What do the Australian National University, Monash University and the University of Adelaide have in common. Southeast Asian hard men in their honour rolls, among other things.
The Australian National University conferred Lew Kuan Yew an honorary doctorate in 2007.
Earlier this month, Monash University conferred Najib Razak with one too.
But it looks like the University of Adelaide beat the ANU and Monash to the title of cavorting with the most dubious Southeast Asian leader.
Taib Mahmud received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in 1994. This complicated relationship with one of its favoured sons, Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak for the past 30 years, has brought condemnation to the University. Just last year, the University honoured Taib Mahmud by naming a plaza after him: Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court.
The Swiss Bruno Manser Fond, which is spearheading a campaign to save the last remaining rain forest and its native inhabitants in Sarawak, has released a report detailing the links between Taib Mahmud and timber companies that are the primary cause of this destruction. They have also called for the resignation of the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, James McWha.
The Sarawak Report, which has provided compelling evidence on the abuses of Taib and his family, have failed to get any response from the University of Adelaide in relation to the decision to name the plaza after him. The University of Adelaide is clearly numb to the scale of destruction that Taib Mahmud has perpetrated while continuing to receive funding from him.
For these three prestigious universities, it appears that an honorary doctorate is nothing more than dollars with no sense.