Mayapada Group founder Tahir, right, accepts his honorary doctorate from the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Friday. (SP Photo/Willy Masaharu)

Indonesian Philanthropist Tahir Receives Honorary Doctorate in Cambodia


OCTOBER 25, 2019

Jakarta. The University of Cambodia bestowed an honorary doctorate on Indonesian tycoon and philanthropist Tahir on Friday for his contributions to the economy and education in Southeast Asia.

Kao Kim Hourn, president of the University of Cambodia, said Tahir is a well-known philanthropist through his various charity programs with regional and global outreach.

"Dato Sri Tahir also plays an important role in strengthening relations between Cambodia and Indonesia. Therefore, it is an honor for the University of Cambodia to award him this honorary doctoral degree," he said during the award ceremony in Phnom Penh, referring to Tahir by his traditional title.

In his acceptance speech, Tahir told the audience, mainly comprising university students, that his achievements were the results of hard work and gratitude.

"I was raised in a poor family. To achieve success, it depends on how you manage your life, how you express thankfulness to God," Tahir said. "I become what I am today because of hard work. You too can change your life anytime. Your future is in your own hands."

He said many people pursued the wrong goals in life; some want to become president, or rich, or simply famous.

"That's a blatant mistake. To me, the objective of our lives is how to share happiness with many people," the Mayapada Group founder said.

Tahir, 67, said although he was honored to receive this recognition, it was no longer important to him.

"To be honest, I have received honorary doctorates from seven universities. Actually, I don't want it anymore, because I only want to work and serve. But education is also a very important thing," the banking and property magnate said.

Tahir founded the Mayapada Group in 1986 and ran various businesses, from banking and health care to garment and car dealerships. Mayapada Bank survived the 1998 financial crisis as it did not rely on foreign loans and has since expanded to more than 100 branches across Indonesia.

Tahir earned global recognition as a philanthropist after he donated $100 million to the Bill Gates Foundation in 2013.

At age 20, he received a scholarship from Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore and then completed his master's degree in finance from Golden Gate University in California.