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Open letter to Curtin University

February 14, 2012

FMT LETTER: From Concerned Curtin Alumni, via e-mail

Dear Mr Pip Lapelms, PR Manager, Curtin University, WA Australia.

I would like to refer to your recent media release on Curtin University’s Honorary Doctorate of Letters award to Rosmah Mansor, dated Feb 13, 2012.

I am an alumni of Curtin University, having completed a bachelors and masters between the years of 2003 and 2009, and a proud alumni at that. I am also a Malaysian citizen, and I am also an Australian tax payer for the past nine years. Hence, Curtin University’s decision to award Rosmah Mansor with a Honorary Doctorate greatly interests and intrigues me from both an Australian and Malaysian perspective.

To start with, I would like to humbly point out that Rosmah Mansor is NOT the first lady of Malaysia. The official First Lady of Malaysia is the Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong (Roughly translated as Her Majesty The Queen) Haminah Hamidun. In Malaysia, the Queen takes precedence next after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King) over all other persons in Malaysia.

Rosmah Mansor does not hold office in the government, and she’s simply the Prime Minister’s wife. She is as part of the Malaysian public as I am. The Malaysian public will greatly appreciate if you could remove “First Lady of Malaysia” title from your media release, and issue another addressing the change.

As you might have noticed, there is currently a barrage of posts and comments on the official Facebook page of Curtin University (to which the admins of that page have now resorted to deletion of posts) with regards to whether Rosmah Mansor is the rightful receipient of your distinguished Honorary Doctorate.

This note’s purpose is to provide a represented front for those comments, and we would greatly appreciate if you could provide a direct reply to this note, or issue a media release explaining Curtin’s decision to award Rosmah Mansor.

You cited Curtin’s reason to award her as her dedication to education and the advancement of women. You also mentioned how she is the driving force behind the Permata project, and explicitly said:

“As a result of her involvement, there are more than 600 Permata centres in Malaysia, and the program now extends to centres for talented and gifted children with special academic and musical abilities, and to children with special acumen in spiritual matters.”

Permata is a government funded agency. Permata receives funding from the government i.e. the Malaysian tax payers money. As such, it is our right (as Malaysians) to demand such services. With or without Rosmah, Permata is our right, not Rosmah’s philanthropy. It’s a whole different story if Rosmah used her own money – that’s philanthropy.

This would be the equivalent of Julia Gillard’s partner using Australian tax payer’s money to set up day cares all over Australia and receives an award from a foriegn university for his philanthropical work.

Malaysians are partly incised at Permata because it has been abusing tax payers money. There’s rife corruption, over-funding, safety and responsibility issues. Please read here for more details: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/12/12/permata-centre-wasnt-safe-for-my-child/

Curtin’s decision to award Rosmah has got Malaysians questioning.

  • How was Rosmah’s contribution and dedication to education evaluated? Was there an objective task panel set up to review this?
  • How was Rosmah’s contribution to advancement of women evaluated?
  • How much of an involvement in early education centre does one entitle to a honorary doctorate?
  • How do the current Curtin PhD scholars feel about all this?

I certainly believe that Curtin University must have carried out extensive research and surveys to recognise Rosmah’s contribution, Curtin being known as an excellent research institution. Will Curtin University care to share the full findings to the Malaysian public, so that we can better appreciate Rosmah Mansor?

It is also worth noting that Malaysian students make up the second largest number at Curtin University, and Perth is home to one of Malaysia’s biggest diaspora in the world. Curtin’s decision to award Rosmah is one of the most talked about subject on the Twitterverse, blogosphere and other social medias.

We would greatly appreciate if you can get back to us on this matter. Thank you.


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