(DNA Top 10 in 2014) 500 Startups’ Khailee Ng steps down from MaGIC board

(Originally published on Dec 22, 2014)
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I suppose with the benefit of hindsight, this development shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. With new additions of a more public sector flavour to the MaGIC board, given the age-old tug of war that happens when public-funded agencies seek to live private sector lives, board-level governance will be an interesting challenge. – Gabey Goh
  • Ng says he will continue relationship with MaGIC on the operations side
  • Criticism that bumi entrepreneurs alienated; Teraju CEO appointed to the board

(DNA Top 10 in 2014) 500 Startups’ Khailee Ng steps down from MaGIC boardENTREPRENEUR and 500 Startups managing partner Khailee Ng (pic) has stepped down from his post on the board of directors of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC).
A spokesperson from MaGIC, a government-funded agency tasked with catalysing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Malaysia, confirmed that Ng was no longer on the board, adding that Husni Salleh, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Teraju, was recently appointed to the board.
Teraju (Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera or the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit) is an agency set up in 2011 to assist the growth and development of bumiputera entrepreneurs, reporting directly to the Prime Minister’s Department.
With Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance, as the chairman, other board directors include Azmil Zahruddin Abdul Aziz, executive director, Investments at Khazanah; Jamaludin Ibrahim, CEO of Axiata Group Bhd and BiotechCorp CEO Dr. Mohd Nazlee.

On Dec 24, MaGIC updated its website to include changes to its board, with Fauziah Yaacob, deputy secretary general (Investment), Ministry of Finance is no longer listed as a director. The board also has two new additions, namely Dr. Noorul Ainur Mohd. Nur, deputy secretary general (Science), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) and Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) (see below).

 (DNA Top 10 in 2014) 500 Startups’ Khailee Ng steps down from MaGIC board

MaGIC declined to comment further on whether there will be more changes to its board of directors, which oversees the governance of the agency’s activities.
When contacted by Digital News Asia (DNA) about his exit from the board, Ng said that it was an appropriate move but added that he remains involved with MaGIC on an operational level.
“Given that I travel so much, it is not feasible for me to meet face-to-face for meetings as per the requirements of a board director.
“I’m more of an operations guy rather than a governance person, which is not my forte nor the best use of my skills. I am frankly more useful on the backend side of things and have always supported the MaGIC team operationally with events, ideas and strategising.
“I am still working with the team to help them achieve their objectives and will continue to do so,” added Ng, also a DNA Digerati50.
[Read Also: MaGIC out to create an intangible via [email protected]]

The coming year will also see the agency operating with a smaller budget compared with its inaugural year, according to MaGIC CEO Cheryl Yeoh.
Yeoh had shared that the agency’s budget had been cut during a conversation on social networking platform Twitter with user @ShahrirTamrin on Dec 11, who had asked about whether the agency had plans to host events in other states such as Penang or Kedah anytime soon.
“We'll look into it, but lack resources for now. Our mandate is to start in Klang Valley, share via videos, then expand later,” Yeoh tweeted in response.
She added that the agency hopes to bring its outreach programmes to the rest of the country, when its budget permits.

MaGIC was allocated RM50 million when it was first announced, but this was later increased  to RM70 million (US$20 million). It is not known how long this allocation is supposed to last, however, nor how frequently it would be dispensed.

The addition of Husni Salleh to the board comes as MaGIC strives to better engage with the bumiputera entrepreneur community.
Members involved in the startup ecosystem in the country had previously shared with DNA that some entrepreneurs felt alienated from the agency’s initiatives, mainly due the predominant use of English as the medium of communication.
On Dec 15, it launched the MaGIC Bumiputera Engagement Plan which is intended to further accelerate the implementation of programmes and collaboration with other agencies and organisations to support the APEB (Agenda Pemerkasaan Ekonomi Bumiputera) initiative.
The event, which featured talks by three bumiputera entrepreneurs on various startup topics, seeks attendance from bumiputera entrepreneurs or staff/management from bumiputera-owned companies with minimum 60% equity.

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