5 Things You Didn't Know About Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Jomo was appointed as one of the members of the Council of Elders by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Cover image via Social Science Research Council

Since Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad appointed Jomo Kwame Sundaram as a member of his Council of Elders on 12 May, some Malaysians have shown a sudden interest in learning more about the prominent economist

Here are five things you didn't know about Jomo Kwame Sundaram:

1. Born in Penang in 1952, Jomo was named after two African anti-colonial leaders

Jomo Kenyatta (left) and Kwame Nkrumah (right).

Image via Famous Biographies, Twitter

His parents were inspired by the names of Jomo Kenyatta, who was the first Kenyan President, and Kwame Nkrumah, who was the first Ghanian President.

Jomo's early years were spent in his hometown where he attended Penang Free School before moving on to the Royal Military College at 15 years old.

2. Jomo is an alumni of two Ivy League universities

He graduated cum laude from Yale with a major in economics before attending the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard for his MPA in 1974. 

Jomo returned to Harvard in 1977 to complete his doctorate while simultaneously teaching at Yale.

3. The scholar spent many years sharing his knowledge in classrooms

Image via Alchetron

In 1974 and 1975, Jomo taught in the Economics Department, the Social Studies program, and the Kennedy Institute of Politics in Harvard.

While teaching in the University of Malaya from 1982 until 2004, he was also a British Academy Visiting Professor and Visiting fellow at Cambridge from 1987 until 1992, a Fulbright Visiting Professor at Cornell University in 1993, and a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore in 2004.

His teaching days are far from over. Jomo currently holds the Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia, while juggling his roles as Adjunct Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, and Visiting Fellow at the Khazanah Research Institute and the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University.

4. Jomo served the United Nations for a decade in various roles

Image via Column Life

From 2005 until 2012, Jomo served as Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs, (Honorary) Research Coordinator for the G24 Intergovernmental Group on International Monetary Affairs and Development, a member of the [Stiglitz] Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, and adviser to the President of the 63rd UN General Assembly.

He was also the Assistant Director-General and Coordinator for Economic and Social Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN from 2012 until 2015.

Image via Column Life

Through his service with the UN, Jomo successfully built an international consensus to ensure complementary economic and social policies for sustainable development, appropriate investment incentives, employment generation, and a strong economic recovery.

5. He has written and edited over a hundred books and academic articles

Two of Jomo's written works.

Image via Abe Books, Better World Books

Jomo has published works covering a wide range of subjects; from development economics and industrial policy, to affirmative action, ethnic relations, and Malaysian history.

According to Good Reads, his bestseller is the book he wrote on newly elected Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, titled 'Warisan Ekonomi Mahathir'. Coincidentally, Jomo called Tun Daim Zainuddin, who now heads the Council of Elders, a "mastermind" in the book.

Learn more about the other economic experts in Pakatan Harapan's Council of Elders here:

The Council of Elders didn't wait long after its formation before getting to work:

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