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It’s that time of the year again where Forbes drops its 30 Under 30 list, including its Asia edition. 

Featuring 300 young entrepreneurs, leaders, and trailblazers across the Asia-Pacific region, this list comprises a “definitive list” of people who are at the head of transforming industries and finding innovative ways to navigate new business.

In previous years, we’ve had more entries that made the cut: 2021 had seven whereas 2022 had eight Malaysians on the list. This year, we have one more than last year’s three

Here are the four locals and their achievements that put them on the list.

Sivasangari Subramaniam, professional squash player

Image Credit: Sivasangari Subramaniam

First up, in the Entertainment and Sports category is a squash player that’s been making a name for herself (and the country) worldwide—Sivasangari Subramaniam.

The Kedahan has been representing Malaysia internationally since her teens. She secured a gold win at SEA Games 2017 and was a silver medalist for the Asian Games 2018. 

While studying for her degree at Cornell University (an Ivy League institution) she still managed to jump from World No. 51 (2019) to World No. 16 (2022). During her education there, she also played for the Cornell Varsity Women’s Squash Team throughout her four seasons.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she was named a four-time 1st-Team All-American and 1st-Team All-Ivy Athlete. Sivasangari was also the Ivy-League Player of the Year for 2022 and 2023.

But none of them spotlight her determination more than the two gold medals she won at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023. You see, Sivasangari was in a car accident that left her with facial fractures and a C1 vertebrae injury just seven months before that. 

Her winning streak continued this year in April, where she won the Professional Squash Association (PSA) GillenMarkets London Classic tournament in London. This win represents the first time a Malaysian reached a gold-level squash final since Datuk Nicol David.

The 25-year-old is currently ranked No. 13 in the world and has her sights set on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Angel Low, Principal of The Hive Southeast Asia

Image Credit: Angel Low

In the list’s Finance & Venture Capital category is Malaysian Angel Low. And if there’s one thing she’s known for, it’s her vibrant career in the startup world. 

She’s currently serving as a principal at The Hive Southeast Asia, a $50 million fund created by Tuas Capital Partners, Sunway Group, and Palo Alto-based The Hive to invest in startups in Malaysia and the ASEAN region. 

Since joining The Hive Southeast Asia in 2021, she’s also taken on the role of General Manager at AI Nusantara. It’s an initiative by Selangor Digital School and one of The Hive Southeast Asia’s investments that helps students prepare for the digital future. 

“Aside from my appointment with The Hive, I have a family office with my other half which we engage startups as angel investors. We have allocated close to RM3 million, and have invested close to RM1.5 million into early-stage startups, and high-risk assets,” Angel told Asia Tech Daily last year.

Before that, Angel was an Investment Analyst at MAVCAP and previously worked in a Private Equity firm based in China focusing on consumer, TMT, and healthcare. 

Her experience with small, fast-paced technology companies made Angel into a strong advocate for a more inclusive venture capital industry. According to APAC Family Office, she’s convinced that providing under-represented founders with opportunities is crucial for a vibrant and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Erica Eng, animator and artist

Image Credit: Erica Eng

Under the Media, Marketing, & Advertising category, you’ll find Malaysian Erica Eng. 

A Johor-based animator and artist, Erica Eng gained international recognition four years ago when her debut webcomic “Fried Rice” won the Eisner Award. This is a massive accomplishment as it’s essentially the comics industry’s equivalent to the Academy Awards. 

What’s more impressive is that she’s the first Malaysian to win it too.

Her “Fried Rice’’ comic was first published on Tumblr in 2019, but is officially in print as the graphic novel released this year. Erica described the book as a semi-autobiographical fiction. It follows the story of Min, a 17-year-old Malaysian girl from Batu Pahat, who visits her relatives in Kuala Lumpur and aspires to be an artist and animator.

The 25-year-old shared with The Star that the print version, which has 30 pages more content than the webcomic, is self-published and distributed by Gerakbudaya. It was initially rejected by multiple publishers before she decided to take on the challenge herself. 

“It’s supposed to feel like a scrapbook, like you’re reading someone’s journal or letters. The extra content is about the inspiration behind Fried Rice and my process. It’s mostly drawings and pictures, so I hope it’s fun to read,” she said.

At the moment, while working at Dark Sandwich (a local gameplay and animation studio), she’s working on a new webcomic called “Beloved”. 

It’s about a family undergoing changes and grappling with faith after moving to a small town. Like “Fried Rice”, it’s also set in Malaysia with many of the scenes inspired by her own experiences.

Lee Zhe Xi, co-owner of Eat and Cook

Image Credit: Lee Zhe Xi

Last but not least, part of The Arts category on Forbes’ list is chef and restaurateur Lee Zhe Xi. 

At the mere age of 27, Zhe Xi is the co-owner of Eat and Cook, an omakase restaurant that’s earned global recognition within less than a year of operations.

It clinched an American Express One To Watch Award 2022 and earned a place on the 2023 Asia’s 100 Best Restaurants list at No. 79. In 2023 and 2024, it was also named a Michelin Recommended restaurant.

These are notable achievements considering that the restaurant was opened by Zhe Xi and his coursemate, Soh Yong Zhi, after losing their jobs at the start of the pandemic.

Starting off as a small six-seater eatery in a mall, the restaurant’s demand grew so much that they relocated to its current Bukit Jalil space less than a year later. Zhe Xi helms the kitchen and emphasises heavily on making local ingredients shine. 

It’s this passion of highlighting Malaysian flavours and ingredients that helped propel Eat and Cook to international acclaim. “We try to explore Malaysian ingredients and flavour, to do what we like to do,” he told Malay Mail earlier this year

“It would be easier to fulfil some customer expectations by delivering a slightly premium ingredient from a more well-known country, but it’s more challenging for me to satisfy those expectations with something local.”

Aside from Eat and Cook, he’s also the co-owner of Barkar KL, an upscale dining restaurant that serves comfort local “bakar” dishes like egg and toast, ikan bakar, claypot rice, and noodles.

-//-

We wish a hearty congratulations to all the four winners and hope to see more Malaysian names making an appearance on next year’s list!

  • Read other articles we’ve written about Forbes here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Sivasangari Subramaniam / Angel Low / Forbes / Lee Zhe Xi

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