THE truth about questionable CVs is that they cannot get past scrutiny in the age of the Internet. It is extremely tough to misrepresent, especially if the CV includes a degree from a prestigious university such as Cambridge.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya has been accused of misrepresenting by concealing the fact that his degree is from Cambridge International University in the United States and not the illustrious Cambridge University in England.
From the onset of his appointment as senator and deputy minister, it was stated that he had a degree from “Cambridge” via a long-distance programme. The real Cambrdge Univesity in London does not offer long-distance programmes.
Further research revealed that Cambridge International University is accused of being a degree mill, which offers qualifications with minimum academic work.
Police reports have been lodged to investigate the matter. But really, there is nothing to investigate.
Marzuki asserts that he never claimed to be a graduate from Cambridge in England, nor was he responsible for his education credentials being uploaded on Wikipedia.
He claims that he had told the media that his degree was from Cambridge International University in the United States.
Nevertheless, aspersions have been cast on his integrity and questions are being asked whether he is qualified to be the Deputy Foreign Minister, a position he took on after being made senator last year.
Being a senator is not an issue, as there are instances of senators with even lesser qualifications having served their full term. However, holding a portfolio in the new government is another matter, especially if he was appointed based on his credentials in the CV.
Another truth about questionable CVs is that it has forced people to resign from their public positions.
There are several instances when political leaders have quit their positions due to questionable degrees.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany saw a long-serving elected representative, Petra Hinz, quit her position in September 2016 after growing scrutiny over her fake degree. Hinz admitted to faking her CV which stated she had a degree in law. However, the episode caused damage to the reputation of the SDP.
In Spain, two members of the Popular Party with positions in the government resigned due to fake degrees last year. Initially, the duo had resisted and the party came to their defence. However, when the issue persisted, the duo, which included a minister, resigned.
The leader of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, is also under scrutiny for allegedly obtaining a fake master’s degree.
But not all with issues related to misrepresented CVs end up with the person concerned having to resign. Not in the private sector at least.
The CEO of Mylan, a US-based pharmaceutical company, was promoted even though there were issues with her CV previously. Heather Bresch was made chief executive in 2012, five years after she was mired in a fake MBA controversy in 2008.
The controversy broke out when Bresch was then appointed as the chief operating officer of Mylan. The issue with her CV probably is no longer an issue, as she is judged based on her abilities and not credentials.
The common thread in most cases of a fake CV is that the persons concerned addressed the allegations head on.
This is what Marzuki has done through a statement issued late yesterday. He also left his fate with regards to his deputy minister’s position with the party’s leadership.
The new government was voted in on the strength of instilling integrity and eradicating corruption. Pakatan Harapan won the May 2018 general election because people wanted honest leaders with integrity at the helm.
Corruption was rampant under the previous government. It is difficult to eradicate corruption completely. In any system, including squeaky-clean Singapore, there are cases of corruption. The only difference is the degree of corruption in the system.
To minimise corruption, the integrity of principal office bearers is important. The display of integrity has to start with the people helming the government.
If it is indeed conclusively proven that Marzuki had deliberately kept away information that his degree was not from the real Cambridge University, he can take the high position of offering to resign from his government position.
It would lend credence to the position that Pakatan Harapan takes when it comes to the integrity and accountability of its leaders.
Alternatively, the party leadership can opt to retain Marzuki in the position and allow him to prove his critics wrong by letting his work judge him and not his CV.
This is a sticky situation for Pakatan Harapan because what it decides will set the precedent for other leaders within the coalition whose CVs are also being questioned.
If Marzuki does well as a deputy minister, over time, people will tend to forgive him. Even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was forgiven by his staunchest of critics when he led Pakatan Harapan to victory in the May 2018 general election.
However, the controversy with regards to Marzuki’s CV will remain forever. That part of the script cannot be changed. That is another truth of a questionable CV.