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 in excess of RM1 billion 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 RM402 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.
Besides being conferred 10 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
- Conferred Malaysian Institute of Management’s (MIM) Court of Emeritus Fellow
- Awarded the inaugural Sustainability Icon Award by RAM
- Awarded the ASEAN@50 Lifetime Achievement Award by ASEAN Business Advisory Council Malaysia
- Member of the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) Court of Emeritus Fellow
- Appointed a member of the National Productivity Council of Malaysia
- Recipient of the Victoria University Distinguished Alumni Award.
- Conferred Honorary Doctorate of Education by Universiti Malaya.
- Member of the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors, University of Oxford.
- Companion of the Cambridge University Guild of Benefactors.
- Conferred Malaysian Institute of Management’s (MIM) Malaysian Leadership Excellence
- Honorary Fellow of Brasenose College, University of Oxford.
- First Malaysian recipient of the Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education. Other recipients include Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa.
- Awarded with the Channel NewsAsia Lifetime Achievement Luminary Award 2016.
- Member of Harvard’s COUR- the Committee on University Resources.
- Honoured with the Lifetime Excellence Achievement Award under the Sin Chew Business Excellence Awards 2015.
- Listed as one of Malaysia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” by Forbes Asia. (First listed in 2009)
- Best Chief Executive Officer for IR (Mid Cap) by the Malaysian Investor Relations Association.
- Senior Honorary Life Advisor Award by the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong).
- Founding Chair for the Malaysian 30% Club.
- Conferred Honorary Fellow by the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM).
- President’s Award by Malaysia Institute of Planners (MIP).
- Prominent Player Award by Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia.
- Value Creator: Malaysia’s Outstanding CEO by The Edge Billion Ringgit Club.
- Matriculated as a member of Caius, and admitted as a Gonville Fellow Benefactor of Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge.
- Appointed as Member of Global Advisory Council, Harvard University.
- Malaysia Outstanding Property Personality Award by The Edge Malaysia.
- Appointed as Advisor to Institut Darul Ridzuan (IDR) in the State of Perak, Malaysia.
- Appointed as Council Member of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN).
- Appointed as Permanent Honorary President to the Federation of Hakka Associations Malaysia, in appreciation of his invaluable contributions to the Associations.
- Awarded Honorary Gold Award from the Royal Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur, in recognition of his leadership and development of education and research in Malaysia.
- Conferred the Honorary Fellowship by the Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA) for his exemplary and overall contribution to the development of science education as well as the advancement of science and technology in Malaysia.
- Listed as one of Malaysia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” by Forbes Asia.
- Appointed as Chairman of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) Selangor Chapter, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of MCPF Malaysia.
- Monash University School of Medicine and Health Sciences was named after Tan Sri Cheah (Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences) in appreciation of his contribution to Monash University Malaysia and Malaysia-Australia bilateral ties.
- Technology Excellence Asean Awards 2007 – Lifetime Excellence in Property Development, Construction, Education & Humanitarianism (presented by Business Review).
- Installed as Chancellor of Sunway University Malaysia by His Royal Highness Sultan of Selangor.
- Asia’s Most Innovative Chinese Entrepreneur Award.
- Outstanding EXCO member contributor by FCLP.
- Deputy President and Trustee of National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia.
- First non-Malay Honorary Member of Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce.
- Paul Harris Fellow Award by Rotary Club Malaysia.
- Founding Trustee of Malaysian Liver Foundation.
- President of Malaysian Hakka Association (until 2004).
- Council Member of the Financial Reporting Foundation, Malaysia.
- Appointed by the Minister of Education to the Higher Education Council of Malaysia.
- Chairman of Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology for Construction and Housing.
- EXCO member of the Malaysian Tourism Action Council.
- CEO of the Year (Malaysia) by Business Times – American Express.
- Presented the Extraordinary People Award by the National Kidney Foundation.
- Property Man of the Year (Malaysia) by FIABCI, Malaysia Chapter.
- Director of National Productivity Centre, Malaysia.
- 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.