Murdoch honours ex politician, WA Governor and human rights lawyer

February 23, 2015

Dr Todung Mulya Lubis (centre) with Deputy Chancellor Ross Hult (left) and Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart

Dr Todung Mulya Lubis (centre) with Deputy Chancellor Ross Holt (left) and Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart

Murdoch University was proud to present honourary degrees to deserved recipients at each of its graduation ceremonies last week.

Former Greens WA leader and activist The Honourable Giz Watson, WA Governor Her Excellency, The Honourable Kerry Sanderson and Indonesian human rights lawyer Dr Todung Mulya Lubis were presented with their honourary degrees at ceremonies on Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively.

Dr Lubis is the principal defence lawyer for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine drug-smuggling ring. He is leading a team of lawyers who are currently working around the clock to prevent their planned execution.

Dr Lubis is regarded as one of the most eminent legal practitioners in South East Asia and is a tireless fighter for human rights, the rule of law and the struggle against corruption in Indonesia.

He has protected the legal rights of many ordinary Indonesian citizens as well as working with corporate clients like Time Magazine.

In the 1980s, Dr Lubis was director of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, which was at the forefront of the opposition movement to the Soeharto regime’s corruption and abuse of power.

After the fall of President Soeharto in 1998, Dr Lubis was again at the forefront of calls for institutional changes in Indonesia as the country democratised.

At the ceremony on Friday, Dr Lubis said he was privileged to receive the honour.

“I have only paid my dues as a citizen, as a human being, and as part of a larger academic community,” he said.

“Let me use this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to continue the unfinished work of advocating human rights, fighting against corruption as well as strengthening people-to-people communication especially between Indonesia and Australia.”

The Honourable Kerry Sanderson with Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart (left) and Chancellor David Flanagan

The Honourable Kerry Sanderson with Professor Taggart (left) and Chancellor David Flanagan

Mrs Sanderson has been the WA Governor since October 2014 and is the first woman to hold this position.

A former senior public servant in the Western Australian government and highly respected business woman, Mrs Sanderson is credited with returning to profit and efficiency the Fremantle Ports operation. She worked as its chief executive for 17 years.

She was appointed the Agent General for Western Australia in 2008 becoming the first female Agent General appointed by any Australian State. Based in Australia House, London, Mrs Sanderson encouraged trade and investment in WA throughout Europe.

In 2013, Mrs Sanderson was appointed co-chair of the University’s First Murdoch Commission, which investigated the growing economic interdependency of Western Australia, Australia and the Asian region. She is also the Patron of the Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute (WANRI) which is based at Murdoch.

Upon her appointment as Governor last year, Mrs Sanderson said she was particularly passionate about science education and scientific research.

Professor Taggart with Giz Watson and David Flanagan

Giz Watson with Professor Taggart and David Flanagan

Ms Watson was one of Murdoch’s foundation students and graduated in 1980 with a degree in environmental science.

As a passionate activist she was part of Western Australia’s first direct action campaign protesting the felling of jarrah forests for bauxite mining.

In the cause of civil rights and freedom of speech, she was an active opponent of the Court government’s Western Australian Police Act which prohibited the meeting of more than three persons without a permit.

Ms Watson was the first openly lesbian parliamentarian in Australia, playing a significant role in lesbian and gay law reform in Western Australia during her 16 years as a member of the WA Parliament’s Upper House.

Her parliamentary career also included an active role in the achievement of abortion law reform in WA.

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