Christopher is a policymaker and researcher, who has dedicated more than 10 years to the field of development economics, with a specific focus on Malaysia and a more general coverage of Asia. He is Deputy Director of Research at Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) in Kuala Lumpur and a PhD candidate at the University of Warwick as a recipient of the Chancellor’s International Scholarship. His PhD is focused on the everyday political economy of race-based affirmative action in Malaysia. His theoretical interest lies at the intersections of feminist international political economy, decolonial feminism and social reproduction theories.
He was previously development economist for the UNDP Country Office of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, responsible for the inclusive growth portfolio of the country programme. He developed Malaysia’s first National Human Development Report, a landmark publication used to advance inclusive growth in the country. His work on poverty measurements led to the incorporation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index in official development plans. He has advocated for a higher poverty line in Malaysia, and his work was cited in a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights that sparked a national debate. He has served on the Technical Committee of Malaysia’s Food Poverty Line and the Technical Committee of the National Social Wellbeing Blueprint.
His regional, eight-nation research project, “Inequality and Exclusion in Southeast Asia: Old Fractures, New Frontiers”, was published in 2021. He was also the lead author of the report “Time to Care: Gender Inequality, Unpaid Care Work and Time Use Survey”, the first contemporary research in Malaysia to use a time-use survey, which was presented to the International Association for Time Use Research. He plays an active role peer-reviewing papers and reports in Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific region, and contributes to public discourse through media engagements, speaking events and guest lectures.
Christopher holds an MSc Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science (with distinction), MSc in Development Economics (with distinction) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BSc in Economics (with distinction) from the University of Malaya.
I don’t believe there is such thing as ‘lasting’ change. Change requires a perpetual process of commitment, resistance and questioning of the status quo by people who believe in a just and equal society for all. Challenging inequality is something that we have to keep doing, not a utopic state to attain. There’s a quote from Tony Benn that I really like: ‘There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.
Christopher Choong Weng Wai