We believe in complementing the youthful spirit and benevolence into the fabric of our society through their artistic excellence and commitment.
A remarkable educational leader spearheads with a moral purpose. They have strong faith in themselves and possess a learning attitude. Such leaders continuously guide and support their colleagues and students for their growth and betterment. They are driven by the motive of transforming education.
One such dedicated change leader with an enthusiasm to learn and educate others is Dr. Lok Lay Hong, the CEO of Malaysian Institute of Art. Starting her career in music right from home, she offered piano lessons for ten years, which eventually expanded to teaching jobs in the youth community choir and private voice classes. During this tenure, she enhanced her skills while graduating with a Diploma in Music from Malaysian Institute of Art in 1986. Subsequently, she received a Bachelor’s Degree (Music) from Columbia College, USA. Dr. Lok furthered her studies in Masters of Philosophy (Performance & Research) at Massey University, New Zealand. There, she received the Merit Award for Research Excellence. In 2014, she graduated with a PhD in Education from Asia e University.
A Decorated and Benevolent Educator
Dr. Lok was appointed the Head of the Music Department at MIA in 1999 and had been associated with the same for almost two decades. During this period of time, the department was at the height of its glory days and it provided further educational opportunity to the financially needy youths in the country. Under Dr. Lok’s fervent leadership, the department received the prestigious Chin Yong Music Award in 2018. In the same year, she was nominated for the Private Education Excellence Award by the Private Education Co-operative of Malaysia.
She has participated as a guest speaker in numerous international forums and conferences such as at Xiangnan University, China; China-ASEAN Music Festival, Guangxi Arts University (2018); Global Presidential Summit Forum, National Pingtung University (2018) and served as a jury at the Asia International Music Competition, Japan, numerous times.
“Giving back to society is a matter close to my heart,” says Dr. Lok. She had organized over 70 functions including collaborating with charitable organizations such as National Association of the Blind, Hospice Klang, and Soroptimist International Club of Bangsar (SICB) to help the needy as well as disadvantaged women and children. Additionally, she had also carried out disaster relief benefit events such as Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Concert 2010 and Typhoon Haiyan Aid Fund 2013.
In 2016, Dr. Lok was appointed as the Vice-President by the MIA’s Board of Directors. She was eventually appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the 50-year old Institute in the next year. Besides being the CEO of a non-profit organization in Malaysia, she has received international appointment as advisor to Japan Music Council; visiting professor to Xiangnan University, China; and as a member of the Fellow Royal Society of Arts, UK. She also serves as a member of the Malaysian Society for Higher Education Policy & Research Development (PenDaPaT).
A Firm Believer in attaining Educational Excellence
Dr. Lok states that during her tenure as CEO, MIA’s number of students grew along with the introduction of new and innovative programs. She feels that the Malaysian education system is gradually recognizing the importance of the arts, and is accordingly moving towards STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) with the aim to balance the science and arts subject and nurture wholesome youths. Dr. Lok believes that MIA will have an even more important role to play. Accordingly, she plans to continue to serve the community by maintaining the institute’s non-profit organization role and providing affordable yet quality education for youths who are interested to pursue their passion in art, design, and music. “We believe in complementing the youthful spirit and benevolence into the fabric of our society through their artistic excellence and commitment,” she adds.
Facing Challenges Head-On
Dr. Lok states that one of the major challenges that she had faced was to acquire funding for the institute. Being a non-profit organization, the institution basically depends on the income from tuition fee. As a result, at times, it becomes challenging for MIA to maintain sustainability since many students who come from needy backgrounds depend on the bursaries and scholarships to enable them to complete their education. Hence, it becomes essential for the institution to maintain balance in order to attain excellent governance, development, and sustainability.
Founded in 1967 as a non-profit organization, MIA is one of the few art-focused institutes in the nation. It has trained thousands of professional artists, designers, and musicians for the creative industries in Malaysia. Today, MIA offers a wide range of diploma courses in the field of art, design, and music, namely graphic design, interior design, illustration, fine art, industrial design, textile & fashion design and music, with comprehensive and well-designed course contents. Besides these, MIA also offers the certificate in art & design, diploma in event management and BA (Hons) in interior architecture & design programme. The degree programme is a collaborative programme with Birmingham City University, UK. All the courses offered by MIA are accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). MIA has been awarded a 5-star ranking in the Malaysian Quality Evaluation System for Private Colleges (MyQUEST) since 2010/2011 by the Ministry of Higher Education as well as ISO 9001:2015 certification which are testimonies of MIA’s commitment in providing quality and affordable education. The learning emphasis in MIA is placed on the mastery of creative skills, in-depth inquiries, conceptual development, critical thinking and IT knowledge.
Under the visionary stewardship of Dr. Lok, MIA has received numerous recognition through active participation in local and international competitions. Below is a list of some of the outstanding students’ achievements during her leadership:
- Textile & Fashion Design students won the Excellent Award in the 29th Hempel Award China International Young Fashion Designers Contest 2019 in Beijing, China.
- Interior Design student won the Silver Award and the Best Colour Choice Award in the Asia Young Designer Award 2018.
- Music student won the Tremolo Harmonica Solo category and 1st runner up in both duet and trio categories in the 5th National Harmonica Competition 2018.
- Illustration student won the first prize in the Sequential Art category for the Maybank MyTiger Values Art Competition 2018.
- The MIA Ladies Chorus won the Gold Award for the Female Chamber category in the Vietnam International Choir Competition in 2015 and 2017.
- MIA’s Graphic Design and Interior Design students won the Gold Prize in group presentation at the 24th International Students’ Workshop held at Sozosha College of Design in 2017.
- MIA’s Fine Art students won the first and third prize in the Vision Petron National Student Art Competition 2017.
- MIA’s Music students won one Gold Award in the Singing and Guitar category each; four Silver Awards in the Piano category, 2 Silver Awards in the Singing category, one Silver Award in the Flute and Violin category each; 2 Bronze Awards in the Violin and Piano category at the Asia Arts Festival 2016 in Singapore.
- The MIA Mixed Voices Choir won the Gold Diploma Award in the Open category of the 14th Malaysian Choral Eisteddfod National Choir Competition 2016.
Encouraging a Positive Work Culture
Dr. Lok believes in inclusiveness at all levels of the Institute. She empowers her staff to make decisions and encourages them to display leadership qualities that will enable them to bring the best out of their students and fellow colleagues. Dr. Lok states, “I also encourage staff to continue with their professional practice while working as I believe that when they upgrade themselves, their self-esteem will increase and work quality will improve as well”.
The Future Frontier
Talking about future endeavors, Dr. Lok says, “I hope to develop more degree programs that can further cater to the market as well as provide more scholarship to deserving students”. She also plans to develop active collaboration with overseas partner universities of the institute, while opening doors for staff and student exchange programs, and providing students the exposure to international platforms.
Message for the Emerging Leaders
Dr. Lok advises the students to stay humble in their every endeavor. She asks them to be prepared to do more than what is required so that one will go far. Also, she hopes to see the world as one and more kindness and empathy being spread around. She concludes by adding, “Live your lives to the fullest and respect the dignity of life itself”.