Backlash hits Curtin U after ‘Dr Rosmah’ award (updated)


Update (17 February 2012): Curtin University never for a moment anticipated the ferocity of the backlash from Malaysians when it awarded a ‘honorary doctorate’ to Rosmah.

Now the news is all over the Australian media as well and the proverbial has hit the fan. It is going to take much more than public relations and Curtin U shutting down comments on its Facebook wall to repair the damage done to its reputation – if at all possible.

12 February 2012:

Back in Australia after a New Year’s jaunt in Sydney, Rosmah was awarded an honorary doctorate at Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth yesterday.

Rosmah receiving her honorary doctorate from Chancellor of Curtin University Jim Gill. Photograph: Bernama

Rosmah received her scroll along with 600 other graduating students.

What are Curtin University’s links to Malaysia?

In 2010, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency granted Curtin University of Technology in Sarawak self-accreditation status following an institutional audit that included a visit by an MQA panel of auditors to the university campus. The campus was opened in Miri in 1998.

Curtin Sarawak has received various sources of funding in Malaysia:

In August 2003, Curtin Sarawak became the first international university in Malaysia to be entitled to access the prestigious IRPA grants (“Intensification for Research in Priority Areas”) of the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.

In December 2004, researchers at Curtin Sarawak were awarded their first IRPA grant.

In addition to sources of funding from the Federal Government, Curtin Sarawak has also access to funds from the Sarawak State Government as well as from various industrial partners.

If this is true, why are public funds going to a foreign university when many schools in Sarawak don’t even have basic facilities? How much has Curtin received in total?

In addition, the Sarawak government’s BioValley Park Project is to be developed at the Curtin Sarawak campus. The project is supposed to boost R&D to meet the state’s technological needs, particularly for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).

Curtin Sarawak is also associated with the Sarawak leadership.

From the Curtin website:

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who is also the chairman of the Curtin Sarawak Council, said the first phase of the project spearheaded by the state Ministry of Industrial Development will be developed on a 10-acre site at the campus.

The Perth Now website reports:

LAST time Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visited Perth, he was met with angry protests during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Today, it was a far more peaceful visit as he slipped into Curtin University on a hush-hush private visit with his wife, who accepted an honorary doctorate…

The Prime Minister’s last visit to Perth for CHOGM in October was met with angry protests when a “Bersihkan Malaysia” group held a rally in Forrest Place to campaign for electoral reforms in Malaysia.

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I feel lucky

I can only say that I feel so lucky that I did not enrol any of my children into Australian universities

With one Australian university giving that “pek moh” of Sarawak an honorable doctorate degree and now another Australian university awarding the Rosmah “24-million-dollar-cincin” another …

Australia is becoming a pariah in the world-wide academia circle

Gopal Raj Kumar

Sour Grapes. Clearly those who make these comments do not understand the reasons for honorary degrees and their purpose….

Well done Curtin, well done Malaysia and Rosmah.


Gopal Raj Kumar, what is the purpose of honorary doctorates?

a line

last time i was thinking that my uni is pretty bad, same as everybody thinks about their own uni.
but i relief, at least my uni didnt do this shameful thing,
and its a huge relief that i didnt study there!


The next Curtin U award is…..tatata….. Hasan Ali for promoting one kind of Islam.

Gerakan K

Anil updated statement:
Curtin U shutting down comments on its Facebook
I’m 99% sure that those nasty comments are coming from own very own fanboys and fangirls. Who cares about it ??? That university enrollment as normal as usual.

Andrew I

Are you the enrollment officer of Curtains?

tonny wong

I don’t understand why all people bash her like no tomorrow. She deserves the PhD. Where on earth that you can find a crime prime minister’s wife that insists she is the first lady. Where on earth can you find an overweight lady with dozens and dozens of luxurious handbags? Where on earth that you can find someone like Rosmaz who can control a country from behind?

So stop the bashing! She deserves the doctorate recognition!


Don’t like to encourage hate but the truth is she brought it all to herself. Her respond to the matter has been obviously spiteful and arrogant (“enemies are jealous??”). For someone so ambitious, she is completely out of touch with realities of politics and simple leadership basic..


Looks like Datuk Haji have to delay his plans (again) to hold an election. There are some truth that his wife is jinxed… Whatever Curtin want to do with their award is their own prerogative. If Curtin thinks that by using tax payers money to set up kindergartens is a major achievement then go ahead “lah”. Referring the wife of Malaysian prime minister as First Lady is totally out of line and unacceptable. The only way for Curtin to save their own honour is to apologise and withdraw the award. Or else Curtin will have to give out such award… Read more »


Don’t we have enough of rotten and failed university that we welcome such a university like Curtin to Malaysia. It only adds to our failed education system.

Now it tries to follow bolehland style which we despise!!

Little Gesto

I’m really surprised that Curtin did not do their homework to check how so many ppl feel about our “First Lady of Malaysia”. I think many Malaysians would want to avoid any association with this uni for a LONG time to come. How can lah Curtin…. Who’s next? Santa Claus?? I think he helped early childhood development just as much : p


disappointed。。。stupid Curtin University,,,


Conferment of Hon. Doctorate degree by a University should be based on more stringent criteria – like contribution to the body of knowledge or to the progress of the university etc. It must relate to the field of education. It should not grant such degree for name sake or on a public relations exercise or on someone influential in a country with the ulterior motive of securing a favour. The awardee should be one of good character and the conferment thereon would not elicit and provoke the ire of the world community. In this instance, I opine the Curtin University’s… Read more »


You want award such as Tun Dato give money or donation as you call it to support that political party function. Less prestigious award such as PAA, JKR etc or whatever, you carry chairs and table for that political parties function or to make the crowd and yayaya at their function when their leaders comes.


C’mon Curtin… Even Her Majesty The Queen wore yellow and had yellow roses when meeting with PM and his wife….


Yes..even Queen Elizabeth II is trying to make a point…
Curtin, go find out why…


Curtin’s reputation is down the drain with this award to rosmah. I won’t want to associated with CU. if it can compromise its image n reputation, cu can compromise on other values, standards, criteria etc etc.


‘I Help You, You Help Me’ strategy is being used overseas too?


At Malaysian tax-payers’ expense? Did we agree to it? Lembu punya susu, that Fat Lom dapat nama!


Phua Kai Lit

Some honorary doctorate holders truly deserve their awards e.g.
for major contributions to the promotion of tertiary education and so on.

But as for this award to Rosmah …….. well ……

Curtin should just have named a campus building after her or something like that.


Perhaps the new ablution blocks! Everytime you go there you can think of her!

a line

well, it might be disgusting.
but yes, it is much more logic and acceptable.

Mike Lkopio

Oops…apology to Dr. Phua; allow me to rephrase :-
” I bet if I throw a stone in any direction , it will hit three honorary PhD holders…. “


These days nothing is of meaning and value, look at our titleship of Tun, Tan Sri, Datuk Sri, Datuk, Dato, any meaning at all ???

Now, add to the list, honorary Doctorate, of what???…

Phua Kai Lit

Recently, there was a scandal at London School of Economics
and Political Science (LSE) because of the revelation that
Muammar Ghadafi’s son Saif had channeled a large amount of money to LSE for dubious reasons. A top level LSE official had to resign.

Phua Kai Lit

Many examples of honorary doctorates being awarded for dubious reasons.

I remember Temple University in USA awarding one to
a star NBA basketball player.

Curtin’s award is just the latest example.

Mike Lkopio

I bet if I throw a stone in any direction , it will hit three PhD holders….


I think a poor, struggling student who earned a diploma through hsi own hard slogging from some local technical institute is more respected than this glory-seeking, self-proclaimed FLOM who now may try to flaunt her “doctorate”. Aiyah… it looks very much like a “You help me, I help you” hon.doctorate lahl In the case of the 61 dresses which she was reoprted to have splurged A$100K on but then denied to be so, and the RM6m ring which she was alleged to have bought… I mean “helped to bring in for viewing”… even if the allegations are actually true, Rosmah… Read more »


Hon Doctorate in Botoxology Research & Development?


handbags and fashion too?

Gerakan K

What is the problem ??? That is called ‘diplomasi antarabangsa’. We even donate millions to other places when there are natural disasters such as earth quakes, floods, etc.

Nothing wrong with that unless you are promoting north korea closed door style of international relations. Or Iran ???

Igon Cang

It is, now!


I wouldn’t want to touch on Dr Rosmah credentials but what is a foreign university doing here with our hard earned taxpayers’ money.
Unless Curtin University is courteous enough to give free education to ‘deserving’ brilliant students who have no connection nor political-ingredients from referrals.
Curtin University is no beggar university.

Penang Voter

Malaysians paying for her honorary doctorate? Whoever approved this spending ought to be (penalised) !!!!


seriously? the woman spends millions of taxpayers’ ringgit on handbags and birthday parties with popstars who probably didn’t know her name … and you’re going to complain about her WEIGHT?!

Angry and Fed UP

yep…because I know everyone else will complain about other things…