Zairil Khir Johari

Zairil Khir Johari (born 17 October 1982) is a Malaysian politician who has served as Member of the Penang State Executive Council (EXCO) in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state administration under Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Member of the Penang State Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Tanjong Bunga since May 2018. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bukit Bendera from May 2013 to May 2018. He is a member of the Democratic Action Party, a component party of the PH state ruling but federal opposition coalition. In DAP, he served as the Assistant National Publicity Secretary from September 2013 to March 2022, State Vice-Chairman of Penang since December 2013 and Parliamentary Spokesperson of Education, Science and Technology.[2] He is the son of Khir Johari, former federal minister and prominent politician from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Alliance who are the opposing coalitions of PH.

Zairil Khir Johari
زعير الخير جوهري
President of Football Association of Penang
In office
1 February 2017  9 October 2017
Preceded byNazir Ariff
Succeeded byTahir Jalaluddin
Executive Director of Penang Institute
In office
March 2014  December 2016
Preceded byWoo Wing Thye
Succeeded byOoi Kee Beng
Assistant National Publicity Secretary
of the Democratic Action Party[1]
In office
29 September 2013  20 March 2022
Serving with Yeo Bee Yin
National Publicity SecretaryTony Pua Kiam Wee
Secretary-GeneralLim Guan Eng
Succeeded byHannah Yeoh Tseow Suan
State Vice Chairman of the
Democratic Action Party of Penang
Assumed office
2 December 2013
Serving with Ramasamy Palanisamy
(2013-2021)
Jagdeep Singh Deo
(since 2021)
State ChairmanChow Kon Yeow
Exco roles (Penang)
2018–Chairman of the Infrastructure and Transport
Faction represented in Dewan Rakyat
2013–2018Democratic Action Party
Faction represented in Penang State Legislative Assembly
2018–Pakatan Harapan
Personal details
Born
Zairil Khir Johari

(1982-10-17) 17 October 1982
CitizenshipMalaysian
Political partyDemocratic Action Party (DAP)
Other political
affiliations
Pakatan Harapan (PH)
(since 2015)
Pakatan Rakyat (PR)
(2008–2015)
Spouse(s)Ulfah Zainal Abidin
(m. 2005 ; d. 2008)
Noor Dahlia Hamzah
(m. 2011 ; d. 2017)
Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud
(m. 2018)
Parent(s)Khir Johari
(father)
Alma materSchool of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Multimedia University
OccupationPolitician
CEO, Penang Institute
Websitezairil.com

Early life, education and early career

Zairil attended the Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Information Systems Engineering.[3] He then received a Master of Arts from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Upon his return to Malaysia, he started Chocolab, where he was the chief executive officer.[4] In late 2010, he left the business to pursue politics full-time.

Political career

Member of the Democratic Action Party (since 2010)

In 2010, Zairil joined the DAP, a component party of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in opposition to the BN and UMNO federal government. The choice, given that his father was a prominent UMNO politician and that he would be a rare Malay member of the DAP, attracted significant attention. He claimed that UMNO had changed for the worse since his father was a politician, and that "after more than 50 years of UMNO rule, the situation is such that people are being colonised, oppressed by our own people, we do not have any freedom."[5]

Political Secretary to the Secretary-General

On 23 February 2011, he was appointed as the Political Secretary to Lim Guan Eng, the DAP Secretary-General and Chief Minister of Penang with immediate effect. He henceforth assisted Lim with political matters at party and national level. He was based at the DAP Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur.[6][7][8]

State Vice Chairman of Penang (since 2013)

In 2013 Penang state party convention, Zairil was elected into the DAP Penang State Committee and subsequently appointed vice-chairman.[9] In the 2015 state party convention, he was reelected into the committee, placing third highest out of the fifteen elected members with a total vote of 490 out of 760 delegates, he was reappointed to the same position. In the 2018 Penang state party convention, a major surprise emerged after he was defeated, however, he was co-opted into the committee to save his state vice chairmanship.[10][11] In the 2021 state party convention, he was reelected this time after his defeat in 2018 and retained his state vice-chairmanship.[12]

Assistant National Publicity Secretary (2013–2022)

At the DAP National Congress in December 2012, Zairil was elected to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and appointed as the Assistant National Publicity Secretary. The election was re-run in 2013, after a tabulation error that had resulted in his exclusion. He was successful again the second time around.[13] In November 2017, Zairil was once again re-elected into the CEC and re-appointed as the Assistant National Publicity Secretary.[14] In the 2013 DAP National Congress, he was elected into the central executive committee and appointed as the National Assistant Publicity Secretary, he was reelected and reappointed in 2017 National Congress. However in the 2022 National Congress, he was not reelected into the CEC and was replaced by Hannah Yeow Tseow Suan as the Assistant National Publicity Secretary. [15]

Penang Institute

From 2012 to 2016, Zairil headed the Penang Institute, a public policy think tank to the State Government of Penang. Zairil has been in the forefront of co-ordinating most of its major activities in propagating the cause of Penang on the national and international arenas, and providing realistic solutions for the economic and social sustenance of the people of the Penang region[16] Under his leadership, the Institute organised the ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance (ACCG).[17] The inaugural conference was held in June 2012, attracting participants from seven countries around the region.

In March 2014, Zairil was promoted to the post of Executive Director[18] and continued to hold this post until December 2016, when he stepped down to take over the reins of the Football Association of Penang.[19] He has since been appointed as a Senior Fellow of Penang Institute.[20]

Member of Parliament (2013–2018)

In the 2013 general election, Zairil won the Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat polling 45,591 votes defeating Barisan National candidate with 32,778 majority. He also gained one of the highest majorities in the election. He was also the youngest candidate to win a federal seat in the election at the age of 30.[21]

Member of the Penang State Legislative Assembly (since 2018)

In the 2018 Penang state election, Zairil was fielded to contest for the Tanjong Bunga seat where he faced off against Barisan Nasional Penang Chairman Teng Chang Yeow. Considered one of the more challenging seats due to controversies involving the former Tanjong Bunga MLA from DAP who had left the party, Zairil went on to defeat Teng by a majority of 9,343, nearly doubling the previous majority. Following his defeat, Teng announced his retirement from politics after his huge defeat.[22] Zairil was not nominated to contest for his Bukit Bendera seat after holding for a term from 2013 to 2018 and hence transferred to the Penang state level from the federal level.

Member of the Penang State Executive Council (since 2018)

With Pakatan Harapan emerging victorious and being reelected to the power as the Penang state government in the 2018 Penang state election as well as elected to the power as federal government for the very first time in the 2018 general election, then Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng was appointed as the new Minister of Finance and transferred to the federal level by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, while National Vice Chairman and State Chairman of Penang of DAP and EXCO member Chow Kon Yeow took over the reins as new Chief Minister of Penang. A new Penang State Executive Council was formed with Zairil being appointed as member for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation.[23] During a mid-term review exercise, Zairil took new portfolios and relinquished the old ones, which are the Infrastructure and Transport, with the latter being an additional portfolio.[24]

Personal life

In December 2018, Zairil married lawyer and political activist Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud who was also a candidate in the 2014 Telok Intan by-election.[25] In 2020, Zairil formed a rock band called Priwayat, in which he is the pianist and songwriter.[26]

Election results

Penang State Legislative Assembly[27]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2018 N22 Tanjong Bunga Zairil Khir Johari (DAP) 13,245 75.38% Teng Chang Yeow (Gerakan) 3,902 22.2% 17,571 9,343 80.7%
Chua Cheong Wee (PRM) 122 0.6%
Lee Zheng Yong (MUP) 74 0.3%
Parliament of Malaysia[28][29][27]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2013 P048 Bukit Bendera, Penang Zairil Khir Johari (DAP) 45,591 77.93% Teh Leong Meng (Gerakan) 12,813 21.90% 59,114 32,778 83.16%

Publications

Zairil was a columnist for the now-defunct news portal, The Malaysian Insider, from 2011 until its closure in 2016. He currently writes regularly for The Penang Monthly. In 2017, he published his first book, Finding Malaysia: Making Sense of an Eccentric Nation, a collection of his selected writings on identity politics, political Islam, federalism and education.[30] Finding Malaysia proved to be one of publisher Gerakbudaya's best-selling books of 2017.[31]

Zairil has also published book chapters in Secularism, Religion, and Democracy in Southeast Asia by Vidhu Verma,[32] Policies and Politics in Malaysian Education: Education Reforms, Nationalism and Neoliberalism by Cynthia Joseph,[33] Dialog: Thoughts on Tunku's Timeless Thinking by the think tank IDEAS,[34] and Young and Malay: Growing up in Multicultural Malaysia by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid.[35]

References

  1. "DAP national Leadership". Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  2. http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/not-waiting-for-allies-dap-sets-up-shadow-cabinet
  3. "The 5th Convocation Ceremony 2004".
  4. "Front Row: Chocolate Fair - Mr. Zairil Khir Johari, CEO of Chocolab & Lynn Chong, Marketing Manager of Shirin Asal SDN. BHD., Iranian Chocolate Manufacturer".
  5. Shazwan Mustafa Kamal (25 January 2011). "Zairil Khir Johari: Why I joined DAP". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  6. "Zairil is Guan Eng's aide".
  7. "Appointment of new political secretary to the Secretary-General".
  8. "Zairil Khir Johari: "We need a new system"". 5 April 2011.
  9. "Chow returned as Penang DAP chairman".
  10. https://www.nst.com.my/news/politics/2018/11/432498/shock-big-names-tumble-penang-dap-party-elections
  11. "The Star Online | Chow is Penang DAP chief again, Teh out of committee". m.thestar.com.my. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  12. "Ramkarpal defeated in Penang DAP polls, Jagdeep clinches last spot in state committee".
  13. Ng, Eileen (29 September 2013). "Zairil gets bigger majority as same set of DAP leaders elected in fresh CEC polls". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  14. "DAP finalises CEC lineup".
  15. "DAP party polls results show no one is untouchable".
  16. "ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance 2012 | Closing Remarks". YouTube.
  17. "Penang Monthly— Asean Coalition for Clean Governance". penangmonthly.com. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012.
  18. "Finance expert helms institute".
  19. "Team manager Zairil is new president of FAP".
  20. "Penang Monthly". penangmonthly.com. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020.
  21. "Dashboard PRU13". Archived from the original on 23 April 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  22. "Teng Chang Yeow quits politics following GE14 loss".
  23. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/05/17/what-a-load-as-zairil-gets-the-works-in-exco/
  24. https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/09/09/chow-hands-transport-portfolio-to-zairil-in-mid-term-exco-reshuffle/
  25. "Zairil, Dyana tie the knot | New Straits Times". 9 December 2018.
  26. "Penang DAP duo form rock band". 11 October 2020.
  27. "Malaysia General Election". undiinfo Malaysian Election Data. Malaysiakini. Retrieved 4 February 2017. Results only available from the 2004 election.
  28. "KEPUTUSAN PILIHAN RAYA UMUM 13". Sistem Pengurusan Maklumat Pilihan Raya Umum (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  29. "Keputusan PRU13". Archived from the original on 23 April 2013. Results only available from the 2004 election.
  30. "Finding Malaysia – Gerakbudaya". gbgerakbudaya.com. Archived from the original on 19 April 2018.
  31. "Gerakbudaya | SIRD on Instagram: "2017 BESTSELLERS at our bookstore: 2 titles on socioeconomics, 2 on political leaders, and 2 on history — all published by us! Which would…"". Archived from the original on 25 December 2021.
  32. Secularism, Religion, and Democracy in Southeast Asia. Oxford University Press. 27 February 2020. ISBN 978-0-19-949669-3.
  33. "Policies and Politics in Malaysian Education: Education Reforms, Nationalism and Neoliberalism".
  34. "Dialog: Thoughts on Tunku's Timeless Thinking – Gerakbudaya". gbgerakbudaya.com. Archived from the original on 15 July 2018.
  35. "Young and Malay: Growing up in Multicultural Malaysia – Gerakbudaya". gbgerakbudaya.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2017.
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