|Weighing in: (Clockwise from top left) Ramon, Marina, Hassan, Anas and Marimuthu|
Honesty and integrity should take centre stage in the debate that is swirling over the legitimacy of certain university degrees of politicians.
Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said good political leaders need not be graduates but some academic credentials would be an asset to them.
“What we need are politicians with keen critical thinking, dedication and sincerity to serve the rakyat,” he said yesterday.
Ramon said that politicians who had “cheated” should confess and let the people decide if they still want them to carry on serving or quit their posts.
Several politicians have come under fire after their academic qualifications were questioned by the public.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya found himself in hot water following the controversy over his “Cambridge University” degree.
Others included Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian and Perak state executive councillor Paul Yong Choo Kiong.
Several Barisan Nasional leaders too had their qualifications scrutinised in the past. Among them were former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot.
Former UiTM vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said in other countries, leaders would have been asked to resign or they would voluntarily quit if they were found using dubious credentials.
“Honesty and integrity values are more important to those who are dealing with public trust and responsibility.
“The nation will collapse if its leaders are not honest or have integrity,” he said.
Educationist Prof Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu said politicians must come clean about their academic credentials as they are serving the public.
“Otherwise, how else can you serve the people?
“If you ask someone to write your thesis for you or use dubious ways to earn your credentials, you are just being dishonest to yourself and the public,” he said.
Moderation advocate Anas Zubedy concurred, saying that there should be no compromise when it comes to leadership and integrity.
“No matter how brilliant, knowledgeable or successful you are, a lack of integrity disqualifies any and all talent for any leadership position. We must check their track record for any propensity to lie, practise double standards, or to say one thing and do the other.
“New Malaysia must not compromise on integrity,” he said.
Writer and social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said it was better to own up in not possessing a degree than to pretend to have one.
“No, it’s not a crime nor is it essential to serve in the government but it’s a matter of trust. If you can misrepresent this, what else can you misrepresent?” she asked.
G25 group of eminent Malays said it is best to be honest about one’s academic credentials so that doubts are not raised on their integrity.
“A politician who lies about his personal details to win an election or get a ministerial position will raise doubts about his integrity. He will also create a bad image for the government and the country,” it said in a statement.
Najib asked whether it was the national news agency Bernama or officers of the ministers that had misrepresented the academic credentials of Pakatan Harapan ministers.
“But what is more strange is that the false news that the ministers were graduates came from the biodata published from Bernama in its infographics and was spread when they were appointed as ministers about nine months ago.
“As far as I know, normally Bernama would request the biodata from the special aides or the press secretaries of ministers when they are appointed to be published in its reports,” he said on Facebook.
Reports by Star team: TARRANCE TAN, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM, NURBAITI HAMDAN, RASHVINJEET S.BEDI and SARBAN SINGH
Malu apa, bro!
WE seem to be heading towards a dangerous edge. There is now an emerging culture of shamelessness.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak may have been slapped with countless charges of corruption and money laundering, but his campaign, Malu apa, bossku (“Why the shame, boss?” in Bahasa Malaysia), has surprisingly attracted millions of likes on social media.
The scandal-smeared former prime minister has traded in his tailored suits, impeccable English and political elite-aristocratic crowd for the Mat Rempit and Malay working class.
As part of his makeover, he is now decked in black parka, black jeans and black sneakers.
He is even hanging out with the young Mat Rempit and posting wefies with them. He is also happily showing off a black-and-red Yamaha Y15ZR 150cc moped that is all the rage with the youths of today.
And the registration plate on his bike is 8055KU, which insinuates “BOSSKU”, and to these newfound supporters, Najib is called Boss kita! (Our Boss.)
The key phrase here is Malu apa bossku, and while many learned Malaysians are cringing over this new culture, it barely seems wrong for our embattled former PM, who is basking in it and promoting the malaise.
But a similar show is also surfacing on the other side of the political divide.
One Pakatan Harapan leader after another is having his or her dubious education credentials exposed after Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya was questioned over his.
Johor Mentri Besar Osman Sapian’s education history has come under the spotlight with the allegation that he didn’t obtain a degree from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), as claimed.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s social science degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS), as reported when she became a minister, has also come into question. Now, she’s washed her hands of ever having had one.
DAP Assemblyman from Tronoh Paul Yong Choo Kiong claimed to have a masters in business administration from Akamai University – an alleged degree mill in Hawaii – among his academic qualifications.
None of these politicians have apologised for not correcting these errors when they were revealed, but now, they have conveniently shrugged off the news reports, claiming no knowledge of such revelations.
Worse, Marzuki passed the buck to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saying it is now up to his boss to decide. The Johor MB chose to remain silent, hoping that the storm would blow over.
The central issue here isn’t whether an elected representative should have a tertiary education – the point here is, should we put our trust in anyone who lies to themselves?
If some of these individuals buy dubious online diplomas, they are only cheating themselves. Worse, the electorate has also fallen for this charade hook, line and sinker.
Instead of working hard, like most university students, these individuals apparently chose the easy way out. Are we expected to believe them when they talk about accountability and integrity from now on?
What’s worse is, most Pakatan leaders have chosen to look the other way or have lamely justified these dishonest transgressions.
If they were in the private sector, the sack would be a foregone conclusion, but then they are “Yang Berhormat”, despite these dishonourable acts.
Apa nak malu, YB! Aku ada SPM aje, bro!
And of course, that’s not the end. PAS leaders have found themselves in unfamiliar waters.
With their turbans and goatees, they like to appear pious and holier than thou. However, they are now seeing their names flying on social media, associated with a taste for sports cars and bikes, and not just under their names, but those of their children and spouses.
A report filed with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over allegations of PAS leaders getting RM90mil from Umno under the previous administration involved “a list of expensive cars”, properties, high-powered motorcycles and “the purchase of number plates at exorbitant prices”, it has been widely reported.
According to the report, several PAS leaders were accused of using these funds to acquire the cars and properties.
The cars include BMW, Mini Cooper, Toyota Vellfire, Range Rover, Porsche Cayman, Audi Q7, Audi A6, Toyota Camry, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Passat, Mercedes Benz, and a BMW motorcycle, according to a report.
“As for the properties, this includes a bungalow in Bangi worth RM3mil,” says a report. The only item missing is camel ownership.
PAS Mursyidul Am (spiritual leader) Datuk Hashim Jasin has admitted to owning a Porsche Cayman, but said his son was the real owner, who was entitled to an Approved Permit (AP) when he served as the Arau MP between 1998 and 1999.
Every one of them has branded these accusations as part of some grand political conspiracy, pleading innocence and insisting they are virginal and pure instead.
But we are sure they will be okay, and they will continue to preach accountability and transparency, and possibly continue to look – invoking race, religion and God – to their faithful followers, who will readily give away their savings and, brave the rain and scorching sun to support them.
Malu Apa Bossku? Tatap Sokong Boss (as the Sabahans will say).
Queries over credentials
It was reported by Bernama that Marzuki pursued a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in logistics via a long-distance learning programme at the University of Cambridge.
Response: “When I was asked by the media, I clearly said that I was from Cambridge International University (CIU) in US and not the University of Cambridge in UK.”
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong questioned Lim’s credential as a qualified professional accountant
Response: Lim’s political secretary Tony Pua rebutted the allegations by producing Lim’s degree certificate from Monash University, Australia on April 11, 1984, together with a copy of his “Certificate of Membership” in the Australian Society of Accountants dated Feb 21, 1984.
Accused of faking a degree in culinary arts.
Response: “Some people say I have a degree in culinary arts. I never said that. Truth is, I never completed my studies at UiTM. They kicked me out.”
But Mohamad was quick to add that despite this, he was still a “good cook”.
A Twitter user claimed he could not find her name on the National University of Singapore’s online degree verification portal.
Response: “I have never claimed or held myself to be a graduate of NUS and I have never authorised anyone else to do so,” she said.
JOHOR MENTRI BESAR DATUK OSMAN SAPIAN
A Facebook page questioned the validity of his UPM Bachelor in Accounting obtained in 1985.
Response: He has yet to comment on the matter.
TRONOH ASSEMBLYMAN PAUL YONG CHOO KIONG
Yong was questioned over his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Akamai University, United States by MCA’s Dr Wee.
Response: Yong said he felt calm and had nothing much to comment as his certificate is real and he had a convocation 16 years ago.
“My main interest now is to do the best for my voters,” said Yong.
DAP highlighted a video circulating online alleging that Najib never completed his studies at UK’s Nottingham University in the 70s.
Response: “Of course my degree is legitimate.”
Riot was questioned in 2013 over his Bachelor of Business Administration from the Chartered Insitute of Business Administration (Ireland) and a Masters in Business Administration from Preston University in the United States.
Response: “As (former) prime minister, he (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) has used his wisdom to find out whether I am fit to be a minister, and that includes my academic qualification, by tasking me to be in charge of the human resources portfolio, which is a very a challenging ministry with 13 agencies.
“There is a difference between fake degree and qualifications from unrecognised universities. I worked very hard for it because I believe in life-long learning”, he said.
Wee presses on quizzing Lim
Wee: No evidence showing that Lim ever worked in any accounting firms.
KUALA LUMPUR: Despite threats of being sued, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong continues to raise questions on Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s credentials as an accountant.
Dr Wee said that “Lim is far from even being a certified or a chartered accountant”.
The Ayer Hitam MP, while referring to documents released by Lim’s political secretary Tony Pua yesterday, pointed out that Lim’s membership into the Australian Society of Accountants on Feb 21, 1984, merely stated that he was admitted as a provisional member.
A provisional membership, Dr Wee said, was one of the steps required to enrol into programme modules and examination in order to qualify as an accountant, and to qualify for a full membership into the Australian Society of Accountants.
Therefore, a provisional membership is far from being a fully certified chartered accountant or even an accountant.
“You cannot call yourself using either designation,” said Dr Wee in a Facebook posting yesterday.
The Australian Society of Accountants is now known as CPA Australia (Certified Practicing Accountant).
Checks online showed that a full membership is only awarded to individuals if they have successfully passed the CPA examination – which also requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a year of supervised working experience under a CPA licence holder.
At the same time, Dr Wee, in the same Facebook posting, pointed out that Lim was quoted by news portal MalaysiaKini in a report on March 2012 as saying that he was a failed accountant and had spent less than a week in an accounting firm in Malaysia before he was sacked.
Dr Wee said there was no evidence showing that Lim ever worked in any accounting firms, or having enrolled for any necessary education requirements to qualify as a certified accountant or a chartered accountant.
“In fact, online checks with the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) does not show Lim as being a member.
“In Malaysia, you cannot misrepresent yourself as an accountant unless you are a member of MIA.
“It is a criminal offence under Section 25(e) of the Accountants Act 1967 for any individual or organisation to call himself or herself an accountant unless he or she is registered with the MIA,” said Dr Wee.
At the same time, Dr Wee said that a report by New Straits Times in June 2018 also pointed out that Lim had claimed to be a former accountant.
Meanwhile, Dr Wee also said that DAP’s website had misrepresented Lim as a certified accountant.
“Neither MCA nor myself have any interest in pursuing this matter any further as the declining economy right now is a more important issue to address.
“We leave it to DAP and the rakyat to judge if a legal offence has been committed,” said Dr Wee.
Lim’s qualification in accounting is the latest to come under scrutiny after a series of alleged false education credentials involving Pakatan Harapan leaders, including Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian and Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong. – The Star.
Under scrutiny: A photo of the Cambridge International University and logo taken from its website. https://youtu.be/x90SmWqP2V4 ..
On Malaysia Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s website, it is stated in his biodata that he graduated from Monash University, Australia..