Philip Malone

Philip Malone

Ambassador to Lao PDR

Part of UK in Laos

11th October 2013 Vientiane, Laos

Laos through my eyes – Andy Rutherford

This article is part of a series of guest blogs contributed by Brits who have lived and worked in Laos, or who have other interesting links to Laos.

Laos was at the centre of unprecedented international attention for much of 2012 culminating with hosting the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in November 2012, gathering the Heads of State and Government of ASEM’s 49 member countries in Vientiane.

ASEM has a number of related events including the Asia Europe People’s Forum.  This is the place where Asian and European civil society organisations and social movements working for sustainable and equitable economic and social development meet and exchange visions and plans. It is a vibrant and exciting event.

Andy Rutherford
Andy Rutherford

Asia Europe People’s Forum 9 took place in Vientiane between the 16th and 19th October 2012. It was also the culmination of a number of smaller meetings that took place in different parts of Laos and South and South-East Asia earlier in 2012.

As a member of the International Organising Committee of the Asia Europe People’s Forum I had the privileged of working with Lao civil society organisations, mass organisations, international NGOs based in Laos and representatives of the Lao government to plan and organise the 9thAEPF.  It became the largest international civil society event in the history of Laos with over 1,000 participants and including volunteers and stall organisers involved 1,250 people. Over the four days of the Forum there were 36 workshops, 4 Plenary Workshops on the four themes of AEPF9 and more than 20 exhibitions.

For many Lao civil society organisations this was an historic access to a range of discussions and issues that were of great relevance for their work for sustainable development. It enabled over 440 participants from Laos to be part of the exchanges and discussions of the Forum itself.  The preceding Provincial level consultations also opened up new spaces for dialogue on development and social issues.  Constructive and positive dialogue at national and local level was a significant result of the AEPF being held in Laos and led to the development of the ‘Lao People’s Vision’ statement.

I was a regular visitor to Laos over 2012 and learnt much from our Lao partner organisations, working closely with many Lao women and men committed to inclusive sustainable development.

I am involved in establishing the first not-for profit UK based tour company, Fresh Eyes –People to People Travel, enabling socially responsible travel and designed for travellers to meet people involved in community development.  I had planned to begin partnerships with Lao organisations in 2013.

Since the Forum I have continued to work closely with Laos but sadly with a different focus. Sombath Somphone, one of the most prominent Lao co-organizers of the Asia Europe People’s Forum 9, the founder and former Director of PADETC and one of the most respected and influential voices for sustainable people-centred and just economic and social development in Laos, disappeared about 5pm on Saturday December 15th 2012. Nobody has seen or heard from him since.

The 9th AEPF
The 9th AEPF

I have had the privilege of working very closely with Sombath and have a deep respect for him, his principles and his commitment to inclusive sustainable development.   I have contributed to the extensive international activities that are encouraging Sombath’s safe return to his family as soon as is possible.

I have returned to Laos in 2013, as part of a delegation from Europe to meet Lao government representatives as part of the international actions which are working for Sombath’s safe return to his family. It is now widely recognised, including by the United Nations and Amnesty International that Sombath’s disappearance is an enforced disappearance.

Whilst Sombath has not returned safely to his family, sadly there will be a growing negative effect on foreign engagement and foreign investment in Laos at a time where Laos is deeply committed to developing stronger ties and links.   In 2013 there is now a very real possibility that the credibility of Laos will be tarnished whilst Sombath is not returned safely to his family.  I sincerely hope that he will return, safely, soon.

About Philip Malone

Mr Malone joined the FCO in 1981. He has served in a range of FCO and overseas posts with a particular focus on South East Asia and Europe. Philip Malone…

Mr Malone joined the FCO in 1981. He has served in a range of FCO and
overseas posts with a particular focus on South East Asia and Europe.
Philip Malone LVO took up his appointment in October 2012.
Curriculum Vitae
Full name: Philip Malone LVO

Married, two children
Oct 12: Laos,  Head of MissionJan 08 – Aug 12: Helsinki, Deputy Head of MissionApril 03 – Jan 08: Singapore, Head of ChanceryApril 99 – Sept 02: FCO, Head of France/Benelux Section, EU
Bilateral Department and additionally Deputy Head of Department (March
02- Sept 02)Jan 95 – Feb 99: Bandar Seri Begawan, Second Secretary (Defence/Chancery)May 92 – Nov 94: Luxembourg, Third Secretary (Commercial/Press and Public Affairs)June 89 – Jan 92: FCO, Assistant Parliamentary ClerkOct 86 – May 89: Guatemala City, Third SecretaryOct 83 – Aug 86: Buenos Aires, Attaché1981: Joined FCO, CSCE Unit, East European and Soviet Department

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