Tan Sri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah, AO Sunway Group Malaysia

Chairman’s Profile


Founder and Chairman, Sunway Group

Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah is the visionary founder and chairman of Sunway Group, a leading Malaysian conglomerate with core interests in property, construction, education and healthcare. He is also the founding trustee of Malaysia’s largest education-focused social enterprise, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF). His lifelong dedication to sustainable development is evident in the host of thriving communities throughout Sunway’s integrated developments and townships totalling some 5,000 acres across Malaysia. He has also shown magnanimous philanthropy through the JCF, in making quality education accessible to all deserving and bright students, for posterity.

Sunway’s sustainable and fully-integrated green township developments have remarkably improved the way thousands of people live, learn, work, and play in a healthy, safe and connected environment. The flagship Sunway City was transformed from a tin-mining wasteland into a wonderland with first-rate facilities and amenities, and remains an epitome of rehabilitation and restoration. Sunway City Ipoh was built upon the principles of preservation and conservation cradled by 260-million-year-old limestone hills and verdant forests. Sunway Iskandar, dubbed as Nature’s Capital City, offers world-class city living in harmony with nature. As benchmarks for sustainable development, Sunway remains in its townships as the largest stakeholder through a unique “Build-Own-Operate” business model, thus ensuring constant value-creation and the continued growth of its communities with sustainable high standards and an enhanced quality of living.

As an ardent enthusiast of quality education for socio-economic growth towards fostering peace and prosperity in the country, Tan Sri Cheah has chosen to focus on democratising education as his legacy. Fulfilling his personal life philosophy to “aspire to inspire before I expire,” he had transferred, in perpetuity, the equity and rights of Sunway Education Group’s (SEG) educational institutions, worth several billion Ringgit today, into the JCF. Rooted in his conviction of the power of education in breaking the cycle of poverty and in raising standards of living, the JCF has disbursed scholarships RM482 million and counting in scholarships to date, touching and transforming the lives of thousands of future leaders and global citizens. It is Tan Sri Cheah’s personal aim to award RM1 billion worth of scholarships in his lifetime.

Tan Sri Cheah’s vision of evolving SEG as the intellectual and cultural hub of the East has seen the JCF establishing academic ties with some of the world’s preeminent universities including Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford. The appointment of two Jeffrey Cheah Professors at each of these universities and the provision of travel grants aim to facilitate a two-way flow of scholars and researchers between the world-class institutions and this part of the world. He was also the mastermind behind the establishment of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia (JCI), the first public policy think tank based in a private university in Malaysia, to conduct and promote joint research and teaching on the economies, societies, politics and cultures in Southeast Asia to create broad-ranging impact for the 600-million strong populace throughout the ASEAN region.

Taking a momentous step forward in the sustainability agenda, Tan Sri Cheah through the JCF, entered into a partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) led by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, a world renowned economist and champion of sustainable development, towards implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and developing the global expertise needed to move Malaysia and Southeast Asia forward in the area of sustainable development.

The partnership will establish the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University to create and deliver the world’s best academic and executive programmes on sustainable development. The Center will also be a regional hub for research and policy practice, creating world-class programmes to train a new generation of students, practitioners and policy leaders; and develop linkages with major Malaysian and international universities in joint problem-solving around the SDGs. The Center also serves as the host for SDSN Malaysia, chaired by Tan Sri Cheah. SDSN Malaysia which was launched in 2013 aimed at elevating awareness and implementation of sustainable solutions in Malaysia and beyond.

Besides being conferred 11 honorary doctorates by leading universities worldwide, he has also been recognised twice as Forbes Asia Hero of Philanthropy in 2009 and 2015 respectively. He was appointed Council Member of United Nations (UNSDSN) in 2013; a member of Harvard’s Global Advisory Council in 2014 and a member of the Committee of University Resources at Harvard in 2015. He is the chairman and co-founder of Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI), a leading independent private think tank committed to the development of Asian leadership and strategic thinking. He was also appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (“AO”) by the Prime Minister of Australia for his contribution in building bilateral relations between Malaysia and Australia through education, among a long-growing list of accomplishments. In 2018, he was also conferred Malaysian Institute of Management’s (MIM) Court of Emeritus Fellow.

Tan Sri Cheah believes in being a good corporate citizen and in promoting peace, harmony and progress through the expansion of quality educational opportunities and social enterprise.

Other Achievements and Appointments of Tan Sri Cheah

Royal Conferment


      • Conferred the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM, carrying the title “Tan Sri”) by DYMM Seri Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung ke-Sepuluh, Tuanku Ja’afar Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
      • Conferred the Dato Seri Paduka Mahkota Perak (SPMP, carrying the title “Dato Seri”) by Sultan of Perak DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah Muhibbuddin Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah Ghafarullahu-Lah Shah.


      • Conferred the Darjah Kebesaran Dato’ Paduka Mahkota Selangor (DPMS carrying the title “Dato”) by the Sultan of Selangor DYMM Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah AlHaj Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah AlHaj.