Curtin Malaysia pays tribute to its founders with 25th Anniversary Founder’s Luncheon

Miri, Sarawak – 5 July 2024 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently celebrated a momentous milestone with a Founder’s Luncheon, honouring the visionaries whose collective efforts established the campus, the first recognised foreign branch campus in Malaysia,  25 years ago.

The event, which brought together key figures who played instrumental roles in Curtin Malaysia’s inception, was hosted by Curtin Malaysia Pro-Chancellor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan, who was former Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister at the time of Curtin Malaysia’s establishment and himself one of the founders.

According to Dr. Chan, the event was a tribute to the power of collaboration between luminaries in Sarawak and Perth, Australia, the vision of Sarawak’s leaders, and the determination of its management, staff, alumni and students that has transformed Curtin Malaysia into the beacon of quality higher education it is today.

Special tribute was given to members of the Campus Implementation Committee formed in 1998 to establish both Curtin Malaysia’s temporary campus at the Riam Road Secondary School, which started operations in February 1999, as well as its permanent in Senadin, which opened in September 2002.

Though not all 11 members of the Campus Implementation Committee formed in 1998 to establish the campus were able to attend the luncheon, those present included prominent entrepreneur and property developer Dato Lau Siu Wai, former Federal Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation Tan Sri Peter Chin Fah Kui, former of Miri Mayor Dato Wee Han Wen, current Miri Mayor Adam Yii, former Miri City Council councillor Penghulu Leonard Fong, professional chartered accountant Sidney Lau, former Academic Director Associate Professor Frank Sheehy, and former Administration Director Dennis Ham.

Other members of the committee not attending and duly acknowledged were Sarawak Deputy Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Sebastian Ting, chartered accountant and former state assemblyman Dto Andy Chia, and former private secretary to Tan Sri Peter Chin Fah Kui, Koh Seng Hai.

Also present were at the luncheon were Curtin Malaysia’s first Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin McKenna, former Curtin Perth staffer George Neilson who was on the interview panel for Curtin Malaysia’s first academic and support staff; Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Professor Xiaotian Zhang, and other senior executives of the university from Perth; Curtin Malaysia Council and Board of Directors members; Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Simon Leunig, and members of his senior administrative and leadership team.

“As we reflect on the journey that has brought us here, we are reminded of the power of collaboration, vision, and determination. The establishment of Curtin Malaysia was not the work of a single individual but the result of a collective effort by many who shared a common goal: to provide world-class education and create opportunities for future generations,” remarked Dr. Chan in his welcome speech.

“Today, Curtin Malaysia stands as a beacon of quality higher education, serving the needs of Sarawak and beyond. It is a place where students are empowered to dream big, innovate, and make meaningful contributions to society. This would not have been possible without the foundational efforts of those we honour today,” he added.

He said their dedication and shared vision have paved the way for Curtin Malaysia’s success and growth over the past 25 years, and the luncheon was a heartfelt tribute to their contributions and a celebration of the enduring legacy they have created.

Dr. Chan also paid tribute to former and current Sarawak government leaders, as well as to  the civic leaders of Miri, whose unwavering support has also been integral to Curtin Malaysia’s success.

Following the luncheon, the founders were given a comprehensive tour of the campus, showcasing the advancements and achievements made over the years. This tour was a fitting conclusion to a day filled with appreciation and forward-looking optimism.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

(Seated L-R) Kevin McKenna, George Neilson, Dennis Ham, Lau Siu Wai, Frank Sheehy, Peter Chin, with (standing L-R) Leonard Fong, Sidney Lau, Wee Han Wen, Adam Yii.

The gathering of founders and Curtin University leaders from Miri and Perth at the luncheon

A beaming Dr Chan giving his welcome speech

Dr Chan presenting Dato Lau Siu Wai a commemorative 25th Anniversary souvenir

Dr Chan (seated centre) and founders pose for group photo

The founders at Curtin Malaysia’s Advanced Visualisation Lab during their tour of the campus