We kick off the month of Merdeka by taking time to honour 30 Malaysians who have carved their own path forward in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to pioneer research and development into helping not just their fellow countrymen but countless others across the globe.
As the list is much too long to fit within one article, we have split it into three parts that will be spread across the month of August. Now without further ado, here is the third batch of Malaysian trailblazers.
DATO’ LAWRENCE TEO
Braving the path less travelled, Dato’ Lawrence Teo was a pioneer businessman who brought to Malaysia the concept of affiliate marketing and helped in creating a market for an industry that not many had heard of. As both the founder and Managing Director of (iSynergy Universal), Dato Lawrence has seen to his company’s expansion and growth from a first of its kind business in the country to, at present, becoming the region’s leading affiliate marketing network and solutions provider. With over 13 years of experience in creative and strategic planning with a focus on the integration of affiliate marketing solutions businesses, it is to no astonishment how Dato’ Lawrence Teo was able to bolster his company’s growth in such a short period of time since its establishment in 2008 to present day.
A man of many talents and accomplishments, Dato’ Lawrence is also an active member of the Malaysian Retail Chain Association, a key adviser to a renowned Malaysian angel investment platform, as well as the recipient of several prestigious awards such as the Top Nominee for Ernst & Young’s Emerging Entrepreneur of The Year award, the top 10 in Junior Chamber International (JCI) Creative Young Entrepreneur award as well as the Winner of Global Leadership Awards 2014: Master Class Entrepreneur of the Year award, all in 2014, with a Winner of Most Promising Entrepreneurship in Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship award as well as Winner ASEAN Outstanding Business Award 2013: Master Class Award – Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2013.
GOH PENG OOI
Back to the future is where great ideas are born and Goh Peng Ooi is the perfect product of such thinking with the creation of his company Silverlake Axis Ltd. Setting about the pathway to the digital landscape in the early 90s, Goh Peng Ooi, whom at the time had left his first job at IBM, immediately pounced on the idea to provide banks willing to modernise with a method in which they could easily transition from a traditional to modern platform.
For a company that was met with no investors for the first 10 years of production, Silverlake Axis Ltd has aggrandised to an exponential level with the company evolving into a multi-billion dollar organisation that provides state-of-the-art financial support and solutions for over 40% of Southeast Asia’s banks. The Group is currently being represented in approximately 20 countries, all the way from Australia to Japan with several of the countries listing the business in their public exchanges.
The Silverlake Group has also been awarded several prestigious awards such as the IBM Partner Excellence Award and the IBM ASEAN Golden Circle Award in 2012, the Forbes Best Under A Billion -Best of the Best award in 2013, the Asian Banker Vendor Satisfaction Survey Gold Award in 2014 and finally the Forbes Best Under A Billion Award once again in 2015.
DATO KHO KAK BENG
Grown from small beginnings, KKB Engineering Berhad was once a small home-grown engineering workshop in Sarawak that was operated and founded by Dato Kho Kak Beng. Since 1962 KKB Engineering focused on creating steel fabrication works of modest size, before organically growing into a bigger operation where it was incorporated as a publically listed company in 1994, after which it was officially registered under sole proprietorship in 1996. Staying true to its origin, KKB Engineering continued their steel fabrication production through a diversified stream by producing steel pipes and pip special manufacturing, with a recent business exploration into the Oil & Gas sector. Under the guiding eye of Dato Kho, the business was listed on the Second Board of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, the same year it was publicly listed, in 1994. KKB Engineering does not only focus on merely expanding their own services, but have expanded by obtaining and operating subsidiary businesses as well. At present, the subsidiary and associated companies under KKB Engineering’s umbrella are Harum Bidang Sdn Bhd, KKB Industries Sdn Bhd located in Sabah and Edisi Optima Sdn Bhd. Grounded in its roots, yet forever reaching to new heights, KKB Engineering is certainly a Malaysian icon.
LIEW CHOON LIAN
An internationally recognised brand that won the 12th place in the Fast 500 Asia Pacific 2011 ranking, making it the highest ranking achieved by an ASEAN company, as well as acting as the recipient to numerous other awards, MDT Innovations has a brand history that heralds many of the more famous brands in the region since its conception in 2004, with a brand awareness that sets the rules for other businesses to follow. Founded by Liew Choon Lian, the CEO and Group Chairman of MDT Innovations, the corporation focuses on various services centered on the IoT (Internet of Things) services such as intelligent wireless communications, neural network solutions, as well as shining light on certain key domains such as crowd movement, things management and fintech enablement.
Many of the company’s solutions can be found in other Fortune-500 semiconductor firms and retail chains in countries such as Australia, China and of course, Malaysia. As venerated as the MDT Innovations, the apple does not fall far from the tree with Liew himself having a celebrated history from being a top market analyst at Multimedia corporation in the early 90s to working with major figures in the mobile computing and pen-based industry such as Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and more to create the Palm Pilot and Zaurus. Liew also earned himself a glowing reputation in the USA, working with corporations such as NTT, Panasonic and NEC, before finally being hired as the General Manager of Worldwide Operation of Matsushita Corporation, Panasonic. His drive and passion is evident in all his work, MDT Innovations as well.
One of the biggest market players in the field of Telecommunication Network providers in Malaysia, the OCK Group Berhad founded by Sam Ooi is a major conglomerate business that currently operates with four major divisions under its umbrella, from network products, green energy and power solutions, Telco trading, to their biggest operation, telecommunication network services. The OCK Group was not a born success, with founder Sam Ooi having established the company out of desperation as he had been let go from his previous job as a Contract Manager during the recession of the 90s.
He opened his first business in a shared partnership with a friend called Standard Power Sdn Bhd, however, after a year of operations that business too fell through. From then on, Ooi incorporated a small sole proprietary company called the OCK Setia Engineering Services that eventually grew into the massive OCK Group. Having been publicly-listed in 2012, the OCK Group experienced a period of massive growth over the span of seven years, wherein the revenue of the company has multiplied five-fold and the business grew to hire over 2000 employees. For a man with big dreams, no obstacle or setback is too big, evident in the history and growth of the largest Telecommunication Network in the field.
DR AZLINA FIRZAH ABDUL AZIZ
Completing her Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery from University Malaya in 1990 as well her as Masters in Surgery from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2001, Dr Azlina Firzah Abdul Aziz has gone on to become one of the few renowned doctors in Malaysia. Pushing strides within her department of Breast and Endocrine surgery, Dr Azlina was trained in the field of Breast surgery, honing her skill at various hospitals around Kuala Lumpur, including serving under the Ministry of Health of Malaysia for over 18 years, before commencing her practice at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
Presently, Dr Azlina shares her time between working under the title of the Resident Consultant Breast Surgeons in Pantai and practising at Park City Medical Centre, Dr Azlina also works hard to promote women’s health in Malaysia by giving public talks and lectures at Breast Cancer screenings as well as acting as the co-organising Chairperson for the Pantai Hospital Wear It Pink Breast Awareness campaigns that have taken place since 2008. Dr Azlina is also a member of the Breast Chapter in the College of Surgeons of Malaysia as well as a member of the Malaysian Oncological Society. Her in-depth research, passion and fervour for the subject of breast diseases have led her to release four papers in various journals. With doctors such as Dr Azlina heading the field, rest assured the health of Malaysia is in good hands.
PROFESSOR DR AZLINA AMIR ABBAS
A member of a variety of organisations pertaining to her work including Malaysian Orthopaedic Association, the Malaysian Association for the Study of Pain, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and many more, Professor Dr Azlina Ammir Abbas is an orthopaedic expert that currently heads the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Malaya. Within the orthopaedic field itself, Professor Dr Azlina has a special interest in tissue engineering, hip and knee arthroplasty as well as stem cell therapy, surgical site infection prevention and treatment of prosthetic joint infections, just to name a few.
As a product of her interest in the subject, the professor has also helped in creating the Guidelines for The Prevention of Surgical Site Infections for the Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control that is used as a general ruling for all doctors within the field. With several published works under her name, Professor Dr Azlina has released two books, ‘Hip Surgery: Instructive Case Collection’ and ‘Fracture Management: Basic Principles & Surgical Approaches’ as well as several other articles published in various journals. Even with a diverse array of work on her place, Professor Dr Azlina still manages to find the time to volunteer regularly at the Limbs for Life Prostheses Centre. A medic who has shaped the region, Professor Dr Azlina upholds a standard in the medical industry that few can reach.
Reaching for the stars must have already been penned into their timetables as these young Malaysians put our country on the map when it came to matters of intergalactic and space exploration. In 2015, then 17 years old, Faye Jong-Sow Fei was the first Malaysian to have won an Environmental Management Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Her project was titled “Biowaste as Eco-Friendly Materials Mordants in Fabric Dye Process”, and it allowed her to have her name immortalised on an asteroid that was called 31460Jongsowfei, in her honour, by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research also known as LINEAR.
The LINEAR project is one that is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Airforce as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory. Similarly, in 2019, two boys hailing from Penang, Melwin Cheng Choon Lei and Tham Yong Shiang took home another award under the Chemistry category for their cost-friendly and eco-friendly Aedes mosquito larvicide made from crude Cinnamon extract. Their legacies are soon to be etched onto asteroids as well, once the International Astronomical Union has completed the process.
Alongside the Champions of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, 13-year old Teng Wei Rui from Sarawak won a NASA Mission Patch Design Challenge this year, which was organised in collaboration with Tynker, an organisation that emboldens kids to learn code and become makers. Out of the 10,000 designs that were sent in only five were selected, with Teng Wei Rui being amongst the winners. The entire patch design was made from code, which was a class that the 13-year old had only taken up less than a year prior. Through this competition, Teng Wei Rui has won a video conference call with a top NASA scientist, Jitendra Joshi, which were scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 Mission.
TEXT NEDA AL-ASEDI & SWAROOPINI UDHAYA NAIR