In his reply to me in parliament today, 2nd of October, to my question on steps the government will take to punish those with fake degrees and degrees from degree mills, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim equated fake degrees with fake Louis Vuitton bags. He further added that nothing could be done against those who have fake degrees as long as it was for personal use e.g. if they framed it up in their homes. His answer is an insult to the intelligence of all Malaysians, shows the government’s double standards and demonstrates the complete lack of political will on the part of the BN to address this issue.
Firstly, a fake degree is nothing like a fake designer handbag. A degree is something which an individual works hard to obtain over the course of 3 to 4 years and is based on academic effort and ability, not on purchasing power. A person who buys a fake degree or who obtains one from a degree mill demonstrates a gap in moral credibility that far exceeds that of a person who buys fake handbags. A Minister who cannot see that difference shows is ignorance about the need for integrity especially when it comes to the arena of academic qualifications. A Minister with a fake degree or a degree from a diploma mill can make the entire country a laughing stock in the international arena. A Minister with a fake Louis Vuitton bag would do significantly much less damage to our reputation. What more if that Minister in question is the Minister for Human Resources which has the power to provide certification for academic qualifications?
Secondly, the Minister, in his reply said that government servants who are found to have fake degrees will be sacked. He also mentioned that the list of certified universities can be found online – at < href="http://pengiktirafan.jpa.gov.my/">http://pengiktirafan.jpa.gov.my/. None of the universities which are degree mills which were brought up by myself this morning in parliament – Chartered Institute of Business Administration ,Teoranta in Ireland and Preston University in the United States (Richard Riot); Golden State University, Wyoming in the United States and Commonwealth Open University in the British Virgin Islands (Ewon Ebin), Preston University in the United States (Abdul Azeez bin Abdul Rahim, Chairman of Tabung Haji and MP for Baling) and Wanborough University (Mohammed Emir Mavani Abdullah, Group President and CEO of Felda) – could be found in this JPA website. Which means that the two Ministers in question and the two GLC heads could not have even applied for the civil service using their degrees. Why is there one standard for civil standards and another standard for Ministers and government appointment officials at the senior management level in GLCs? Shouldn’t the standards of integrity, including regarding one own’s academic qualification, be higher for Ministers and for senior GLC appointees given their larger responsibilities?
The Minister’s reaction confirms the third point which is that the government has no political will to address this very serious issue. In Pakistan, Members of Parliament have been sentenced to jail for possessing fake degrees. In Germany, two Ministers were forced to resign after they were accused of having plagiarized parts of their PhD dissertations.
Have our standards of integrity sunk so low that we can turn a blind eye to this and make a joke out of it like what the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim, seems to be doing in his parliamentary reply this morning?