Zairil Khir Johari

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Zairil Khir Johari is the State Executive Councillor for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation in the Penang State Government. He is also the State Assemblyman for Tanjong Bunga, a seat he won in the 14th General Election in 2018.

From 2013 to 2018, Zairil was the Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, during which he was also the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Parliamentary Spokesperson for Education, Science and Technology.

Zairil is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he received his Master of Arts in international studies and diplomacy, graduating with merit. Prior to that, he attended Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, graduating with a Bachelor of IT (Hons) in information systems engineering.

Upon returning to Malaysia after completing his studies, Zairil started Chocolab, a chocolate production house specialising in boutique and customised chocolates. After two years as CEO (chocolate eating officer), he divested himself from business to pursue a career in politics.

In February 2011, Zairil was appointed Political Secretary to the Secretary-General of the DAP, Lim Guan Eng. He served in this capacity until his election into the Central Executive Committee (CEC) in December 2012, and subsequent re-election in September 2013.

Zairil is currently DAP’s Assistant National Publicity Secretary, as well as the Vice-Chairman of DAP Penang, a post he was elected to in December 2013.

From 2012 to 2016, Zairil headed the Penang Institute, a state-funded public policy think tank based in Penang. Under his leadership, the Penang Institute convened numerous international conferences and lectures, besides publishing the Penang Paradigm, a development blueprint for the state of Penang. He now continues to serve as a Senior Fellow of the institute.

Zairil has a keen interest in national education, federalism and identity politics. He writes extensively on these issues and in 2017 published his first book, Finding Malaysia: Making Sense of an Eccentric Nation. He has also authored book chapters for a number of major publications and maintains a column in the Penang Monthly. He is currently a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Editorial Advisory Board for The Parliamentarian and the Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments.

In 2014, Zairil was selected as a global “Leader of Tomorrow” for the 44th St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, an annual conference aimed at fostering inter-generational and inter-cultural dialogue between the decision-makers of today and tomorrow. In 2017, Zairil was chosen to participate in the prestigious UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s International Leaders Programme, an initiative that connects future leaders from emerging power countries. In the same year, he was also invited to attend the Young Political Leaders Programme by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the Leaders in Governance Programme, which is the Singapore Civil Service College’s flagship course for senior public servants.

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Zairil Khir Johari adalah Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang bagi Kerja Raya, Utiliti dan Tebatan Banjir. Beliau juga Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri bagi kawasan Tanjong Bunga, iaitu kerusi yang dimenanginya dalam Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-14 pada tahun 2018.

Dari tahun 2013 hingga 2018, Zairil merupakan Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera, di mana beliau menggalas tanggungjawab sebagai Jurucakap Parlimen Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP) bagi hal ehwal Pendidikan, Sains dan Teknologi.

Zairil adalah graduan daripada School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, kelulusan Master of Arts dalam pengajian hubungan antarabangsa dan diplomasi dengan kepujian. Sebelum itu, beliau belajar di Universiti Multimedia di Cyberjaya dalam bidang Sarjana Muda Teknologi Maklumat (Kepujian), pengkhususan kejuruteraan sistem maklumat.

Sekembalinya ke Malaysia setelah menamatkan pengajian, Zairil menubuhkan Chocolab, pusat pengeluaran coklat butik dan coklat tempahan khas. Setelah dua tahun berkhidmat sebagai CEO (chocolate eating officer), beliau meninggalkan bidang perniagaan dan bermula mendaki kerjaya politik.

Pada Februari 2011, Zairil dilantik sebagai Setiausaha Politik kepada Setiausaha Agung DAP, Lim Guan Eng. Beliau memegang jawatan tersebut sehingga dipilih menganggotai Jawatankuasa Tertinggi Pusat (CEC) pada Disember 2012, dan kemudiannya dalam pemilihan semula pada September 2013.

Zairil kini menyandang jawatan Penolong Setiausaha Publisiti Kebangsaan DAP, di samping menjadi Naib Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Negeri DAP Pulau Pinang setelah berjaya dipilih pada Disember 2013.

Dari tahun 2012 hingga 2016, Zairil telah menerajui Penang Institute, badan pemikir dasar awam kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang. Di bawah kepimpinannya, Penang Institute telah mengelolakan beberapa persidangan dan syarahan antarabangsa di samping menghasilkan Penang Paradigm, iaitu pelan induk pembangunan negeri Pulau Pinang. Beliau kini menyandang jawatan sebagai Felo Kanan institute tersebut.

Zairil berminat dalam bidang pendidikan, federalisme dan politik identiti. Beliau banyak menulis mengenai perkara-perkara ini dan pada tahun 2017 telah menerbitkan buku pertamanya, Finding Malaysia: Making Sense of an Eccentric Nation. Beliau juga pernah menulis untuk pelbagai penerbitan terkemuka dan mempunyai kolum dalam majalah Penang Monthly. Beliau juga dilantik oleh Persatuan Parlimen Komanwel (CPA) sebagai ahli Lembaga Penasihat Editorial bagi majalah The Parliamentarian dan Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments.

Pada tahun 2014, Zairil  telah dinamakan sebagai seorang “Pemimpin Masa Depan” (Leader of Tomorrow) dalam persidangan St Gallen Symposium ke-44 di Switzerland,  sebuah acara tahunan yang bertujuan untuk memupuk perbincangan dan pertukaran antara budaya dan generasi dalam kalangan pemimpin-pemimpin hari ini dan masa depan. Pada tahun 2017, Zairil telah dipilih untuk menyertai International Leaders Programme, iaitu suatu inisiatif berprestij anjuran Kementerian Luar Negeri dan Komanwel UK yang bermatlamat untuk menghubungkan pemimpin-pemimpin masa depan dari negara-negara kuasa memuncul. Pada tahun yang sama, beliau juga dijemput untuk menghadiri program Young Political Leaders oleh Jabatan Luar Negeri dan Perdagangan Australia serta program Leaders in Governance, iaitu kursus utama bagi penjawat awam kanan yang dikendalikan oleh Kolej Perkhidmatan Awam Singapura.

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