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House of Lords' reception event hosted by The Lord Leong CBE, 24/10/2023

On the evening of 24 October 2023, over 50 distinguished guests (including representatives from 8 embassies and consulates) attended the AUBF reception at the House of Lords, kindly hosted by The Lord Leong CBE. HE Ambassador Theodoro Locsin Jr was the eminent key-note speaker.

MC Merlene Toh-Emerson MBE welcomed guests to Committee Room 4a (a last-minute change of venue) and congratulated them for successfully navigating the labyrinthine corridors of the Palace of Westminter from Cromwell Green. Lord Leong, who himself hails from Malaysia, one of the 10 ASEAN countries, shared in his welcome address that he had only just been hosting a gathering of HK BNO emigres.  Over the decades since moving to the UK, he had forged a glittering career in the law, then in legal publishing, subsequently to politics as the Chair of Chinese for Labour.  His ennoblement in 2022 as a Labour peer means that he can do even more for the diaspora E and SE Asian communities living in the UK.

Ms Aimee Alado-Blake gave her opening address as Chair of AUBF (see link for the speech).  She highlighted the value of UK’s trade with the ASEAN: in 2022 the combined GDP of the 10 ASEAN member states was 2.8 trillion, making it the equivalent of the 5th largest economy in the world.  She also encouraged others to join AUBF to take advantage of the world’s pivot to the dynamic region with vast opportunities for sustainable development such as in the blue economy. Aimee then introduced HE Ambassador Theodoro Locsin Jr. who gave a stunning speech (link to speech) with a grand overview of ASEAN history.  He also shared his political insights and wisdom regarding potential disputes over Taiwan and in the S China Sea: “War is without winners in SE Asia”.  Indeed, both the organisers and guests (including professionals, academics, people rom the business world as well as students) were privileged to have heard first-hand from someone of such calibre, with a career spanning business, politics and now in diplomacy.  

Mr Matthew Findlay from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, a mandarin of 27 years, gave a response on behalf of the UK.  He too reiterated that ASEAN matters as an engine of growth.  It is also central to an open Pacific and as a valuable partner to the UK in meeting global challenges such as Climate Change and in AI.  What we need to encourage is more people-to-people links.

Finally, President of AUBF, Datuk SK Lingam, gave his closing remarks, thanking everyone for attending the reception, the esteemed guests from the ASEAN embassies and consulates as well as all friends, colleagues and supporters of the AUBF project.

Now to the next 25 years!  

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