Cooperation between governments and private universities will not only open up opportunities for graduates but also provide possible financial allocations for these institutions, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister said government recognition of university qualifications was important to enable graduates to work in the civil service.
“Close relations between universities and the government will open up many opportunities for the graduates. Normally, the government will also extend financial help, particularly in research,” he said after being conferred an honorary doctorate for leadership in social, business and politics from Rangsit University yesterday.
The award was given to him by Rangsit University president Dr Arthit Ourairat. A song titled Blessings from The Skies, composed by the Rangsit University orchestra, was sung to Dr Mahathir.
“This recognition by Rangsit University is very meaningful. What was more special was that the song was composed for me by the students,” said Dr Mahathir.
In his acceptance speech, he spoke on the importance of good bilateral relations between Thailand and Malaysia, noting the historical ties and current trade between the two countries.
Dr Mahathir told the media later that Asean, with its 600 million population, had tremendous potential with member countries.
“We will not be duplicating things, and we can distribute the industries among our Asean countries so that everyone has a role to play in the industrialisation of Asean,” he said.
The education sector in Asean countries could also help those who could not afford the high costs of studying in the West, he said.
He also said that due credit should be accorded to Asean for its success in promoting peace and stability within the region.
“People don’t give due credit to Asean. It is the only regional organisation that has been sustainable. And the relationship between the countries is very good whereas in other regions, there are confrontations and infighting.
“In Asean, we are able to solve problems peacefully. It has remained a very peaceful and stable region.
“We should appreciate that fact as many regions are not doing that well. You see problems in north America, Middle East, Europe and many other places,” he said.
On southern Thailand, he said that peace talks were going on well.
“The issue is not something that can be (solved) in the blink of an eye.
“We will take time as those in the southern Thailand conflict are divided into many factions and we have to contact all the factions so that they can give their opinions and take care of their interests.”
On politics and Umno, Dr Mahathir said he was aware of the gossip to oust him.
“I have heard of these rumours but I don’t care for them,” he said.