Cheah, who is also the founder and trustee of the education-focused Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF), is the only Malaysian philanthropist who made the list this year and the only Malaysian who has been named thrice on the annual list. He previously appeared on the list in 2009 and 2015.
Forbes Asia released its philanthropy list that highlighted 30 of the most generous and impactful altruists across the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s list also featured Alibaba Group co-founder and former executive chairman Jack Ma and Wipro chairman Azmin Premji.
Cheah founded Sunway Group, a leading Malaysian conglomerate with core interests in real estate, construction, education and healthcare in 1974.
Through his leadership, the group propagates and drives the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As an ardent enthusiast of quality education for socio-economic growth towards fostering peace and prosperity in the country, Cheah has chosen to focus on democratising education as his legacy.
Fulfilling his personal life philosophy to “inspire before I expire”, he has transferred the equity and rights of Sunway Education Group’s 16 educational institutions – worth several billion ringgit today – to the JCF in perpetuity.
It is Cheah’s personal aim to award more than RM1bil worth of scholarships in his lifetime.
Rooted in Cheah’s conviction that education has the power to break the cycle of poverty and raise standards of living, the JCF has disbursed scholarships exceeding RM482mil up to 2019.
These philanthropic moves have in turn touched and transformed the lives of thousands of future leaders and global citizens.
Published annually, the Heroes of Philanthropy list includes billionaires, entrepreneurs and celebrities across the region who are committed to solving some of the most pressing issues facing the Asia-Pacific region.
Those named in the list are selected by Forbes Asia, which analyses and evaluates candidates based on aspects such as their monetary contribution, the depth of their involvement and the reach of their philanthropic efforts.
New entries are featured every year. They comprise distinguished guests who have achieved significant development that justify a relisting.