– updated 16 February 2021
I was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia. My family relocated to Bukit Mertajam from Penang Island when I was 4 years old and I have since lived in this wonderful town, except for the few years I went away for my tertiary education.
Modern Bukit Mertajam is an old town, by Malaysian standard. In the early 17th century, the Huizhou Hakkas who migrated from China settled in the northern side of the hilly lands of Bukit Mertajam. Their agriculture and trade activities eventually laid the foundation for our town.
But more than a millennium ago, Bukit Mertajam was already an important site in the Greater Sriwijaya Empire, marked by a stone inscription in Sanskrit dating from that period.
It was here that I started my schooling, first in Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan (SRK) Stowell, and then later to the neighbouring Bukit Mertajam High School (BM High). The pride of my alma matter is of course the generations of illustrious leaders borne out of her bosom. The fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was a former student and is now still the patron of our Old Boys’ Society. Our former Deputy Prime Minister and much-respected opposition figure, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim also attended BM High. So was National Laureate, Professor Muhammad Haji Salleh whom I consider to be one of my mentors.
In 2002, after graduating from BM High, I was accepted into Universiti Malaya (UM), the oldest university in Malaysia, and one of her finest, if not the finest. The turn of the millennium, the dotcom phenomenon in the late 90s, and the proliferation of personal computers led me to study Computer Science in UM. The experience helped me to think of problems and formulate solutions from an engineering perspective. This would prove useful when I joined politics and had to deal with policy formulations. I often joked that we have enough of lawyers, economists and political scientists in politics; we need more engineers because while the final products of the former are words, the final products of engineers are tangible technologies to solve real world problems.
Studying in UM was also somehow formative to me. It was the first time I left my hometown, it was the first time I had the “freedom” to explore my life, my vocation, and my thoughts. I was involved in
In January 2011, I was appointed local government councillor of the Seberang Perai Municipal Council, one of the largest local government in Malaysia.
In May 2013, I contested in the 13th Malaysian General Election and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.
My party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is a partner in the main Malaysian federal Opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact).
The DAP and its partners form the governing coalition in the state of Penang, Selangor and Kelantan. In 2015, Pakatan Rakyat was dissolved following a fall out with the Malaysian Islamic Party and Pakatan Harapan was formed in its stead.
Since July 2011, I am also involved in the Penang Institute, a premier policy think tank in Penang and Malaysia. Today I sit on the board of the Institute as a Director overseeing its operation.
I was the former Executive Secretary of the Network of Social Democracy in Asia (SocDem Asia).
I also sit on the board of several government agencies and organisations related to youth and sports as well as women’s development.
My first book, “The Audacity to Think: An Invitation to Rethink Politics” was published in June of 2012.
In 2013, I was involved in the preparation of the 10-year strategic routemap for the state of Penang entitled, Penang Paradigm.
In 2015 I was appointed to the Penang Transport Council which oversees the implementation of the RM26 billion Penang Transport Master Plan.
I am married to my beautiful wife, JR and we live together with our little boy Shaun in Taman Bukit, Bukit Mertajam.
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