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Will Jeffrey Sachs be an absentee first holder  of the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair in the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies, and wouldnít it be better to have a full-time Chair like Lim Teck Ghee or Ismail Md Salleh?

 

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Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  
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(Parliament, Saturday) :  On Thursday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies  in the University of Malaya and Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair in the Centre.

 

He announced that the first holder of the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair is the world-renowned Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015.

 

Professor Jeffrey Sachs is also the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance , a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.

 

It is a great coup for Malaysia to have such a renowned world authority on poverty to be the first Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair for the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies, which is the Prime Ministerís brain-child three months ago.

 

Sachs is widely considered to be the leading international economic advisor of his generation.  For more than 20 years Sachs has been in the forefront of the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation, and enlightened globalization, promoting policies to help all parts of the world to benefit from expanding economic opportunities and wellbeing. One of the leading voices for combining economic development with environmental sustainability and as Director of the Earth Institute, Sachs  leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change. 

Sachs was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2004 and 2005, and the World Affairs Council of America identified him as one of the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy.

In February 2002 Nature Magazine stated that Sachs "has revitalized public health thinking since he brought his financial mind to it." In 1993 he was cited in The New York Times Magazine as "probably the most important economist in the world" and called in Time Magazineís 1994 issue on 50 promising young leaders "the world's best-known economist." In 1997, the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur cited Professor Sachs as one of the world's 50 most important leaders on globalization. His syndicated newspaper column appears in more than 50 countries around the world, and he is a frequent contributor to major publications such as the New York Times, the Financial Times of London, and The Economist magazine.

Apart from the various  international posts and  appointments already mentioned, the multitude of his other commitments include:

 

  • Economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa;

 

  • His work with international agencies on problems of poverty reduction, debt cancellation for the poorest countries, and disease control;

 

  • Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, USA.

 

  • Advisor to the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Development Program, among other international agencies.

 

  • Sachs is the recipient of many awards and honors, including membership in the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Society of Fellows, and the Fellows of the World Econometric Society. 

 

  • He has received honorary degrees from many universities including the College of the Atlantic, Southern Methodist University, Simon Fraser University, McGill University, Southern New Hamphshire University, St. Johnís University, Iona College, St. Gallen University in Switzerland, the Lingnan College of Hong Kong, and Varna Economics University in Bulgaria, and an honorary professorship at Universidad del Pacifico in Peru.

However, the nagging question that came to me as I sat  together with the DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok at the Balai Ungku Aziz Auditorium of the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya, during the double  launching ceremony by the Prime Minister on Friday (thanks to the invitation by the University of Malaya Vice Chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim) was whether Sachs will be an absentee holder of the Chair in view of the galaxy of his commitments Ė which will remove much of the shine from  such the coup of such an  international luminary and outstanding scholar to be the inaugural chair.

 

In fact, Sachs was so busy that he was unable to attend the official double launching of the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair and the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies by the Prime Minister last Friday.

 

Is it not better for the sake of proper development of the new Centre for Poverty and Development Studies to appoint someone who can  devote full-time as  the first Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair like Professor Dr. Lim Teck Ghee or Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Md Salleh?

 

(11/11/2006)     


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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