Top Malaysia Civil Servant to Lead APEC Secretariat
During their meeting on Thursday in Papua New Guinea, APEC Ministers welcomed the successful selection and appointment of Tan Sri Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, former Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), as Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.
She will begin her three-year term on 1 January 2019, after the conclusion of two consecutive terms held by Dr Alan Bollard of New Zealand.
During her tenure, Dr Sta Maria will serve a membership that accounts for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP, as well as incoming hosts, Chile, Malaysia and New Zealand.
“APEC Ministers welcome Dr Sta Maria’s appointment,” said Rimbink Pato, Foreign Affairs Minister of Papua New Guinea, where she was formally introduced to APEC Ministers at their meeting in Port Moresby on Thursday.
“Her decades of experience, and her record of academic and professional excellence, make her an excellent choice to take on such a challenging position during a period of great change in the region and globally,” Pato said.
“As the next Executive Director, she will build on the strengths instituted by her predecessors,” he continued. “She will be in the right place and the right time to help guide APEC’s work in advancing our agenda of inclusive growth.”
Minister Pato also congratulated and thanked Dr Bollard, for his excellent service.
Dr Sta Maria joined the Malaysian civil service in 1981, as part of what was then called the Ministry of Trade and Industry. She went on to serve in various capacities for 35 years, including stints in administrative and human development work.
Her role as MITI Secretary-General from 2010 to 2016 has made her familiar with bilateral, regional and multilateral fora, and she often took the lead in negotiations involving ASEAN, APEC and the World Trade Organization on behalf of the Malaysian government. She was colleagues with six trade ministers and oversaw 12 trade pacts.
“Building consensus is what drives the implementation of all successful negotiations and that principle is at the heart of what APEC does so well,” she said. “I believe that an organization is as good and as effective as the team.”
Dr Sta Maria’s credentials also include an accomplished academic career. She earned her PhD in human resource development and was awarded the Malcom Knowles Award in 2013 for the best dissertation by the Academy of Human Resource Development of the United States.
Dr Sta Maria will be the third executive director appointed to a fixed three-year term, and the first woman to hold the position.