Chairman’s Profile


Founder and Chairman, Sunway Group

An accountant by training, Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, AO began his professional career at a motor assembly plant in Malaysia. In 1974, he founded the Sunway Group, one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates with core interests in real estate and construction. Its 12 business divisions span 50 locations worldwide.

Tan Sri Cheah has been admitted to 10 honorary doctorates by leading universities worldwide. In 2008, he was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) by the Prime Minister of Australia. He is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI). He was conferred the Honorary Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) title in February 2013 by Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for his commendable efforts as Chairman of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (Selangor Chapter).

In 2007, he established the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF) and, in 2009, he endowed it with all his equity in the 12 institutions of the Sunway Education Group. These include Sunway University, Monash University Malaysia, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sunway College and Sunway International School, amongst others. The endowment is valued at more than RM1 billion today with 16 institutions. The JCF was officially launched by the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 18 March 2010 in the presence of the Foundation’s Royal Patron, His Royal Highness Sultan of Selangor.

In December 2011, Tan Sri Cheah was appointed by the Minister of Education to Malaysia’s Education Panel to review the nation’s education system. He is the Founding Trustee of the Board of Mahathir Science Award Foundation, Razak School of Government, and the Perdana Leadership Foundation.

Founder of Sunway Berhad Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah

Tan Sri Cheah, through JCF, has forged academic ties with Harvard University, and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

In July 2013, he established in Harvard the Jeffrey Cheah Professorship, the Jeffrey Cheah Funds for Southeast Asia Studies, the Jeffrey Cheah Visiting Professorship, and the Jeffrey Cheah Travel Grants in order to advance teaching and research on Southeast Asia Studies at Harvard University and to enable a two-way flow of scholars and researchers between Harvard University and the institutions of Sunway Education Group.

In August 2014, Tan Sri Jeffrey was invited to be a member of the Global Advisory Council of Harvard University, and appointed to Harvard’s Committee on University Resources (CoUR), to strengthen university resources through the philanthropy. Tan Sri Jeffrey is also a member of the President’s Associates, a cohort of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ dedicated partners.

In 2014, JCF established the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia (JCI) to deepen its academic partnership with Harvard and other leading universities by conducting and promoting joint research and teaching on the economies, societies, politics and cultures of Southeast Asia. Officially launched in March 2014, the JCI is the first public policy think tank for Southeast Asia based in a Malaysian private university.

In November 2014, Tan Sri Cheah, through JCF, fostered ties with Gonville & Caius College in the University of Cambridge (Caius) to establish the Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellowship Fund, which supports two University of Cambridge professors who are Fellows of Caius, and provides travel funds to enable them to visit Sunway on a regular basis. The first Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellows in Caius are Professor Kay-Tee Khaw CBE, FMedSci, Professor of Clinical Gerontology; and Professor John Todd FRS, Professor of Medical Genetics in the University of Cambridge.

In recognition of his support, Tan Sri Cheah was matriculated as a member of Caius, and admitted as a Gonville Fellow Benefactor of the College. In addition, he was admitted by Lord Sainsbury, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, as a Companion of the Guild of Cambridge Benefactors in March 2016.

In December 2015, Tan Sri Cheah and John Bowers QC, Principal of Brasenose College, University of Oxford, signed a landmark agreement in Oxford to support two Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellows, who are professors of the University of Oxford. Professor William James, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Finance and Planning) in the University and Fellow in Medicine in Brasenose; and Professor Mark Wilson, Fellow of Brasenose and Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Oxford, have been appointed as the first holders of the Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellowships at Brasenose. In addition, a Jeffrey Cheah Scholar-in-Residence programme has been established in Brasenose in which two Sunway academics or postgraduate students will, each year, be able to reside in Brasenose for a period of four weeks to undertake research and study in their field.

In recognition of his support for Brasenose and Oxford, Tan Sri Cheah was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose in March 2016; and then, in September 2016, he was admitted by Lord Patten CH, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, to membership of the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors.

In April 2016, Tan Sri Cheah underlined his commitment to sustainable development when, through the JCF, he gifted USD 10 million to the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Association led by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, an American economist and champion of sustainable development and former Director of The Earth Institute in Colombia University. The gift funded the establishment of the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University in December 2016, the first such center in Asia. The Center aims to become a regional hub for research and policy practice, creating programmes to train students, practitioners and policy leaders; and to develop linkages with major Malaysian and international universities in joint problem-solving around the SDGs.

In October 2016, Tan Sri Cheah was admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Education by Universiti Malaya, his first by a public university in Malaysia.

In 2016, he was invited by the Ministry of Education to serve on the Innovative Leadership Forum Series panel to contribute ideas aimed at improving the quality of the education eco-system in Malaysia.

In recognition of Tan Sri Cheah’s contributions to industry and the business world, he is the first Malaysian to receive the Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia Lifetime Achievement Luminary Award, and the Dayawati Modi Award for his contributions in the fields of philanthropy, education and promotion of arts and culture. Previous recipients include Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa.

In May 2016, Tan Sri Cheah was nominated as national council member to the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Tan Sri Cheah will contribute towards intensifying domestic and international networks for research collaboration, strategic partnerships and business relationships that will benefit Malaysia in the area of in Science, Technology and Innovation.

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.