News and Events 2017

Cocktails with Josiah Ng, Entrepreneur, Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist

9th July 2017

What a great privilege it was for us to host Josiah Ng as our guest speaker at an AMBCQ cocktail event on Sunday evening. CEO and co-founder of hospitality start up Intertain, Josiah is also a three time Olympian and won a Gold Medal in cycling for Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games in 2010. In 2004, in the lead up to the Athens Olympics, and ranked number one in the world, Josiah had an horrific crash in which he almost died. He underwent multiple surgeries. Incredibly a mere four months later, still carrying many fresh scars and after losing much conditioning and 5kg of muscle, he competed in the Athens Olympics! To cap it off, he very narrowly missed out on the bronze medal by a mere 2 cm. As Malaysia’s top cyclist for many years, he pioneered cycling for others, and helped build Malaysia’s cycling programme to a world class level.

As an entrepreneur he has been the founder of a number of startups, including his latest venture, Intertain. Intertain is an innovative hospitality company which brings the restaurant experience into the homes of its clients. Through a network of renowned chefs, Intertain provides an online platform for clients to plan and book their ideal dinner party or event from selected menus, with the chef taking care of shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up afterwards. As a professional athlete, Josiah spoke very honestly about the challenge of changing pathways to the world of business and about the importance of finding partners and people he can work with to help fulfil the vision he has for Intertain.

We've had lots of guest speakers over the years but rarely have they been so incredibly open, honest and transparent about themselves and their journey. It was such an insightful and inspiring evening. Thank you Josiah for sharing your experiences with us and best of luck with your new venture, Intertain.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

AMBCQ Members with Josiah Ng (second from left)

Logan City Council Budget Breakfast with John Howard OM AC

9th July 2017

Logan City Council is the third largest city government in Australia after Brisbane and the Gold Coast and is larger than Sydney and Melbourne City Councils combined, with held assets of almost $6 billion. Logan City Council is a key member of our Business Council and it was heartening to see the excellent work and great achievements in this major city. The keynote speaker was one of Australia's last great leaders, the Hon John Howard OM AC. He gave a wonderful speech on leadership - what a joy to hear him speak as he has so much wisdom to offer.

We caught up with many friends including Mayor Luke Smith, Deputy Mayor Cherie Daley, Federal Member for Forde Bert Van Manen and his wife Judi, former State Member for Stretton Freya Ostapovitch and former Mayor of Logan Pam Parker. There were several buses to ferry guests to and from the venue to the carpark and a few of us stayed back to catch up with each other. Congratulations to Mayor Luke Smith and the entire Logan City Council team.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

President Shona, SVP Kiong, Mayor of Logan Luke Smith, Bert Van Manen MP and Judi Van Manen and Deputy Mayor of Logan Cherie Dalley

Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday and Sapphire Jubilee

10th June 2017

The AMBCQ in conjunction with the Nordic Forum of Australia and International Circle held a dinner in Honour of the Queen’s Birthday and Sapphire Jubilee at the Stamford Plaza Brisbane. Guests of honour included Deputy Mayor of Brisbane Cr Adrian Schrinner and his wife Nina, Cr Norm Wyndham. Guests included several overseas visitors from Malaysia, and many great friends from Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

As always Chef and his team did a marvelous job, and we enjoyed some great food including roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, baked vegetables, chicken with stuffing, salads, and a fabulous dessert table of trifle, crème caramel, carrot cake, chocolate brownies, fruit salad and bread and butter pudding. We were also spoilt by the service staff who really looked after all of us.


The Deputy Mayor made a great speech that was very insightful, and Kiong was given the duty of replying to his speech. My address focused on Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Commonwealth. I have included parts of my speech further below.

The evening started with cocktails. At the start of official proceedings, we sang the Royal Anthem of Australia (God Save the Queen), the national anthem (Advance Australia Fair) and in acknowledgement of Britain and our Commonwealth we also sang another anthem, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. It was a wonderful thing to see so many people sing the anthems proudly and wholeheartedly. The Deputy Mayor delivered his great speech and toasted the Queen and the Commonwealth.

After the reply speech, I asked Kiong to lead the Loyal Toast and Other Toasts, and we drank to Her Majesty the Queen, to our Commonwealth, to Debb (for her wonderful support), to the City of Brisbane, and another one to Everyone in the Room. We presented the Deputy Mayor with a special memento consisting of a reproduction of a lithographic print of early Brisbane. After dessert and tea and coffee and liqueurs and port, we adjourned for a bit of mingling and parlour games. The carom table (a game popular throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth) was well used, as was the mini wooden pirate skittles set complete with a mini bowling alley. The mini cricket was very popular with the girls, and a few fours and sixes were scored by some talented batswomen!

Thank you to everyone for a lovely evening! Happy Birthday to our beloved Queen!

Here are some excerpts of my speech:


There is no other institution on earth like the Commonwealth. And there is no other leader on earth like Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. There are 52 nations in the Commonwealth, with a combined population of 2.3 billion people. That is one third of the planet’s population. 94% of those 2.3 billion people live in Asia and Africa.

As society goes these days, we are often encouraged to think of groups of people as markets. And people are grouped together regionally as trading blocs. You have the EU of course, ASEAN, we almost had the TPP, NAFTA, OPEC. But I think what the Commonwealth represents goes way beyond markets. Way beyond regional groupings. And by the way it has outlasted many of those other market based blocs. It represents a commonality of language, culture, heritage, law, and ideals. And it is a loose commonality, not a forced or imposed commonality. The Commonwealth makes brothers and sisters of numerous peoples, beyond region, beyond religion, beyond race. It stretches across continents, and it stretches across time. And we will see it in action so soon, with our Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April next year.

The Commonwealth is expected to surpass the EU as an economic power within this coming decade. The historic Brexit vote of 2016 that facilitated Britain's departure from the EU provides the Anglosphere with an immense opportunity to further develop business, military, cultural, and trade and investment ties with Britain and the Commonwealth. As Europe continues its long term cultural, political and economic decline, the Commonwealth in contrast is on the ascendancy.

Today we pay homage to Her Majesty and celebrate her birthday (the holiday is normally observed on this weekend, although it has been moved to October in Queensland) and also in acknowledgement of the Sapphire Jubilee (65th anniversary) of her reign. Her Majesty did not celebrate the occasion, unlike her 60th anniversary. Instead she reflected on the untimely death of her beloved father.

The AMBCQ, the International Circle and the Nordic Forum of Australia have come together to mark these special occasions. We are also paying tribute to the services of the Duke of Edinburgh for his decades long contribution to the Commonwealth. What an extraordinary record of service, working into his 95th year.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

AMBCQ Queen`s Birthday and Sapphire Jubilee Dinner
Deputy Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner speaking at AMBCQ Queen`s Birthday and Sapphire Jubilee Dinner

Trade 2018

8th June 2017

We were invited by the Office of the Commonwealth Games to join the Hon Kate Jones MP (Minister of Education, Minister of Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games), Mayor of Gold Coast Cr Tom Tate and Griffith University Vice Chancellor Ian O’Connor for Trade 2018 – Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Trade and Investment Program Engagement Forum, held at our alma mater Griffith University Gold Coast (we studied at the original Nathan Campus in Brisbane). Griffith University has 43,000 students – both local Aussie students as well as students from more than 100 different countries!

Apart from the important nature of the proceedings, it was also like a gathering of friends, and we caught up with many old friends. We also made a new friend, the new Singaporean Deputy High Commissioner to Australia – this being his first visit to Queensland, Shona and I had the pleasure of introducing the Deputy High Commissioner to many of our friends including the State Director of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the State Director of the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), and trade and economic officials from various city councils and state government.


Shona and I and the State Director of Austrade had the great honour and the very unexpected privilege to be ushered away and asked to be in a photo shoot with the Vice Chancellor Prof Ian O’Connor, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Martin Betts, and the Commonwealth Games Minister the Hon Kate Jones MP. Shona and I were quite shocked actually, because it was completely unexpected, and I had the presence of mind (or bad behaviour) to grab the Deputy High Commissioner to join us for the photo shoot - he looked surprised but soon adapted. I introduced ourselves in the usually correct assumption that people don’t know us, and the Vice Chancellor smiled and said “I know you”. I am honoured that he knows Shona and I but sincerely hope he doesn’t know my very bad marks in some of my degrees 20 plus years ago! It was fun to be in the photo shoot, and Minister Kate Jones MP had us in stitches when she guided us all in how to act for the photos and pretend to be having conversations etc. It is really refreshing to have a senior Cabinet Minister being so friendly and down to earth.

Kiong Chan, SVP

Cocktail Party and International Business Forum, Sunshine Coast

3rd June 2017

On Saturday evening, the AMBCQ along with the Nordic Forum of Australia and International Circle jointly hosted a cocktail party and international business forum on the Sunshine Coast. The venue was a beautiful waterfront home owned by our hosts Kevin and Erika Devitt. Guests were greeted not only by the wonderful views of the harbour, but also the Australian and Malaysian flags flying from the yacht moored off the private pontoon - Kev and Erika are avid sailors.


Our speakers on our international business panel were Kevin Devitt and Huan Luo. Kevin runs a business in investment migration, and Huan is a real estate agent with expertise in working with Chinese buyers. It was wonderful to be able to interview two respected business people who were so willing to share their views and their experiences.


Thank you to Kevin and Erika for their hospitality, and to Lilian and Aileen for the lovely refreshments including a selection of lovely Malayan-era Straits Chinese finger food such as pulut bakar, nasi kunyit and rendang, satay, kueh Bombay, kueh lapis, kueh sago, curry puffs and seri muka. Attendees traveled from Brisbane, Ipswich, and Gold Coast for the party. It was a pleasure to welcome everyone including Their Excellencies the Count of Berga and Lady Annalie Wenzel, and also the Honorary Consul for Slovenia and her husband.


The Crocodile Bar was a hit with guests. The bar rules were simple – all patrons must greet the bar mascot Mr Cecil Thompson by patting his crocodilian head or shaking his hand (paw). Guests enjoyed whisky stengah, East India cocktail, gin pahit, gin and tonic, straits sling, elderberry martini, lingonberry martini, salmiakki vodka, fruit punch, the swamp and other beverages including a new floral based cocktail that Mr Cecil Thompson’s assistant is currently working on.

Thanks to First Media for their coverage of the event in their publication.

For more photographs, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

First Media's coverage of the Cocktail and International Business Forum on the Sunshine Coast

Lord Mayor's Roundtable Dinner

27th May 2017

What a great evening at Brisbane City Hall. Shona and I attended the Lord Mayor’s Roundtable Dinner and Awards yesterday evening. As a long-time member of the Lord Mayor’s Roundtable, I was proud to see the achievement of my fellow board members and Brisbane City Council staff in organising yet another wonderful event. Whilst my longstanding outspokenness and intractable views in speaking in favour of genuinely open and meritorious-based processes are well-known and need not be repeated here, I nevertheless fully support the good work being done to raise money for the various scholarships funded by the Lord Mayor’s Roundtable. Overall it is a very worthwhile cause, and in that sense (and in other ways too) I support it wholeheartedly. With the exception of the unique situation in New Zealand (single city-centric because it is geographically tiny in comparison to Australia), Brisbane is the largest elected municipal government in the entire Asia Pacific - from Australia through to Southeast Asia, right through to China and Japan and beyond into the Pacific. The Roundtable’s scholarships provide opportunities that are open to a segment of Brisbane’s residents ( a segment is I suppose certainly better than none), and promote the development of skills and knowledge that further propel Brisbane as a key and leading city in the Asia Pacific as Australia’s new world city.

We caught up with many friends indeed, including Cr Norm Wyndham, Cr Angela Owen, the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress, the international business community from many countries, and an old friend from the Israeli Parliamentary Friendship group and many others. It was a splendid evening enjoyed with great company.

Kiong Chan, SVP

Louise Moeller, Cr Angela Owen, David Wijaja, President Shona and SVP Kiong at the Lord Mayor's Roundtable Dinner

Sudirman Cup

22nd-28th May 2017

For the first time ever, the prestigious Sudirman Cup was held in Australia and a number of AMBCQ members were on the Gold Coast to witness the world's best badminton players in action. Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Denmark, and other nations battled it out on the badminton courts over 7 days, before South Korea emerged victorious with the Cup.


The AMBCQ has helped promote and support the event and it was wonderful to see it come to fruition. All the teams had marvellous players, but the highlight was certainly seeing Lee Chong Wei play for Malaysia - he is an incredible talent.  We look forward to seeing the Malaysian, Indian, Singaporean and Australian teams playing down under again during the Commonwealth Games next year.

The photograph features Olympic Silver Medalist in Men`s doubles, Goh V Shem.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

With Olympic Silver Medalist Goh V Shem

East Coast Forum: Technology, Innovation and Security

26th April 2017

The East Coast Forum is an entity created to generate discussion and bring together networks.  Created by AMBCQ friend and former Federal MP Michael Johnson, the East Coast Forum hosted a great event on technology, innovation and cyber security, with guest speakers Brett Lightfoot, Head of Microsoft in Qld, Wayne Gerard, Founder of Red Eye, and Tony Barnes, CEO of Cyber Security Corporation. Michael Johnson did a great job chairing the panel at the lovely venue at Waterfront Place, overlooking the Brisbane River.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

AMBCQ President Shona with Michael Johnson at the East Coast Forum

Launch of Premier's Export Awards

17th April 2017

It was a pleasure to be invited to attend the Launch of the Premier's Export Awards. The Hon Curtis Pitt MP, Minister for Trade and Investment and Treasurer launched the event. It was lovely to catch up with Curtis and other friends at the event, and also to meet the panelists who had some great success stories.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

Prime Minister Turnbull's Budget Luncheon

17th April 2017

A group of AMBCQ members and supporters attended Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Budget luncheon. It was great to catch up with everyone, as well as a number of political friends.  Thank you to those members who were able to make it to the luncheon.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

AMBCQ members and supporters at the Prime Minister`s Budget Luncheon

AMBCQ Dinner and Drinks with John Osborn, Queensland Government Director for International Business for Singapore

5th April 2017

The AMBCQ was pleased to host Mr John Osborn, Queensland Government Director for International Business for Singapore, and his wife Genevieve, on their recent visit to Brisbane. John has a had a long career in consulting and management, and has a particular interest in trade and investment between Singapore and Australia. We had a very good turnout from members and supporters to the event as we gathered at the Courtyard of the Stamford Plaza for an informal meal and drinks. John spoke of the strong ties between Singapore and Australia, and of the activity in the region. Thank you to Amelia Chan for facilitating the meeting, and to all those who attended the event.

For more photos, please visit the gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

AMBCQ Dinner and Drinks with Director for International Business Singapore

Cyclone Debbie

31st March 2017

Living in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia means that we sometimes have some exciting subtropical weather, and our latest visitor was Cyclone Debbie.  Whilst the worst of the cyclone is over with North Queensland bearing the brunt of the Category 4 cyclone, the danger continues with the cyclone becoming a low pressure system and bringing with it flash flooding and storm damage to Brisbane and South East Queensland, as well as Northern New South Wales.  As usual, AMBCQ is prepared to provide support and assistance and also government liaison.  It is common for us to liaise closely with diplomats to help ensure the wellbeing of their nationals.  In the last major storm, we provided assistance to anyone who needed it including to international students from Malaysia and Indonesia studying at the University of Queensland. 

Sadly, a number of people have lost their lives and many homes, businesses and communities have been devastated or are facing devastation.  Our friends in Logan City are currently experiencing the flash flooding and our hearts go out to those who have been effected.  


Shona Leppanen-Gibson, President

Vera Lynn 100th Birthday Celebration Concert

21st March 2017 

As you all no doubt agree, business leadership encompasses far more than mere leadership of commercial activities. It includes active participation in civic, social, diplomatic, historic, cultural, sporting and other events. This is something that we in the International Circle and the AMBCQ have always embraced.  This being the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, as well as the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Malaya and the Fall of Singapore, a number of us attended the Dame Vera Lynn Celebration Concert at Brisbane City Hall to celebrate the 100th birthday of the iconic WWII figure and singer of many beloved songs.  Dame Vera Lynn played a key role in the war effort and spurred the British Imperial nations to victory over the socialist forces of Nazism and Fascism. Friends will recall that at our 70th Anniversary of VE Day commemoration and Casablanca-themed dinner in 2015, where we played such classic Vera Lynn songs as “We’ll Meet Again” and “White Cliffs of Dover”. 

Vera Lynn’s contributions went beyond being a hugely talented entertainer. As part of the war effort, she toured many war zones, raising the morale of Allied troops in such far flung locations as Egypt, India and Burma. In Bengal, she entertained the troops just prior to their deployment in the Battle of Kohima. Dame Vera Lynn was highly decorated over the years. Amongst the many honours she received, she was awarded the British War Medal (1939-1945); awarded the Burma Star; appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE); appointed Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire (DBE), and many other honours. She is well loved even today and holds the record of being the oldest UK artist to get a top 20 album at the age of 97.

Francesca de Valence and her band and orchestra gave a wonderful and evocative performance.  We had the opportunity to meet her and have a wonderful chat at the VIP Reception for the BrisAsia Festival with the Lord Mayor a few weeks earlier.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk who is a fan of Vera Lynn's and a supporter of Brisbane artists gave a welcome address. The live performance of Vera Lynn's songs by Francesca were very well executed, and it was a very authentic experience especially when black and white film clips of Vera Lynn's performances were shown during an intermission. One could not help but be transported back to different eras in time to the 1940s, 50s and 60s and beyond and Francesca's performance gave us the feeling that we were watching a young Vera Lynn performing for the troops. Kudos to Cr Matthew Bourke for all his work in organising this special concert.  We had a lovely opportunity to catch up with Francesca afterwards, before adjourning for drinks at King George Square.

Kiong Chang (AMBCQ)

Vera Lynn 100th Birthday Celebrations
Vera Lynn 100th Birthday Celebrations
QYO Scottish Fantasy Concert
18th March 2017

It was a great pleasure to attend the Queensland Youth Orchestra’s first concert for 2017, ‘Scottish Fantasy’ (1880, Max Bruch), held at QPAC.  Also featured were ‘Russian Easter Overture’ (1888, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), and ‘Concerto for Orchestra’ (1943, Béla Bartók).  15 year old violinist Leanne McGowan did a splendid job as the violin soloist.  After the concert we were hosted by the founder of the QYO, John Curro AM MBE, and board members at the post-concert cocktail reception.  


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Sudirman Cup Draw and Community Ambassadors Event
17th March 2017

Community ambassadors for the 2017 Sudirman Cup gathered on the Gold Coast for the tournament’s official draw announcement. It is to badminton what the Davis Cup is to tennis. In May 2017, the tournament will be held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and will be the first time that the Sudirman Cup is held outside of Asia. Top players from dozens of countries will take part, and officials from more than 100 countries will also gather. The Sudirman Cup has a television audience of 500 million people.

A number of AMBCQ members and supporters have been appointed as an official TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 Community Ambassadors and we are looking forward to working with the organisers to prompt the event.  Malaysia is one of the top badminton countries in the world, and some of the countries competing include Thailand, India, China, USA, Germany, Japan, Australia and Indonesia.

We have been assisting with some of the promotional activities to help the Cup reach a greater Queensland audience.  This is a major coup for the Gold Coast and a great lead in to the Commonwealth Games, with an expected television audience of over 500 million for the Cup.   

I had the privilege of being on the discussion panel at the Draw and Community Ambassadors Event, and with Suvi being at a clingy age, she sat on my lap throughout the panel discussion. 

Thank you to Red Elephant Marketing for the featured photograph.

Please see the Gallery for more photos.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Sudirman Cup Draw
Speech at Brisbane Club
17th March 2017

Recently, Kiong Chan our Senior Vice President was invited by a former Chief of Staff to an Australian Prime Minister to be a guest speaker at the Brisbane Club’s Brisbane City Rotary where he spoke about bilateral relations between Australia and Malaysia. This year marks 60 years of bilateral relations between Australia and Malaya/Malaysia so it is an apt time to reflect on the relationship and the deep historical, cultural, governmental, trade, defence and familial bonds between the two nations.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Lord Mayor's Scholarship and Business Mentoring Alumni Reception
13th March 2017

We attended the Lord Mayor’s Scholarship and Business Mentoring Alumni Reception recently.  The tasks of the Roundtable are varied and include raising funds for and running the Lord Mayor's scholarship and mentoring programme which benefits dozens of scholars each year. With a seat at the Lord Mayor's Roundtable, it was greatly satisfying for us to meet the deserving scholars of past years, and to catch up with many friends including the Lord Mayor, Cr Steven Huang, Cr Krista Adams, Cr Norm Wyndham and board members such as the always wonderful Serge Voloschenko!  After the ceremony and cocktail, a few of us adjourned to the Pig and Whistle on King George Square for drinks. We had with us Cr Norm Wyndham who has done so much in terms of engaging with and supporting students and student leaders both domestic and international for many years, and we also had with us a very bright and high performing undergraduate scholar and scholarship holder Abena Kyerewaa. Congratulations to all the Lord Mayor's scholarship holders.


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Cr Norm Wyndham, Josephine and Kiong at the Lord Mayor's Scholarship Reception
Lord Mayor's International Student Welcome
4th March 2017

We attended the Lord Mayor’s International Student Welcome Ceremony, held at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.  International students generated $2.8 billion in 2014 for Brisbane’s economy plus related family property investment, and supported 20,000 FTE local jobs.  It was great to catch up with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who is always a magnet to dozens and often hundreds of students for portraits and certificates with the Lord Mayor.  It was a great opportunity to acknowledge the outgoing cohort of international student ambassadors. 

There are currently 75,000 international students studying in the Brisbane City Council area, compared with 35,000 in the Sydney City Council area.  International education is a huge export earner for Brisbane and Queensland.  Unlike other cities, Brisbane’s international student population is not dominated by two or three source countries.  Instead, it is relatively well spread across many countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.  This is a positive contrast to other Australian cities where the international student population is far more highly homogenous, with most coming from only a small handful of countries such as China and India.   Brisbane’s global intake provides local and international students with a very significant advantage upon graduation – as students graduate, their social and professional networks span the whole world!  Brisbane is unique in this regard.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.


Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Lors Mayor's International Student Welcome
Chinese Community Crime Prevention Consultative Committee
28th February 2017

Kiong and I have also recently joined the Queensland Police Service’s Chinese Community Crime Prevention Consultative Committee, which represents various Chinese community groups and is attended by Police Liaison officers.  I will be representing AMBCQ and Kiong will be representing the International Circle.  We have been invited for many years, but due to other commitments were unable to take up the roles until such time that we knew we were able to do it justice (no pun intended).  Kiong was particularly excited to be back amongst former colleagues and our close friends.  He was an early member of the precursor to the CCCPCC, back when it was an internal advisory group made up of police internal staff to provide advice to other colleagues in QPS.  It has now morphed into an external advisory group in the last 10 years.  If there are any issues at all pertaining to police matters, members are free to contact me at any time and I will be happy to assist.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Logan City Council Doing Business in Asia Seminar
10th February 2017

As the AMBCQ President, I was invited to speak at Logan City Council's "Doing Business in Asia" Seminar. Having been raised in Stockleigh/Jimboomba and schooled in Loganlea in what is now within Logan City Council, it always gives me great delight to return to the place where I was raised, and to play a part in contributing to the city. Logan City Council is the fifth largest local government in Australia, and is one of Australia’s fastest growing regions. It is strategically located between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Along with a number of other business councils, we presented to businesses and professionals from Logan looking at expanding into other markets. Other speakers included Mayor of Logan City Cr Luke Smith, State Director of Austrade Cheryl Stanilewicz and the representatives of several business councils. AMBCQ has a great partnership with Logan City Council, one of our corporate members, and congratulate this dynamic city council and all our friends in the Office of Economic Development and Strategy for the excellent work they always do.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Speaking at the Logan City Council Doing Business in Asia Seminar
Lord Mayor's International Business Forum with Brett Clark, e-Pharmacy and Chemist Warehouse
9th February 2017

The Lord Mayor’s International Business Forum featured a highly successful and renowned international business person and Brisbane local, Brett Clark, founder of e-Pharmacy and Chemist Warehouse.  A number of our members were in attendance and we met afterwards with Brett Clark.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with many business leaders and councillors, and to learn about the significant successes of e-Pharmacy and Chemist Warehouse in China.  What an impressive business leader he is. 

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Chinese New Year Reception at Queensland Parliament

6th February 2017

As is the case each year we attended the annual Chinese New Year reception at Queensland Parliament.  It is always a good opportunity to catch up with many Government representatives, including the new Trade Minister the Hon. Curtis Pitt MP and other government leaders. 

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Memorial for Professor Emeritus Russell Trood

3rd February 2017


We attended the memorial service for Professor Emeritus Russell Trood, former Senator, former Head of the Griffith Asia Institute, former special envoy for the Prime Minister to Eastern Europe, and international relations expert. It was a sign of the esteem and regard he was held in that so many attended from politics, academia, and the community. We heard from a number of Professor Trood’s colleagues from the Senate and from academia. They painted a picture of a man of keen intelligence, charisma and carriage, and a kind heart, someone who could always be trusted to do the right thing, speak his mind even when his opinion went against others around him, and someone with the learning and foresight to read the historical significance of current events.

As we sat down and heard the speakers, it occurred to me that we were in the very room that in 2009 we held the international symposium for New Media and the Informed Citizen – a comparative study and research project on Malaysian and Australian uses of social media in politics. Our project was selected by an organisation within the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Professor Trood was our referee for our proposal (it was a competitive application process). It was a great project, and was innovative and at the cutting edge. Professor Trood noted that it was a highly ambitious project – I don’t know if we would have been successful without his vote of confidence. What a funny little coincidence to remind us of his impact on us personally.

As an undergraduate student in the early 1990s, Kiong would often visit Russell when he was head of the Centre for the Study of Australia-Asia Relations at Griffith University. I got to know Russell well when he decided to leave academia to enter politics as a Senator in the Australian Parliament, due to my work and activities at the time. I always thought that he was too nice for politics. As Senator Russell Trood, he had a highly significant impact in the Australian Parliament. He brought with him a superb knowledge of international affairs, and was such an asset to our country that when he left the Senate, the then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Prime Minister Julia Gillard (both from the opposite side of politics as Russell Trood) appointed him as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Eastern Europe.

Professor Trood was a great friend to many people, and he was very supportive of the things that others did. Not long after the political tsunami that saw the dramatic emergence of a two-party system in Malaysia, I convened a post-election analysis and debrief of the 12th Malaysian general election. Despite being one of the top Asia experts, Professor Trood wanted to take a backseat and insisted that I should chair the event and deliver my analysis and that he would sit and listen. It speaks a lot about his kindness and his humility.

It was a sad surprise when we heard that Professor Trood had passed away – we had just been thinking of him the week before. I understand it was a very aggressive cancer that took him far too soon, at the age of 70 – he was not retired and I am sure he had many plans still to fulfil. We can only imagine the grief of his family and loved ones, and we offer our deepest condolences. I was fully expecting that we as the AMBCQ would be able to honour him this year as one of our early supporters as we celebrate our 10th year of incorporation. It is a solemn reminder not to wait to thank people.

Griffith University did a wonderful job of honouring Professor Trood. The venue was almost filled to capacity and the service held the right note of sadness for his passing and gratitude for having known him. Many of the leading academics were there including the chancellor and Vice Chancellor. Also present were the Father of the Australian Senate Senator the Hon Ian MacDonald, the Australian Attorney General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, the Leader of Government in the Senate, and numerous other current and former senators, MP/HRRs, MP/MLAs and Councillors. Griffith University also unveiled a plaque that will be displayed at the University – a way to honour his memory, and also acknowledge his contribution to the history and fabric of the University.

​Shona Leppanen-Gibson (President AMBCQ)

Sudirman Cup Media Launch
2nd February 2017


It was a delight to be invited to attend the launch of the Sudirman Cup 2017. This is the first time this badminton tournament will be held in Australia and the world's best badminton players will be converging on the Gold Coast in May. The Sudirman Cup is a mixed teams cup, with men and women having equal status, and players representing their countries. There is no prize money involved - it is the prestige of winning for one's country. Malaysia is one of the top badminton countries in the world, and the launch invited consuls and community representatives from some of the countries involved, including Thailand, India, China, Germany, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

We were very pleased to support the event, and also help the organisers to connect to some local communities, and to bring together local children to represent the different countries.


This is a major coup for the Gold Coast and a great lead in to the Commonwealth Games, with an expected television audience of over 500 million for the Cup.  Such is the significance of the event, the initial media launch featured the Mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate, as well as the Hon. Steve Ciobo MP, Federal Minister for Trade and the Hon. Kate Jones MP, State Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games. Kudos to Mayor Tom Tate for bringing this event down under.

Thank you to Red Elephant Marketing for the featured photograph. 

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson(AMBCQ)

Sudirman Cup Media Launch at the Gold Coast
BrisAsia Festival Launch
28th January 2017


it was a delight to attend the VIP reception for BrisAsia. This annual festival is a Brisbane City Council initiative that demonstrates a very embracive and innovative approach to festivals.  The festival is hosted by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane. It was a scorchingly hot summer day due to the current heatwave hitting much of Australia, and it must have been close to 40 degrees at Roma St Parklands. Fortunately there was plenty of water and Japanese iced tea, and cold bento boxes. The BrisAsia Festival attracts 70,000 or more participants with 80 events all across our city. It was lovely to catch up with the Lord Mayor and the councillors and many other friends.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

With the Lord Mayor and Student Ambassador Phuc at the BrisAsia Festival Launch
Australia Day
26th January 2017


It was a pleasure to be invited to attend the annual Lord Mayor of Brisbane's Australia Day citizenship, always a worthwhile and heart warming ceremony.  This Australia Day ceremony is one of the largest in Australia, with hundreds of new citizens receiving their citizenship papers.  There were wonderful performances as well, with the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dance troupe, the Australian Girls Choir, and the Royal Australian Navy Band.  

Kiong Chan (AMBCQ)

Trump Presidency: Dinner and Forum
21st January 2017

Our first event of the year was a special dinner in honour of the inauguration of the 45th President of the USA. Guest panellists were Dan Ryan - lawyer, China expert, writer for several national newspapers in Asia and Australia, and board member of the Australia China Council, and Richard Williams - strategist, policy expert and board member of the Australian Classification Board. We also welcomed to the event Russian Honorary Consul Irina Bruk and Slovenian Honorary Consul Nevenka Golc-Clarke, as well as former Mayor of Scenic Rim and one of Australia's longest serving politicians, John Brent and Sir John Kahlert, a leader of the German community and member of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane's Roundtable. The venue was the MacArthur Museum, the headquarters of General MacArthur during the Second World War as he directed the allied efforts in the South West Pacific theatre. 

We had a very robust discussion regarding the possible futures we will be looking at under a Trump Presidency and the effect these changes will have on our region, trade and diplomacy.  Overall, there was a feeling of excitement and optimism.   We also approached the night with a sense of fun and celebration - with a life size cardboard cut out of President Donald Trump (which was highly popular with guests), a special cocktail named "The Swamp" with edible 'swamp' foliage complete with a fierce looking alligator which was drained in little time, and three gourmet burgers we worked with Brisbane's best burger shop, Just Poppy's to create: a rib fillet, bacon and egg burger which we named "The Donald" burger, a grilled tuna steak and avocado burger we named "Melania" burger, and a prawn cutlet burger we named the "Deplorables Down Under" burger. 

Thank you to all members and supporters who attended the event. It was a wonderful night and we have really set the bar high for the year to come.

For more photos, please visit the Gallery.

Shona Leppanen-Gibson (AMBCQ)

Speakers at the Trump Presidency: Forum and Dinner