Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Senator Datuk Seri Syed Ali Al-Habshee

Oration

Presented by: Professor Peter Byers

Honourable Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting Datuk Seri Syed Ali Al-Habshee for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

Syed Ali was born in Penang in the northern state of Malaysia into a highly respected family. 

He joined the family’s oil and gas business in the 1980’s and quickly made an impact leading to recognition by the Government of Malaysia who sought his business acumen and corporate ability in appointments at Board level for a number of Government Listed Companies.

His involvement in politics had a significant impact on Syed Ali, it took him from corporate life into public service and introduced him to education in a very profound and human way. 

His interaction with teachers and students made him realise that teachers in lower income areas, where facilities were lacking and training scarce, had an impact on the lives of their pupils who were recording lower grades across the sector. 

He conducted extensive research, surveys and personal interviews to determine what could be done to enhance the personal lives of teachers, in terms of their wellbeing and job satisfaction, and which would have a long term impact on the performance of their pupils. 

In his parliamentary district of Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Seri began adopting schools and raising funds with the specific aim of improving the school environments and facilities, and implemented a professional teacher training programme linked to the welfare of the teaching staff. 

In 2001 he formalised his commitment to assisting teachers and students by establishing Cheras Educational Foundation – or YPC. YPC acted as an umbrella organisation to adopt schools and provide assistance both financially and through training and motivational seminars. 

Today YPC has 37 adopted schools in Cheras, and has raised over 10.0 million ringgit, the equivalent to 1.7 million in sterling to support the project. 

Annually YPC provides over £170,000 to support schools and teachers training. 

This unique schools adoption programme is now used as a model across all Malaysian constituencies and has led to an improvement of more than 25% on students results in the last five years. One of the highlights of the programme and a great example of the motivational aspect of YPC is the Outstanding Teacher award, where each of the Schools nominate an inspirational teacher and awards are presented by the Prime Minister or senior members of the Government.

Meeting people who would come to the service centre in his constituency, Datuk Seri Syed Ali realised that there needed to be something more for people from poorer backgrounds. He set up a private college – Kolej YPC – to enable students to gain a tertiary education and the chance to secure higher education opportunities to set them on a path to greater success. 

Kolej YPC provides scholarships and financial assistance for students from less privileged backgrounds to enable them to undertake higher education. The ethos of Kolej YPC is simple – affordable education for everyone.

Datuk Seri Syed Ali strongly believes that education is ‘life changing’ especially for the lower income group and that everyone with ambition and intelligence should be given the opportunity to succeed. Kolej YPC is transforming lives through education. Every year more than 300 talented students receive scholarships to study in Kolej YPC and the numbers are growing. 

Looking to expand the horizons of the students enrolled at YPC, in 2005 we established a collaborative partnership with Kolej YPC to enable Malaysian students to complete their degrees either in Malaysia or here in Liverpool. Beginning with one degree, a BSc in e-Business Technology and Management, Kolej YPC now runs four degrees with LJMU – in Business, Accounting, Multimedia and Management – with a combined student population exceeding 800 and increasing annually.

Datuk Seri Syed Ali has certainly transformed the educational opportunities for generations of Malaysian teachers and students – he has established a successful and workable model that has been the blueprint for many parliamentary districts across Malaysia and will have a long term and far reaching impact on the educational landscape of his country.

I can think of no finer example of an individual who personifies our own ethos, to dream, plan, achieve and who has used his influence to transform the lives of others.

Thus it is with great personal pleasure that I present Datuk Seri Syed Ali Al-Habshee for our highest award of an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University.