Five years ago on an ordinary day in July 2014, the world was shocked with news of an aircraft being shot down, killing all its 298 passengers. On 17th of July the Australian High Commission had the honour of co-hosting the commemoration of MH17 with the Embassy of the Netherlands, marking the fifth anniversary since the tragic downing of MH17. Even though it was deeply saddening, it was beautiful to see all of the next of kin and families come together in remembrance of the loved ones that were lost. The attendance of representatives from across the world reminds me of the strength and compassion of the global community, and our commitment to unravelling the truth of what happened on the 17th of July 2014.
On the 1st of August I had the privilege of awarding the late Mrs Margaret Ethel Stephenson with the Medal of the Order of Australia. Mrs Stephenson, an architect by trade, was awarded the Medal for her service to the livestock industry in recognition of her work breeding the rare sheep breed ‘English Leicester’ in her retirement. The medal was received by Ms Rebecca Crown and family, who have made Malaysia their permanent home.
Later in August, my wife and I had the privilege of meeting with opposition leader Datuk Sri Idris Haron in Melaka. He and his wife gave us some delicious home grown Melaka Delight Mangoes. During our trip to Melaka we also had the honour of meeting with Melaka Chief Minister YAB Tuan Haji Adly Zahari, who painted an enticing picture of Melaka as a centre for tourism, hi-tech manufacturing and retirement.
I also had the pleasure of calling on Tun Dr Khalil Yaakob, Governor of Melaka, and sharing lunch with YB Madya and YB Ginie. Overall I felt our working trip to Melaka was an invaluable opportunity to discuss our on-going ties in Melaka and the ever strengthening people-to-people links.
At the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we recognise that moving to a new country can be challenging for our Australian based officers and their families. To help ease the transition, we provide staff and family office support. The Australian High Commission community is encouraged to check in and look out for each other. One of the initiatives I am particularly proud of is the in-office Community Liaison Officer.
The Community Liaison Officer provides information to staff both prior and during their posting to Malaysia. From getting the newly arrived staff and family acclimatized with local culture to providing guidance, our CLO also provides updates on local attractions and popular travel destinations within Malaysia. I am grateful to be a part of an office community and organisation that takes the time to ensure the wellbeing of all staff and their families.
Malaysia just celebrated their 62nd Independence Day on 31st August, and on behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to extend our congratulations to our Malaysian friends.
Australia first established a diplomatic presence in Malaysia in 1955 and the years since have seen our relationship flourish. In 2019, the Australia-Malaysia relationship is a vibrant one, with close trade, security, education and cultural cooperation. And, importantly, the connections between our people have never been stronger than they are right now.
Selamat Hari Merdeka!
Australian High Commissioner-Designate to Malaysia