Coming clean over academic qualifications.
The truth about ‘Cambridge-gate’:
- Deputy minister studied at “another Cambridge”, not that renowned one
- Four institutions bear the name “Cambridge International University”
- The one in the US red-flagged as diploma mill
- Twitter user exposes flurry of edits on Marzuki’s Wikipedia page over Cambridge credentials
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya, who previously said he had a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Cambridge pursued through a distance learning programme, is now saying his degree is from a US institution.
“I think they (my critics) misunderstood (my credentials). I (studied) at the Cambridge International University in the United States,” he was reported as saying by Malaysiakini.
“I was doing logistics (before joining politics). So I just took that certificate for my knowledge to expand my business. As CEO of the company, I want to expand my knowledge and my business,” he added.
An Internet search showed at least two institutions with the name “Cambridge International University”.
One, which purports to offer “Distance Learning System” is registered in Malaga, Spain. The other is allegedly based in the United States.
The Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration is one of 150 courses, including casino management, offered at the US’ Cambridge International University.
Despite the wide range of programmes, however, the website only lists 13 adjunct faculty members and 12 international faculty members. Neither the courses they teach nor their qualifications are stated in full.
One of the faculty member’s photos appears to bear the watermark of dating site AnastasiaDate. The website connects men from North America to women in Eastern Europe.
The website also lists 20 academic partners from across the globe. However, the partner institutions listed are seemingly non-existent.
A portal providing information on higher education programmes worldwide has labelled the Cambridge International University as a “diploma mill”, a phrase recognised by the US Centre for Information on Diploma Mills (CIDM) to label fake universities.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that Mastersportal.com, an affiliate to Studyportals which has participation by more than 3,000 universities in 113 countries and which provides information on further higher education in Europe, cited statistics by US-based educational consultants World Education Services, which said there were some 2,615 diploma mills worldwide in 2017.
The portal also listed several “warning signals” that could identify a “diploma mill” from genuine universities.
Among them, it said, a diploma mill would normally strongly resemble that of a well-known bona fide university, and it would usually offer distance-learning degrees through the Internet.
Wikipedia also listed two other institutions bearing the name “Cambridge International University” located in Cape Town, South Africa, and Arizona, US.
The one that could be found on Google, that claims to be in the US, offers its degrees for US$5,000 (RM20,000) in total fees. Payment can be made through online payment service PayPal.
According to its website, it is not accredited by any accreditation agency approved by the US Department of Education.
Marzuki’s academic qualifications came under scrutiny after political activist Muhsin Abdul Latheef lodged a police report after reading a Facebook post questioning the legitimacy of Marzuki’s Cambridge University degree.
He said the Facebook post showed the Wikipedia page of Marzuki claiming to have obtained the degree from Cambridge via ‘long-distance learning’.
Muhsin said the author of the Facebook post, ‘Zulfahan Pagon’, had checked online and found that Cambridge does not offer degree programmes via ‘long-distance learning’.
Marzuki, who is also the Penang chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, brushed aside the claim but said he would leave it to the police to investigate, adding that he would produce proof he had pursued a course in the field at the university.
“I regard this as a political game. I don’t feel like commenting much about this. Let’s leave it to the police,” he was reported as saying to Bernama on Tuesday (Feb 5).
According to FMT, Marzuki said he viewed Mushin’s police report as part of a smear campaign by certain parties who are against him, adding that this “kind of mudslinging and baseless accusations” are a given in politics.
On Wednesday, former political blogger ‘Aisehman’ tweeted that Marzuki’s Wikipedia page had been edited a few times recently.
“Someone’s been busy editing Deputy Foreign Minister and (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) secretary-general Marzuki Yahya’s Wikipedia page over the past 24 hours.
“Cambridge University was changed to Cambridge International University and now there’s no mention of his education at all.
“What’s going on?” tweeted Aisehman, who was an anonymous and prominent political blogger in the early 2000s.
A check revealed that Marzuki’s Wikipedia page was edited at about 6am on Wednesday (Feb 6). The recent edit omitted his alma mater and details on his education.
A previous edit on the page, dated Jan 26, 2019, listed Marzuki’s alma mater as ‘University of Cambridge’.
There was an entry on his education background, reading: ‘Marzuki completed his early education in Butterworth, Penang and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Cambridge.’
Meanwhile, Marzuki decried the edits to his academic credentials on his Wikipedia page.
“Anyone can edit. Someone has evil intentions. I don’t even know what happened,” he was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
In 2013, the minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told the Dewan Rakyat that there are no laws to penalise those with fake degrees, including ministers.
DAP’s Ong Kian Ming, now himself a deputy minister, had in the past claimed then Serian MP and human resources minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem and then Ranau MP Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin had received degrees from universities identified as degree mills.