What I’ve learned from my first conference

The last day of our LibDem conference on Tuesday 26th September, at the beautiful coastal town of Bournemouth, also marked the 1000th day in prison of the Hong Kong industrialist-turned-fast fashion-entrepreneur-turned-media tycoon Jimmy Lai. I still recalled the disappointment that China-UK relations wasn’t selected as the emergency motion on that exact day as that would be the perfect timing to submit my very first speaker card.

Jimmy Lai was almost the only billionaire in Hong Kong who dared to support the pro-democratic protest openly in 2019, He was also the owner/founder of the most influential newspaper ‘Apple Daily’ with the biggest circulation in Hong Kong at the time, whose editorial stance is, of course, pro-democracy and such ‘original sin’ of his won’t be forgiven by CCP.

He was a genius entrepreneur with a string of successful businesses. For example, before the word ‘fast fashion’ was invented in the Western World, his fast fashion label ‘Giordano’ was established in the 80s. It was so successful that even the founder of Uniqlo, Tadashi Yanai, now the richest man in Japan and the same age as Jimmy, went to meet Jimmy in Hong Kong to get inspired about the tricks of operation and the supply chain. At the time Uniqlo was still an unknown small business founded in Hiroshima that was in a bottleneck to break through. Despite the fact that Jimmy is a British citizen, we hardly ever hear any Tory officials (e.g. Cleverly) or media talking about it.

During the conference, I was so moved by the story of Lynne Featherstone on same sex marriage and I had no idea she is the hero who started it. However, an analogy on this would be Paddy Ashdown – our legendary LibDem leader who was actually the person who initiated the settlement rights of British National (Overseas) residents in Hong Kong.  However, HK BNO immigrants have no idea about this and they are mostly Tories by default (i.e. I am an outcast), rather like Cuban Americans. After this conference I feel I’m more prepared to approach my communities with the right message, especially with these ‘unsung’ heroes & ‘unheard’ stories for the general public.

Last Friday 20th October, four senior executives from WPP, a British communication giant, got arrested in Shanghai for suspicion of espionage. Against this backdrop, the need to fix the inconsistency of Britain’s current foreign relation policies, such as Sino-UK or EU-UK, is more urgent than many would expect. We need more LibDem MPs in Parliament with a clear voice embedded with liberal values to protect UK’s citizen and business interests; hopefully one day, UK citizens like Jimmy Lai could be released from prison.

* Matthias Yip ia new member of Brent LibDems. He was in the first batch of BNOs to arrive from Hong Kong.

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