PM: Ungku Aziz's achievements should encourage Malaysians to overcome issue of poverty

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians should take a leaf out of the late Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid’s book and do more to find solutions for poverty.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the achievements of the former Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor should encourage Malaysians to undertake more serious studies on poverty eradication and devise workable strategies to overcome the problem, especially in striving to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I sincerely hope that the tribute will serve as an avenue for all of us to discuss the issue of poverty eradication and equitable development in this country, ” he said during his speech at a tribute to honour the late Ungku Aziz's contributions on Monday (March 8).

Muhyiddin said the late professor, who was fondly known as “Pak Ungku” contributed tremendously to the development of Malaysia, especially in the field of rural development.

“His solutions were based on field research where he himself immersed in the day-to-day life of rural people, ” he said, adding that he created the “sarong index” to measure rural poverty at that time.

Muhyiddin - who was taught world economics by the outstanding economist and scholar during the 1960s - said the late Ungku Aziz's other important contributions include setting up the National Cooperatives Movement and Lembaga Tabung Haji.

“As the leader of this university, Ungku Aziz paved the way for generations of graduates who would propel the country to greater heights in various fields while at the same time, conscious of their history, culture and identity through various initiatives, ” said Muhyiddin.

“Ungku Aziz stamped his mark as a truly selfless public intellectual whose intelligence has brought about real socio-economic improvements in this country, ” he added.

Other guests at the tribute included the late Ungku Aziz’s daughter and former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Aziz, PKR founding leader Dr Syed Husin Ali, economist Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram and former UM chief librarian Khoo Siew Mun.

Ungku Aziz died on Dec 15 last year at the age of 98.

Born in Hampstead, London in 1922, Ungku Aziz was a renowned economist, administrator, academician, sportsman and writer.

He was the first Malaysian and longest serving vice-chancellor of UM, the first Malay economist and was also the sole person to be accorded the status of Royal Prof in the country.

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