Malaysia, S’pore varsities should collaborate further


Malaysian and Singaporean tertiary institutions should collaborate further to produce landmark research in the medical field, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The improvement in cooperation between universities from both countries remains possible as a result of friendly relationship maintained between the two governments, Dr Mahathir told the National University of Singapore (NUS) yesterday.

“There have been collaborations between the NUS and Malaysian universities…I am impressed with the outcome of such collaborations, especially in the cancer cure research.”

A two-country study involving the medical schools of NUS and University of Malaya became the first in the world to discover tailored chemotherapy for children with high-risk leukaemia, which increases cure rates and reduces relapse rates.

Both universities are also partners in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Asean University Network.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia and Singapore universities should conduct more research in the medicine, technology and innovation fields.

He said this after being conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws from NUS, presented by Singapore President cum NUS chancellor Halimah Yacob.

The PM also said Malaysia and Singapore have been an example on dispute resolutions on a global front.

“We have always been a good neighbour and it should be noted by a lot of countries. In many regions when neighbouring countries are having conflict between them, they resort to war and conflict to resolve it.

“Singapore and Malaysia have set an example on how neighbouring countries can resolve their conflicts.”

The Honorary Doctor of Laws is usually awarded to candidates who have been political leaders with significant political achievement or those in the legal profession.

Besides Halimah, among past recipients of the NUS Honorary Doctor of Laws include Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, Brunei Ruler Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Singapore former PM and current Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Prof Chong Yap Seng, dean designate of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said Dr Mahathir is a leader who embodies visionary excellence and unwavering dedication to public service.

“Dr Mahathir is a statesman who over the course of a long and remarkable career, has forged a modern and economically thriving country, and placed it prominently on the global stage,” he said in his award citation on Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir was a medical student in the King Edward VII College of Medicine, which is the forerunner of the current NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. He graduated in 1953 with an MBBS.

He said it was for very good reasons that Dr Mahathir is referred to as the architect of modern Malaysia, as the nonagenarian oversaw the rapid modernisation and growth of Malaysia by reducing poverty and increasing overall general prosperity between 1981 and 2003.

The NUS also commended the decisive steps taken by Dr Mahathir in fighting the 1997 Asian financial crisis against the advice of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“While the IMF’s recommendation to Malaysia to trim government spending and raise interest rates exacerbated the situation in the country during the 1997 financial crisis, Dr Mahathir took the decisive step to reverse this policy course by increasing government spending and pegging the ringgit to the US dollar.

“The result confounded his international critics and the IMF, and led to Malaysia recovering from the crisis faster than its South-East Asian neighbours,” said Chong.