Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya -It’s not just about the degree

February 13, 2019

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya  -It’s not just about the degree.


It’s not the gift but the thought behind it that counts. Similarly, in the recent brouhaha about the veracity of various ministers’ degrees, it is not so much the degree but how it was dished up to obfuscate others that matters.

We can see four things in the discussion about the academic credentials of our government leaders.

1. The rakyat’s frustration

People are fed up with the lies perpetuated during the former UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. When they voted in the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, they did not want their lawmakers to be a carbon copy of the former UMNO-BN ministers.

This wish may take a while to come true. It is disappointing to see PH politicians support their colleagues who mislead the nation about their academic qualifications instead of demanding their resignation.

Instead of demanding truthfulness, honesty and integrity, it appears that PH politicians are falling into the same UMNO-BN trap of defending the indefensible.

If you were promised a gold Rolex watch for 20 years of service to your company, would you be happy with a knock-off from Petaling Street?

If you told your employers in your CV that you were from MIT and they later discovered that you graduated from Menglembu Institute Teknoloji instead of Massachusetts, you would be sacked.

If you are about to be anesthetized for major dental work, wouldn’t you want someone who is qualified to do it instead of someone who picked up their skills from YouTube and then paid for a dud certificate in dentistry from an internet degree mill?

Politicians should learn to tell the truth in Malaysia Baru. The people are not stupid.

2. Lack of shame

Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya may not have said that he graduated from the University of Cambridge, England, instead of an unknown institution in the US. Was it laziness on his part, or did he bank on Malaysians seeing the word “Cambridge” in “Cambridge International University” and jumping to their own conclusions?

He must be aware that a paper qualification from a degree mill is inferior to that gained from a reputable institution. Fake degrees do not require a period of intense study. So what was his intention in this issue?

3. The significance of degrees

When people lie about their degrees, they belittle those who worked hard for theirs. A degree, among other things, shows that you have devoted three or four years of your life to a particular subject. It shows you had the discipline to complete your studies, get out of bed to attend lectures, complete assignments on time and fulfil both course requirements and practical work.

For many people, a degree is more than just a piece of paper. It is a life-changing experience, their ticket to lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Their parents may have pawned their mother’s and grandmother’s jewellery to pay for their education, or their father may have remortgaged the house. I know of one family which lived on rice and gravy for three years.


For many people, a degree is more than just a piece of paper. It is a life-changing experience, their ticket to lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Their parents may have pawned their mother’s and grandmother’s jewellery to pay for their education, or their father may have remortgaged the house. I know of one family which lived on rice and gravy for three years”.–Mariam Mokhtar


4. HIT: Honesty, integrity and truthfulness

If people lie about their degree, what else could they be hiding? Their degree is probably just a small thing in their life. When they enter public office, what sort of big issues would they be prepared to cover up?

It’s not so much the misrepresentation of the degree; it is rather the attempts to mask its quality, i.e. academic content and which university issued it which are unacceptable.

A person who wishes to serve the public and to be a public figure must be accountable and possess integrity. Those who lie have none.

They may claim that they are hardworking people even though they do not have proper qualifications, but would they have gotten their positions if they had not made such false representations? Other, more qualified and more capable, persons could have assumed their role instead. So those who misrepresent their degrees do the public a grave disservice.

In the end, it is the people’s loss as they do not have a person with integrity to lead them.

Think of Winston Churchill, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. They did not have degrees but they did not lie about having one, either. They led their nations and companies through their actions.

The problem in Malaysia is that we are seduced by power and position and, it appears, degrees from prestigious universities. Politicians know it, and that is how they pull the wool over our eyes.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.



11 thoughts on “Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya -It’s not just about the degree

  1. Maybe politicians are supporting each other because they are birds of the same feather?
    Total lacking in integrity and honesty?

    • So true. Power/politics is so addictive to many especially the devious old man. He still has the appetite of dividing and breaking the rakyat. Totally tired of his game.

  2. I haven’t known yet any politician, East or West, who doesn’t lie, do cover ups, etc. It wasn’t an accident that Winston Churchill – the fella behind the Western assault on Russia when that country was overthrowing Tsar Nicholas, not to mention the bombing of the cultural city of Dresden with massive civilian deaths, or the aggravation of the great Bengal Famine in 1942/3 – flippantly termed the lie as “terminological inexactitude.” Decades later, North Vietnam would face massive bombing raids justified by the Gulf of Tonkin fiction, and Saddam Hussein and his country would be decimated because of some imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    And cover ups is par for the course throughout history, from British denials of atrocities against Kenyan rebels (1952-60) to US killings of civilians, including children, at Fallujah in 2004.*

    * Reference: Documentary film “Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre” by Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta, 2005.

    • Not to mention King Leopold’s mission in the 19th century to bring civilization and humanitarian benevolence that was actually a cover to brutalize and enslave millions of Africans so that he could get his hands on the wealth of the Congo. The atrocities committed then would just be a precursor to what would happen in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s gulags. Ref: King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

  3. PH, be disciplined, work hard, play fair and hope for a little bit of luck keeping in mind all the time that if and when that little bit of luck does come your way you will need discipline, hard work and fair play to take advantage of it.

  4. After GE14 and the demonstration of People Power at the polls, those of us who are apolitical, apathetic or cynical must become politically involved and participate actively in politics now, and also prepare for GE15.

    Political participation (legal, non-violent) ranges all the way from voting to:

    Signing petitions
    Donating money
    Volunteering for political parties
    Attending rallies
    Joining political parties
    Joining NGOs such as Bersih
    Lobbying politicians
    Writing political articles (for newspapers, blogs etc)
    Running for political office

  5. if he can lie abt his degree, he can lie abt anything on earth d during his course of life, work etc. how to trust him to run his role in govt?

  6. It’s crystal clear that leaders who lied have no more integrity in them and should be removed from office immediately. Having said so, in Malaysia context we need a Malaysian to do a ‘Donald Trump’ to close the entire government until it is cleaned from it shit.

    • Bad analogy. Donald Trump, instead of his promise to drain the swamp, has filled the swamp with more unmentionables and make it more foul and cessful.

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