Stop harping on ‘fake’ degrees — Stephen Ng

FEBRUARY 13 — Malaysian politics has reached unhealthy state when, instead of focusing on the real economic issues, politicians from both sides of the political divide are harping on nothing but fake degrees.

When the issue started with Deputy Foreign Minister, Marzuki Yahya’s academic credentials were being questioned, it should have stopped there.

It is a lesson to learn for many others apart from Marzuki, and as pointed out by PKR vice-president, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Marzuki just have to apologise and move on.

Unlike the case of someone with a professional career, who cares what degree Marzuki obtained, except that it is a matter of integrity!

Sadly, the issue dragged on as though it has become an obsession. Within a short time, we hear that several other cabinet ministers have given false impressions that they are graduates.

If the entire accusation is made based on just an infographic from Bernama, then, the finger should be pointed at whoever produced the infographics without checking the facts.

Several of the ministers have come clean to tell us that they never graduated from any university. All good sense should prevail and that should be the end of the story.

What saddens me was when the salvos were being fired by MCA president, Dr Wee Ka Siong at Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng. Secondly, the former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak does not appear to understand the difference between a graduate and an honorary doctorate.

Wee’s unceasing questioning of Lim’s qualifications shows a shallow understanding of who a chartered accountant is. When I refer back to Lim’s political secretary’s press conference, Tony Pua did not even mention that Lim was a Chartered Accountant.

Lim is technically an accountant when he graduated from Monash with a Bachelor of Economics in Accounting. I can confirm this is a fact, as I used to have a lot of friends doing the same degree at Monash. Lim is in fact, one or two years my senior, and I may have only bumped into him once.

In fact, much to the credit of Lim, as far as my memory serves me right, when you are able to graduate in accountancy from Monash, you must be a “fair dinkum” (borrowing the Aussie slang) good student. Monash is known for failing its accounting students, especially in their First Year. 

If someone who has graduated with a degree in accountancy cannot be known as an accountant, what do you call him? Lim was honest to tell us that he only worked for one week. Had he gone on to pursue his career in accountancy, he would have to sit several papers to qualify as a chartered accountant.

I, too, was misled by Dr Wee, but when I revisited Pua’s explanation, I have no issues with it except that Dr Wee gave the impression that Lim was claiming to be a chartered accountant.

To Wee, I would like to say there is a big difference between a chartered accountant and one who is admitted as a provisional member of the Australian Society of Accountants.

There is nothing wrong with this, just as our local Institution of Engineers Malaysia also has different levels of membership. And I am sure that Wee would not like his qualification to be questioned by others.

Then, came Najib posting on his Facebook a picture of himself wearing a Tudor-like bonnet, when his Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Economics from University of Nottingham, was questioned.

This question was first raised by Sarawak Report in April 2017 based on oral testimony by former attache in the London High Commission, Abdul Rahman Mohd Noor.

To Najib, I would like to say that his portrait photograph is the same as the one posted in the Sarawak Report. If he had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, he should show a picture of him in a graduation gown and a square mortarboard.

The Tudor-like bonnet is worn when one is awarded either a PhD (carrying the title, Dr.) and others who are conferred an honorary doctorate where the title is in a bracket, (Dr). Therefore, despite receiving numerous honorary doctorates, Najib has not answered the question raised by Sarawak Report editor, Claire Rewcastle Brown.

* Stephen Ng is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008. After May 9, 2018, he is now involved in contributing ideas towards the rebuilding of the nation.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.