No shortcuts to personal betterment

February 8, 2019

No shortcuts to personal betterment

Opinion  |
Published:  |  Modified:

  COMMENT | Columnist Julia Yeow summarised it pretty well: A degree may not define a man, but lying about it does.

Malaysiakini journalist Zikri Kamarulzaman meanwhile was one of the first to comment on this controversy, making an eloquent argument as to why having integrity is better than having a ‘degree’.

It does raise eyebrows a little bit, this apparent obsession we have about degrees and titles that leads us to go so far as to fake them.

This may also behind the phenomena where Malaysians add fake Datuk, Datuk Seri, and Tan Sri prefixes to their names on their business cards.

I suppose psychologically speaking, it must boil down to some level of personal insecurity, coupled with a proclivity to pursue shortcuts towards recognition and ‘glamour’.

We might consider such behaviour par for the course amongst conmen and hustlers, but surely this behaviour is worrisome if found in the highest levels of our government.

I’m sure this has been said to death by now – a lack of education is worrying, but not more worrying than a lack of integrity.

Counting the red flags

If I may be so bold, I think lack of intelligence is not evidenced by the lack of a degree, but by the fact that someone would choose to buy a degree from Cambridge International University.

Such a decision indicates that either the individual did not think that he would get caught, or worse yet, the individual did not realise he was buying a degree from a fake university – one where stated school ‘fees’ suspiciously do not come with some term or yearly based breakdown.

In the off chance it may be useful, here are a few indicators that the university you are buying a degree from may not be the most reputable.

(At time of writing, it appears the Cambridge International University’s website has been taken down; but luckily for you, good reader, I am possessed of a good memory, and at least one screencap).

Red flag number 1: All the faculty members have multiple degrees, stated as degree (eg “PhD”) followed only ever by a location in parentheses – e.g, “(London)”

This appears to presume that there is only one university in London, or at least only one university that gives out PhDs. Should there be any lingering doubt as to the fact that this is not true, please allow me to disabuse you of them.

Red flag number 2: In aforementioned ‘location universities’, Auckland is spelt Aukland, and Scotland is spelled Scottland.

Red flag number 3: Photos of faculty members that may be more at home at either the cast list of a 80s high school movie, or a mail order bride website.

Of scrutiny and seppuku

One would hope that the leaders of our great nation would not be the type of person susceptible to scams with the sophistication level of a Nigerian 419 email scam.

One would also hope for our leaders to be cognisant of the times we live in, where our every movement and claim is subject to the incisive, unforgiving scrutiny of the great internet masses.

Underestimate these detectives at your own peril.

How people respond to being found out is also a test of character.

A strict boss would demand seppuku, but I don’t think we need to start handing out tanto swords just yet.

That said, trying to twist and turn after having being given the lie invariably makes things worse, as does making rather irrelevant arguments such as how lying about one’s degree is not worse than raping or killing (after all, that comparison would apply to stealing billions from the nation, arguably).

When caught in flagrante delicto, a politician’s only hope for survival is ‘insaf dan bertaubat’ (repent and atone).

Chua Soi Lek did it, and he survived magnificently.

The path to betterment

I have met countless individuals with little or no higher education, whom I believe beyond doubt are my intellectual superiors.

They have always been humble, down to earth, and honest people – people who have earned respect not by the words that precede or follow one’s name, but by the words they have read, and the words that they speak.

It is right to aspire to better oneself – with or without external recognition.

Part of that journey, one we should all be on, is identifying the right path to betterment – a path that is by nature devoid of shortcuts.

It’s a hard journey to figure out, and I would never presume to know all the answers; but I think I will be presumptuous enough to say with some confidence that said path does not pass by Cambridge International University.

NATHANIEL TAN is Director of Media and Communications at Emir Research (, a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centered around principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation and Rigour. His odd degree has also been the subject of some scrutiny.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

9 thoughts on “No shortcuts to personal betterment

  1. It is tough to get a good degree. I had to slog for mine. Multiple degrees? It is truly tough. By the time you complete your Phd., you are totally exhausted. –Din Merican

  2. ” By the time you complete your PHD, you are totally exhausted.” – Bloghost

    Exhausted? No lah. Look at our deputy foreign minister – he pulls degrees out of a hat like our prime minister pulls donkeys out of his hat ( party ) and makes them ministers and deputy ministers!!!!

    So many clowns in BERSATU – one looking after school childrens shoes, another taking pictures of himself in a bath tub and posting these pictures in Facebook and now a deputy minister pulling degrees out of a hat.

    Do these donkeys help Pakatan’s cause? With all this shenigans do they really expect to win in Seminyeh?

  3. Among many national flawed or fraudulent policies and dysfunctional implementations, fraudulent shortcut is one of the major causes of increasing poverty gap.

    It encourages laziness and incompetency in the whole political socia and education systems–the the deeply entrenched Umno’s culture of MACCP had plenty to do it.

    Those rogues who committed such cheating act must be severely punished and shamed, whether from PH or the divide or ordinary citizens.
    Or lessons would never be learned.

  4. The pursuit of paper qualification happens everywhere a govt and economy get modernised and large organisations ever increase their job market and opportunities. When you try to leapfrog an entire community from rural and informal economy to fantasies of equality especially mostly by power of govt, sheenanigans is going to happen. Rather than bringing in the best and better in gov, the result of forcing widening of opportunities is mediocrity and dubiousity. Fake degree is nothing compared to bringing in criminals in Trump and Najib administration.

    Change is hard, real prices and past mistakes have to be paid. Avoiding it is sheer luck and never an answer. What this show is PH really did not know the depth of what it got itself into with their political conveniency. Shortcuts have a price including the very partnership of the coalition.

  5. Marzuki’s decision to take the easy route of owning ( he certainly did not earn it ) academic qualification reflects his lack of self confidence and total disregard for integrity. He puts himself in the same league as the so-called motivational ex-pert Dockter Azizan Osman and celebrity chef both having bought faked academic qualification papers. The voters of Semenyih are now wedged between Pas- Umno 1MDB RM90 mil fiasco and Bersatu-Marzuki’s fake academic qualification. They are forced to decide which is worse between the two instead of the better between them. From the physical perspective, RM90 mil seems to outweighs the other but both are liars, one way or the other. If only Jamal Ikan Bakar can contest in Semenyih the voters will certainly be entertained with some comical acts to pacify the already stale by-election.

  6. No need to have a degree to be an effective progressive politician e.g. Aneurin Bevan of the British Labour Party (Father of the National Health Service NHS).
    Can always hire bright assistants to help with one’s political work.

    It is also dishonest to give the impression that an honorary PhD is a real PhD earned through hard work and the research/writing of a dissertation.

  7. PH Penipu Haram.

    Inept, totally incompetent.

    Officer having fake qualifications definitely not a prerequisite to hold a political post but definitely necessary if you professed to be qualified.

    Its like getting fake driving or pilot licence to fly a plane.

    Can the public trust such fake officers akin to fake doctor.

    PM7, a real doctor with fake intends for Malaysia’s future, thats the BIGGEST FAKER in the Universe.

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