Top 50: Who's Who In Malaysia's Expatriate Community

Our international community has an abundance of world-class individuals - people who call Malaysia home and spread their skills and knowledge from here out.

by / Published: 15 Dec 2011

Top 50: Who's Who In Malaysia's Expatriate Community

From musicians to CEOs, dancers to golfers, photographers to energy healers, our international community has an abundance of world-class individuals from all corners of the earth, people who call Malaysia home and spread their skills and knowledge from here out.

To celebrate this talented group, we compiled our first annual list of ‘Who’s who’ in the expatriate community. People you should know, people who make a difference, not only in our lives, but to Malaysia as a whole, people we’re glad live amongst us and we’re happy to hear about.

So without further ado, meet 50 interesting individuals who act as our ambassadors, make us proud and you really should know.

1. Bill Addington (UK)

Owner of Finnegan’s Pubs, mostly people know Bill Addington for his contribution to many a fond Gaelic night in the city. But as founding member of The Lighthouse Group (Construction industry charity group) and governor at the Alice Smith School, Bill is also one of KL’s great philanthropists.

2. Tan Sri Rainer Althoff (DE)

President and CEO of Siemens, Tan Sri Rainer has been one of the driving forces in Malaysian business for decades. Having sat on numerous business councils, task forces and chamber organisations and helped launched the Siemens Marathon, foreign business owes him a debt of gratitude for his prescience.

3. Federico Asaro (IT)

Federico Asaro, an established hotelier and restauranteur, has been in Malaysia since the age of seven, after a decade of a diving business in the South China sea with the fi rst luxury live- aboard vessel that ever explored Layang-Layang.

He started Samadhi Retreats in 1999, his group today owns three Tamarind restaurants, il Tempio, two Mandi-Mandi and the latest NEO, including Japamala a luxury resort in Tioman and an upcoming chic hotel in KL called Samadhi.

4. Tony Birtley (UK)

The ultimate dinner party guest, reporter for Al-Jazeera, Tony is roguishly entertaining and has a wardrobe full of fascinating, although disturbing, tales from his coverage of wars in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.

Tony was held hostage by the Hmong tribe in Laos last year as the fi rst white man they had seen in decades. He was the only journalist covering the atrocities at Srebrenica and on the basis of his reports the UN made it a protected zone.

5. Damon Campbell (UK)

Chef de Cuisine at Lafi te, the pre-eminent eatery at the Shangri- La KL, Damon came into the restaurant after cutting his teeth in the acclaimed kitchen of the Diva at the Metropolitan Hotel, one America’s top eateries. His use of ingredients, eye for detail and creativity have put him at the top of the KL dining game.

6. Christine Choong (UK)

Christine founded Mamalink in 1991. She is a registered nurse and midwife from the UK, was the fi rst in Malaysia to qualify as an International Board Certifi ed Lactation Consultant and has a Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education.

She has dedicated herself to helping breastfeeding mothers and training health workers in Malaysia since the early ‘80s. Christine also conducts prenatal classes making her an invaluable resource for parents.

7. Paul Corrigan (UK)

The Group M CEO and advertising leader has been on the Malaysian business scene for some time, helping the creative industries benchmark to global levels. But he makes it on our ‘should know’ list as much because of his stewarding of not only the Magnifi cent Fish & Chips Shop but also Havana and a soon to be opened steakhouse.

8. Virginia Cucchi (IT)

Virginia hails from Parma, Italy and her newly published photography book, When the Bamboo Sings, is garnering praise for its beautiful images of Orang Asli children that show their poverty of circumstance as well as the wealth of their culture. All proceeds from the book benefi t charity but what makes Virginia amazing is her age. How many 17 year-olds are published authors?

9. Dominique

Devorsine (FR) Dominique, once a trained accountant, is now Malaysia’s most sought-after theatre costume designer.

After working with the likes of the British Women’s Association and the Actors Studio, she fi nally received community recognition when she won the fi rst of her many BOH Cameronian Arts Awards for her still talked about costume design for SUMUNDA’s Five Letters from an Eastern Empire in 2004.

Dominique currently designs from her studio located in the heart of Sri Hartamas.

10. Robyn Eckhardt (US)

American Robyn Eckhardt left academia in 2004 to write about her passion: Asian food. Robyn has written for many of the world’s most celebrated publications, including Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Chicago Tribune, South China Morning Post, Flavours, Saveur Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, Wall Street Journal Asia’s ‘Weekend Journal’, Time Out KL and even this esteemed publication.

She and husband David also publish the award-winning food blog EatingAsia, rated in the top 20 food blogs in the world. Beginning later this year they will offer bespoke street food and photography tours in Penang and beyond.

11. Peter England (US)

Head of Retail Banking at CIMB, Peter is a well-known face on the Malaysian banking scene, having helped various Malaysian fi nancial institutions achieve their necessary levels to engage in international finance. Now at CIMB, he’s raising that bank’s profi le and has been lauded as one of the top bankers in SEA.

12. Erik Fearn (US)

Journalist and photographer, Erik graces the pages of many a magazine here and abroad with his high octane antics and travel reportage. But it’s his extraordinary balloon photography—aerial photography that he’s carved a specialist niche for himself at—that wins a prize from us for most original way to make a buck.

13. Lorna Fisher (UK) - The Horse Whisperer

Running her own life skills and equestrian consultancy, Fliteskool, Lorna has become a legendary fi gure for her inexorable optimism, her belief in positive thinking and using self-actualisation through the love of animals as a technique.

Taking place at the Royal Selangor Polo Club, the programme creates life-affirming experiences through riding and the sport, fostering new ways of looking at the world and most importantly, oneself. And come next year, she’ll be opening a training camp for young riders in Shah Alam that will be a friendly affordable place to enjoy the outdoors and nature. On top of all this she is also a recognised Reiki master.

14. Richard Gardner (UK)

One part of the renowned Gardner & Wife, one of the most active English language theatre companies in Malaysia, Richard has been responsible for hundreds of international performances to be staged in The Actors Studio BSC and beyond. Come this year, he’ll be launching a tour of South East Asia for Men in Tutus.

15. Datuk Tim Garland (US)

Now heading up TBWA-ISCMALAYSIA Group (the agency that gave us the award-winning ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ campaign) as Senior Vice President of the brand engagement group, Datuk Tim rebranded the operations at Orion Interactive Media, where he was CEO, whilst working closely with TBWA-ISCMALAYSIA Group. Also on his ‘should know’ checklist is being a former AmCham president.

16. Ioannis Gatsiounis (US)

Journalist and author, Ioannis has been making a name for himself as one of the best recognized journalists in the region, penning for such notable publications and agencies as Reuters and others. But it’s his book publishing—both fi ction and non-fi ction, starting with Beyond the Veneer and now with Velvet & Cinderblocks—that have set him apart as one of Asia’s hot literary talents.

17. Matthias Gelber (DE)

Voted Greenest Person on the Planet in 2008, Matthias has inspired people with his passion for the environment in more than 40 countries with eco talks and eco actions.

He founded Eco Warriors Malaysia which made headlines locally with tree planting, condo recycling and lake cleaning all driven by the commitment of Malaysian volunteers.

His eco cement company, Maleki GmbH, has the mission to cut down on the six per cent of CO2 emissions that cement manufacturing is contributing on his planet.

18. Dato’ Peter Gilmour (AU)

International yachtsman and racing guru, Dato Peter is one of the top fi gures in his sport, a consummate competitor in the high pressure/big money game of competitive sailing. But it’s his harbouring of the country’s largest international sporting event—The Monsoon Cup—that have helped put Malaysia on the map and earned him his datoship.

19. Lucien De Guise (UK)

Head curator of the Islamic Arts Museum (the largest such museum in the world starting this year) and one of the foremost art critics in the region consulting for Christie’s and various international museums, Lucien is also a writer and editor contributing to Malaysian Tatler as well as other titles that vie for his opinions on luxury goods and objects de arte.

20. Al Guthrie (UK)

From the Agong to toddlers, Al has helped golfers improve their game through designing bespoke golf clubs at The Old Clubhouse for years. He’s acknowledged as one of the best in his fi eld worldwide, earning the prestigious title of one of the Top 100 Clubmakers in the World 2007, 2009, 2010.

21. Joe Hasham (AU) - The Knighted

Having held so many roles in theatre both in his home country of Australia and his adopted home of Malaysia, Joe Hasham is one of the most familiar faces in the Malaysian performing arts scene.

The Lebanese-born Joe is the Artistic Director of The Actors Studio and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, where he has been nurturing local talent through his ‘Acting for Beginners’ class as well as through the various plays and musicals he has directed since coming to Malaysia in 1984.

In light of his achievements in the world of performing arts, Joe was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) last year by Queen Elizabeth II.

22. Peter Honegg (DE) - The Driver

Peter Honegg makes a good Santa Claus. When Mercedes-Benz entertained children from underprivileged backgrounds recently he was the natural choice to don the red coat and whiskers.

The youngsters were rapt, as much by his entertaining sleight of hand magic tricks as the gifts and food on offer. The star turn that day (and the monthly days like it that the children either drop by the Mercedes-Benz HQ or are visited by Peter and his team) had a little secret of his own, however.

The pockets of his red fur-lined suit held three authentic wind-up watches, his passion. Honegg’s extraordinary collection stands at over 100 pieces and he is rarely without at least two or three on his person in addition to the one on his wrist. His car company isn’t too shabby, either.

23. Edward Hyde (UK)

Edward Hyde is one of KL’s legendary F&B presences, a man who made European food through his La Bodega properties a KL institution. His next project, Telawi Street Bistro, then became one of the fi rst non-hotel restaurants of consequence in the city. Without Edward, Bangsar would be a very different place indeed.

24. Charles Ireland (UK)

Head of Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB), Charles is the man who helps make Heineken, Guinness, Tiger and Anchor the ubiquitous presence it is in Malaysia. But it’s for his work to bring world-class entertainment, notably last year’s show by the Black Eyed Peas at Sunway Lagoon, that gets him on the list. Unbowed to external pressure, he made sure the show went on.

25. David King (AU)

Director, Kitchens for the Westin Kuala Lumpur, David was recently voted by the readers of Time Out KL Chef of the Year in its inaugural Food Awards, just one of many such awards and accolades he’s gotten over his vast culinary career. He’s worked at Chez Panisse (San Francisco), Le Tante Claire, various 3-star Michelin restaurants such as Le Crayer in Reims, and more throughout his glittering global career.

26. Gerry Khouri (AU)

Gerry is the founder of BUFORI Motor Car Company, one of the top boutique luxury carmakers in the world. Since the inception of the first Bufori, Gerry has already produced fi ve different models, with two additional models into the collection, i.e. the Bufori MKVI and the Bufori CS. They’ve recently designed a race car that is presently being tested and rolled out in competitions.

27. Michael de Kretser (AU)
As founder of Go Communications (Michael is the first PR professional in Malaysia to be inducted in the International Who’s Who 2009) MDK, as he’s affectionately known, has been described as being the ‘Tiger Woods’ of Asian Public Relations by the CEO of Asia Pacific Citigroup.

He once placed a life size figure of a ‘Singapore Girl’ at Madame Tussauds Waxworks in London, the first commercial figure in Tussauds’ 200–year history. Long Legs & Lemonade, his professional memoir, will be published in early 2010.

28. Florence Lambert (FR)

Through her design skills and her knowledge of the local culture, Florence saw a void in the markets of premium gifts and souvenirs in Malaysia. She created a new range of products based on three characters: Gowry, Yati and Ah Chik who represent the ethnic diversity of Malaysia and is winning praise in these 1Malaysian times.

29. Owen Leed (ZA/UK)

Owen started off as Chief Marketing Offi cer of South African Tourism 2000–2002 and helped make that country the fastest growing tourism destination in the world in 2002. Since 2005, he’s responsible for commercial/ marketing/PR portfolio at A1 Team Malaysia, helping to keep the local team at an international sporting level.

30. Barrie Livingston (UK)

Architect to the stars (his clients include Cher, the Rock, Backstreet Boys, Cybil Shepherd and Kristin Davis and other Hollywood A-listers), Barrie is known as a doyen of style in the LA and Miami decorating and designing scene. He now calls KL his home and is already setting about several eye-catching projects.

31. Danielle Maia (BR)

She’s one of the most sought after models in Asia, having worked across the region in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Manila, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China as well as in glamourous international destinations including Spain, Brazil and Dubai where she’s done ads for Ford Motors, McDonald’s, Costa Vitoria Atlantic, Head and Shoulders, Star Cruises, CNN and others.

She’s also been on the cover and inside pages of DestinAsian, Mega Magazine, Women, Female, Sister, V Mag, Zero Degrees, Viva Mag and Nona. And to make matters worse, she speaks five languages.

32. Narelle McMurtrie (AU)

Almost everyone who’s been to Langkawi has come across the indefatigable Narelle. A tireless advocate for animal rights and protection, she runs a sanctuary for orphaned and abused animals on the island.

She’s also the woman behind Bon Ton, Temple Tree and soon a new property, Straits Collection, in Penang, all considered some of the finest boutique hotels and travel experiences in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

33. Jillian McWilliam (UK)
Expatriate Florence Nightingale, Jill is one of the most on-theground advocates for street children and homeless rights. She’s a constant presence at Bukit Bintang where she engages and keeps track of Malaysia’s many street children, a task that is emotionally and physically challenging as well as dangerous at times.

34. Rob Middleton (CA)

While you may not recognise the name, you’ll certainly will the voice if you watch any local TV. Rob is the deep-voiced man who does all the promos on Star Movies and also does voice overs for MTV, National Geographic, Hallmark Channel and more, a job that makes his vocal cords one of the most familiar sounds in Asia.

35. Palani Mohan (IN)

Palani is considered one of the best photographers in the world. His images are regularly published in the world’s leading magazines including National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and GEO.

Palani’s work also hangs in the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and he has won numerous international awards, including the World Press Photo and Picture of the Year. He has published three photographic books and is working on his fourth.

36. Paul Morrison (UK) - The Ear

Malaysia is spoiled for great expatriate musicians and talent. The BENCHMARX boys, DJ Gabriel, Glynn Tandy, DJ Jaypee, DJ Stella Nutella and more making their aural contributions. But it takes the hardworking and under appreciated work of producers— people who lend their talented ears to artists—to make their work seamless and breathtaking.

Paul Morrison is just that kind of talent. One of Malaysia’s most sought out musician and producers with a penchant for the experimental, Paul head’s up WASP Studios, a professional sound studio that is home to some of the best equipment and production talent, fostering Malaysia’s emerging talent as well as sounds for advertising.

You may have heard his work on TV ads such as, Petronas F1, Maxis, Proton, 7up, Coke, Honda and more recently Lamb, an animated movie commissioned by Animax.

37. Gabriel Mustaqim (DJ Gabriel) (SG)

Gabriel is, quite frankly, the man who taught Malaysia to get its rocks off on the dance fl oor. Coming to Malaysia in his youth, he quickly set up his turntables (vinyl) then in the infamous clubs of Boom Boom Room, Backdoor, Kit Kat Club and others, making him the Godfather of EDM in Malaysia. He currently partners with Joey G on the radio show and party, Turn it Up.

38. Cher Ng (SG)

Cher Ng manages Zouk Club KL, the main venue for dance music and clubbing culture in Malaysia. He’s the man tasked with working into the late morn so that we can have our decadent fun. But what many don’t realise is that Cher was one of the region’s more respected DJs, a man who lived the life like the best of them. Small wonder then that Zouk is known as the ‘DJs club of choice’.

39. Frederic Noyere (FR)

In November 2007, Fred was appointed as Riche Monde Malaysia’s (as well as Moet Hennessy Diageo Singapore’s) Managing Director, a man tasked with bringing sophistication and class to the drinking culture here. But it’s also his dedication to educating on topics of craftsmanship and style (a recent XO exhibit displayed a classic Bugatti) that make him worth knowing.

40. Steve Northcott (CA)

Comedian, writer, teacher (ISKL) and rocker for the environment, Steve arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and set about becoming the number one expatriate stand-up comic and musician with top expatriate rock outfit, the BENCHMARX.

Steve has used these creative projects as a means to co-create ‘Rockin’ for the Environment’, a music and arts festival focused on the conservation and awareness of Malaysian endangered species.

41. Veronica Pedrosa (PH) - The Witness

In many ways, you could say Veronica, one of Al Jazeera’s global news presenters, was born to the professional position she would attain.

Born into the Philippines at the height of the Marcos regime’s worst abuses, during the martial law that would blanket the country for ten years, it was in that time her journalist mother, Carmen Navarro Pedrosa, would write the book that would get them exiled from the country, The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos.

No wonder then that Veronica, armed with such an example, would become one of Asia and the world’s most visible unbowed journalists, being a news anchor on CNN International, BBC World and a former journalist to ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. She was named Best News Anchor at the Asian Television Awards 2004.

42. Robert Raymer (US)

As an academic, Robert teaches creative writing at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. As a writer, his stories have appeared in The Literary Review, London Magazine, Going Places and Reader’s Digest. Lovers and Strangers Revisited (2008), his collection of 17 short stories set in Malaysia, won the 2009 Popular-The Star Readers Choice Awards.

Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia (2009) is his latest book. His blog on writing can be accessed from his website

43. Casmad Sanuri (ID)

As one of the owners of The Emperor’s New Clothes (TNC), the ultra high-end men’s fashion store in Pavilion KL, Indonesian Casmad has the honour of being at the forefront of couture fashion and style with his consignments and brands in the TNC collection.

44. Chris Shepherd (US)

Southeast Asia’s coordinator for the organisation TRAFFIC, a group that tracks the illegal exporting of wildlife and endangered species, Shepherd is the point person on this important fight to save our fl ora and fauna for future generations.

45. Mary Slane (IE)

Irish energy healer, holistic counsellor and life coach, Mary began her career as a geneticist in the pharmaceutical industry in the UK. She is trained in Pranic healing to advanced level, Reiki to Masters level and Holographic Healing to Masters level.

46. Dr Kurt Svrcula (DE)

A diver for the past 32 years, Dr Kurt Svrcula is a noted underwater photographer and writer with a strong leaning towards environment and conservation issues.

He is also author of Diving in Malaysia, the most up-to-date and comprehensive guide on Malaysian dive sites. He is also a co-owner of the fi rst marine inspired boutique hotel—Piccolo Hotel on Bintang Walk.

47. Datuk Jean Todt (FR)

The ever-present Todt calls Malaysia his second home by dint of his relationship with long-term Malaysian girlfriend, Hollywood/ Hong Kong actress Michelle Yeoh.

But it’s his F1 experience as boss of Ferrari and strategic advice to Sepang motorsports that led him to be knighted as a Datuk and led him to be a tourism ambassador to Malaysia. Watch out to discover whether he is appointed new director of F1.

48. Marcus Epic Tucker (US)

Urban dance performer, director and choreographer, Marcus has worked with major hip hop artists such as Nick Cannon, Freeway, Nas, and singer Pixie Lott, one of UK’s biggest international pop sensations.

While in Malaysia, Marcus has worked as choreographer and judge on projects such as So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia Season 2 and Astro’s Battle Ground, Malaysia’s fi rst and only hip hop dance television show.

49. Datuk Peter Wentworth (UK)

Formerly of BP Asia Pacific, Peter was the daily decision maker for one of Malaysia’s biggest MNCs. But recently he’s decided to use his talent, experience and knowledge to in the benefit of other captains of industry through CEO advice and strategic training to Malaysian business leaders.

He has also been one of the main drivers of the BMCC, fronting numerous networking events and gala nights such as the famous annual Rugby Dinners.

50. Volker Wolf (DE)

Head of Goethe Institut, the German cultural organisation, Volker has been seminal in seeding film and sound projects in Malaysia, opening up new avenues of artistic exploration. Recently, he involved in a new experimental sound festival as well as exchanges that are giving support to tomorrow’s Malaysian cultural avatars.