Prime Minister, Ministers, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, and friends,
We are here today to witness the beginning of Battersea’s revival. This monument to Britain’s past – as the birthplace of industry, and a beacon of modernity – has lain silent for thirty years.
Soon, a thousand Londoners will call it home. It will echo to the shouts of children playing in the park, and be lit with the steady glow of commerce. After three decades of silence, Battersea Power Station is coming to life.
Today, we see London’s extraordinary capacity for reinvention. Just as Bankside became Tate Modern, the re-imagining of Battersea shows us why this remains one of the world’s great cities. Only London could house not one, but two iconic power stations. Only London could put them to entirely different uses.
It is this quality – the way new life rushes through old alleys– that give this ancient city its modern allure. For all its tradition, the London you leave is never the London you come back to.
The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station is the latest of London’s many costume changes; a tribute not just to the enduring strength of its architecture, but also to this city’s magnetism. For me, it also signals how the relationship between our nations is changing.
When I was born, my country was part of British’s Empire. By the time I was four, we had won our independence – not over the barrel of a gun, but at a negotiating table. Together with thousands of my compatriots, I watched as the Union Flag was lowered, and a new nation arose.
Today, Malaysia is one of the bright lights in the global economy. Over the past four decades, our GDP has grown by 6.9%. In less than a single generation, we have gone from tin mining and rubber farming to making solar panels and semiconductors. We have ended absolute poverty, and seen our citizens venture into space.
Malaysia is now a place of endless possibilities. Sixty years ago, few would have predicted that Malaysian money would bring Battersea to life. Within a single generation, we have gone from a colony to a cornerstone investor.
I want to congratulate all those in the Malaysian consortium for their part in Battersea’s revival. I trust your template for success will be repeated, not just here in London, but around the world.
I also wish to thank the UK Government for their commitment to Battersea’s future; to UK Trade and Investment for helping the consortium, and the Trade Ministers, Lord Marland and Lord Deighton for their support. And I want to pay tribute to the political will of all those involved, from Ravi Govinda and the Wandsworth Borough Council to Mayor Boris Johnson and the City administration.
Most importantly, I would like to give my thanks to Prime Minister Cameron for his warm welcome, and his commitment to Malaysia. The Prime Minister has done so much to strengthen ties between our nations. His visit to Malaysia last year was very well received, putting right a period of benign neglect.
Finally, I must also thank this city, which has welcomed us once again. As one of London’s innumerable foreign admirers, it gives me great pleasure to think that my country is helping preserve one of its most distinctive buildings. And it also gives me great hope for the future – not just Malaysia, but for our relationship with the United Kingdom, and the world.
When Battersea’s towers first soared above the southern reaches of the Thames, they symbolised the hopes and strengths of Britain. Elegant of form and advanced in function, they were the mark of a confident nation, looking to the future. It is this same spirit that I recognise here today.
Much is written about the changes in the world economy; about the rise of Asia and the South, and the emergence of a new world order. Often, this global rebalancing is spoken of in terms of tension and conflict; of stagnation in the old world economies and dynamism in the new.
But rather than rivals, I believe that East and West are strongest when we are partners for prosperity: when we commit to open up our economies and societies, and welcome the best of what the world can offer.
Today’s project shows us just what is possible when we do. After thirty years of darkness, Battersea Power Station will light up once more – and not a moment too soon.
Thank you very much.