I sit writing this message on the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, having recently enjoyed the lights and colours of Deepavali and eagerly anticipating the coming Christmas festivities which will be closely followed, of course, by Chinese New Year. This procession of cultural and religious celebrations, recognising the diversity of this country, is a unique and special part of living in Malaysia and I have to say, I’m enjoying every moment of it.
The year 2018 may be drawing to a close, but it is certain to be remembered as a pivotal year in Malaysia’s history. I am pleased to report that this year has seen a deepening of Australia’s long and important history with Malaysia, as Malaysia Baru, the “New Malaysia”, takes shape. It has been an exciting time for me and the staff of the Australian High Commission to work with the new Malaysian government as it implements its ambitious reform agenda.
This year has seen important bilateral exchanges across a broad range of topics. In recent months, a delegation of Malaysian parliamentarians visited Australia for what was, from all accounts, an extremely successful program to better understand parliamentary processes, particularly our parliamentary committees and the parliamentary library. December will see the Australian High Commission host a delegation from the Walkley Foundation, including senior journalists from the SBS, nine.com.au and Fairfax. The journalists will meet with Malaysian media and interest groups to discuss press freedom, one of the key issues in the May 9 election here in Malaysia. It is through exchanges of this kind that our relationship goes from strength to strength.
The Australian business connection with Malaysia also continues to grow, and I was proud to be a guest at the opening of the Johor Bahru chapter of the Malaysia Australia Business Council in November. JB is a powerhouse of Malaysian business and this new chapter is certain to encourage and support excellent opportunities for business partnerships.
We were also delighted to support Malaysia’s inaugural Living Culture Arts Festival in November which featured indigenous artists and dancers from across Malaysia and Asia, including Australian indigenous artist Otto Jungarrayi Sims from Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. Otto’s painting workshop at Galeri Petronas was standing room only, and his painting demonstration and stories held the young Malaysian participants enthralled.
Our thoughts are moving beyond Christmas and the other big celebration that is a highlight of our Australian High Commission calendar, Australia Day in KL. This is our chance to celebrate all things Australian and to say thank you to all those who have supported us throughout the year and I look forward to seeing many of our MANZA friends again for this annual gathering in January.
Finally, on behalf of myself and Lyn, and all the staff and families at the Australian High Commission, I wish you all the best for the festive season and a happy and prosperous New Year.
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia