Kiribati president gets honorary doctorate
By Kim Tae-gyu
Kiribati President Anote Tong received an honorary Ph.D. in engineering Tuesday from Pukyong National University, which has praised his vigorous activities in preserving the environment.
The Busan-based college also said that it took into account Tong’s exploits in offering the doctorate, including his proactive roles in developing the marine businesses of the two countries.
``It is a great joy and honor for Pukyong to offer an honorary Ph.D. to President Tong, a world-famous marine expert and environmental activist who has contributed to the development of Kiribati and Korea,’’ Pukyong President Park Maeng-eon said in a ceremony awarding the degree.
``From now on, President Tong is a proud member of our alumni.’’
Tong won the Kiribati presidential election in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 and again this year.
The 59-year-old has spoken up on climate change as he warned Kiribati might become uninhabitable by the turning point of the 21st century due to the rising sea levels threatening the island nation in the central tropical Pacific Ocean.
His efforts aimed at safeguarding not only around 100,000 residents of Kiribati but also the human race have gained international recognition at a time when climate change threatens the world.
Tong also set up a special relationship with Korea. When he served as minister of the marine sector of Kiribati in the 1990s, he was an avid supporter of stronger ties between the two countries.
He helped Korean vessels develop new fisheries east of Kiribati where such species as tunas are plentiful while he tried to nurture his country’s marine experts by educating them in Korea.
After taking office in 2003, Tong has continued efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two states.