It is said that in Malaysia, if you want to get rich, you become a politician. Just think of the frustration, parents and teachers feel, when students refuse to work hard, because they think that the road to riches, is to become a politician.
Last week, both parents, and teachers were again put to the test, when a number of senior politicians were accused of not having legitimate degrees, despite previous published claims, that they had gained those academic qualifications. A witch-hunt ensued, because quite correctly, Malaysians are fed-up with politicians who lie, this time, about their own abilities.
The politicians who lied about their degrees, have insulted those who made many sacrifices to get real degrees
The politicians involved do not know the meaning of integrity and have insulted the people who made many sacrifices to get real degrees.
Politicians who fabricate their dodgy degrees, hold public office. An apology will not suffice. Not having a degree does not make you a lesser person; but fabricating one does.
If that was not bad enough, religious people, who aspire to be politicians, told the public that they had lied about a recording so that the party image would not be tarnished.
Do NOT ever forget that Honesty, Integrity and Truthfulness matter
In the following paragraphs, I show why a degree does not matter, but honesty, integrity and truthfulness do.
It’s not the present, but the thought that counts. Similarly, the recent brouhaha about the veracity of various minister’s degrees shows four things. In the end, it is not so much about the degree, but how you dished up the degree to obfuscate others, that matters.
The four things that surfaced from Deputy Foreign minister, Marzuki Yahya’s, misrepresentation of his degree, are these:
First. The rakyat’s frustration.
People are fed-up with the lies, perpetuated by the former Umno-Baru/BN regime, and when they voted in the new Pakatan Harapan government, they did not want their lawmakers to be a carbon-copy of the former Umno-Baru/BN ministers.
That wish may take some time to be fulfilled. It is disappointing to see PH politicians support their colleagues who misled 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-Baru/BN trap of defending the indefensible.
If one were promised a Rolex gold watch for 20 years service to the company, would one be happy with a Petaling Street knock-off?
If you told your employer, in your curriculum vitae, that you were from MIT and they later discover that you graduated from the Menglembu Institute Teknoloji, instead of from Massachusetts, the firm would sack you.
If you are just about to be anaesthetised for some major dental work, don’t you want someone who is qualified, and not someone who got their skills by learning from YouTube, who then paid for a dud certificate in dentistry, from an internet degree mill?
Politicians should learn to tell the truth in Malaysia Baru. The rakyat is not stupid.
Two. Lack of Shame
The Deputy Foreign minister, Marzuki Yahya, may not have said that he graduated from The University of Cambridge, England, and not from a nondescript and unknown degree mill, Cambridge International University, in America.
So, was it laziness on his part, or did he bank on the typical Malaysian, who would have seen the word “Cambridge” and thought, “Wow! We must have this graduate of The University of Cambridge, in England working with us”.
Marzuki was aware that a paper qualification from a degree mill is inferior. These fake degrees do not require a period of intense study.
So is lying or fabricating the truth, not shameful?
Three. The significance of the degree.
When people lie about their fake degrees, they belittle those who have worked hard for their degrees.
A degree, amongst other things, shows that you have set aside three or four years of your life, to devote to this particular subject. It shows that you have the discipline to complete your studies, get out of bed to attend lectures, complete your assignments on time, fulfil your course requirements and practical work.
For others, a degree is more than just a piece of paper. It is a life-changing experience. It is their ticket to lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Their parents may have pawned mother’s and grandmother’s jewels to pay for the course, or the father may have remortgaged the house to have funds for their child’s course. I know one family, who lived on rice and gravy for three years.
The degree is symbolic of the sacrifice and perseverance of that individual and his family.
Therefore, those who lie about their degrees, are insulting those individuals who obtained their academic credentials through duty, sweat and tears.
Four. HIT (Honesty. Integrity. Truthfulness)
If one lies about one’s degree, what else could one be hiding? The degree is probably a small thing in that person’s life. When he enters public office, what sort of big issues, could he be prepared to cover-up?
It is not so much about misrepresenting the degree; but the attempts to mask the quality of the degree (academic content and university), are unacceptable.
A person who wants to serve the public and be a public figure, must be accountable and have integrity. Those who lie, do not have any integrity.
He may claim that he is a hard working person, despite not having a proper qualification, but would he have got his current position, if he had not made this false representation?
Another more qualified, and more capable person, could have assumed the position occupied by the false degree holder. So, the person who misrepresented his degree, did the public a grave disservice.
In the end, it is the rakyat’s loss, not to have a person, with integrity, to lead them.
Winston Churchill (British PM), George Washington (American president), Abraham Lincoln (American president), Richard Branson (Virgin founder) and Steve Jobs (Apple) did not have degrees, but neither did they lie about having one. They led their nations and companies, through their actions.
The problem is that in Malaysia, we are seduced by power and position and it appears, degrees from prestigious universities. The politicians know it and that is how they pull the wool over our eyes.