There is no end yet to the “fake degree” scandal involving senior government officials.
In addition to deputy foreign minster Datuk Marzuki Yahya, questions have also been raised on the academic qualifications of several Pakatan Harapan leaders, including Johor menteri besar Osman Sapian, housing and local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin and DAP’s Perak state exco Yong Choo Kiong.
Before the heat intensified over alleged fake degrees, the Cambridge International University mentioned by Marzuiki became a center of controversy over fake universities, while the opposition accused him of trying to exaggerate on his academic qualification.
Meanwhile, Johor MB Osman Sapian defended himself against fake degree allegation and housing minister Zuraida Kamaruddin squarely denied the accusation made against her. As for Yong, he said he did not buy a degree to boost his political career and that the master’s degree was indeed earned by him through self learning.
Five years ago, then opposition MP for Serdang Ong Kian Ming exposed the fake degrees of two BN ministers, human resources minister Datuk Richard Riot and science, technology and innovation minister Datuk Ewon Ebin.
Ong even demanded that then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak take stern actions against the two ministers.
Ong was appointed deputy international trade and industry minster after PH won the 14th general elections last year. From an opposition lawmaker to a member of the new government, Ong feels that the issue of fake degree should not be swept under the carpet, and has insisted that the issue be looked into with utmost transparency and accountability, or the new government will not be any different from the former BN administration.
Ong also feels that appropriate disciplinary actions must also be taken against DAP leaders holding fake academic degrees. This shows that he is not holding double standard over the issue.
Holding a fake degree or exaggerating on one’s academic qualification is not a major crime while fake degrees offered by a melange of fake colleges worldwide can now be purchased rather easily online.
Similarly, it is not hard for anyone to track down the authenticity of a person’s academic degree. All this has happened as a consequence of the demand-supply equation of our aberrant market.
Nevertheless, as a member of the sitting government, in particular one who is holding a ministerial or MB position, possessing a fake degree is definitely not just a matter of “personal integrity” but a question of public confidence in the person involved.
If the allegation of fake degree is eventually proven, it will affect not only the image of the government representative but also the country’s international status and image.
Unfortunately the prime minister has yet to take a stand on this issue. We are worried he will, like his predecessor, allow those holding fake degrees to continue serving in the government.