Yoong Lai Thye

Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Yoong Lai Thye for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

A vibrant woman at the leading edge of accounting education, she paved the way for the introduction of the Malaysian variant papers for law and taxation for the ACCA qualification. This made the examinations even more relevant to and popular with students in Malaysia. Her varied academic aptitude and vast experience enabled her to advance from the commercial sector to audit practice and then to education and management.  

Yoong Lai Thye was born in 1952 in Johor Bahru, a city just north of Singapore, the second of seven children. Her parents instilled in her a strong sense of responsibility, perseverance and hard work and her siblings taught her the importance of caring and sharing. Yoong attended school in Johor Bahru where she did very well academically.  

In 1973 she left for Kuala Lumpur to study accountancy at the Tunku Abdul Rahman College, a prestigious institution named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. At TAR, Yoong worked diligently, not wishing to disappoint her parents who had made sacrifices for her.    

In 1976, she gained a Distinction in the Diploma in Commerce, simultaneously completing the Professional examinations of the UK-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and studying for the finals of the UK's Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators. 

After graduation, she became  Accounts & Administration Officer in a local manufacturing company before accepting an offer to join TAR College as a Lecturer in Business Studies. Soon afterwards, she was successful in achieving a prestigious British Council Colombo Plan Scholarship to study for a Masters in (Accounting) at the University of Birmingham.  

Her fiancée, Chan Chee Seng joined her in the UK and they were married in Birmingham in 1978. They have two daughters, Jennifer a doctor and Samantha who has just graduated in Canada. 

After obtaining her Masters degree, Yoong was granted 6 months leave by TAR College to undertake training at Price Waterhouse in Birmingham to broaden her experience. Returning to TAR College in 1979, she applied herself to her academic career with great dedication and commitment.  

Determined to ensure that the accountancy training at the college met the high standards of the profession, Yoong immersed herself in the work of the accountancy professional bodies and participated actively in the development of the accountancy profession, particularly in respect of education and training. 

Over the past 25 years, she has held a variety of posts with professional bodies, including: Leading member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, where she has served as President for three terms Member and Chairman of several committees of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants, Chief Examiner for Financial Accounting with the Malaysian Institute of Taxation, An examiner and moderator for the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Organiser of the KL Conference of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants  

She made impressive career progress, becoming Head of the Business School in 1996, Acting Vice-Principal in 2000 and Principal and Chief Executive Officer of TAR College in 2002.   

Her approach as Principal has been to place great emphasis on the development of soft skills among students, to forge strong links with industry and commerce, and to ensure a high quality teaching and learning experience. Under her leadership, TAR College has experienced remarkable growth and has become one of the largest colleges in Malaysia - with 6 campuses and more than 26,000 students, many of whom receive full or partial fee remission under the Merit Scholarship Scheme.  

Many new industry-relevant programmes have been introduced in, for example, Retail Management, Interactive Software Technology, Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Sport & Exercise Science, E-Commerce and Marketing, Multimedia Design, Fashion Design and International Business.  Ms Yoong has also raised the international profile of the college.  

Working closely with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, she has put processes and expertise in place which have allowed TAR to achieve Premier Plus status and become one of the top 5% ACCA tuition providers in the world.   

Furthermore, she has been instrumental in the introduction of the Malaysian variant papers for law and taxation for the ACCA professional examinations, thereby allowing graduates to be market ready for employment in Malaysia.    

In recent years, Tunku Abdul Rahman College has successfully partnered with several universities in the United States and the UK, and the collaboration with LJMU has led to over 3000 TAR students completing their Honours Degrees on our summer programme. Ms Yoong's outstanding achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally: 

In 2004, she was included in a list of 100 most distinguished members of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in its Centenary Celebrations - the only ACCA member from Malaysia to receive this accolade. 

In 2006, she was made a  Companion of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (Johan Mangku Negara) by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for her continuous commitment to the development of TAR College. 

Yoong Lai Thye has enjoyed an outstanding career to date. Her stewardship has been to the great beneficial to many thousands of students, and her vision has helped foster fruitful links with international partners, not least Liverpool John Moores University. 

We are pleased to acknowledge her excellence today.  

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Yoong Lai Thye, this most distinguished person, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.