Category Archives: EZ 46 – Cover Story

Staying ASLI For Malaysia 为马来西亚留驻ASLI

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Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Michael Yeoh Oon Kheng 

CEO & Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI)


Heading one of the major independent think tank in Malaysia is no mean feat but for its co-founder, Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh, it is necessary to create a better society through its extensive research work. He co-founded the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute, known simply as ASLI, back in 1993 and has never turned back.

“Should I choose to retire I am sure ASLI will be in good hands.”

“I cofounded ASLI, 24 years ago in 1993, as Malaysia did not have an independent think tank then. The business community and many others felt there was a need for the country to have an independent think tank like the ones in USA, UK and many other countries,” he said. ASLI was the first private independent think tank set up in Malaysia and now, there are many others following in its footsteps.

He said the main purpose of setting up ASLI was  to provide strategic thinking to companies and the government. “It was also to promote debate on public policy issues,” he said.

Yeoh said ASLI had taken up important issues in the country such as education, competitiveness, national unity, green technology and environment.

He, then, mentioned how Malaysians are “over politicking” in recent times. ”The political divisions is both at an ethnic and socio-economic angle. The Malays seem to be returning strong support to the UMNO and Barisan Nasional whilst the Chinese continue to strongly support the Opposition. Meanwhile we see the socio-economic divide along class lines, between the poor and the wealthy, the urban and rural voters,” he said.

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He said it is rather worrying that race relations in the country is causing more division between the people. He felt that it is time for all to get back to middle ground.

He said each Malaysian need to have respect for one another, be tolerant and have better understanding of other races’ sensitivities. “We must find common space for our students and teenagers to mingle and mix in a multiracial environment,” he said and suggested sports and art as unifies.

Recently, ASLI is ranked to be among the world’s top 100 think tanks out of 7,000 think tanks in the world by the University of Pennsylvania in USA. It is also ranked 4th in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, effectively placing it in top placing in Malaysia. It has also won the Brand Laurete Award and many other awards.

“I cofounded ASLI, 24 years ago in 1993, as Malaysia did not have an independent think tank then. The business community and many others felt there was a need for the country to have an independent think tank like the ones in USA, UK and many other countries.”

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Yeoh personally too has several awards to his name, the most recent being the INPenang Lifetime Achievement Award. He feels that the most satisfying achievement for him is being conferred the Doctor of Laws by the University of Nottingham in Britain, it is one of the UK’s top universities. “Of course being conferred a Tan Sriship is also satisfying,” he added.

However, it is not all work and no play for Yeoh. He enjoys travelling immensely and always make it a point to visit new countries he has never been before, each year. “Last year, I visited Morocco for the first time and the previous year I visited Portugal also for the first time,” he said. He also made sure that he sets aside time for his family to maintain a healthy work-life balance. “Family life is important and I do take family holidays at least twice a year,” he said.

Though he is now past 60, retirement is not something he has considered just yet. There is still a lot more that he felt he could do. “Should I choose to retire I am sure ASLI will be in good hands,” he said. So, for now, Yeoh will continue to lead the think tank to greater achievements.

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“我们在24年前,也就是1993年创立ASLI,因为当时马来西亚无独立的智囊团,商界和许多人认为国家应该具备一个独立的智囊团,犹如美国,英国或许多国家。”

作为马来西亚主要并领先的独立智囊团之一绝非易事,亚洲策略与领导研究院(ASLI)联合创办人丹斯里杨元庆博士更是想通过广泛的研究工作创造一个更美好的社会。因此,他在1993年义无反顾的共同成立ASLI。

“我们在24年前,也就是1993年创立ASLI,因为当时马来西亚无独立的智囊团,商界和许多人认为国家应该具备一个独立的智囊团,犹如美国,英国或许多国家。”ASLI是马来西亚设立的首个私人独立智库,现在,跟随步伐的组织也日与增加。

而设立ASLI的主要目的是为公司企业和政府提供战略思维。他说,这也是为了促进和推动公共政策问题的讨论。“ASLI至今已经协助处理国家的重要课题,如教育、竞争力、国家团结,绿色科技和环境。”

然而,他也忧心忡忡的提到马来西亚人在近年来是如何 “过度政治化”。他说,政治分裂显现在种族和社会经济方面。巫统和国阵似乎受到马来人强力回头支持,而华人却继续拥护反对党,同时可以看到社会经济的贫富差距越来越大,尤其是城市与乡间的选民分歧。

他说,更令人担心的是,国家的种族关系正进一步分化人民,他觉得现在是所有人退回到中间线的时候了。

他认为,每个马来西亚人都需相互尊重,容忍和更好地了解其他种族的敏感性。“我们必须为学生和青少年找到共同空间,在多元种族的环境中更融合。” 他认为体育和艺术会是团结的催化剂。

最近,美国宾夕法尼亚大学评选的世界7000个智囊团中,ASLI也成为全球前100智囊团之一,并且在东南亚和太平洋地区排名第四,这也是马来西亚取得的最高位置,同时也获得Brand Laurete 大奖和许多奖项。

杨元庆个人也拥有许多荣誉,最近获得INPenang的终身成就奖。他最骄傲的成就是被顶尖的英国学府之一英国诺丁汉大学授予法律博士学位。“当然被赐予丹斯里勋衔也令人感到荣耀。” 他补充说。

工作之余杨元庆也并非全无休闲时间。他热爱旅游,每年总是会安排之前未踏足的国家进行旅游。“去年,我第一次到摩洛哥,再前年我去了葡萄牙。” 他还确保空出时间与家人团聚,保持工作与生活健康平衡。“家庭生活很重要,我每年至少休两次家庭假期。”

目前已经逾60岁,但尚未考虑退休,他觉得要做的事情还有很多。“一旦我确认ASLI已经得到很好的照顾,应该才会选择退休。” 所以,现在杨元庆将继续带领智囊团往着成就的高峰走去。

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