YM Profesor Diraja Dr. Ungku Abdul Aziz bin Ungku Abdul Hamid is one of the most distinguished academicians of Malaysia. He is a well-respected public figure and a prominent economist whose contribution has been monumental in setting the foundation of Malaysia’s economy post-independence. Born in London in 1922 to a family with Johorean royal lineage, Prof. Ungku Aziz received his primary education at the Batu Pahat Malay School, before enrolling at Raffles College, Singapore. He graduated from the then University of Malaya in Singapore in 1951 and later received his doctorate in economics from Waseda University, Tokyo in 1964.
After a brief stint in public service, Prof. Ungku Aziz then took up lecturing in economics at his alma mater in 1952 until he was entrusted with pioneering the economics department at the new Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur in 1961, where he was appointed a professorship and became the dean of the economics faculty at Malaysia’s premier higher learning institute. In 1968, he was made the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaya – a position he dutifully served for a record twenty years.
Prof. Ungku Aziz was awarded the Royal Professorship in line with his vast contributions to the academia in 1978, and later named the ‘Tokoh Maal Hijrah’ in 1997 for his immense contributions towards education, the economy and society at large. He has also been instrumental in establishing the Lembaga Tabung Haji, Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka as well as many important economic policies such as the New Economic Policy. He is the pioneer and chairman of ANGKASA – a co-operative scheme he had set up in 1971 – and is currently the chairman of COSMOPOINT, an expanding information technology college. His daughter is Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the current Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia.