LAST week in Penang, as the American Ambassador I had the honour of helping launch Malaysia’s second “Signing Starbucks” – a franchise of the American brand that is optimised to serve customers, baristas and managers from the deaf and hard of hearing community.
This initiative began in Malaysia in 2016, when the company opened the world’s first Signing Starbucks in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysian staff members have now helped launch signing stores in Washington and Guangzhou, China.
I was especially impressed by Lin, a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community who is now a barista.
Lin told me his inspiring story of how, starting as a cleaner, he worked his way through the ranks and is now responsible for training new employees.
These experiences exemplify a long history of US companies becoming important participants in the local communities in which they operate.
I am thankful for the opportunity to work with and represent some terrific US corporations that so powerfully share our American values here in Malaysia.
My feelings of gratitude are especially appropriate during this time of year.
Today, Americans in the United States and around the world celebrate Thanksgiving, a special day set aside to reflect upon our blessings.
While I will be spending this Thanksgiving with my family in Connecticut, Malaysia will be on my mind.
I am thankful for the countless friendships I have made throughout my three years here.
I am thankful for the wonderful team of Americans and Malaysians who comprise the US Embassy staff.
And I am thankful for the great work we do together with our partners throughout the country.
Earlier this week during the annual celebration of the MY AMCHAM Cares programme, together with the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce – AMCHAM– we honoured 32 American companies, that like Starbucks, are committed to innovative corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Together, AMCHAM and the Embassy seek to promote how American companies have made social responsibility a core part of their Malaysian operations, promoting good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, environmental conservation, and empowering underserved communities.
At AMCHAM, we seek to use the MY AMCHAM Cares programme to help member companies enrich their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives by incorporating UN Sustainable Development Goals into their efforts and creating a robust and vibrant CSR network to share best practices that focuses on strategy, sustainability, measurability and communication.
Many sectors are affected by this great CSR work.
In the field of education, Honeywell, Exxon, Conoco-Phillips, Hess, 3M, Dow, Halliburton, Herbalife Nutrition, Keysight Technologies, Microsoft, Mondelez International, Motorola and Sime Darby support everything from our Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programme to autistic student outreach to STEM classrooms.
In support of the environment, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Intel, American Express, Flex, ON Semiconductor, Plexus, Veritas and Xylem work throughout the country to organise green initiatives including beach cleanups and providing access to clean water.
Pfizer, Crown Worldwide, JLL Property Services, Johnson and Johnson Malaysia, Sunway Medical Centre, and Unisem all support local organisations and institutions in areas ranging from health and welfare education, mobile clinics, blood drives and mental health services.AmMetLife, J.P. Morgan, PwC and Citi are some of the American companies that support financial literacy training and programmes for Malaysians of all ages.
While that list is long – the message is short and sweet: CSR is good for communities and good for business.
Social responsibility empowers employees to leverage corporate resources to do good in their communities, while boosting their own morale and productivity in the workforce.
These mutually beneficial corporate practices by American and AMCHAM companies is nothing new for US-Malaysian commercial relations.
For more than seven decades, US economic and commercial engagement and development assistance have advanced freedom, openness, and economic prosperity in Malaysia and throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
Earlier this month, the United States hosted the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok.
The forum highlighted the commitment of the United States and US companies to foster a fair and open Indo-Pacific where nations are free to pursue economic prosperity for their peoples.
We will continue to support high-impact private sector investment that will support job growth, and high-standard development to promote even greater prosperity in Malaysia, throughout the region, and in the United States.
Together, the Embassy and AMCHAM are thankful that the US-Malaysia Comprehensive Partnership has such a lasting and powerful benefit for Americans and Malaysians in so many areas large and small.
Happy Thanksgiving and terima kasih Malaysia!
The writer is the US Ambassador to Malaysia. The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce contributed to this piece.
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