The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Official Dinner hosted by the Governor of Penang (Malaysia)

Penang, Malaysia, Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Good evening. Thank you, Governor, for your very kind words. My State visit to Malaysia has showcased our growing relationship, and I have especially looked forward to my visit to Penang to see first-hand the success of industry here.

I first came to Malaysia 30 years ago. I am so struck by the beauty of the country and the changes that I have seen.

I know that Canada plays a significant role in Penang. Companies such as Research in Motion recognize the value of Penang and Malaysia as partners in innovation. They understand the attraction of a knowledgeable population, a first-class education system and a modern infrastructure set up for innovative breakthroughs.

During my time as governor general of Canada, I have seen so many communities that have used innovative thinking to revitalize themselves. Penang has defined itself for a generation of young people as the premiere city in Asia to come to for new discoveries and a prosperous future.

In fact, a highlight of my visit here will be a visit to the Universiti Sains Malaysia, where I will be able to speak directly with students.

The university follows a great path of innovation, fusing humanities with technology to ensure that when we innovate, it is for a higher purpose. The arts are an important part of Penang, and a sector that is highly regarded in study and in society.

This reminds me of something I recently read in an obituary for Apple founder Steve Jobs, himself an innovator who married the arts and humanities to technology.

He said: “As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with ‘What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?’, not with ‘Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and how are we going to market that.’ I think that’s the right path to take.”

Quite apart from being good business advice, I think we can reformulate Jobs’ creative question, and ask: What benefits can we bring to the citizen through innovation? Where can we take our society? The value of knowledge must always be viewed in light of its ability to help others, and we must bring to bear the full breadth of our understanding—in the humanities as much as the sciences and technology—if we are to meet the challenges we face.

It is my hope that the dialogue that follows will encourage more students to follow their dreams and show them the value of international education and co-operation.

No doubt there are lessons to take back to Canada about how you approach innovation, lessons that will enhance our relationship and encourage people to think globally. After all, these exchanges of ideas and experiences are not limited by borders.

Canada and Malaysia are wonderful partners. This has been proven through our education links, our business links, our governmental links, and especially through our people-to-people links.

I hope that my time here will lead to more fruitful discussions between Malaysians and Canadians, which is why I am so pleased to be travelling alongside other Canadians who have already proved invaluable to raising the most important issues with their counterparts in this country. I urge them and all of you to talk with each other, because collaboration begins with a just a few words.

And now, please join me in raising a glass to our mutual interests, to a continuation of our friendship, and to the power of innovation and collaboration.

Thank you.