PETALING JAYA: The government should not sweep Datuk Marzuki Yahya’s admission about “Cambridge degree” under the carpet, says Dr Ong Kian Ming (pic), albeit without naming his colleague.
The Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister said that regardless of the choice Marzuki makes, he should ask if the Prime Minister still has confidence in him to serve in his government.
“Under ‘New Malaysia’, such issues should not be swept under the carpet and ignored.
“We have to hold ourselves up to higher standards of public accountability and transparency.
“If not, we would be seen as being no different than the previous Barisan Nasional administration,” he said in a statement Friday (Feb 8).
Ong did not name anyone, but mentioned in his statement that a deputy minister from Pakatan Harapan had recently been accused of having a degree from a degree mill, an apparent reference to Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki whose academic qualifications have come under scrutiny.
Ong said that whenever the issue of a politician with dubious academic credentials makes the news, the question one should ask is whether an academic qualification is even necessary for a person to be an effective politician.
“My answer is a definite no! Let me state clearly so that there is no ambiguity whatsoever – you don’t need an academic degree to be an effective politician,” said Ong, who is also DAP assistant national director for political education.
He, however, conceded that it was not acceptable for politicians to buy degrees from degree mills and then try to pass these off as genuine.
“I have blogged about this before and have raised this issue in Parliament many times in the past. My stand on this issue is clear and has not changed.
“It is not acceptable for politicians to buy degrees from degree mills and then try to pass these off as being genuine academic degrees,” he said.
Marzuki recently said his degree was from the Cambridge International University in the United States, after previously saying he had a degree from the University of Cambridge, the prestigious UK institution.
Calls have grown for Marzuki to resign, while his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia colleagues have largely come to his defence.
Ong said a deputy minister having a degree from a degree mill was a serious accusation.
“Since having a degree from a degree mill is not illegal, there is no point in asking the police to investigate this case.
“If the deputy minister in question feels that he has done no wrong, he should ask for a proper investigation to be conducted by his own party,” he said.
Ong added that the party can call in education experts to verify whether or not the degree is from a degree mill.
“And if this is indeed the case, his party can take disciplinary action as the leadership sees fit,” he said.
In the run-up to the 2013 general election, Ong, who was then DAP’s election strategist, revealed that two deputy ministers at the time had obtained their qualifications from degree mills.
In an April 18, 2013, report in the online edition of The Edge, he was quoted as saying that not having a degree did not disqualify a person from being a candidate.
“But having lied about how one has obtained a degree most certainly disqualifies a person, from an integrity standpoint, from being a candidate.
“I reiterate my call for all these candidates to explain to the public whether their degrees were properly earned or whether they were ‘purchased’.
“If they acknowledge that their degrees were purchased, I call for them to withdraw their candidacy for the upcoming 13th general election,” Ong was quoted as saying in the 2013 report.