Gift of Knowledge Programs
Public Speaking Competition
The British Council
ESU Malaysia - Press Release
From The Star Education: Sunday November 16,
They are from
different parts of the world, yet members of the ESU come together year
after year, because of a common bond — English — to forge friendships
and strengthen ties.
By IRIS TAN
Photos by IAN GEDDES
The meeting also saw Masamichi Hanabusa of Japan being elected
president of its international council for the 2008-2009 period. The
delegates also unanimously decided that next year’s meeting would be
hosted by ESU Bavaria in Germany.
|It was my
second trip to Scotland — the
land of deep lochs, majestic mountains and
wonderful people. The English Speaking
Union of Malaysia (ESUM) had given me the
honour of attending the International Council Meeting and World Members
Conference of its parent body (ESU) in mid-September.
The four-day event kicked off with a daylong conference exclusively for
delegates, all of whom were board members from the respective member
countries, while the conference held over the next three days attracted
over 400 delegates and ordinary members from 50 countries.
The event was significant as it marked
the union’s 90th anniversary. Founded in
1918, the union’s objective is to strengthen
the friendship and understanding amongst
English-speaking people throughout the
The union, whose patron is Britain’s Queen
Elizabeth, also has Prince Philip, the Duke of
Edinburgh, as its president.
The Edinburgh meeting entitled “Creating
an ESU for the modern world” drew 59 representatives from 31 countries.
It discussed ESU activities, progress and developments in the recent
past and those in the next few years.
Sir Robert Worchester
spoke on the
from 1215 to
The meeting, being the platform for discussions and debates pertaining
to English as a global language, had the delegates listening to Prof
Christopher Mulvey of the University of Winchester, who pointed out
that there were almost two billion English-speaking people in the
Esum was formed in 2000 under the auspices of the then British
Ambassador to Malaysia Sir Graham Fry and is now headed
by Tunku Dara Naquiah Tuanku Ja’afar.
It has, in recent years partnered HSBC and The Star annually in
organising the public speaking competitions for secondary school
students and sending the top two speakers to London to compete
ESU Malaysia is also active in organising special projects to promote
the English language amongst its members as well as conducting
customised English programmes for students or interested parties.
The meeting was followed by a pre-dinner reception at a modern museum
designed in the shape of the earth and aptly named Dynamic Earth.
Guests mingled freely while marvelling at the icebergs and exotic
rainforests in the building.
Dinner was attended by the who’s who in Edinburgh and served at the
Stratosphere, which offered stunning views of the Salisbury Crags. In
fact, many of the events were held in stately monuments, each with a
distinct character of its own.
It was a fine welcome, but there were even more surprises in store over
the next three days. ESU Scotland had lined up a team of impressive
speakers who spoke on interesting topics including Sir John Bond,
former Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings who is now the Chairman of
Vodaphone Group PLC.
Sir John talked about the importance in using the English language to
resolve conflicts and also advocated the ESU scholarship programmes
which send students to other countries as these, he said, would “open
their eyes to new people and new cultures”.
Other speakers included Sir Richard Billing Dearlove who served as
Britain’s Secret Intelligence chief from 1999 to 2004, and Lord
Robertson of Port Ellen who touched on the future of the transatlantic
The current status of the English language was delved into by Prof
Ronald Carter of the University of Nottingham and Prof David Crystal
who was formerly from the University of Reading.
Prof Stanley Wells, said to be Britain’s “greatest authority on
Shakespeare’s life and works” partnered Dr Paul Edmondson of the
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in delivering a very witty and interesting
piece on “Is it true what they say about Shakespeare?”.
I was particularly impressed by Sir Robert Worchester’s paper which
touched on the spread of democracy and the English language from 1215
to 2007. The University of Kent chancellor who holds several other
distinguished positions in the private as well as public sector, spoke
about the spread of the English language which he said partly
contributed to the ideals of democracy.
As many as 20 distinguished speakers presented papers during the
three-day conference held at the elegant 18th century Hall known as the
Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s New Town. It has also played
host to many distinguished guests such as Sir Walter Scott, Charles
Dickens and very recently, JK Rowlings, who read excerpts from
her best-selling Harry Potter series.
sharing a light moment with the writer and other delegates.
Another highlight was a surprise visit by Prince Philip who not only
dropped in to witness a debate, but also came into the banquet hall to
personally greet us at the end of the first day of the conference.
reception after the conferences were glamourous affairs held at
different venues such as the National Gallery of Scotland, which is
also home to Scotland’s greatest collection of European Art, and the
Church, a former Catholic apostolic church which now features a
stunning imagery of Edinburgh’s Sistine chapel.
bagpipers performing for delegates
on the last day of the conference.
Meanwhile, the farewell pre-dinner reception which included bagpipers,
a typical Scottish meal and ceilidh (pronounced as k-lidh) which means
“dance” was held at the Murraysfield Stadium, which has been home
to Scottish rugby for the last 100 years.
What an outstanding evening to end the world members’ conference.
I found it a fulfilling trip as it also helped me network with many
delegates including Alex Waugh of ESU New Zealand who has pledged to
help Malaysian children become aware of the significance of the Magna
The Magna Carta is the very foundation from which the rule of law and
accountability was established. It was indeed an opportunity for
me to find friendships in different countries from an organisation
which had long ago set out on a very simple and humble mission —
fostering friendship and understanding worldwide via the use of the
Those keen to be members of ESU Malaysia can log on to: www.esumalaysia.com.my
Other Int'l ESU's
FB:ENGLISH SPEAKING UNION OF MALAYSIA