Tham Hui Ying


Executive director, Asylum Access Malaysia

As executive director of Asylum Access Malaysia, a refugee rights organisation aspiring to realise human rights for refugees in Malaysia through a combination of policy advocacy, legal services and community legal empowerment, Tham Hui Ying spearheads the organisational pursuit of impact. “I’m directly responsible for promoting systemic change through advocacy to ensure all refugees in Malaysia are able to live safely, move freely, work fairly and rebuild their lives,” she says.

With years of legal and human rights advocacy experience, especially in women’s and children’s rights, Hui Ying has always possessed a strong sense of justice and it is this sentiment she is seizing to dismantle barriers – systemic barriers that have made it more challenging for women and children to access their rights.

A law graduate and erstwhile president of the Association of Women Lawyers, Hui Ying found herself at a crossroads in her fifth year of legal practice. Throughout her career, she had always sought to incorporate and be involved in human rights advocacy whenever possible. “I decided it was time to pursue my true passion, so I left to do my master’s degree in human rights on a Chevening scholarship and haven’t looked back since,” she says.

As a champion of rights, she harbours hopes that she will play an integral part in expanding the protection space for refugees in Malaysia, through bolstering refugee leadership and participation in advocacy. “All too often, advocacy is done without meaningfully including the voices of those affected, we have to be aware about the spaces we are able to occupy because of our privilege and actively commit to amplifying the voices of those with lived experiences,” she says.

Talisman rings; Dewdrop earrings by De Beers; Dress by Tory Burch