EMERITUS PROFESSOR TAN SRI DATUK DR. HAJI OMAR BIN ABDUL RAHMAN, graduated in Veterinary Science from University of Sydney Australia (1958), and obtained a Doctorate in Philosophy from Cambridge University, UK in 1966. He started his professional career in 1960 in veterinary research, then in 1972 became the Founding Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences in the newly established University Pertanian Malaysia (UPM), now Universiti Putra Malaysia. He was also the first Professor appointed by UPM and played a major role in the establishment phase of the university and in the founding of several faculties and academic programmes. His last position at UPM was as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
In 1984, he was appointed the Science Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department, the first person to hold the position. As Science Adviser, he served on a number of national committees including The National Development Planning Committee, The National Council for Scientific Research and Development, The National Information Technology Council and the National Telecommunication Council.
He initiated a number of national programmes for enhancing R&D funding, for commercialization of the results of research and for the overall improvement of the national S&T management processes.
He was the founding Chairman of the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), a government venture capital company and the Founding Chairman of Technology Park Malaysia Corporation, a government-owned business incubator. He was also the Founding Joint-Chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and Founding President and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. He was also the Founding Chairman of Composite Technology (Research) Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (CTRM), manufacturer of the all-composite two-seater Eagle aircraft and the manufacturer of composites components for commercial aircrafts.
On the international scene, he has served on the United Nation’s Council for Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), was a member of various committees of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Organization of Islamic Conference’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation (COMSTEC). He was the President of the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (Asian Region) and of the Science Council of Asia. He is the Immediate Past President of the Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies (FASAS) and the founding and current Chairman of the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM), the Founding Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and an Hon.Fellow of the National Academy of Science, Kryghyz Republic He is a current member of UNESCO’s World Commission on Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST).
He is one of the prime movers of the International Smart Partnership Dialogues regularly held in Langkawi Malaysia (LID) and in Southern Africa (SAID) which promote the ethos and practice of Smart partnership, the win-win philosophy for all forms of cooperative undertaking and multi-stakeholder partnering.
For his contributions, Tan Sri Omar has received honorary doctorates from five overseas universities (Stirling, Melbourne, Guelph, Bristol and Queensland) and three Malaysian universities (UTM, UKM and UPM). He received the Asean Achievement Award (Science) in 1993, the Fook Ying Tung South East Asia prize in 1998 and the Tun Abdul Razak Award (International Category), in 2000. he is also the recipient of a state award (Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka which carries the title Datuk) and three Federal awards; Johan Setia Mahkota, Johan Mangku Negara and Panglima Setia Mahkota, the last carrying the title Tan Sri.
He retires as Science Adviser in January 2001 after serving for 16½ but remains as Prime Minister’s Special Representative to CPTM. Upon retirement he was given the task to establish and manage the Venture Capital for Technology Acquisition (VCTA) fund, a government venture capital fund manage by Kumpulan Modal Perdana Sdn. Bhd., of which he was its Executive Chairman until April 2007.
Tan Sri Omar sits on the Board of a number of public-listed companies (Kotra Industries Berhad, OSK Ventures International Berhad, Green packet Berhad, BCT Technology Berhad, GW Plastics Holdings Berhad and a number of private companies. He was the President of Malaysia University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T) between 2007 and 2009. Currently he is Chairman of Bostonweb Academy Sdn Bhd. In October 2010, Tan Sri Omar was bestowed Emeritus Professorship by UPM and in October 2011, the award of Tokoh Akademik Negara.