For more information on Eisenhower Fellowships, visit www.efworld.org
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Khazanah Nasional ( Malaysia's Money Pot)


Khazanah Nasional   www.khazanah.com.my
Khazanah Nasional is the investment holding arm of the Government of Malaysia and is empowered as the Government's strategic investor in new industries and markets. As trustees to the nation's commercial assets, Khazanah’s main objective is to promote economic growth and make strategic investments on behalf of the Government which would contribute towards nation buildings. Khazanah is also tasked to nurture the development of selected strategic industries in Malaysia with the aim of pursuing the nation’s long-term economic interests. Khazanah has investments in over 50 major companies, both in Malaysia and abroad, and our companies are involved in a broad spectrum of industries. Khazanah is also the key agency mandated to drive shareholder value creation, efficiency gains and enhance corporate governance in companies controlled by the government, commonly known as Government-Linked Companies, or GLCs. I wanted to list all of the various purposes, missions, and descriptions of Khazanah due to the pervasive nature of this organization that touches so many aspects of economic development not only in Malaysia but all around South East and South Asia. 
I was able to visit Khazanah Nasional in Penang and meet with the new Director of Khazanah Research and Investment Strategy, Hamdan Abdul Majeed.  Hamdan is also a new Eisenhower Fellow and I am proud to call him my fellow colleague. He and I had a great conversation, one of the best during the Fellowship. Hamdan is in charge of the Think City initiative coming out of Malaysia. The Think City model is a special project established by the Khazanah Nasional to implement and manage the George Town Grants Programme. The Board of Think City as been local subject experts and representatives from Khazanah Nasional Bhd.  It is led by the Chairperson, Dr. Anwar, The main purpose of Think City is to drive urban development in Malaysia.
As Director of the Think City intiative, Hamdan proclaims that we should shift between competition between cities versus competition between Countries.”  Another focus that Hamdan is proposing is that Cities should focus on attracting talent as well as capital.  When this happens “cities, people, and economy, are what will position Penang and Malaysia, as a destination and world developed place to be”.  Ultimately, broadband will be considered an important part of this process, particularly mobile broadband, espoused Hamdan as well.  In addition, most devices that will be utilized will be niched to the user experiences versus the market dictating the use of the devices.  Website: http://www.thinkcity.com.my/
Ultimately, Think City, as well as EF Mr. Majeed, have big plans to make Penang a technology and economic development hub.  With its inherent ability to galvanize labor, be progressive in technology development, and understand the delicate nuances of its role and place in the global economy, with Khazanah behind this effort, I have no doubt that this idea will become a successful reality.
Thank you Hamdan. Look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia in 2012!
Cheers!
B

The Blue Mansion (Penang)


I ended up staying at the historical Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, otherwise known as the Blue Mansion located in Georgetown, Penang.  Built in the 1880s, the magnificent 38-room, 220-window Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was commissioned by Cheong Fatt Tze, a local merchant trader who left China as a penniless teenager and ended up as ‘the Rockefeller of the East’. The mansion blends Eastern and Western designs, with louvred windows, art nouveau stained glass and beautiful floor tiles, and is a rare surviving example of the eclectic architectural style preferred by wealthy Straits Chinese of the time. The house sits on the ‘dragon’s throne’, meaning that there is a mountain (Penang Hill) behind and water (the channel) in front – the site was chosen for its excellent feng shui. 




This was one of the highlights of my trip to Penang. To reside at a such an iconic location such as this, surrounded by all of the history, spirits, beauty, and mystery of this house was amazing. Loved it.  

Penang.....A Pleasure


Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia.  Highly urbanized and industrialized, Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the Country, as well as a thriving tourist destination. The population is also highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, and language. It is also widely recognized as the most socially progressive state in Malaysia.






While in Penang I had the wonderful opportunity to have Dr. Anwar Fazal, EF circa 1975, not only personally show me around and tell me all about Penang, its history, culture, people, etc…but Dr. Fazal also gave me life lessons that will last a lifetime as I continue my journeys, professionally and personally.  Just a little bit about Dr. Fazal, he is an academic, historian, advocate, world health leader, just to name a few titles. He is clearly one of the most passionate people I have met in some time. His website is  www.anwarfazal.net; Also visit www.rightlivelihood.org.  I LOVED meeting him and having his insight and zeal as my guide into the pleasures and history of Penang.

One of the first things that I learned about Penang from Dr. Fazal is that “Penang is great for the small things”.  Meaning that many treasures are either made, developed, from, or created in Penang, but they are small things…nonetheless important to the process or the role of its derivation. Very interesting concept that I kept seeing reiterated over and over as I got to know this small island.  Dr. Anwar and I spent hours taking long walks all around Georgetown, city of Penang proper. We ducked into small cafes and had teas, coffees, Penang delicacies.  He “schooled” me on life, health, South East Asia, politics, food, etc… I felt like I was a student, willing and eager to learn everything that I could.  Something that we spoke about was also the history of the Eisenhower Fellowship and the politics of President Eisenhower. It was very cool to learn more about the namesake of organization that I now was a member of and belonged.  One of the famous quotes that he shared with me stated by President Eisenhower was this “The greatest danger that we face in the US is the military industrial complex”.  Had you asked me the significance of this quote before my Fellowship I would have had some challenges giving a substantive response. However, after traveling to South and South East Asia I have a totally different view on this statement.  One of the things that I learned about the US, being outside of the US, is just how powerful our lobbyists are to creating, cutting, pushing, manipulating, deciding, etc….private sector and government legislation, not just about military expenditures, but about mostly everything…that includes the controversial healthcare issues, gun laws, defense spending, even telecommunications. I know that this may be very known to many, and it was known to me as well, but when you travel so many of these truths take on such a new awareness. 

Thank you Dr. Anwar. Some of the greatest lessons learned all year were with you.
B
















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