AT 35, businessman Francis Tan seemed to have it all – a house in the affluent Kenny Hills, a holiday home in Australia, membership at a prestigious golf club, and a social calendar which allows him to hob-nob with the who’s who of Malaysia. Yet, despite his affluence, Tan (not his real name) craved one thing – to be known as Dr Tan or Datuk Tan, so he could command respect and stand tall among the other professors, doctors, datuks and tan sris at his country club.
He found a quick and simple solution – through an advertisement he chanced upon in a magazine. RM30,000 for a PhD from a legitimate university, albeit a small one, in the United States. And so, within two months, he began introducing himself as Dr Francis Tan.