we have the privilege of attending the Lord Mayor's Citizenship Ceremony at City Hall for Australia Day. Hundreds of people attend this ceremony and it is always a welcoming and inspiring event, confirming just how wonderful it is to live in Australia and in Queensland.

A few days later we held our first meeting for the year and also gathered together to mark Australia Day as a group. We are looking forward to a wonderful year, with many opportunities and great things to be achieved.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)