I am sure there must be some truth in claims that some obscure awards were arranged by PR firms and given publicity by them too. With too many instances of self-initiated image building, is it any wonder why an honorary doctorate awarded by a university is presumed to be bought, or at least a form of returning a favour or an inducement for preferential treatment?
In Malaysia, it is common to find honorary doctorates awarded by universities or their foreign associates to those who were responsible for setting up such private institutions. In a way, to those rich enough, it is easier to get one via this route than to study for it. Then there are degree mills churning out degrees, Masters and PhDs to order, to those who are crazy enough to think such false credentials could impress people. The irony of it is that people who are genuinely great and well known in their respective industries are likely to be humble and prefer not to disclose their credentials. Sometimes, it was more because of organizers who wish to publicize such information in order to attract participants in seminars and so on.
Are those who criticize Rosmah or Curtin University for awarding her the honorary doctorate being jealous of her or her success? First of all, she cannot stop people from wanting to criticize her, perhaps only when Facebook or other media decide to stop publishing them. She cannot stop those in coffee shops or bloggers.
For those who understand that such honorary doctorates are easily given to those in power or who have contributed financially to the universities, they would not bother with such vain expressions of greatness. To those who are in the process of writing theses and defending them successfully before they are awarded the 'PhD' which entitled them to use 'Dr.' before their names, there might be some frustration over the ease some people could do so. As a father of someone pursuing a doctorate, which normally takes at least 4 years, it is a test of patience for both student and parent. When it involved having to forgo a fantastic job offer because of commitment to her new supervisor, then it just shows how unfair it is in life when some could have their cake and eat it too!