News & Events 2015

Malayan Colonial Christmas Soiree

13 December 2015

Our 2015 Malayan Colonia Christmas Soiree featured the rarely available Malacca Chinese dish ‘satay celup’ as guests stepped back to the year 1955. Our tropical Christmas soiree transported our guests back to the Capitol Theatre on Wolferstan Rd, Malacca.  The Capitol Theatre was the place to be in town and was "the finest sound house in Malaya" with a modern lounge and bar. Attached to it was the commodious Capitol Dance Hall, "Malacca's one and only most up-to-date palais de danse". Outside the Capitol Theatre, Mr Low would be crouched over a charcoal fire, serving up his famous invention of ‘Satay Celup’, a satay fondue of numerous varieties of meat, vegetable and seafood satay skewers. While the adults enjoyed a few cocktails, some of the kids tried their hands at carom, the colonial era game of choice that was popular empire-wide. Adjacent to all this was our very own Malayan Jungle Tiki Bar, serving classic cocktails from the Malayan-era, as well as several specimens of the king of fruits – durian - and a variety of British colonial-era ice desserts such as chendol and ayer batu champor.

We had a great line up of Christmas hits from Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Bob Hope and music from other crooners from the 1940s and 50s such as Judy Garland, Bob Eberley, Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra and others.  There are more fantastic photos in our gallery.

Being summer time in Brisbane, it made it all the more believable that we were indeed in Malacca and British Malaya. Merry Christmas everyone!

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Deepavali Dinner and Business Forum

21 November 2015

This year, we hosted a Deepavali Dinner and Business Forum featuring a panel of senior businesspeople. The topic explored by the panel was ‘Business, Investment and Trade in India and South Asia’. We were joined by 60 people from the international business community, academia, trade specialists, analysts, government officials and business people as we explored business, trade and investment opportunities in India and the South Asian markets of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. The panel examined how skills, resources and supply chains in locations such as Malaysia and Singapore plus the Indian diaspora networks can provide leverage for Australian firms. Following the panel discussion, a cocktail and a Malaysian and Singaporean-style Deepavali buffet was served. The venue for the event was provided by architectus, a successful Australian exporter to India.

Apart from AMBCQ members, we were also joined by the Australian Council for Europe, and by leading members of Singaporean, Laotian, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, US, Swiss, UK, Papua New Guinean, Swedish, Canadian and other businesspeople and professionals, and by members of the Indian community too including by none other than the current Miss India Australia!

Our panelists included:
1. Professor Arun Sharma, (Arun is Director of the $1.83 billion Adani Abbot Point Terminal. He is also Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Commercialisation, QUT. He holds numerous leadership positions in industry and in professional bodies. He is also Past Chair of Queensland India Council)
2. Ms Kim Richards (Kim is the Chief Operating Officer of architectus, and President of Group 61, a not for profit organisation)
3. Ms Carolyn Stalker (Carolyn is a Director of architectus. She is also an Honorary Life Fellow of the Urban Design Alliance of Qld and a member of The Queensland Board for Urban Places)
4. Mr Wai Kiong Chan (Kiong is CEO of Paradigm Infinitum, and is the Co-Chair of Asia Business Forum (ABF) and co-founder of International Circle)

After the panel discussion, we enjoyed a Deepavali buffet of Malayan briyani, Punjabi palak paneer spinach and cheese curry, Malayan/Singaporean chicken curry, South Indian karaikudi lamb, Bengal fish curry, Malayan achar, and North Indian gulab jamun.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Visit by Education Malaysia

9 November 2015

It was a pleasure to host lunch in Brisbane for the Head of the Malaysian Consulate in Sydney and Director of Education Malaysia in Australia, Consul Suzzaini and her husband Mr Yusuf. Malaysian students represent one of the largest markets for the education industry, and the education industry is the one of the largest export earners for Australia, worth $17.6 billion last year. Consul Suzzaini has provided invaluable service to students and to the education industry.

Together with AMBCQ President Shona Leppanen-Gibson and Prof Joe Mathew from the Asset Institute, we enjoyed lunch at Mado Turkish restaurant and had several great dishes including a Macedonian dish that is claimed to be Alexander the Great's favourite dish - Adana Iskander (Lamb Alexander). It was a lovely afternoon, finishing with Turkish coffee and teas and sweets.

Kiong Chan (SVP AMBCQ)

Premier's Reception for the Indian Community

27 October 2015

AMBCQ attended the Premier’s Reception at Queensland Parliament for the Indian Community, obstensibly a Deepavali reception. We caught up with our good friend Duncan Pegg MP, Member for Stretton, Linus Power MP who succeeded our long-time friend the former Speaker the Hon John Mickel upon his retirement, the Health Minister the Hon. Cameron Dick, and Minister for Housing and Public Works the Hon. Leeanne Enoch MP, whom we have not caught up with since 2009 when we hosted her at our International Ball. It was really great to catch up with so many people on Speaker's Green at Parliament.

After the reception, a few of us went to the Roti Place in the Brisbane CBD for an early Deepavali get-together, and we had a simple dinner of nasi lemak, roti canai, chicken curry, char kuey teow, Hainanese chicken rice and roti tissue. The reception is held every year, and this annual event was inspired by the work of our late mentor Dr Peter Yeoh in helping the government to celebrate Chinese New Year and other events to promote international relations with many countries. Dr Yeoh provided guidance and mentorship to quite a number of individuals in Queensland (including some prominent ones), and we always remember him.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

UQMSA Think Tank Competition


17 October 2015


The AMBCQ recently provided support to the University of Queensland Malaysian Student's Association (UQMSA) in initiating and organising the "Think Tank" competition, and we were really pleased to work with UQMSA in some aspects of the planning process as well. Shell Malaysia also supported the month long business case competition.  AMBCQ supported the event by providing one of the prizes, providing a Presentation Skills Seminar prior to the competition, and also judging the competition.  AMBCQ President Shona Leppanen-Gibson and Senior VP Kiong Chan were delighted to be invited to view all presentations and judge the live presentation component of the competition.  UQMSA is consistently ranked in the top few of UQ's 100 plus clubs and societies. Well done to outgoing UQMSA President Shaun Tan, incoming UQMSA President Luvesh Sadhwani and the committee for for their hard work and their professionalism. There were 15 teams registered, and we were delighted to see a few students from other countries also such as Spain, South Africa and Thailand in the competition. The standard was high, and we found the presentations to be very professional. There were some very innovative and creative ideas that came out of the competition, and we learned quite a few new things about different products, different industries and also different approaches to presenting business cases. Thank you for involving AMBCQ


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

VJ Day Commemoration and Dinner


11th September 2015


AMBCQ marked the 70th Anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day (VJ Day) in the former General Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur. We held a memorial service at the Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square, where Shona conducted a service before our piper played a lament. Afterwards we adjourned to the MacArthur Museum for cocktail and dinner. Guests included Consul General Dr Zhao Yongchen of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China accompanied by Consul Zhang Wei and Vice Consul Ding, Claudia Luttringhaus representing the German Consulate, and Deputy Consul General of Japan Mr Takahito Watabe, representatives from the Russian, Polish, Filipino and many other communities and other guests.


The date of our event was poignant given it was the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on freedom. In addition, it was also one day short of the 70th anniversary of the surrender of the Japanese Southern Army Group to Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in Singapore, and two days short of the 70th anniversary of the surrender of of the Japanese to British liberation forces in KL.  70 years ago, patriots such as Chin Peng OBE received medals from His Majesty's Government in recognition of their sacrifices to the nation, and took part in victory parades in Malaya and Singapore and London.  


At our event, food and beverage was served on the exact same table where General Macarthur and his GHQ staff planned the Southwest Pacific Campaign from! Dinner consisted of satay, peanut sauce, wontons, curry puffs, and fried rice and sago kueh, and a selection of drinks including beer, white wine, red wine, sparkling wine, port, a selection of spirits and liqueurs and traditional Malayan and Singaporean drinks such as Whisky Stengah, Brandy Ginger Ale, Malayan Planters Punch and Gin Pahit. Guests were able to view the many exhibits in the Macarthur Museum, watch film clips from WWII, and tour General MacArthur’s personal office, including the chair he used in exactly the same spot more than 70 years ago. Shona and I had the pleasure of giving a private tour to the consuls and to other guests. 

Shona made an address on behalf of the AMBCQ, and touched on a number of points including why the war is relevant today and how it had very directly affected all of us including in Brisbane. She said “it is easy to consign such to history and irrelevance, but this office here reminds us that the war was not just in far flung places. It was here, in Brisbane. From the offices of General Douglas MacArthur, the war in the Southwest Pacific was directed and eventually won”. Shona reminded the audience that it was in Indooroopilly, Brisbane that special operations were planned and put into action by Australian Z Force operatives in the form of commando raids in Japanese-occupied Singapore. She spoke of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE)’s secret activities in Brisbane and around Queensland including the training of Force 136 secret agents including Chinese Canadians, Chinese Indians, Chinese Britons, Chinese Malayans, Chinese Singaporeans, and Britons, Australians and others on Fraser Island for secret insertion into Japanese occupied countries to link up with local resistance forces in Malaya and elsewhere and to wage irregular warfare. 

She also spoke of how the Allied victory had released the people of Japan and Germany from tyranny, and how both countries have been transformed into leading global citizens. She closed her speech by examining an old Chinese song ‘Gong Xi, Gong Xi’, a familiar Chinese New Year song that was first written to celebrate VJ Day 70 years ago, to celebrate “the end of winter”, and pointed out that there was no better time to celebrate the victory over fascism than on that evening, at the beginning of spring in Australia, and the end of a terrible time in world history.

I made a speech on behalf of the Australian Institute of Strategic and International Studies. My speech focused on the causes of war, the internal political struggle in Japan in the war years, the post-war years and the current situation in the South China Sea. The central theme of the speech was about the international friendship that has grown after the war against fascism. Given it was also the anniversary of the September 11th Islamist terror attacks, I spoke of the need for us all to stand together today in the face of the new 100 year war that we now face against a different form of fascism. I reminded the audience that the former head of the Australian Army General Peter Leahy had last year spoken about the new war we are now in, and how it would cost us all dearly in blood and in treasure. General Leahy reminded us that the war will be waged both inside our country and overseas, and it will last 100 years. His comments were widely supported by analysts around the world. I reminded the audience of the need to put aside petty disputes, and to focus on the far larger and far more strategic problem we face. 

100 years is a long time, and demonstrates to us the magnitude of the threat that civilised nations now face. I reminded the audience that 20 years ago, Shona and I, as young strategic analysts and young futurists had predicted that within a few decades, that internal mass-displacement of indigenous Western and Northern Europeans by new and culturally incompatible mass-settlers would result in huge social turmoil and mass-emigration of locals, and that the Slavic nations including Russia would eventually emerge as the saviours of Western and European civilisation. We stand by our analysis.


Whilst we cannot afford to be complacent, and we need to face the new war face on, we must also be optimistic. 70 years ago, we could hardly imagine that Germany, Italy and Japan would become the close trading partners, friends and allies of China, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and New Zealand. We must ensure that we deepen our friendship and strengthen our cooperation to meet this new and serious challenge.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)

Visit of the Deputy High Commissioner and the Second Secretary


22-14 August 2015


We hosted the vist of Malaysia's Deputy High Commissioner to Australia Mr Zamani Ismail and the Sceond Secretary Mr Hezry Arifin to Queensland.  Both dilopmats attended AMBCQ's Australia Malaysia Ball, and we also visited a number of stakeholders in Brisbane and the Gold Coast including the Asset Institute.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Australia Malaysia Ball

22nd August 2015


We had another spectacular AMBCQ Australia Malaysia Ball in Brisbane. Official guests at the 2015 Ball included, in no particular order:
• Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General (representing the Australian Foreign Minister and the Attorney General for Australia)
• The Hon. Dr Anthony Lynham MP, Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Resources and Mines
• The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Brisbane Cr Graham Quirk and Lady Mayoress Anne Quirk
• Mr Zamani Ismail, Malaysian Deputy High Commissioner
• Mr Hezry Arifin, Second Secretary
• Ms Alison Carrington, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Queensland state office
• Cr Norm Wyndham, Brisbane City Council
• Cr Matt Bourke, Brisbane City Council
• Cr Fiona King, Brisbane City Council
• Bert Van Manen MP, Federal Member for Forde
• The Hon Bernie Ripoll MP, Federal Member for Oxley
• Mark Boothman MP, State Member for Albert

We are probably one of the very few business councils/guilds left in the world that actively practices 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. The Marshall then announced that the Dining Hall was open, and members led their guests into the Ballroom. The official party (MPs, Councillors, Mayors, Senators, Patrons etc) entered the Ballroom last, piped in by our Piper to the to the tune of ‘Scotland the Brave’, and led by the President. The 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 Ching Meng Tan. Young Member of the Year once again went to a highly deserving young member, a PhD researcher Mr Keith Low. A special leadership award went to Prof Joe Mathew, CEO of the Asset Institute. 

Following speeches by the Lord Mayor, Senator Fierravanti-Wells and Dr Lynham MP, we also heard from Prof Talal Yusaf of USQ and Prof Martin Betts, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Griffith University.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and we paid a special tribute to the numerous service personnel and spoke of the bravery of so many, including the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – several hundred teenagers who fought stubbornly from North Malaya through to Singapore. The last soldier to cross the causeway was the Argyll and Sutherland Highlander piper. Despite being virtually annihilated, the regiment reformed as the Plymouth Argylls and fought on stubbornly until they were ordered to surrender when Singapore fell. It was particularly poignant that we hosted numerous senior officers including several Assistant Commissioners and Chief Superintendents at the Ball. 

This year dinner consisted of a selection of Sumatran and Malayan curries such as beef rendang, chicken curry, sayur lodeh, and egg sambal. Dessert was a particularly decadent affair with numerous types of cakes and sweets. Beverages included Swedish sparkling drinks, beer, white wine, red wine, champagne, port, sherry, and some classic Malayan drinks from the imperial era such as Whisky Stengah and Gin Pahit. 

At the resumption of proceedings signalled by the Piper, the Master asked the Senior Vice to say Post Coenam grace. This was followed by the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty the Queen, and other toasts by committee members. 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. This year's piping of Auld Lang Syne was done in honour of one of the four founders of Malaysia (and later on the first Prime Minister of Independent Singapore), Sir Harry Lee Kuan Yew CGMG, CH, SPMJ who passed away this year.

Formality was balanced by light heartedness and the evening was capped off by sweets, tea, coffee, live music and a dance floor. Those who preferred a less physical end to the evening could opt for parlour games, port and malt whisky instead. The dance floor was opened, and guests were entertained by singer Rhydian Lewis. Overall it was another remarkable evening.

A big than you to all the great helpers, entertainers and supporters and to our photographers Lucas and Tukky!  As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)

Dinner with the Hon Scott Emerson MP

17th July 2015


We hosted a private dinner with the Hon. Scott Emerson MP, Queensland Shadow Minister for Transport and former Transport Minister. Scott is a dynamic leader with a distinguished track record. He and his wife Robin were renowned for their active involvement in the Brisbane community in the western suburbs. Scott was the Queensland bureau chief for Australia’s national daily newspaper, The Australian. Following this, he became a director in a PR firm before entering politics. Scott is a Churchill Fellow and spent time at Harvard University as part of his fellowship. He is also a long time AMBCQ member.

It was terrific to catch up with Scott, and with Brisbane City Councillor Cr Matt Bourke and many other friends. Scott gave us a terrific speech and Q&A, and we were all able to share our views and discuss key issues. 


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Brisbane City Council Parkinson Ward Dragon Boat Festival


8th June 2015


We have been involved in the organising committee and as participants in the Brisbane City Council Parkinson Ward Dragon Boat Festival since its inception five years ago, and we work closely with Cr Angela Owen-Taylor and other co-organisers.  This year, we had only half a team because many of our AMBCQ Water Dragons members from last year are now temporarily or permanently based overseas in Europe and Asia, and Canada (Singapore, Malaysia, Sweden, UK, the Netherlands, Canada etc). A couple of our team members were ill or injured, and the Karlssons had pre-arranged a camping trip away. We competed with half a team, and found a few great volunteers on the day including two lovely Canadians. In the finals we only had 15 paddlers and five empty seats so we were happy to finish third. Imagine what we can achieve with a full team! Common AMBCQ members, join in, and commit to it.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Eurovision Party


29th May 2015


Our 2015 Eurovision Party, held in conjunction with the Nordic Forum was great fun, and we had a gathering of friends from all over Europe and also the Asia Pacific. We projected the contest onto a screen, and ate European and some Austrian food because the 2015 contest was in Vienna. We had veal schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, smoked salmon, several breads, pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, Swedish mustard, and Garth made some great savoury muffins for entree, and a tryly delectable sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and whipped cream. Although it was a little cool, we also had an outside section and had two flame heaters and a lovely little bonfire outside. Thanks to our fire master (master fire bug) Marten Karlsson for helping to get the fire started. Guests dressed in Austrian, Polish, German, Swedish and other colours.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Mayor of Malacca Delegation to Brisbane


25th May 2015


We received a request from the Malaysian Government to assist the Mayor of Malacca and his delegation to organise a courtesy call on the Brisbane City government. Malacca City Council is significant and would be the second largest city council in Australia if it were located here.


AMBCQ strongly supports any such visits and always encourages all local governments and the relevant state government authorities to support incoming city and state delegations.  It is through such exchanges that bilateral relations are strengthened.


The Malacca City Council delegation was led by Dato Zainal Hussin, Mayor of Malacca.  Malacca is a UNESCO recognised historic city founded by Parameswara, a Hindu Prince from present day Indonesia.  With the Mayor were 16 City Councillors, 12 senior Council executives and several other officers. It was a very senior delegation.  AMBCQ organised to meet the delegation, and gave them a warm welcome to Brisbane. We also organised an exchange of mementos with the delegation.  


Cr Norm Wyndham was marvelous, and was a terrific host to the visitors. The delegation received a welcome address, a private tour of City Hall and a visit to the Museum of Brisbane. Thank you to Cr Norm Wyndham for being such a wonderful host to the visitors.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)

Malaysia: Gateway to ASEAN Seminar with DFAT, TIQ and AMBCQ


30th April 2015


We co-hosted the Malaysia - Gateway to ASEAN seminar that was organised by DFAT, as a joint effort of DFAT, TIQ and AMBCQ.  


The event exceeded the expectations of the organisers, with more than 100 business people attended the event in Brisbane.  


The seminar featured His Excellency Rod Smith PSM (Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia), Ms Susan Kahwati (Senior Trade Commissioner in KL), Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ) and Kiong Chan (SVP, AMBCQ).  


The High Commissioner gave the audience a good idea of the large number of Australian firms already operating in Malaysia.  


The AMBCQ President spoke about the important role played by the organisation in helping members to bridge any gaps in their undertanding of the market and the environment.  Members are also able to tap into AMBCQ's strategic networks in Malaysia and Australia.  


Attendees were able to mingle over mornig tea, before the start of the seminar. Thank you to the Queensland Government for hosting the venue and for providing refreshments.


As is the case with all items listed here under 'News and Events', please click on 'Gallery' to see the full set of photos


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)

Lord Mayor of Brisbane's Citizenship Ceremony

18h May 2015


This evening Shona, Ilkka and I attended the Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s Citizenship Ceremony where we witnessed 575 new citizens obtain their citizenship. We caught up with several friends including Cr Norm Wyndham, Cr Krista Adams (MC for the evening), Peter Russo MP/MLA, State MP for Sunnybank and Teresa Gambaro MP/MHR, Federal Member for Brisbane, and many others incuding the wonderful Brisbane City Council staff.


I am of course also an advocate of integration and assimilation, as I have been for more than 20 years. Migrants have an obligation to adopt the values, culture, language and lifestyle of the host country, and to always serve in the interest of the adoptive country.  In Australia, this would include not just obeying Australia’s laws, but also adopting Australia’s English language, maintaining absolute and steadfast loyalty to Australia’s Queen and Australia’s Constitution, supporting the Judeo-Christian origins of Aussie culture, and the British origins of Australia’s institutions, adopting Aussie values such as gender equity, freedom to determine one’s sexual orientation, freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and the absolute primacy of Australia’s laws (and the outright rejection of any foreign or theocratic laws or ideologies that conflict with modernity and with Aussie/Western/Modern values and culture).


Ilkka received a nice welcome from Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, and has helped us to host the Lord Mayor at our events since he was a baby. We discussed the concept of “active citizenship” with the Lord Mayor (something that the Lord Mayor encourages) and how Ilkka and Ilmi have gained an understanding and an appreciation for the concept, the Lord Mayor looked pleased and said that they are always welcome to attend his ceremonies! Next time round (in the coming weeks), we will have the honour of hosting our Lord Mayor (and hopefully our Lady Mayoress) and many of his fantastic councillors once again, a privilege which Shona and I always look forward to.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)

"Play It Again, Sam" Dinner - 70th Anniversary of VE Day

9th May 2015


We hosted a special Casablanca-themed dinner to mark the 70th Anniversary of VE Day in the courtyard of the Stamford Plaza Brisbane. What a great evening we had, as we were transported back in time to December 1941, to Rick’s Café Americain, in Casablanca, French Morocco, a time when the world was at war and the outcome was extremely uncertain. The evening started with a moment’s silence to pay our respects to all those who were affected by the Second World War in Europe. Following this our piper Mr Lachie Munro played a lament.


Guests included our mentor Clive Palmer and Anna Palmer, Cr Norm Wyndham, Cr Angela Owen-Taylor, members of the Swedish, Finnish, German, Polish, and Scottish communities as well as AMBCQ members and supporters.


We enjoyed a variety of popular songs from the 1930s and early 1940s, and were entertained by our bagpiper as well as by Ambyr who performed a variety of wonderful Moroccan and North African belly dance routines. Guests dined on a buffet of beef fillet, chicken breast, and Atlantic salmon, and several other dishes, and for dessert we had chocolate brownies, chocolate cake, cheesecake and fresh fruit, and a sweets bar. We also had a drinks station well-stocked with a variety of white wine, red wine , sparkling wine, Danish beer, Swedish sparkling drinks, sherry, Pernod, Cointreau, Baileys, Grand Marnier, special edition Laphroaig Islay malt whisky and a distiller’s edition Lagavulin Islay malt whisky.

The venue was lovely – a private courtyard surrounded by heritage architecture, foliage, and a large pond and fountain. For lighting we had numerous Moroccan-style candle-lit lanterns, and Moroccan-style tea lights.


Shona had the privilege of making the welcome address, acknowledgements, running the official commemoration and setting the scene. She acknowledged the sacrifice of service personnel and their suffering of all who were affected.

As the co-founder of the Nordic Forum, I spoke briefly to help welcome guests, and juxtaposed the current conflict of ideologies (modernity and liberty vs theocratic totalitarianism) with WWII. WWII happened because of indecisiveness, inaction, and pacifist self-delusion – a reluctance of the free world to face reality and to take necessary action.


I also had the honour of welcoming our guests, and made a speech to thank our mentor Clive Palmer and Anna Palmer on their tremendous sacrifice for our country. As one of Australia’s top tycoons, they could have just sat back and enjoy life in one of their resorts, but instead chose a path of service and public life. I ended my speech by looking at the key messages and lessons that Shona and I gleaned from the great classic film Casablanca, about the obligation of each person to do their part, and to do what is right.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



Upcoming!! AMBCQ's "Play it Again, Sam!" - a Casablanca-Themed Dinner to Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day 

9th May 2015
































You must remember this. A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.  The fundamental things apply, as time goes by…


The War in Europe came at enormous cost for all sides, and spilled over into North Africa, Asia and world-wide.  Be transported to Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca in 1942, to a time when the world was at war, and the final outcome extremely uncertain. 


Ilsa: “Play it once, Sam.  For old times' sake”.

Sam: [Lying] “I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa”.

Ilsa: “Play it, Sam.  Play ‘As Time Goes By’”



Event:     AMBCQ “Play it Again, Sam!” a Casablanca-Themed Dinner

Date:      Saturday 9th May 2015.  6:00 pm cocktail, 6.30 pm dinner

Place:     Courtyard, Stamford Plaza Brisbane

Dress:     Black and white theme - Think Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman - Tropical dinner jacket/tuxedo (ivory or off-white) or classic black tie or mess dress or 1942 period costume 

Cost:      $70 pp (Under 12s $35pp) – Entertainment, Buffet, Beverages

RSVP:    ASAP to or  or 0419 008 378 or 0438 750 899






Dinner with Dr Christian Rowan MP

15th April 2015


As our members and supporters will know, AMBCQ is non-partisan and we host all sides, and sometimes host joint events (with all sides).  Our last function featuring a politician was with an ALP MP.  Our latest function was with an LNP MP, State Member for Moggill, Dr Christian Rowan MP.  Dr Rowan is a young and dynamic MP.  He was former President of both the Australian Medical Association Queensland and the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland.  Also present was our old friend, Cr Matthew Bourke, Brisbane City Councillor for Jamboree.  The event was an opportunity for attendees to meet and welcome the new State Member for Moggill, and to catch up with each other in a relaxed atmosphere.  We discussed various macroeconomic issues and it was nice to be able to hear and share multiple perspectives pertaining to business and the economy, governance, government and policy.  We also had several attendees who were Royal Australian Air Force veterans at the dinner, and it was nice to see an impromptu gathering of ex-RAAF personnel.  The dinner was kept small to ensure that all attendees could get to know the guest of honour.


We enjoyed an entree of smoked ocean trout with pear and tomato salad and Swedish dill mustard, a main of MSA steak, pan fried haloumi cheese and mashed potato, and a dessert of pear crumble and custard.


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)



Lunch with Student Leaders 

15th May 2015


We had the great pleasure to host a casual and friendly lunch for student leaders.  Many of the top business, government and political leaders in Southeast Asia are graduates of Australian universities.  Education is one of the largest export sectors for Australia, and Malaysia, China, India and Singapore represent some of the largest markets.  There are close to half a million Malaysian citizens who a graduates of Australian universities.  We hope to see more international students studying in Australia and the importance of the education sector to Australia’s economy is reflected in AMBCQ’s close interaction with numerous universities, especially Griffith University and University of Southern Queensland.


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)



Prize Giving and Closing Ceremony of MASA

13th May 2015


On behalf of AMBCQ President Shona Leppanen-Gibson, I attended the Closing Ceremony for the MASA Conference 2015.  Thank you to the organisers for putting on a great event.  I enjoyed the great honour of giving away medals to the winners of many different sports events to university students from all over Australia.  Congratulations to all winners, and to the organisers and volunteers and all attendees from throughout the country.



Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



Lunch with Malaysian Diplomatic Officer

13th April 2015


Shona and I met up with a Malaysian diplomat for lunch.  It was a great opportunity to catch up and a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  The AMBCQ maintains strong relations with both the Malaysian and Australian High Commissions and with diplomats from both countries. 



Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



Launch of the Menzies Health Institute by the Governor General of Australia, General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove MC, Griffith University Gold Coast 

9th April 2015


Shona and I attended the launch of the Menzies Health Institute, a collaboration between our alma mater Griffith University (GU is also a major supporter and corporate member of AMBCQ), and the Sir Robert Menzies Institute.  The launch was extra special for us given we are fans of Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, we are fans of Sir Peter Cosgrove, Shona and I have each studied several degrees at Griffith University, and Griffith University is an active and major part of AMBCQ.  The new Menzies Health Institute was launched by the Governor General of Australia, General the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove MC.  Sir Peter served in Malaysia and Vietnam where he won a Military Cross.  He gained international prominence when he led INTERFET (an international intervention force) in a highly acclaimed operation to stop the killing of East Timorese people by pro-Indonesian militia. 


We are so pleased that Griffith University’s Medical School is now regarded by most doctors as the best medical school in Queensland and as such it is also one of the top few in Australia.  The Menzies Health Institute is an invaluable addition to Queensland, and the medical research that will be conducted there will undoubtedly bring many benefits to the people of our state.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



Meeting with Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah and YB Mr Liew Chin Tong MP 

9th April 2015


Despite it being a very last minute event that we organised with only a few hours notice given to members, it was great to see a group of members and supporters attending our informal meeting with two prominent thought leaders in Malaysia, Mr LIEW Chin Tong MP and Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates, an organisation whose patron is the Prime Minister of Malaysia.  Dato’ Saifuddin was previously an UMNO MP for Temerloh and Deputy Minister for Higher Education.  He is hugely respected for being a voice of reason and has often thrown his support behind students and academics who have faced various challenges.  Mr Liew is similarly reasoned, and is a young and dynamic DAP MP for Kluang, and his talents has seen him rise rapidly in his party. 

We went to a Chocolateria San Churro at Southbank, Brisbane for Spanish hot coffee and some chocolate afternoon tea and it was a great opportunity for members to hear first-hand the views of our two eminent guests and to discuss key issues on Singapore and Malaysia and exchange ideas.


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)



Opening Ceremony of MASA

8th April 2015


This year the peak event of the Malaysian international students studying in Australia, the MASA Conference and Games was held in Brisbane.  It was the third such conference.  After last year’s controversy with the last minute uninviting of opposition member Tony Pua MP despite support from government minister Khairy Jamaluddin MP, it was good to see that this year’s conference still went ahead, understandably with now fewer sponsors and stakeholders.  The organisers did a very good job.  It was good to see strong support from various government agencies.  The opening ceremony was held at UQ, and the conference itself was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Congratulations to all members of the organising team, as well as all volunteers and participants.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



Lunch in Honour of the High Commissioner of Malaysia to Australia

18h April 2015


We had the great pleasure of hosting a Lunch in Honour of the High Commissioner of Malaysia to Australia His Excellency Dato’ Zainal Abidin Ahmad and his wife Datin Shireen Dato’ Sulaiman.    We organised this lunch in 24 hours and kept it small to allow participants to get to know our guests of honour.  Kiong and I hosted the lunch at our office in the boardroom.  Our boardroom curry tiffin featured several classic Raj-era curry tiffin dishes:


Curry Tiffin

  • Chicken Chettinadu (South Indian chicken curry)

  • Daging Kandar (Penang Tamil food vendor’s hot, sweet and tangy beef curry)

  • Saag Paneer (North Indian cottage cheese with spinach puree and herbs and spices)

  • Fish Malabar (Mackerel in Malabari curry spices and coconut milk)

  • South Indian Goat Curry (Goat cutlets cooked in a spicy South Indian style)

  • Prawn Curry (Prawns in coconut cream, spices and coriander)

  • Steamed Basmati Rice

  • Papadam


Tea, Coffee and Sweets

  • Kueh Bingka (Straits Chinese glutinous rice flour and coconut cream cake)

  • Kueh Hangus (Straits Chinese steamed caramelised sponge cake)



  • Selection of beverages


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s Citizenship Ceremony at City Hall

12th March 2015


I was privileged to once again attend the Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s Citizenship Ceremony in City Hall, the biggest of its kind in Australia. Shona had to pick up Alvar from his Mormor’s place in Jimboomba, so Ilkka accompanied me to the event (he also accompanied me to a meeting in our office first). At City Hall, we caught up with some good friends including my very dear friend Cr Angela Owen-Taylor (who as always did a great job as Master of Ceremonies), Cr Ian Mckenzie, Duncan Pegg MP who represented the Premier of Queensland, Peter Russo MP, and Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Bates, and representatives from the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy, and others. It was the second time I caught up with Duncan Pegg MP today. It was also lovely to catch up with my good friend Commander Lachlan King of the Royal Australian Navy.

We enjoyed refreshments with the Lord Mayor before the ceremony and the Lord Mayor told Ilkka that he had also met Ilkka’s other siblings at previous citizenship ceremonies, and asked how his siblings were. During the citizenship ceremony itself we were entertained by a choir, and by the Australian Army Band, and by an Aboriginal dance and fire making in a ‘welcome to country’ ritual. The citizenship ceremony allowed me to renew my affirmation to Her Majesty the Queen, and to Australia and its people. After the ceremony, we had some supper with the Lord Mayor. 

Ilkka had a great time, and asked me how come Mum and Dad (Shona and I) are so lucky to be regularly invited by the Lord Mayor and other leaders to attend many civic events and other events. I told him it is always an honour and a privilege, and explained the importance of active participation in civic life, something that he also heard the Lord Mayor speak about this evening. During drinks after the event, the Lord Mayor invited Ilkka for photographs. After the event, Ilkka was fortunate to be given a mini tour of the usually unseen parts of City Hall by his ‘Aunty Angela’! Brisbane has been very fortunate to have such a great Lord Mayor and a great team of City Councillors.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan, AMBCQ)



AMBCQ Chinese New Year Dinner at Queensland Parliament

7th March 2015


For full set of photos, please visit our gallery


We had the great pleasure of hosting a Chinese New Year Dinner on the rooftop of Queensland Parliament for 70 guests, including Duncan Pegg MP for Stretton, Mayor of Redland Karen Williams and Councillor Luke Smith representing Logan City. 

This year, we had a lion dance by a kung fu school run by my long time class mate Luke Kretschmann, and they provided a spectacular show with two lions. The school is a fifth generation descendant of the legendary Wong Fei Hong, and the lions were of the Cantonese Hok San (Crane Mountain) style. The lions performed a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen of Australia, and for the ‘choy ching’ ceremony, they smashed a watermelon to symbolise the smashing of bad governments (the Manchurian invaders who ruled as the Ching Dynasty (symbolised by the colour green)), and the (the loyalist revolutionary Hung (aka Red) League’s efforts to secure the re-emergence of legitimate rule and re-establishment of the former Ming Dynasty (symbolised by the colour red). In contemporary society, the ritual symbolises loyalty to The Queen, and the removal of bad governments (the green rind of the watermelon) and the emergence of good governments (the red flesh of the watermelon).

Guests could add to their good luck in the Year of the Goat by eating a bit of the watermelon, which was presented as a tribute to Her Majesty. In the West and throughout the British Commonwealth Realm, lions from the kung fu schools often perform for members of the Royal family, and lion dances symbolise not only the chasing away of evil but also the unshakeable loyalty of The Queen’s Chinese, and a fierce defence of the Crown. The two lions performed a wonderful tribute and obeisance to Australia’s Queen by kneeling three times and performing nine kowtows before the portrait of The Queen, and smashing the watermelon to symbolise the smashing of Her Majesty’s enemies. God Save the Queen!

Apart from watermelon, guests enjoyed roast duck buns, char siew buns, butter oat prawns, marmite chicken, claypot seafood, and pork rib fillet in Chinkiang sauce and a selection of beverages including tea and coffee, fruit punch, red wine, white wine, sparkling rosé, juice and beer – with the punch proving a very popular choice on a balmy autumn evening.

A big thank you to all guests who attended, and to Duncan and his colleague Jess for helping us to secure the venue. Thank you also to Keith Low, Chintee Tan and Holly Chan for assisting on the evening, and to Garth Wong, David Goodwin, and to Ching Tan for your wonderful help. As always we are delighted to acknowledge USQ, Griffith University, AirAsia and Logan City Council for their ongoing support. Kung Hei Fatt Choy!


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan)


Premier of Queensland’s Chinese New Year Reception at Queensland Parliament

3rd March 2015


After our beloved mother country (The United Kingdom), Southern China provided Australia with some of the earliest pioneer settlers. Apart from Christmas, Easter, Empire Day etc, Chinese New Year is one of the earliest Australian celebrations. This year's Premier's Chinese New Year celebrations in Queensland Parliament was more subdued than usual. 

Partly this was due to the Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Marcia that hit the Central Coast of Queensland and washed out many public events in the Southeast with heavy rain recently. It was interesting to gauge the reaction of attendees - hopefully both the new Government and the new Opposition can learn from the mistakes of successive governments.

I met up with quite a few friends there and I got the clear feeling that people have had enough and just want a more empathetic government that is also fiscally responsible BUT also one that takes merit far more seriously and is far less arrogant - something that two successive governments have failed to do (or at least this is the perception of the people and it was reflected in the two biggest election defeats in Queensland history, in succession). There are lessons from the recent spectacular elections for both the new Government and the new Opposition. We need to give both the Government and the Opposition a chance to prove themselves. 

Shona and I have known the new Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the new Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg for quite many years, and both are nice and smart people. They will need to deal with their respective parties, their apparatchiks and their hangers-on and set clear directions, objectives and ethical values. Serve our State! And serve the people of our State! Let's see how capable and willing each side is to learn.... Time will tell.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan)



Asia Pacific Cities Summit Official Launch by the Lord Mayor

26th February 2015


Yesterday Shona and I attended the launch of Brisbane City Council's biennial Asia Pacific Cities Summit 2015. It was really lovely to bump into Lady Jane Edwards, a distinguished business person and wife of one of my very dear friends (and one of my heroes) who has for many years been the source of much leadership wisdom for me to try to emulate - the legendary Sir Llew Edwards. He is a wonderful man and a wonderful friend and a wonderful role model. Lady Jane Edwards is also the Honorary Consul for France.


We also caught up with many other friends including the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, the Mayor of Logan, the Mayor of Scenic Rim, Cr Angela Owen Taylor and Cr Julian Simmonds Councillor for Walter Taylor Ward, the Honorary Consul for the Netherlands Sir Kasper Kuiper, the PNG Consul, friends from the UK Consulate, Amelia Chan and numerous other friends. This year’s APCS will feature Lord Sebastian Coe CH KBE and numerous business and government leaders from the US, Europe and Asia.


Kiong (Wai Kiong Chan)



Logan City Council Chinese New Year Lunch

25th February 2015


Kiong and I attended the Logan City Council’s Chinese New Year lunch reception at the Chung Tian Temple.  We caught up with Mayor Pam Parker, Cr Luke Smith, Cr Steve Swenson and numerous friends from LCC and elsewhere.  Chung Tian provided a terrific vegetarian lunch and we all received a warm welcome from the Abbess of the Temple. 


Logan City Council is one of the largest local governments in Australia behind Brisbane and Gold Coast, and is far larger than Melbourne City Council.  It was impressive to hear about all the exciting news from Logan City Council and its Office of Economic Development, and AMBCQ looks forward to continuing to work closely with Logan City Council to promote bilateral trade and investment.


Shona Leppänen-Gibson, President AMBCCQ

Launch of BrisAsia Festival

6th February 2015


For full set of photos, please visit our gallery


This morning I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with the Lord Mayor and my fellow members of one of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s roundtables. And this evening Shona Leppanen-Gibson and I caught up with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Lady Mayoress Anne Quirk for the launch of the Brisbane City Council’s BrisAsia Festival, one of the many international festivals held annually. It is always lovely to catch up with the Lord Mayor, and twice or thrice in a day as it sometimes happens is always a lovely bonus. Even though he heads the second largest elected municipal government in the whole Asia Pacific region, he is always approachable, hardworking, humble and friendly. 

At the meeting this morning, each roundtable member shared news on our respective activities. The last few months have been interesting and so I had the pleasure of presenting a quick briefing to the Lord Mayor and other roundtable members of my engagement with the various Ambassadors, High Commissioners, MPs, chiefs of various armed services and police, trade officials, business people from many countries across Europe and the Asia Pacific. Each of these engagements is an opportunity to promote our city internationally. I also informed the roundtable of the various events and meetings we held with several councillors. 

It was also lovely to catch up with Cr Angela Owen-Taylor this morning, and with Cr Norm Wyndham and Cr Krista Adams this evening. Each Brisbane City Councillor is directly elected and each Councillor looks after more than 40,000 constituents, and as such they regularly work seven days a week from morning to night, making sure that Brisbane not only continues to grow strongly as one of the major centres of the Asia Pacific, but that we also continue to be one of the world’s most liveable cities. Our city is lucky to have Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. He is a truly fantastic Lord Mayor and we are also fortunate to have some of the best councillors in Australia. 

This evening’s launch of the BrisAsia Festival was wonderful, and we enjoyed some lovely hospitality and great food and beverages, and beer from China, Japan and Singapore. There was a great Bollywood band, and plenty of entertainment and performance art. It was a pleasure and privilege to once again be hosted by the Lord Mayor and by the City of Brisbane.


Kiong (Wai Kiong CHAN)



Farewell Party for HE Paul Madden FRGS CMG

4th February 2015


Shona and I were honoured to join His Excellency Paul Madden CMG FRGS, the High Commissioner for Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and Mrs Sarah Madden at the Polo Club. Paul’s tenure as British High Commissioner to Australia is ending after just over four years, and he has been travelling around Australia to say goodbye to all his friends. Paul arrived in Brisbane today and invited a small group of us to his farewell. In celebrating Paul and Sarah’s time in Australia, Shona and I presented the High Commissioner and his wife with a framed hand-made replica of the first ever map of what is now the Brisbane River (Oxley’s map from his 1823 expedition to what is now Brisbane and Moreton Bay one year before settlement began), made by Australia’s only remaining antiquarian mapmaker Edwin Clarke. 

Apart from a long and distinguished career in trade, foreign affairs and diplomacy, Paul has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Paul is a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business Leadership, was published in 2003. Despite his achievements Paul is one of the most humble and down to earth senior diplomats we know. We thought that Paul would find the map interesting given his background and expertise. We will miss Paul and Sarah and look forward to continuing our friendship.


Kiong (Wai Kiong CHAN)



Lord Mayor of Brisbane's Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony

26th January 2015


AMBCQ was privileged to once again attend the Lord Mayor of Brisbane’s annual Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony in City Hall, the biggest of its kind in Australia. Met up with some good friends including John Kahlert from the German Business Association, Cr Angela Owen-Taylor (who did a great job as Master of Ceremonies), Cr Norm Wyndham, Anthony Shorten MP who represented the Premier of Queensland, Lord Mayor Graham Quick and Lady Mayoress Anne Quirk, A/Deputy Commissioner of Police Clem O’Regan, and representatives from the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy, and others. Happy Australia Day!




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