KAJANG: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) has conferred its first honorary Doctor of Social Science on former Indonesian president Prof Dr Megawati Soekarnoputri.
The conferment was in honour of her contributions, particularly in education, as well as her tireless dedication to advancing social and political discourse in Indonesia and beyond.
UTAR president Prof Datuk Dr Ewe Hong Tat said Megawati has made great contributions, especially in education, as well as in closing the gap between urban and rural areas in Indonesia and improving the lives of lower-income groups in the republic.
“She has made significant societal contributions and supported the advancement of social sciences in Indonesia.
“Through her dedicated initiatives, both past and present, she helped improve the lives of the people and displayed a deep understanding of the issues affecting the people and the community,” he said at the conferment ceremony held at the UTAR Sungai Long campus here yesterday.Prof Ewe noted that Megawati’s acceptance of the honorary Doctor of Social Science was especially meaningful as it was the first award by the university.
“This will also be a significant moment that will always be remembered, etching the friendships and mutual recognition between Malaysia and Indonesia,” he added.
He said Megawati’s work has inspired many social scientists.
“As the head of the National Research and Innovation Agency’s (BRIN) steering committee, she directs its priorities, advancing research and innovation in Indonesia.
“Her significant role in enacting the National Education System in 2003 improved education quality and access for marginalised groups.”
He also hailed the role played by Megawati in fostering regional peace and strengthening Malaysia-Indonesia bilateral relations during her administration.
“Indonesia supported the 2001 Asean Declaration on Joint Action against Terrorism, signed a gas supply MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Malaysia, and formed a consortium to boost international rubber prices.
“She sets a true example for women by serving the nation, overcoming norms and defying perceptions,” he added.
Megawati, 76, received the honorary doctorate from UTAR council chairman Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh during the ceremony.
The honorary doctorate of UTAR is the highest honour conferred by the university in support of the recipient’s exceptional contributions to society and remarkable success in their field of work, which have also significantly advanced the mission and values of the university.
Expressing her appreciation for the award, Megawati said not only is UTAR’s name well known in Malaysia and Indonesia, but its intellectual tradition has been recognised globally.
“This is inseparable from the pioneering of Tunku Abdul Rahman as one of the founding fathers of Malaysia.
“I am grateful for this award.
“It not only carries academic responsibilities but also the responsibility for a better future for the people and the Earth,” she said, adding that it was her 10th honorary doctorate award.
She also took the opportunity to voice the worrying effects of global warming, adding that such issues should be dealt with maturely in the region.
The daughter of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno, Megawati served as the country’s fifth president from 2001 to 2004.
She is the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairman and the chair of the steering committee of Indonesia’s BRIN.Among Megawati’s entourage at the ceremony were Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Hermono and Indonesia’s House Speaker Puan Maharani, who is Megawati’s daughter.
Also present were Higher Education director-general Prof Dr Azlinda Azman, UTAR chancellor Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and his wife Toh Puan Ena Ling, UTAR council members Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn, Tan Sri Chor Chee Heung, Datuk Lim Si Cheng, Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dr Chuah Hean Teik, Hew Fen Yee and Datuk Lee Leck Cheng, who is also a board of trustees member, as well as another board of trustees member Datuk Seri Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan.
After the ceremony, Dr Wee, who is also MCA president, said he was honoured to receive a signed copy of the scientific oration by Megawati.
The oration, titled “Social Transformation of the Indonesian Nation in the Perspective of the Pancasila Ideology”, was presented by Megawati in conjunction with the conferment of the honorary doctorate on her.
“Prof Megawati is indeed a worthy recipient of this honour for her long and significant contributions to social development in Indonesia, improving lives by resolving the issues affecting her fellow citizens, overcoming pressures on women and families, and widening access to quality education,” said Dr Wee.