Prime Minister of Malaysia recieves Curtin Honorary Doctorate

The Nullarbor’s 3,500km arid expanse isolates Perth as the western-most capital city on Australia’s map. While Australia’s two largest capital cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are traditionally the focus of Australia’s international commerce and service sectors, that desert expanse positions Perth 3,500 kilometres closer to the continent of Africa, the south Asia and the islands edging the Indian Ocean.

Curtin University of Technology is Perth’s largest university, currently home to 31,000 students – over one third of those being international students. That geographical positioning has forged strong links with countries like Malaysia, and utilising this opportunity, in 1999, Curtin University opened their first offshore campus in Sarawak, Malaysia.

On the 22nd of February, 2006, Curtin University of Technology formally acknowledged the partnership between the countries and institutions in awarding Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi with an Honorary Doctorate of Technology in a special ceremony hosted by Curtin University in Western Australia.

Curtin’s recent decision to contribute the royalty fee it receives from the Sarawak Campus to a fund to provide money for research grants to postgraduate students at the Campus.

He announced that the Government of Malaysia would match the contribution by Curtin in the amount of Malaysian ringgit six (6) million (AUS$ 2,180,901) to a research and scholarship fund to be created at Curtin’s Sarawak Campus. Curtin will also contribute accumulated royalties amounting to approximately Malaysian ringgit one (1) million.

Curtin’s Chancellor Dr Eric Tan presenting the Honorary Doctorate to
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi

The award of Honorary Doctorate, the highest the University can bestow, was conferred on the Prime Minister in recognition of his commitment to education, his personal attributes and Curtin’s long-standing and highly valued relationship with Malaysia.

Curtin’s Chancellor Dr Eric Tan, himself Malaysian born and a former international student, presented the award. “The Honourable Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has worked tirelessly to promote higher education in Malaysia, with a particular focus on regional education,” he said. “His commitment to nurturing and developing education has given Malaysians greatly increased educational opportunities and enhanced Malaysia’s standing in higher education in the region. “This award also recognises the Prime Minister’s personal attributes and actions in the areas of social justice, religious tolerance, environmental conservation and good governance.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Lance Twomey, who also took part in the conferral ceremony, said that Malaysian students had been part of the fabric of the University since 1969, with around 20 per cent of Curtin’s onshore students and 30 per cent of its offshore students now coming from that country. “In 1999 Curtin opened its first offshore campus in the Malaysian state of Sarawak,” Professor Twomey said. “Located in Miri, the Campus now has a student population of around 1,400. Students from Miri often also spend time at Curtin’s other campuses while Australian students can choose to complete semesters of study at Miri.”

After receiving the Honorary Doctorate, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi addressed the audience of 400 invited guests on “ethnic and religious diversity as a source of strength for nation building.”

The award ceremony was held at Curtin’s Bentley Campus and was attended by VIPs including Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop and Minister Francis Logan, Mr. Mike Lee of Aztech Investments, as well as many dignitaries from Malaysia, Curtin students and staff. A total of 29 Honorary Doctorates of Technology have been conferred by the University since 1976. Previous recipients of the Honorary Doctorate of Technology include the current Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, former Premier Sir Charles Court, and author and poet Elizabeth Jolley.

Acknowledged Source: Curtin University Media Release, 22/02/06

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