Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. congratulates former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the end of the conference. Photo by Sherwin Marion T. Vardeleon

11 June 2012, 03:34 p.m. – FORMER Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was named “honorary professor” of UST on Monday for speaking up on behalf of the developing world.

Mahathir, whose 22-year rule ushered Malaysia into prosperity, upheld democratic ideals but said democracy must have limits and government leaders must be incorruptible. “Too much democracy undermines democracy itself,” Mahathir said after accepting the rare honorary professorship from Asia’s oldest and only Pontifical university.

Newly installed Rector Magnificus Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. paid tribute to Mahathir’s economic legacy, noting that the Malaysian leader spoke out against unfair divisions between rich and poor nations.

Mahathir’s speech at the Medicine Auditorium was billed the “Neo-Centennial Lecture.” Mahathir received the professor’s medallion and diploma from Dagohoy, who was accompanied by Graduate School Dean Lilian Sison and Regent Fr. Jose Antonio Aureada, O.P.

“You opened the country to foreign investment, reformed taxation, reduced trade barriers, and privatized numerous state-owned enterprises, besides creating world-class physical infrastructure,” Mahathir’s diploma states. “Under your guidance and leadership, Malaysia played a more active role in the international arena by acting as the voice for the developing nations in Asia and Africa.”

Mahathir, 86, is known for his “New Development Policy” which contributed to poverty reduction. His “Vision 2020” served as Malaysia’s economic development blueprint.

“A professorship is usually given to somebody with high academic achievement, but it can also be given to an external scholar who has extensively distinguished himself in the international level — in terms of leadership, achievement, and distinction,” Sison told the Varsitarian.

Sison said Mahathir was supposed to deliver the keynote speech during the Quadricentennial year’s international conference on poverty alleviation, but his hectic schedule did not allow it.

Former recipients of the honorary professorship were Yuan Tseh Lee, president of the International Council of Science and 1985 Nobel laureate in chemistry; and Msgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Science. Yuji Vincent B. Gonzales with reports from Reden D. Madrid


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