SPEECH BY H.E. VICKI TREADELL, BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER TO MALAYSIA
H.M. QUEEN ELIZABETH II’S BIRTHDAY PARTY
28 April 2016, The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Today we celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
What a remarkable age and what a remarkable reign over seven of her nine decades.
On occasions like this we usually take the opportunity to reflect on our bilateral relationship with Malaysia.
Of course we should celebrate our longstanding ties:
- The people to people links exemplified by the…
- half a million Malaysians today who have graduated from one or other British university
- the near 17,000 Malaysians currently studying in the UK
- but also, here in Malaysia, the new generation of Malaysians passing through over 30 British schools, our five British university campuses and the 58,000 people who are pursuing British qualifications.
Indeed Education is a central pillar of our bilateral relationship and that is why we are making 2016 our GREAT Year of Education in Malaysia. We have a RM1 million budget to do new and exciting things in partnership with British and Malaysian institutions and organisations to help Malaysia develop its human capital and to realise its ambitions to become an education destination in the region if not the world.
The promotion of the English Language has a central place in our efforts building on the ongoing work of the British Council who, apart from the English Language courses they run, assist the Malaysian Government to train teachers to teach English.
Our economic ties go back to those early trading days in the late 1700s and the establishment of Penang as an outpost of the East India Company.
This first presence has direct links to the Kedah Sultanate and I am therefore delighted that HRH Tunku Puteri Intan is with us this evening.
Where you have commerce banks soon followed as did Standard Chartered Bank over 140 years ago with HSBC following them within a decade.
And to more contemporary times where the top 24 British companies account for over 70,000 Malaysian jobs and an investment value of RM86 billion over the years.
- In more recent decades we have seen groundbreaking Malaysian investment in Britain go from strength to strength whether in retail brands like Laura Ashley or in utilities like YTL’s Wessex Water or the regeneration of our city centres like Battersea’s transformation from a derelict and redundant site to a vibrant new destination in London thanks to SP Setia, Sime Darby and the EPF.
Our ties have never been deeper nor broader. Today we are partners in a modern age. Beyond trade and investment our defence engagement matters with the Five Powers Defence Agreement providing a solid base. We collaborate on security from cyber to countering extremism and the challenges of Climate Change and its impact. We have more to do together and with other friends and allies not least on the UN Security Council where Malaysia has joined us for two years.
There is more that I can say but I hope you will forgive me if I now place the emphasis on Her Majesty.
On 21 April 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, daughter of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, came into the world. It was the roaring twenties, a period between the two great wars of the last century. At that point she was not destined, as the daughter of King George V’s second son, to become Queen but history and events handed her a different fate. But one she embraced and pledged a lifetime of commitment to.
In 1952 at just 26 years old she ascended the throne heralding the dawn of a new Elizabethan age.
The Queen has been a part of the UK and Malaysia’s journey together as two nations.
She has visited Malaysia three times (1972, 1989 & 1998) and The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah and The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak undertook state visits to the UK in 1974 and 1993 respectively.
The Queen has….
- spanned history and played a part in its making.
- She has transcended politics.
- She has been a constant.
- She has been steadfast.
- She has been a role model of duty to her people. Indeed duty to her people comes first.
- She has seen our country and those of the wider Commonwealth family of 53 nations through good and bad times.
- She has celebrated with us at times of joy.
- She has been there for us at times of sadness.
Today we do not just celebrate her birthday but what she has stood for over all these years.
For her, beyond her sense of duty, the principles of the Commonwealth guide her path.
The principles of:
- mutual respect
- and responsiveness
These principles, if adhered to, help to secure the best environment for the people of any nation to live in free and open societies…
- where our human capital can thrive and realise its full potential
- where our people can express themselves without fear but within the responsibilities that such rights bestow
- and where we celebrate our diversity as a strength and cause for pride and unity.
If I look at Britain today, it is a very different nation to the one she was born into.
Yet she has been timeless over the years.
She has been at the heart of our nation and now firmly in the nation’s heart.
She is simply a remarkable lady in whom we trust.
She is simply our Queen, God Bless her and long may she reign.