The Winner: Matthew Friedman, CEO, The Mekong Club

Congratulations to my extraordinary husband. You deserve this recognition Matt!

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Human trafficking is one of the biggest human rights violations of our time. Last year, out of the 45.8 million victims around the world, only 66,000 were rescued, a paltry 0.2 percent. To increase that number, Matthew Friedman, CEO of the Mekong Club, feels everyone needs to join the fight and he works tirelessly for the cause.

In the past 18 months Matthew Friedman has made more than 231 presentations to over 30,000 people in Hong Kong and beyond, with the aim of giving a voice to the voiceless, the victims.

As a human rights campaigner with 30 years’ experience, he feels the best way to reach people is to stand in front of them face-to-face. He feels it offers an opportunity for people to ask questions, to process the information efficiently. It doesn’t matter if it’s a group of five people or a thousand: “If I can get a few people in a room for an hour, I’ll do a talk.”

In addition to the corporate presentations he gives as part of his leadership role at the Mekong Club (113 presentations in the period), he also does many schools, faith-based and general public presentations on a pro bono basis (118). These are done on his weekends and days off. In fact, he regularly combines public speaking events with his vacation. For Matthew, doing this work is a public service. He feels that for us to win this fight, we need people to internalise the nuances of the issue. He feels that the prerequisite for people to help must first come from them “caring about the issue”. But for them to care, they must first be informed.

As a result of Matthew’s talks, many corporate professionals have stepped up and served their local community or his NGO on a pro-bono basis. Many business people do not realise they have a unique set of skills they can use to make the world a better place. Friedman’s talks help unlock these skills for the greater good. Friedman has worked with hundreds of victims. To get their stories known, he believes a communicator must use multiple sources. In addition to his public speaking events, he has published a book and offered a TEDx talk entitled “Where Were You?” He also gives regular interviews with the media to complement his talks (40 articles/interviews a year). The basic message is: “For human trafficking to be addressed, we all need to do our part.”

As part of his work with the Mekong Club, he helped put in place a corporate pledge to get Hong Kong-based companies to demonstrate their support. Because of the sensitivity of this issue, this was no small feat.

Because of Matthew’s absolute commitment to the issue and his tireless drive to reach as many people as he can, he is Communicator of the Year.

Matt Friedman’s TEDx talk on sex trafficking:

December 1, 2017

Congrats to my husband @Matthew Friedman who won the ‘Communicator of the Year Award’ from Public Affairs Asia!  I got teary-eyed after Matt received the award.

I’m so proud of him. Matt has helped pioneer the movement against human trafficking in Hong Kong and in Asia, especially the corporate response to this global crime.  

And he helps people reach their fullest potential along the way! Many have begun to volunteer in the fight against human trafficking, thanks to Matt and his amazing team. 

The road to justice is long and it’s not easy, and not everyone will support or understand the urgency of helping those who suffer. Yet it’s so very worth it.  

Thank you Matt and the incredible team at The Mekong Club: Silvia Mera, Paul Ling, Zoe Fortune, Mark Devadason, Phil Marshall, Helen Ford, Stefan Lotz and David Hall-Jones & the board for standing for what’s right — to help those who have no voice.

Public Affairs Asia Awards celebrates the accomplishments of corporations in Asia and includes the top PR companies in the world like FleishmanHillard, Edelman etc. ~ Sylvia

The Mekong Club was also shortlisted for:


Sponsored By: Weber Shandwick


  • The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, Pakistan Branch: Women Entrepreneurship Program by Kashf Foundation and Coca-Cola Pakistan
  • FleishmanHillard: School for Justice
  • Golin Taiwan: HIV – Overcoming the Fear of the Test
  • The Mekong Club: Fighting The Business Of Slavery