Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, founder of Sunway Berhad never forgot his roots

May 24, 2023


Perak boy of Hakka origin from the mining town of Pusing near Batu Gajah, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah was acquainted with the struggles of mining workers under British owned tin mining companies. Once all the tin has been exhausted, what is left behind is wasteland and out of job mining workers. Jeffrey Cheah fared better than his friends who lacked education because of family poverty.
He remembers well those hard years of childhood that are indelibly inked in his mind.

After his graduation from Victoria University, Melbourne, he returned and worked as an accountant for a while. But inside him, he knew that he had much bigger dreams.

The business opportunity came when a British tin mining corporation wanted to sell a large disused mining site which is the land on which Sunway City sits today. It was the 1970s. He had this big idea of repurposing the ecological eyesore into a sustainable city. When he first took bankers to the site of the abandoned craters, they balked at his idea of constructing a city out of it.
Frankly, he admitted, he wasn't so sure he could really pull it off. But he did in more ways than one.

Sunway Berhad group is one of S.E. Asia's leading conglomerates with a well developed 800 acre township of Sunway City KL, Sunway Damansara, Sunway City, Perak, Sunway City Iskandar Puteri, Johore,  and Sunway Penang.The healthcare division was launched in 1999 with the flagship Sunway Medical Centre and today its tertiary hospital network is making Sunway a leading private healthcare group in Malaysia.

Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah remains humble about his achievements. Two economic crises - the mid-1980s and the Asian Financial crisis (1997-98) almost bankrupted him.Heavy borrowings during the good times and black swans that appeared unexpectedly taught him lessons he never forgot. Business is not sunshine all the time.

Education is close to his heart and his ambition, he said, is to make Sunway University a Harvard of the East. To this end, he has placed his educational institutions under a charity - The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

Read more in our epublication in this website.


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