Affirmative Action & Human Rights

Penang Institute is proud to bring you another lecture under the Penang in Asia Lecture Series entitled Affirmative Action & Human Rights. You are cordially invited to attend this lecture as scheduled below:-

Date     : 2 March 2017 (Thursday)
Time    : 8.00pm – 10.30 (Registration start at 7.30pm)
Venue  : Conference Hall 1, Penang Institute


Affirmative Action (AA) is a form of state intervention in economy and society to address inequality and marginalisation, especially when inequality and marginalisation are group-based and intergenerational. AA is used as a complement or supplement to universalise welfare state or safety net. Its implementation in different countries from India, US, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and South Africa has sparked vigorous debates on its merit and effectiveness.

Penang Institute is honoured to host Judge Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014) and a South African of Indian origin, who will lead us to revisit the idea of and issues surrounding AA. She will speak from the standpoint of human rights, and provide insights for such debates surrounding the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programme in South Africa and elsewhere, in particular:

  • What are the human rights arguments for and against AA?
  • What are the relevant categories to identify marginalisation and introduce categories?
  • What are the policy scopes suitable for AA?
  • Under what circumstances AA will cease to be effective or viable? What are the alternatives?

Judge Navi Pillay will be joined by three panellists after her lecture for further discussion and insights. They are:

Dr. Muhammed Abdul Khalid (Chief Economist, DM Analytics)
Mr. Wan Saiful Wan Jan (CEO of IDEAS)
Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Former State Secretary of Sabah)

Moderator: Dr. Wong Chin Huat (Fellow and Head of Political Social Analysis, Penang Institute)

FREE ADMISSION! Due to limited seats, registration is encouraged. Kindly register your interest at this link.


The Penang in Asia lecture series is a lectureship awarded under the patronage of His Excellency the Governor of Penang. It is organised by Penang Institute to bring together renowned scholars, public intellectuals and thinkers from diverse fields to Penang and speak about issues relevant to cultural, intellectual and economic development of Penang as a historical and future growth centre in Asia. The previous Penang in Asia lectures were delivered by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir James Alexander Mirrlees, Contemporary Islamic Intellectual Professor Tariq Ramadan and world -renowned economist Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs.

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