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Malaysia 2016 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Michael O.K. Yeoh, CEO and Director of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI), on recent initiatives, the Center for Public Policy Studies, and the organization's goals.

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Michael O.K. Yeoh
BIOGRAPHY
Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Michael O.K. Yeoh is CEO and Director of the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI). He is also Founder Vice-Chairman of CPPS. He was appointed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia to be a Member of the National Unity Consultative Council, the Advisory Board of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and a Commissioner in Malaysia’s Competition Commission. He was appointed by the Malaysian Government to be Malaysia’s Representative with Ambassador status on the ASEAN High Level Task Force on Connectivity. He graduated in Economics and Accountancy from Australia’s Monash University and has undertaken senior executive programs at Harvard Business School and Aresty Institute of Wharton School. He was conferred a Doctorate in Law by the University of Nottingham.

You recently organized an event on the One Belt, One Road Initiative. What is the importance of this initiative for bilateral relations between China and Malaysia?

One Belt, One Road is important, not only in terms of bilateral relations between China and Malaysia, but also regionally. The ASEAN Summit has adopted a master plan on connectivity, which spells out the various plans that ASEAN needs to focus on in terms of air, rail, road, and sea transport. The China initiative of the Maritime Silk Road helps us to achieve the connectivity master plan.

What conclusions were drawn from your recent 19th Malaysian Banking Summit entitled “Banking in a New Regional Landscape with ASEAN Economic Integration" and, how will the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) impact the banking sector?

Our Banking Summit is an annual conference organized to bring together the leading bankers in the country to look at the state of banking in Malaysia as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. In 2015, the banking sector has to address a number of issues. The economy has a number of challenges, and there is a need for the banking sector to continue to be able to support what the business community needs in terms of financing and loans. At the same time, the AEC will require the region to come up with a regional financial architecture that will allow banks in different countries to be able to move freely as established branches and operations in the other Asian countries.

Why was the Center for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) established by ASLI?

The main purpose for the Center is to have an independent approach to public policy studies, and we have an extensive engagement with the business community, as well as with NGOs, to identify their areas of concern in terms of public policy, based upon which we develop our research, and make submissions and proposals to the government on a wide range of key issues. We look at a number of challenges, including inclusive development, human rights, sustainable growth, as well as education and human capital development.

Inclusive development is one of the research focuses of the CPPS. What can be done to ensure the benefits of Vision 2020 are enjoyed by all members of society?

By 2020, the government envisions Malaysia to be a fully developed nation, and what is important is that there has to be equitable distribution to be able to reduce inequalities and to be able to look at the problems of poverty and how we can reduce that at rural and urban levels. The emphasis on inclusive development will help promote a more equitable society.

What are your key objectives for ASLI?

We will continue to look at a number of conferences that we provide, and conduct extensive research on topics such as gender issues and the participation of women. We also want to look further at Asian integration, and what has been achieved after the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Every year, we organize an important ASEAN Leadership Forum in April.