Chancellor of Wawasan Open University, Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, conferred
honorary degrees on three remarkable individuals during a Special
Convocation ceremony at Menara PGRM, Kuala Lumpur.
CIMB Group CEO/Managing Director Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak received the Honorary
Doctor of Business; Chairman of the East Asian Institute at the National
University of Singapore Emeritus Prof Wang Gungwu the Honorary Doctor of
Laws; and WOU founding Registrar Mr. R. Padmanathan the Honorary Master of
In his convocation address, Tun Lim described Dato’ Sri Nazir as a
“regionally acknowledged successful banker”, Prof Wang “a globally
recognised and celebrated scholar of the Chinese Diaspora” and Padmanathan
to be “a faithful university administrator of long standing”.
Tun Lim interrupted his own formal reading to offer some personal insights
of the graduates. He mentioned knowing Nazir since he was 7-years-old
following his appointment as Minister in the Cabinet of the then Prime
Minister Tun Abdul Razak. “I went to the house, and saw this young boy
running about without knowing he’s going to be a successful banker from whom
I may have to borrow some money one day, ” he said in jest, to the laughter
of the crowd.
He recollected that Prof Wang was “a founding member of Parti Gerakan of
which I became president for 27 years”. He has known Padmanathan for the
last 7-8 years when they decided to set up WOU. “A good administrator…I bark
at him sometimes and he never replies. That’s a real, consummate
administrator, good for the university. Sometimes don’t know we’re friends
or not,” said Tun Lim, in his usual, candidly joking manner.
In his address, he stated that lifelong learning is a people’s movement, and
that the government should facilitate its development through supportive
policies, guidelines and much needed resources. “But it should keep its
hands off in managing and controlling its provisions; let institutions such
as schools, colleges and universities, like WOU undertake that task,” he
Dato’ Sri Nazir, in his acceptance speech on behalf of the honorary
graduates, said that if he “had to identify a single key to our (CIMB)
success I would say that it is has been our ability to not just manage, but
also leverage the diversity of our people”.
He continued, “All of us know that diversity is not easy to manage, let
alone harness. Differing ethnic backgrounds, religions and beliefs have been
the source of all kinds of tensions, divisions, conflicts and wars around
the world….Yet, diversity can be a tremendous source of strength. Diversity
in thinking and ideas combined with a healthy culture of openness and debate
brings about creativity in products and solutions.”
He found that government policies nowadays “tend to remind us of our
differences rather than our combined strengths”, adding, “1Malaysia is a
powerful clarion call for us to see strength in our diversity and celebrate
our multi-culturalism.” (Click
here for full reading of speech by Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak).
Among those at the ceremony were Chairman of WOU’s Board of Governors Tan
Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia
president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and its central committee members, CIMB’s
top management, representatives from private universities/colleges, and the
family of the honorary graduates.