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4 Malaysian Women Make Forbes’ 50 Over 50: 2023 Asia Pacific List

4 Malaysian Women Make Forbes’ 50 Over 50: 2023 Asia Pacific List

The four Malaysian women were highlighted for reaching new heights in their industries and inspiring the next generation.

Adeline Leong

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Forbes has released its 2023 50 Over 50 Asia-Pacific list to highlight women in the region who are reaching new heights in their industries and inspiring the next generation.

The list celebrates the successes of women working across technology, pharmaceuticals, arts, politics and more, proving that success comes at any age.

In Malaysia, four notable women made this year’s list and they are chef Beh Gaik Lean, author Karina Robles Bahrin, academic Prof. Dr Asma Ismail and activist Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Let’s learn more about who they are and what they did.

Beh Gaik Lean | Chef

Image: Opalyn Mok/Malay Mail

Beh Gaik Lean, 69, is a chef who was awarded a Michelin Star for her Baba Nyonya restaurant, Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery, in Penang in 2022.  She was among the first chefs in Malaysia to receive the honour.

As a fourth-generation Nyonya, she started cooking Peranakan cuisine at the age of 12. At 20 years old, she was already working as an in-house chef in Motorola’s canteen before starting her own catering company, supplying meals to multinational companies.

She further refined her skills under the mentorship of Datuk Lim Bian Yam, a Master Chef of Chefs.

Prof Dr Asma Ismail | Academician

Image: UTM

Prof Dr Asma Ismail, 64, is one of Malaysia’s top-ranked academics and she has dozens of papers and patents in microbiology under her belt.

In March 2022, she was awarded the country’s National Academic Laureate award. She also served as Universiti Sains Malaysia’s first female vice-chancellor from 2016 to 2019.

Over the years, she has held several prestigious academic positions such as being the chair of the educational regulator Malaysian Qualifications Agency and a scientific advisor to COP15.

One of her most prominent innovations is the typhoid rapid diagnostic test TYPHIDOT, which is used worldwide.

Karina Robles Bahrin | Author

Image: Epigram Books

Karina Robles Bahrin published her first novel, The Accidental Malay, in 2022 at age 52. Her work won the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2022, winning RM78,000 and a publishing contract with Epigram Books.

She became the second Malaysian and first female Malaysian to win the award for Southeast Asian writers.

READ MORE: M’sian Author Karina Robles Bahrin Wins Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2022

Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, she moved to Langkawi to open a hotel and restaurant after a 20-year career in public relations.

The book The Accidental Malay explores race, religion and womanhood in a satirical story.

Ambiga Sreenevasan | Lawyer & Human Rights Advocate

Image: TRP File

Lawyer and human rights activist Ambiga Sreenevasan, 66, rose to prominence in 2007 when, as president of the Malaysian Bar, she led a march of 2,000 lawyers calling for judicial reform.

Sreenevasan first began her career as a lawyer in England in 1980 and was admitted to the Malaysian Bar two years later. For the next three decades, her work focused on commercial and corporate litigation.

In 2011, she sparked the Bersih movement calling for election reform. She’s also a staunch advocate for Malaysian women’s rights.

Her advocacy work earned her the US International Women of Courage Award in 2009.

The complete Forbes 50 Over 50: Asia Pacific 2023 list can be viewed here.


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