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Three Malaysians recognised for strengthening collaborative ties between the UK and Malaysia

The British Council yesterday announced the recipients of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2021 in Malaysia at a virtual awarding ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.
The British Council yesterday announced the recipients of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2021 in Malaysia at a virtual awarding ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. In total, eight UK alumni in Malaysia were recognised for their outstanding achievements as business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders, and for their important contribution to strengthening collaborative ties between the UK and Malaysia.

The prestigious international award celebrates UK higher education and the achievements of UK alumni all over the world. Now in its seventh year, the award received more than 1,300 applications from international UK alumni in more than 114 countries, representing more than 148 UK higher education institutions across the UK. Following in-depth interviews with a judging panel, recipients were selected for the three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial, and Social Impact.

The Professional Achievement Award, which recognises alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership in their professional field, was presented to Dr Joanne Yeoh, a graduate of Heriot-Watt University, University of Leeds and Middlesex University. Joanne is an internationally recognised violinist and has produced and launched solo albums. After studying at the universities in the UK, Joanne established her stardom by performing regularly at international and national events. She is currently an associate professor in the Music department at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

The Social Impact Award, which acknowledges alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to creating positive social change, was presented to Ian Yee, a graduate of Liverpool John Moores University. Ian is the co-founder and executive director of The Fourth, a not-for-profit social enterprise running independent impact and investigative journalism projects. He has pioneered the concept of impact journalism in Malaysia and wishes to run journalism training programmes to develop more talent as well as fund new impact and investigative projects that will strengthen media institutions across the country.

The Entrepreneurial Award, which highlights alumni who have played a leading role in innovation or creative solutions, was presented to Marc Chua, a graduate of the University of Bolton and SEGi University College. In 2015, Marc founded ULTRON®, a multi award winning sportswear brand. The company is currently spread across 12 countries in Asia and their four million apparel distribution has made them the market leader with most of their event collaborations in Malaysia and Brunei.

Jazreel Goh, Director Malaysia, British Council, said: ‘We are proud that the UK has had some part to play in helping these individuals get to where they are today. Every year, we look forward to hearing the stories of Malaysian UK alumni who have become examples of professionalism in their chosen careers, alumni who have successfully pursued their entrepreneurial instincts and alumni who have touched and improved the lives of others. The Awards today truly celebrate those contributions and demonstrate the impact of a UK education—not just on individuals, but also on the communities they live in.

Charles Hay, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, mentioned: ‘In the past decade, over 80,000 Malaysian students have studied a higher education programme in the UK. Tonight's finalists are testament to all the high-quality Malaysian graduates who chose to study in the UK every year. These alumni form the bedrock of UK-Malaysia relations, building long-lasting links and mutually beneficial relationships between both our countries.

Tunku Ali Redhauddin Ibni Tuanku Mukhriz, renowned UK alumnus from the University of Cambridge was also present at the event as guest of honour.

This was the first time the Alumni Awards was hosted virtually in Malaysia, being the first country to host the awards this year. This event will be followed by awarding ceremonies in a further eight countries, including India, Kazakhstan, and Qatar.

Professional Achievement Award
Dr. Joanne Yeoh, alumna of Heriot-Watt University, the University of Leeds and the University of Middlesex

Dr Joanne is currently an associate professor in the Music department, Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Among the recent awards Dr Joanne has received include the National Academic Award 2012, Golden Phoenix Award 2014, BrandLaureate Grand Master Brand ICON Leadership Award 2017; and the McMillan Woods Global Icon Award 2019. She has performed regularly at the international and national level. For instance, Davos Switzerland for the World Economic Forum: Malaysia Night, Three on the Bund Shanghai, BMW Formula 1 Party, Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore, Inter-Asia Pacific Executive Forum, Perdana Leadership Foundation Putrajaya and more.

When she isn’t performing, she is publishing journals and solo albums. She is also an accredited examiner for Trinity College London examination board, having travelled to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East and the Asian continent since 2005. In 2015, she was a TEDx Petaling Street presenter.

To her, music education in the UK is second to none, and she has had the privilege of graduating from there. However, an academic degree does not guarantee success in life, and life lessons are usually discovered outside lecture halls. It was in the holistic experiences provided by these universities that taught her life skills. The camaraderie amongst lecturers and peers provided a safe ground for her to explore and experiment various musical styles. Although UK is inherently rich in culture, she also embraced the contemporary artistic endeavours making this an ideal destination for a comprehensive education.

Social Impact Award
Ian Yee, alumnus of Liverpool John Moores University

Ian Yee is the co-founder and executive director of The Fourth, a not-for-profit social enterprise running independent impact and investigative journalism projects. He is an investigative and impact journalist whose works have won nearly 40 awards in journalism, activism, filmmaking, and digital marketing. He has pioneered the concept of impact journalism in Malaysia and has exposed social justice issues with undercover investigations and developing creative advocacy solutions to solve those issues. He has a roaring public support as his works have helped expose wildlife smugglers, refugee rights, human trafficking networks, child sex predators and drug trafficking syndicates.

Under The Fourth, Ian wishes to run journalism training programmes to develop more talent as well as fund new impact and investigative projects that will strengthen media institutions across the country. Other than being the co-founder of The Fourth, he is also a national consultant for UNICEF Malaysia on empathy education programmes. He is also an Obama Foundation Leader, an Acumen Fellow, a Gen-T honouree and a Human Rights Measurement Initiative ambassador.

Entrepreneurial Award
Marc Yee Kuan Chua, alumnus of SEGi University & the University of Bolton

Marc is described as a grassroot entrepreneur who never gives up. In 2015, He founded the No. 1 Running Apparel Brand in Malaysia, ULTRON® and in the span of five years, the company has collaborated with more than 3,000 major events and has partnered with IRONMAN Triathlon, Powerman Duathlon, XTERRA Duathlon and Asian Trail Masters. The company is now spread across 12 countries in Asia and has distributed more than four million pieces of apparel across the region making them the market leader with most of their event collaborations in Malaysia and Brunei. His success led the brand to a suite of commendations. He received two awards by the Malaysia Book of Record. First for creating ULTRON® Micro-dry Ultralite which is 'The lightest running tshirt in Malaysia’. He made his second National Record organising major marathons that unite 18,000 runners across the country, sponsoring national athletes for international tournaments with a dream to dress Malaysia’s 1st Olympic gold medallist. Most recently, he received the Superbrand Award by Superbrand International.

Although not a business major, that did not stop him from creating an award-winning homegrown sportswear brand. To-date, Marc credits his success to his self-discipline, values developed during his studies in the UK. The examinations-driven model of UK education cultivates highly relevant skills and habits such as time and stress management and tenacity. Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, Marc has continued to be on the forefront initiating virtual runs and sporting events, partnering with Sports Ministry, Nestle and multinational corporations, in keeping Malaysians active.