Who is he?
Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis is a former Malaysian ambassador to the United States and currently Malaysia’s special envoy to the United States. Aside from his foreign policy post, he is chairman of 1Malaysia Peoples’ Housing (PR1MA), has been a member of Parliament representing Rompin district in Pahang state in central Malaysia since 1990. He was elected to UMNO’s supreme council since 2000.
Previously, Jamaluddin has served as minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (2004) and minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (2004-2008) as well as the chairman of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), a blue chip power utility company with the largest market capitalization listed on Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from McGill University in Canada.
Why is he in the news?
Dr. JJ, as he is known informally, was appointed special envoy to the United States in February this year, and is tasked with advising the new Malaysian ambassador to the United States, Othman Hashim. The new position is intended to better balance his time between Kuala Lumpur and Washington.
In Malaysia, Dr. Jamaluddin is the architect behind Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia campaign initiatives, a series of schemes attempting to counter the rising cost of living which include initiatives lowering the prices of staple foods and consumer goods in addition to PRIMA. PR1MA aims to supply middle-class families with affordable houses 10-20 percent cheaper than the market rate and include other 1Malaysia stores and suppliers. The housing initiative has a target of building 80,000 houses in cities nationwide in 2013.
What can we expect from him?
Charismatic and energetic, Dr. JJ was a driving force in pressing Malaysia and the United States to improve their diplomatic and business ties after Prime Minister Najib took office in 2008 and President Barack Obama began his first term in early 2009. As the Malaysian ambassador, he believed that the United States is an important partner for Malaysia’s New Economic Model strategies and encouraged Malaysian entrepreneurs to invest in the United States.
Jamaluddin demonstrated his skills in uniting government and business interests when he led the successful Malaysian delegation to BIO 2004, the world’s largest biotechnology gathering, in San Francisco as the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. As a prominent corporate and political leader, we can expect that Dr. JJ will continue to be an innovative leader in pressing closer ties between Malaysia and United States.