As a key institution within the policymaking ecosystem in Penang and Malaysia, Penang Institute has identified the need for leadership development to be an urgent matter at all levels of society. Its Forum for Leadership And Governance (FLAG), based in the South Wing building on its grounds at 10-12 Brown Road, acts today as a major platform at which leadership roundtables, seminars and courses are held.


Thought leaders from diverse segments of society will gather in small groups to discuss specific subjects with bearing on policymaking in Penang. As a whole, these aim:

  1. to reverse the work-in-silo culture that has overtaken much of Malaysian professional life;
  2. to expand a sense of inclusiveness, common purpose and understanding among key stakeholders;
  3. to encourage sustainable discussion networks built on problem solving and problem identification, involving players from the public sector, the private sector, academe, civil society and the international community, and;
  4. to gain cutting-edge knowledge on latest developments, and the issues troubling the various governance, corporate and socio-cultural sectors in Penang, for the purpose of adding breadth and depth to policy-making and public discourses.


Providing a platform for experienced leaders in various fields to share their knowledge and skills, and for talented and ambitious young people to learn from them, allowing Penang Institute to ease the serious lack of concrete leadership training in Malaysian society. Such masterclasses provide networking possibilities for participants. They also heighten the Institute’s reputation as a centre of intellectual exchange and policymaking consciousness.


Penang Institute has been building an international network of collaborators over the last decades, and now have projects with, and links to institutions of relevance to its policy ambit. In the region, the Institute’s ties involve institutions in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Further afield, the Institute continues to collaborate with think tanks in Germany, Australia, the United States and the Scandinavian countries. United Nations and European Union bodies are also part of our network of collaborators. The Institute’s ties with embassies and international organisations based in Malaysia are also strong, as is evidenced in their regular visits to the Institute for discussions on political and economic developments in the country, and on other matters.

Penang Institute therefore holds international elite gatherings for the purpose of discussing not only Penang’s place in the world, but also the challenges faced by the world at large, and the discourses that are unfolding globally, most of which would naturally have deep relevance for Penang, given its cosmopolitan past, present and future.


Discussions taking place and talks given at FLAG provide material and inspiration for the Institute’s publications, such as ISSUES policy briefs and Penang Monthly. The South Wing also houses a non-loan leadership library for the use of its researchers, and an AV room for podcast recordings.

South Wing Papers

Beyond Folk-Hero Leadership: Towards Decline or Institutional Strength? By Tony Yeoh In this essay, we examine what leadership archetypes tend to emerge from such social movements and how institutional... Read the article

Towards First-World Holistic Governance in Little Penang By Zulfigar Yasin How does Penang move forward in its governance to provide a better future for its people? Read the article

Effective Leaders Are Bred, Not Born By Ooi Kee Beng Leaders and followers have a dialectical relationship. If one imagines that leaders are born, and not bred, then one has... Read the article


[Penang in Asia Roundtable Series] Penang in 2050: Staking the Footpath to a Sustainable Future, to be held at Bel Retiro, Penang Hill

On 14 November, Penang Institute will be organising the first roundtable out of a series of others to be held every year under the umbrella of “Penang in Asia”. Intellectuals and prominent thinkers of Penang will gather at the Bel Retiro at Penang Hill hosted by TYT Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, the Governor of Penang, to discuss the future of Penang in terms of policy-making. Attendance is by invitation only.