Degree Disgrace

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Johor MB now admits he never completed his studies.

Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian has clarified that he did not complete his university studies.

Osman said he was once a student with the Kolej Pertanian Malaya, the predecessor of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

“However, I did not complete my studies,” Osman was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

The Johor government’s website previously showed that Osman had a degree and diploma in accounting from UPM. It does not state when these certificates were obtained.

However, he said he was not aware of this and has given instruction for all such references on official websites to be deleted.

“I humbly apologise to all Malaysians towards the confusion and misunderstanding over my qualifications,” he said.

Last week, Osman declined to answer queries about his academic qualifications, choosing to reply with a mere smile instead.

Among those who raised questions about Osman’s supposed UPM Bachelor in Accounting obtained in 1985 were MCA president Wee Ka Siong and Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

“UPM’s official website stated that the course was introduced in 1985. How is it possible that there could be such a super-fast graduate produced in the same year!” Wee said.

Khaled, Osman’s predecessor, said that the most disappointing part of Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders being embroiled in the ‘fake credentials’ controversy is the excuses they have come up with in response.

Meanwhile, an academic group has urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today to remove Marzuki Yahya as the deputy foreign minister over his dubious degree.

The executive council of the Malaysian Academic Movement (Move) demanded the same of other Pakatan Harapan (PH) officials who misrepresent their academic qualifications and said the coalition must do so to prove its commitment to integrity and good governance.

“The question is why did Datuk Marzuki, for instance, create assumptions that he was a Cambridge University graduate? This PPBM leader only clarified that he graduated from Cambridge International University (CIU) after being pressed from all sides.

“However, his explanation created another controversy when it was found that CIU is not accredited, and to make things worse, it is known as a ‘degree mill’. This means he did not obtain his ‘academic qualifications’ legitimately,” the Move exco said in a statement today.

The group said it accepted that academic achievements were not the sole measure of a politician’s abilities but said questionable integrity was unacceptable.

It added that the controversy over dubious qualifications was damaging PH’s credibility, especially since it had championed integrity during their 14th General Election campaign.

The credentials of several other PH leaders have also come under scrutiny following the uproar from Marzuki’s “Cambridge-gate” scandal.

Tronoh state assemblyman Paul Yong

Bernama reported Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming as backing Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong who came under public scrutiny for his dubious Masters in Business Adminis­tration (MBA) from Akamai Univer­sity, United States, claiming that he had obtained it “legitimately”.

Farhan Najib

This is despite the fact that DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang had labelled the university as a degree mill in 2005.

Yong, 48, was also questioned by Wee as to how he could do his MBA without having a first degree.

The Perak executive councillor who is also DAP’s treasurer has in his biodata listed his primary and secondary school education followed by his MBA.

Responding to the controversy, Yong claimed that his way to enhance his self-worth has been blown out of proportion.

He, however, did not reveal how he obtained his MBA.

“What is the relationship between this and politics?” asked Yong, who is also the Housing, Local Government, Public Transport, Non-Muslim Affairs and New Villages Committee chairman.

According to Nga, Yong had indeed obtained the MBA legally by passing the examination, even though at that time the university was not officially recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

“There are many famous universities around the world, including in Taiwan and China, which are qualified but have not received recognition from MQA,” Nga told Bernama.

Defence minister Mat Sabu

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, commonly called Mat Sabu, rubbished allegations that he has a fake degree or diploma, saying that he never graduated from a higher education institution in the first place.

“Some people say I have a degree in culinary arts. I never said that.

Bernama

“Truth is, I never completed my studies at ITM (Mara Institute of Technology). They kicked me out.

“Maybe it’s because I am good at cooking, so people think it’s something I learnt in college,” Mohamad was quoted as saying.

Mohamad’s culinary skills have been praised by the likes of the prime minister.

Separately, an aide to the defence minister published excerpts from his biography emphasising the latter was expelled from ITM due to his participation in student politics.

Local government and housing minister Zuraida Kamaruddin

Like Mat Sabu, Zuraida pre-empted possible allegations of doctored credentials after her Wikipedia page was manipulated anonymously.

A check revealed that there were numerous edits to her Wikipedia page to reflect that Zuraida had graduated from “Harvard University of higher learning” and even a “Syok Sendiri University”.

Her Wikipedia page also falsely listed her as being a graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

However, Wikipedia shows that the username of the person who made those changes does not exist.

A Twitter user had said he was unable to find Zuraida’s name on the NUS’ online degree verification portal.

The tweet included an infographic prepared by Bernama in May last year when she was sworn in as minister. The in­fographic stated that she had obtained a social science degree from NUS.

The Utusan Malaysia newspaper reported the false claim, leading the minister to rebuke it for failing to contact her for confirmation first.

“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.

Zuraida said Bernama had not verified the information with her, adding that she had requested a news portal using a similar infographic to make the correction at the time.

Finance minister Lim Guan Eng

Despite threats of being sued, Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong persisted in questioning Lim’s qualification in accounting and his credential as a qualified professional accountant.

While referring to documents released by Lim’s political secretary Tony Pua, Wee 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 is one of the first steps to take necessary program modules and examinations in order to qualify as an accountant and qualify for full membership in 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,” he said in a Facebook statement.

Wee noted that Lim had previously joked about being a “failed accountant, having only worked for a major accounting firm for a week.

“Since then, there is no evidence that he has ever worked in any other accounting firm nor of him ever having taken the compulsory modules or professional exams needed for him to qualify as a duly certified accountant or chartered accountant,” Wee said.

He added that online checks also showed that Lim was not a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).

He claimed that DAP’s website had mispresented Lim as a certified accountant.

“In Malaysia, you cannot misrepresent yourself as an accountant unless you are a member of MIA.”

However, Wee said he had no interest to pursue the matter further as it was more important to address the “declining” economy.

“We leave it to DAP and the rakyat to judge if a legal offence has been committed,” he said.

Deputy human resource minister Mahfuz Omar

In a press statement on Feb 12, Mahfuz acknowledged that there were social media allegations that went viral, claiming that the Amanah vice-president obtained a degree from a foreign university.

Bernama

“That allegation is a slander to taint my name. I never said I have any degrees from any universities in or out of the country. This is not a secret because I have always said I don’t hold any degrees from any universities locally or abroad,” stressed Mahfuz.

Among those who questioned Mahfuz’s academic qualification was former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who asked on Facebook if the university Mahfuz had allegedly obtained his degree was from “Wakanda”, a fictional country from the blockbuster movie, Black Panther.

Najib had uploaded on his Facebook page a picture of Mahfuz’s biodata where the last sentence said the deputy minister had studied and graduated in Political Science from Belford University.

“Where is Belford University located? I hope the deputy minister who is as courageous as suicide bombers (pejuang berani mati) and dared to abolish the AES can give his clarifications.

“Is it (Belford University) in Wakanda?” quipped Najib.

Former prime minister Najib Razak

In the opposition, Najib has not been spared in having his degree questioned.

DAP Perak’s Keranji state assemblyman Chong Zhemin cast doubt on Najib’s degree, highlighting a video circulating online and alleging the latter did not complete his studies at the University of Nottingham in the 1970s.

Chong told Najib to disprove the allegation by publishing the transcripts of his examinations and a copy of his degree.

In 2017, whistleblower site Sarawak Report had also questioned the authenticity of Najib’s Nottingham degree.

The former premier has been widely reported to have an economics degree from the University of Nottingham.

Based on the UK government’s official transcript of Najib’s April 13, 2012 speech, he had expressed his delight at having then British prime minister David Cameron visit the university’s Malaysia campus, saying bluntly: “It’s, of course, my alma mater”.

A check of the section on the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus’ website that features a list of “prominent Malaysian graduates”, did not reveal Najib’s name.

However, according to the Malay Mail, the University of Nottingham has confirmed that Najib graduated from the UK university with a BA Hons in Industrial Economics in 1974.

On Thursday (Feb 14), Najib changed his Facebook profile picture to one of him at his graduation ceremony in 1974.

His profile features a much younger Najib in his graduation gown and cap while sporting long flowing black hair.

Facebook

With the change of his Facebook page profile picture, he also added a post that included a picture of him, his mother Tun Rahah Mohammad Noah, and brother Ahmad Johari Razak.

However, the post did not clarify if the graduation party was held locally or overseas.

“At that time, I looked cool because it was a trend in England then to have long hair. Ok, I admit I was influenced then,” he added.

Najib also thanked his son Mohd Norashman Razak for spending almost an hour looking for these pictures, which are about 45 years old, in Tun Rahah’s house.


Related reports:

Feb 9, Third Police Report Lodged Against Marzuki

Feb 8, Marzuki’s Integrity Questioned

Feb 8, Website of Dodgy US Cambridge Hacked, Mystery of Ravi Prabakaran in Cambridge-gate

Feb 7, Bersatu Defends Marzuki: He Didn’t Rape or Steal, Not Picked for Academic Credentials

Feb 7, Marzuki’s “Cambridge Degree” Actually from Distance-Learning US Centre