Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the first person to receive the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Special Chancellor Sustainability Award at the university’s Commemorative Convocation ceremony in conjunction with its 50th anniversary in Penang today.
The USM Chancellor, Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, consented to confer the award during the ceremony.
However, Dr Mahathir could not attend the convocation ceremony today.
The Prime Minister, in his video speech screened at the convocation ceremony, thanked USM for bestowing him its highest award.
Mahathir said he was humbled and thankful for the consent of the Raja of Perlis to confer the inaugural special award. He added that he accepted the award with full responsibility and would uphold its honour, filled with realisation and humility.
“Indeed, receiving the Special Chancellor Sustainability Award is very meaningful to me personally, especially when it is a recognition by a university which has turned 50. Prior to this, USM had granted me an Honorary Doctorate in Science.
“I thank USM for considering that I am qualified to receive such prestigious and high valued awards,” he said.
The Prime Minister also congratulated USM over its 50th-anniversary celebration and hoped the university could re-evaluate its successes and shortcomings during the period and seek a new strategy to determine its future direction.
“The direction should be capable of maintaining and developing the university as a driving force towards a change in mindset and education for sustainability. The direction should not remain merely as an academic thinking concept and philosophy,” he said.
He said that the role of a university is not merely being creative and innovative in seeking new knowledge, but should have the capability to move alongside the society in understanding and utilising science, engineering and technology for the benefit of humanity.
According to Mahathir, firm co-operation between academicians and those working outside the academic circle should be boosted to understand the true demand of the nation in the current trends of modernisation and the industrial revolution 4.0.
He also reminded students to exit their comfort zones and together change the existing knowledge culture to more mature and critical thinking.
During the ceremony, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin also consented to confer the Honorary Doctorate of Sports Science to ex-national sport figure Nicol Ann David, Honorary Doctorate of Science to the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 Shuji Nakamura and the Honorary Master’s Degree Award in Public Administration to USM’s first female registrar Siti Mazenah Saad.
This year, 6,338 graduates would receive their degrees, including Honorary Degrees (three), Emeritus Professor (four), Doctorates in Philosophy (508), Master’s Degree (1,564), Bachelor’s Degree (4,266) and Nursing Diploma (45).
The USM convocation ceremony begins today until Sept 29.