06 February 2020

Kuala Lumpur, 6 February 2020 - The British Council recognised high achieving Malaysian-UK alumni for their professional contributions and outstanding achievements as business leaders, entrepreneurs and community leaders at its annual Study UK Alumni Awards 2020.

Held for the third year in Malaysia, the prestigious international award celebrates UK higher education and the achievements of UK alumni in Malaysia, further strengthening collaborative ties between the UK and Malaysia. In 2019, the award has received around 1,000 applications from international UK alumni in more than 100 countries, representing over 120 higher education institutions across the UK.

In Malaysia, three remarkable winners were honoured this year out of seven finalists based on the following criteria: impact, UK influence, media traction, potential to influence and inspire the next generation of potential students, as well as the quality of the application. The winning recipients were selected for three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial, and Social Impact.

The winner of the Professional Achievement Award went to Oon Chern Ein, while Howe Wong and Goh Ai Ching received the awards for Social Impact, and the Entrepreneurial Awards respectively.

Sarah Deverall, Director Malaysia, British Council said, ‘We are proud of our three winners and all seven finalists, who have maximised their UK education experience and made a significant impact to their communities. The Alumni Awards allow us to come together to celebrate these individuals and the role of international students in enabling the UK to be one of the most diverse, dynamic, and rewarding higher education destinations.’

The award recipients attributed their achievements to their UK education experience, noting how it inspired them to succeed in their respective fields.

The winner of the Social Impact Award, Howe Wong worked closely with government agencies to benefit 30,000 households in the rural non-electrified regions in Sarawak through the implementation of his rural electrification projects. As a result of his work, the communities are now able to enjoy 24 hours of electricity rather than having to pay for costly fossil fuel generators.

Upon receiving the award, Wong said, ‘Studying in the UK has enabled me to pursue my goals: make positive changes and improve the lives of rural communities in Sarawak. Since then, I have pursued my passions and that has brought me to where I am today. I am very happy to receive the Social Impact Award and I am grateful to the British Council for this recognition.’

The Entrepreneurial Award, which highlights alumni who have played a leading role in innovation or creative solutions was awarded to Goh Ai Ching, who co-founded Piktochart, a visual communications tool that helps condense information for visual storytelling.

Goh said, ‘I am very proud to receive the Entrepreneurial Award from the British Council. Co-founding Piktochart was a very intense experience in the beginning, but it’s a story worth telling to encourage youths that international exposure can shape and mould us into mature individuals. It really is amazing how my start-up in Penang has been able to serve 18 million users globally. It gives me great joy that I have been able to give a whole new approach to the idea of growth.’

The last award of the night, the Professional Achievement Award, which recognises alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership in their professional field, was presented to Oon Chern Ein, who is currently working on drug discovery to treat cancer through her efforts in science communication and public education while focussing on underprivileged communities.

Oon commented, ‘The Professional Achievement Award is not just a recognition of personal achievement – it is also an acknowledgement of developments in cancer research in Malaysia, which will greatly encourage young people in science. I hope this award will help to inspire the next generation to become ethical scientists and encourage more females and the underprivileged to participate in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in efforts to promote science literacy in less developed parts of the nation and the world.’

When asked how much of an impact a UK education had for students, Sarah Deverall added, ‘Through a holistic education experience, students who study in the UK not only excel academically but are also better prepared for the workforce and more well-rounded as individuals. The Alumni Awards provide the opportunity for us to recognise their achievements. We are immensely proud to be catalysts for their success, and hope that their achievements will inspire the next generation of students.’

These award-winning alumni will share their experiences and expertise at British Council’s bi-annual Study UK Fair on 22 March 2020 at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, from 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm. At this fair, representatives from prestigious UK universities will be present to provide more information and answer any queries about studying in the UK. For more information, please visit: http://bit.ly/studyUKFair

For more information, please contact:

Ikram Khasim (British Council) | Email: Ikram.Khasim@britishcouncil.org.my

Zeno Malaysia | Email: britishcouncil@zenogroup.com | Tel: +603 2283 5922

Ong Wei Wen | Email: weiwen.ong@zenogroup.com | Tel: +6012 206 3481

Shenna Padman | Email: shenna.padman@zenogroup.com | Tel: +6016 665 7970

Notes to Editor

More information on the Alumni Awards: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/alumni-awards

Alumni Award categories

Professional Achievement Award Recognising UK alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership and achievements in their professional industry, and who can demonstrate the impact and scale of their achievements in their profession, and beyond.

Entrepreneurial Award Recognising UK alumni who are active in initiating or contributing to innovative or creative new ideas, solutions or business opportunities, that have the potential for strong growth.

Social Impact Award Recognising UK alumni who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. www.britishcouncil.org

The British Council has been working with Malaysia since 1948.