February 11, 2019
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
THE Malays have an apt idiom to describe the defences put up by politicians caught in the ongoing academic credentials drama.
It is: bagai tikus membaiki labu (like mice fixing a pumpkin).
What the proverb basically means is: to make things worse than they already are.
The meaning makes sense – when was the last time we’ve heard a rat ever successfully fixed anything, let alone perishables.
But enough about rodents and more on politicians who continue to insist that the whole gaffe was a no-biggie.
A little backgrounder is necessary here: the brouhaha over the dubious status of Pakatan Harapan politicians’ academic credentials – or lack thereof – started with Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya’s flip-flop statement over his.
At first – when he was taken to task – he remarked that he was a graduate of the prestigious University of Cambridge, in London, only to later on backtrack that it was a different Cambridge after it was revealed that the real Cambridge did not offer the unaccredited long-distance course from which Marzuki had graduated in 2005.
But before Marzuki was shoved into the spotlight, the first Pakatan Harapan politician to have his academic credentials questioned – after Pakatan won last year’s May 9 polls – was Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
After nine month, Faizal had, yesterday, finally admitted that despite his overseas education, he did not finish his studies thus putting a stop to the guessing-game over the validity of his Edith Cowan University degree in Business Studies.
Faizal claimed that he had already addressed the issue back in July last year but a check through Google News showed no such report.
He however, was not the only one who pulled a delayed “um, actually” over the misrepresentation of academic qualifications. The latest to join the fray were Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.
While Mohamad explained that he was actually a dropout of Universiti Teknologi Mara, Zuraida denied ever claiming to be an alumnus of the National University of Singapore. Both were disappointed with the media for failing to fact check.
So apparently, the media is to be blamed. What a convenient excuse.
But even if the media were indeed at fault, the fact that the duo waited until now to set the record straight, speaks volumes about the kind people Mohamad and Zuraida are. Will they continue to keep mum if the fake-degree drama did not happen?
That being said, the most off-putting remark to have stemmed from this entire gaffe was probably the no-biggie from Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad – “what’s important is that those entrusted to lead, fulfil their responsibilities with honesty and to the best of their abilities.”
Seriously Khalid, how honest can those who allow the misrepresentation of their academic qualification to go on for months be? Why is it so hard for your colleagues to be truthful about their education background?
Marzuki, Mohamad and Zuraida should emulate former Kedah Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah who despite having an SPM certificate, neither lied nor allowed others to lie about his credentials.
Maybe because Bashah and probably everyone else know that education is not a prerequisite to enter Malaysian politics, hence the circus we’re having right now.