John Lau of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, was chosen by members to serve as the 2012-13 President of Toastmasters International. This marks a historic milestone, as Lau is the first Malaysian to become International President of the world’s leading organisation devoted to teaching communication and leadership skills. Lau took office on 18 August, during the organisation’s 81th annual International Convention, held in Orlando, Florida, USA.

Toastmasters International added 1,292 new clubs in 2011-12, an increase of 3.6% over the previous year, and its membership has grown consistently over the past 19 years. Malaysia has more than 300 Toastmasters clubs, with 7,000-plus members.

A dedicated Toastmaster for 22 years and member of three Toastmasters clubs, Lau most recently served as International President Elect on the Toastmasters Board of Directors. He also has held several leadership positions within the organisation and has attained the Distinguished Toastmaster designation — the highest level of achievement in Toastmasters.

Lau is the chief executive and owner of the Acme Group of Companies, a management consultancy specialising in human capital development for several industries. He is also Sarawak State Chairman of the People’s Progressive Party of Malaysia. This past January, Lau was one of 17 people appointed by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau as a Kesatria Malaysia — “Knight of Malaysia” — charged with helping to develop the country’s business industry. He holds advanced degrees in several fields, including a Ph.D. in strategic marketing.