While Umno leaders are calling Datuk Marzuki Yahya to resign, his colleagues at Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia have come to his defence.
Bersatu supreme council member Tariq Ismail said the Deputy Foreign Minister should not be judged solely on his allegedly fake degree, and while this was a stigma, at least he did not rape or steal.
“From his humility and hard work, I’d hire the one from fake Cambridge. The real Cambridge, I’d throw them in the river because they think they own the world and the world has to continuously chase them.
“People should look for dedication and teamwork.
“A degree is just a piece of paper that gets you into the workplace. The rest is up to you.
“Having a dubious degree or not having graduated can be a stigma, but as long as people don’t rape or steal, it is fine,” said Tariq.
He added that he had to opt out of his degree course in London South Bank University due to the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.
“So, I know the stigma,” said Tariq.
Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said Marzuki was not chosen as the Deputy Foreign Minister because of the degree.
“As far as I know, he never declared that he was supposedly a Cambridge University graduate. That only came out in Wikipedia.
“For his own knowledge, he attended a course by an American online institution which unfortunately had a similar name.
“I’m sure he was not picked to be a deputy minister on the supposed merit of his brandishing a Cambridge University degree,” Mukhriz told The Star.
Both were commenting on reports that Marzuki had obtained his degree in business administration from an alleged degree mill.
Marzuki, who previously said he had a degree from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom via a distance learning programme, admitted on Wednesday (Feb 6) that his degree was actually from Cambridge International University in the United States.
Since that admission, the institution has come under intense scrutiny and increasing suspicion that it is a “diploma mill” that awards degrees with little or no study.
Cambridge International University admits on its website that it is not accredited.
It says it offers 150 programmes offered but lists only 12 faculty members and 13 adjunct faculty members.
Checks on the faculty members list on the website found one “associate professor” Dr Patricia Powell, whose profile picture bears the watermark of international online dating site AnastasiaDate that predominantly features East European women.
The profile pictures used for five other women in the adjunct faculty members’ list also looked suspiciously like that of fashion models.
One “Mrs Josephine Fernandens” posed with a pout against a green backdrop while a “Dr Teressa Jane Bright” had bare shoulders and eye makeup fit for the runway.
The Star reported that attempts to email multiple faculty and adjunct faculty members for clarification failed when the mail delivery subsystem noted that these email addresses could not be found or the server was unable to receive mail.
The responses from the remote server read: “550 No Such User Here”.
A Google search on the names of each faculty and adjunct faculty member turned up nothing, neither a LinkedIn profile nor research papers published under them.
There was also no physical address or location of the institution’s office listed on the website, which also does not have the (.edu) domain.
Cambridge International University has no affiliation with the prestigious University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
The US-based institution only offers “distance learning” programmes with degree courses costing as low as US$5,000 (about RM20,000) with fees payable via PayPal.
Meanwhile, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said that a government which values integrity would not retain leaders with fake certificates.
In a Facebook posting today, he emphasised that no authoritative government would permit members of its leadership to have academic credentials which are fraudulent or purchased.
“Being dishonest about a fake certificate is a sign that one is untrustworthy.
“Any government that maintains such members is a government which is not concerned about integrity,” he added.
Although he did not mention names, Mohd Asri’s comments come in the wake of the controversy surrounding Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya’s academic credentials.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan said Marzuki should tender his resignation.
“If he has any dignity, he should resign,” he added, according to The Star.
Similarly, Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the issue is not about Marzuki’s academic qualification, but integrity.
“It is not about whether a degree is required to be a politician, but it is about integrity.
“How do you (Marzuki) deceive the people with a fake degree and then claim you are fighting against corruption and propagating good governance and ethics?” he asked.
Related report: Feb 7, Marzuki’s “Cambridge Degree” Actually from Distance-Learning US Centre