Penang local councils ‘fell for vanity awards scam’
GEORGE TOWN: Two European NGOs have exposed the European Business Assembly (EBA) which piled honours on Penang’s local councils as a vanity awards scam.
It is on a list of 10 organisations in Europe and China that hold elaborate ceremonies and create beautiful trophies to go with hundreds of awards.
“In many cases, those awards are bogus, sold by unscrupulous organisations that prey on human vanity,” the Center for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CINS) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) researchers wrote in a 2014 report.
The report states that such organisations sent solicitation letters to companies and government agencies in the world, telling them that they had been nominated for various awards.
“Anyone who replies, shows interest and agrees to pay gets an award. Most of the letters contain the ceremony programme generally held in an attractive European capital, pictures of the trophies and information about costs,” the report added.
CINS was founded in 2007 by the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia to support investigative journalism.
OCCRP comprises investigative reporters throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The two local councils in Penang were left red-faced for getting EBA awards in 2013 and 2014.
The now retired Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail was awarded the Best Municipal Manager while the council was given the Best Municipality Award in 2013.
A year later, Seberang Prai Municipal Council got the Best City award while its then president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif won the Best Municipal Manager award.
On Monday, it was reported that EBA was generating millions of pounds by selling fake University of Oxford awards and certificates.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad said he found many articles online exposing EBA as a vanity awards organisation.
“Did they spend ratepayers’ money to get those honours? It’s like buying fake academic degrees,” he said in a statement.
Penang MCA secretary Tang Heap Seng said the state government should explain to the people whether it had purchased the awards to enhance its reputation.
In a statement, MBPP said it regretted that the awards were suspected of being false and had applied to the organiser to reaffirm the recognitions.
State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said he hoped both councils would be more discerning and careful in future.
Source: The Star/ANN by Tan Sin Chow
Councils: We won EBA awards after paying entry fees
Mayor: I apologise if accolade not genuine
GEORGE TOWN: Two councils in Penang have admitted that they won the awards given by the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) without any assessment after paying a total of 7,800 euros (RM39,088) in entry fees.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said EBA did not send any auditor or judge to review the performances of the then Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP).
“We received letters via email from EBA that we were nominated for the awards. We then corresponded on the matter.
“EBA stated their judging criteria in the letters which they would be basing their assessment on.
“As far as I know, they did not come and talk to us but assessed us (themselves),” Maimunah told reporters yesterday, adding that the MPPP and MPSP had paid £4,400 (RM20,680) and £3,400 (RM18,408.10) for the entry fees.
Maimunah, who just returned from a conference in Manila, was commenting on the EBA controversy which was reported as a vanity awards scam.
It was reported that in 2014, the Centre for Investigative Reporting of Serbia and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project researchers had exposed the EBA for giving out the awards.
“If it is true that the award is not genuine, then I apologise. I wish to stress that the local councils do not have any intention to spend taxpayers’ money to buy any award or recognition from any group,” said Maimunah.
She said at that time, both MPPP and MPSP had considered the awards as a prestigious recognition based on the assessment criteria, which included economic environment, educational infrastructure, public services and transport, recreation and entertainment.
“The entry fee is a package inclusive of the participation cost for the conference. Both of us (Patahiyah and herself) went alone and we flew economy class although we were both entitled to business class.
“We did check on the awards but we did not receive any information which would have raised suspicions.
“There are other Malaysian local authorities, agencies, universities and individuals who have received the EBA awards before us.
“As such, the councils were of the opinion that the awards ceremony were worth joining,” she said.
Both councils, she said, were still waiting for a reply from EBA to clarify the matter.
Source: The Star by Chong Kah Yuan
MPSP to participate in awards despite ‘vanity awards’ controversy
BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) will continue to participate in international awards despite the controversy on so-called ‘vanity awards’ received by the council from the Europe Business Assembly (EBA).
The council’s newly appointed president Datuk Rozali Mohamud said they would continue to take part in international awards, but would heed the advice of state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation exco Chow Kon Yeow to be more cautious.
“Up to this moment, we have decided to take part in the Wego (World e-Governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments).
“The awards are held annually, and it is free. We do not have to pay any entry fee,” he told reporters at a press conference.
On July 24, it was reported that the EBA was generating millions of pounds by selling fake University of Oxford awards and certificates.
Researchers from two NGOs wrote in a 2014 report that such organisations sent solicitation letters to companies and government agencies in the world, telling them that they had been nominated for various awards.
“Anyone who replies, shows interest and agrees to pay gets an award,” the report stated.
The now retired Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail was awarded the Best Municipal Manager award while the council was given the Best Municipality Award in 2013.
A year later, MPSP got the Best City award while its then president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif won the Best Municipal Manager award. Maimunah is now MBPP mayor.
The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) president will replace
outgoing Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail whose contract ends on June 30