Curtin University has apologised for referring to Rosmah Mansor as the first lady of Malaysia, when announcing that it had conferred her with an honorary doctorate.
Curtin University vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket, in a statement today, said the university had taken note of the criticism over the award and the use of the term “first lady”.
“We also accept that our use of the term ‘first lady’ has offended some people, and apologise for this.
“We will no longer use that term, and have reissued our media statement with this change made,” said Hacket.
The statement was posted on the university’s official Facebook page, where many Malaysians had poured scorn over the award.
On criticisms over the award to Rosmah, Hacket said that the university stands by its decision.
Hacket explained that Curtin has a tradition of conferring honorary awards to recognise those who have given “distinguished service” to the university, to the community, to society or those who have made a distinguished contribution to a field of academic endeavour.
The recipients of such awards are selected through a process involving several committees within the university, which Hacket described as “not a competitive process”, where all nominees are considered on merit.
“Datin Sri Rosmah was recognised as the founder and driving force behind the Permata early childhood centres which enable children below the age of five to experience quality early learning.
“This initiative recognises the importance of early education for children and ultimately for their communities. There are now more than 600 Permata centres reaching tens of thousands of children.
“We acknowledge that there are a range of views on this award, but the University stands by its decision to grant the honorary doctorate,” said Hacket.
Hacket’s statement comes after scores of Malaysians posted complaints on the university’s Facebook page over Rosmah’s award.
While some claimed that the award was done without merit, others claimed that university had glossed over Rosmah’s background and allegations against her. – Mkini