Chairmen and CEOs

Chairman & CEO

Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa was appointed Chairman of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia on 9 January 2015. Since 1 January 2014, he has also served as Chief Executive of ISIS Malaysia. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Hons) degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia, a Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies from the University of Lancaster and a Certificate of Diplomacy from the University of Oxford.

Tan Sri Rastam spent more than 36 years in the Malaysian diplomatic service. He served in various capacities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Malaysian diplomatic missions abroad, including as High Commissioner of Malaysia to Pakistan, Ambassador of Malaysia to Bosnia Herzegovina, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Republic of Indonesia and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in New York. He was Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 8 January 2006 until he officially retired from public service on 2 September 2010. Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive of ISIS Malaysia, he was Advisor at the Chief Minister’s Department in Sarawak. He serves as chairman of the board of directors of one Malaysian public listed company. He also sits as director on the board of two other companies.

Tan Sri Rastam is Chairman of the Malaysian National Committee for the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and Chairman of the Malaysian National Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP).

Tan Sri Rastam has received Federal and State awards and decorations namely, the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM), SSAP, PJN, SIMP, DIMP, KMN and AMN. He is also a recipient of the DSLJ from His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam. He is married to Puan Sri Norizan Sulaiman. They have three children.

Chairman (Jan 2010-Jan 2015), Chairman & CEO (2006-2010)

Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohamed Jawhar served with the government before he joined ISIS Malaysia as Deputy Director-General in May 1990. He eventually assumed the position of Chairman and Chief Executive and retired as Chairman of ISIS Malaysia on 8 January 2015.

Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Jawhar is also Non-Executive Chairman, New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd; Member, Economic Council Working Group; Member; Advisory Board, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission; Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR); Distinguished Fellow, Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security (MiDAS); Fellow, Institute of Public Security of Malaysia (IPSOM), Ministry of Home Affairs; Board Member, Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS); Member, Laureate Advisory Board, INTI International University and Colleges; Former Chairman, Malaysian National Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP); and Board Member of Securities Commission Malaysia. He is also Malaysia’s Representative as Expert and Eminent Person, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

He was also Co-Chair, Network of East Asia Think-tanks (NEAT) 2005-2006; Chairman, Malaysian National Committee, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) 2006-2010; and Co-Chair, Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) 2007-2009.

Before joining ISIS, his positions in government included Director-General, Department of National Unity; Under-Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Director (Analysis) Research Division, Prime Minister’s Department; and Principal Assistant Secretary, National Security Council. He also served as Counselor in the Malaysian Embassies in Indonesia and Thailand.

Chairman and CEO from 1997-2005

Tan Sri Dr. Noordin Sopiee was appointed Chairman and CEO of ISIS Malaysia in March 1997.

He was also Chairman of the Malaysia National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (MANCPEC), Chairman of Monash University Malaysia and Chairman of Noordin Sopiee & Associates.

He was a Leader Writer, The New Straits Times Press (1972); Group Managing Editor, The New Straits Times Press (1976); and Group Editor, The New Straits Times Press and also Chief Executive, New Fleetprint Press, London (1981).

He was former Co-Chair of CSCAP (the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific), the Chairman of Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), 1992-1994, Malaysia's Representative to the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Chairman of the Commonwealth Inter-Governmental Group on the Emergence of a Global Humanitarian Order (1995), and Convenor of the Commission for a New Asia.

He was a Member of the crisis-management Executive Committee of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) chaired by the Malaysian Prime Minister; the Board of Directors of Malaysia's Central Bank and the ASEM (Asia Europe) Task Force on Trade, Investment and Finance. He was also Chairman of PCA Hard.Com, one of the world's largest hard disk component manufacturers. He also served on the Boards of several companies including Reliance Pacific Berhad; Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad; Sunway Holdings Incorporated Berhad; YTL Power International Berhad; YTL Land and Development Berhad; and YTL e-Solutions Bhd.

He was a Member of the Emerging Markets Eminent Person's Group on Reform of the International Financial Architecture and the National Information Technology Council. He was one of the 100 members of the Club of Rome. He was also a columnist for The Edge (Malaysia), Yomiuri Shimbun and Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan).

He graduated with a B.Sc. (Econs) (First Class) and a Ph.D from the London School of Economics and was the author of several books on economics, politics and strategic planning.

He passed away in December 2005.

Chairman from 1990-1997

Tan Sri Datuk Zainal Abidin Sulong was the second Chairman of ISIS, a post he held from June 1990 till February 1997 and then became a Special Advisor to ISIS. He was also the Chairman of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA).

He started his career as a Malaysian diplomat in 1957. He had served as the Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia (1972-1977), the USSR (1977 – 1980) and as the Malaysian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1980 – March 1984) before being appointed Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April, 1984.

He retired from the Malaysian Foreign Service in March 1988. He was the Chairman of Perwaja Terengganu Sdn Bhd., Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd. and Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Berhad.

He had received several international awards including Second Class Order of the Sacred Treasure, Japan (1964), Order of Maginoo, Philippines (1968), Bintang Djasa Utama, Indonesia (1977), Officer de 1”Order National, Mali (1985), Grand Cross Class II, Federal Republic of Germany (1986), and the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit “Heung-In” Medal, Republic of Korea (1986).

Chairman from 1984-1990

Tun Hussein bin Dato’ Onn was Chairman of ISIS from April 1984 till May 1990.

He accepted the appointment a few years after his resignation, due to ill health, as Malaysia’s third Prime Minister of Malaysia (1976 to 1981).

After his Prime Ministership, Tun Hussein continued to contribute to welfare organizations. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital. He was also an advisor to Petronas, the country’s oil corporation.

Tun Hussein Onn was looked upon as being very sincere in his struggle for racial unity and had a reputation for being firm against anyone who tried to create racial unrest in the county and it was due to this, that he was known as ‘Father of Unity’.

Born in Johor Bahru, Johor on February 12, 1922 to Dato Onn Jaafar and Datin Halimah Hussein, Tun Hussein received his early education in Singapore and at the English College in Johor Bahru.

Prior to entering politics, Tun Hussein studied law in London qualifying as a Barrister-at-Law and setting up legal practice in Malaysia.

Tun Hussein died in May 1990 at the age of 68.

Past Chief Executives of ISIS Malaysia

Dato' Dr. Mahani Zainal Abidin

dato dr mahani zainal abidin

Dato’ Dr. Mahani was the Chief Executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia from January 2010. Previously, she was the Director General from May 2007 – December 2009.

Dato’ Dr Mahani obtained a Ph.D (development economics) from the University of London in 1992 and was Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya until 2007. Her research interests are industrialisation and economic transformation, international trade and regional integration. In 1998, Dato’ Dr. Mahani was appointed a member of the Working Group for the National Economic Action Council, a body established by the Malaysian Government to formulate measures to initiate recovery from the economic and financial crisis. In 2001, she was appointed as the Head, Special Consultancy Team on Globalisation of the National Economic Action Council, and from 2005 to 2007 she worked as the Deputy Director-General, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

Dato’ Dr Mahani was a Board Member of the Employees Provident Fund from 1998 to 2000, Deputy Chairman of the National Accreditation Board from 2003 to 2007 and a Council Member of the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) from 2009 to 2011.

She was also a Trustee of Yayasan 1Malaysia, Commissioner of Land Public Transport Commission, Deputy President of the Malaysian Economic Association and Member of International Steering Committee for the Pacific Trade & Development (PAFTAD).

She passed away on 22 June 2013.

Past Directors-General of ISIS Malaysia

Director-General from 1997-2006

Dato’ Seri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan was the second ISIS Director-General from 1st March 1997 until 8th January 2006.

Director-General from 1984-1997

Tan Sri Dr. Noordin Sopiee was the first ISIS Director-General from 1st January 1984 until 28th February 1997.

Past Deputy Directors-General of ISIS Malaysia

Deputy Director-General from 1995-2002



Datuk Dr. Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusof was a Deputy Director-General of ISIS Malaysia from 14th August 1995 until 13th August 2002. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Director of the Malaysian Institute for Economic Research (MIER) and the South East Asia

Regional Economist at Kleinwort Benson Research (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.

From 1990 – 1994, he was the Adviser of Economics at Bank Negara Malaysia. He holds a BSc (Economics) from Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, an M.A. (Development Economics) from the University of Leicester and a D.Phil. (Economics) from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Dr. Zainal’s vast experience and significant contribution in the field of Economics, both locally and internationally, had enabled him to serve the Government and the private sector in various capacities. He was a consultant of UNIDO/UNDP Malaysia and in the World Bank in charge of The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth. He was responsible in the preparation of the Industrial Master Plan of Malaysia, the Second, the Fourth and the Fifth Malaysia Plans. While at ISIS, he was a coordinator of the Knowledge-Based Economy Master Plan.

Deputy Director-General from 1993-1994

Prof Datuk Dr. Ismail bin Md. Salleh was ISIS Deputy Director-General from 1st January 1993 until 31st August 1994. Before this, he was an Assistant Director-General and had held the position of Head, Bureau of National Economic and Socio – Economic Policy Studies at ISIS Malaysia.

Dr. Ismail graduated with PhD in Economics from University of IIlinois At Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

He specialised in Fiscal Economics, Macro Economics, Project Evaluation and Industrial Economics, which had enabled him to hold a number of positions in the Government and in the private sector. He was a member of the National Economic Consultative Council, the National Economic Action Council (MTEN), Penang Economic Council and a Trustee of Yayasan Amanah Pembinaan Insan (YAPI), among others.

He became the Chief Executive Officer of L & G Twintech Sdn. Bhd. – a private Higher Learning Institution.