May 4, 2007

Tun Mahathir receives honorary doctorate from Unsyiah

Banda Aceh (ANTARA News) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad received an honorary doctorate from Syiah Kuala University (Unsyiah) during an extraordinary meeting of the university`s senate here on Thursday.

The special senate session was attended by Unsyiah professors, members of the Aceh Legislative Council (DPRD), Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, Sabang Mayor Munaarliza Zainal, former Aceh governor Samsuddin Mahmud and other regional administration officials.

The conferment of the doctorate was held at the Prof. Dr Dayan Dawood Academic Center. Outside the building about 20 Unsyiah Kuala Ar-Raniry Darussalam University students held a rally in protest against the death penalty being faced by 56 Indonesians in Malaysia.

In principle, the demonstrators did not object to the conferment of the honorary doctorate on Mahathir but demanded that Malaysia pass a lighter sentence on the Indonesian workers.

Unsyiah Rector Dr Darni M Daud said that the honorary doctorate was the first to be awarded to a prominent Malaysian figure. The award was given to Mahathir because the former prime minister was viewed as having been successful in laying the foundations of Malaysia`s development.

"Mahathir is viewed not only as a successful politician and prime minister but also as a scientist who has contributed new ideas and concepts that improved conditions in his country. We hope his ideas and concepts can also be applied in Aceh," Darni said.

He said the conferment of the doctorate on the former Malaysian prime minister was also expected to strenthen the bonds of brotherhood between the peoples of Aceh and Malaysia.

"Many Indonesian lecturers have pursued doctorate and master`s studies in Malaysia. On the other hand, many Malaysian lecturers also pursued studies in Indonesia," he noted.

The Unsyiah rector expressed hope that such exchanges would continue to take place for the common progress of both nations

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