Malaysian ministers embroiled in fake degree scandal

It began with the Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister, Marzuki Yahya. Many were shocked to find out that he did not have a degree from the prestigious Cambridge University, but rather, from an institution of dubious legitimacy.

He had previously claimed to have a bachelor’s degree from Cambridge via a distance learning programme, but admitted on Wednesday (Feb 6) that his degree was actually from a US institution named Cambridge International University. The school is a suspected degree mill, where degrees are awarded despite little study.

The Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister, Marzuki Yahya, has a degree from Cambridge International University, which is in no way affiliated with the internationally-known Cambridge University. Photo: Bernama

It drew a lot of backlash, particularly from opposition parties such as Umno, who called for his resignation due to a lack of integrity.

“It is not about whether a degree is required to be a politician but it is about integrity. How do you (Marzuki) deceive the people with a fake degree and then claim you are fighting against corruption and propagating good governance and ethics?”


Opposition Malay party youth chief, Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki 

Since then, four more Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders have been accused of having fake educational qualifications. Here they are:

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu was accused of faking his degree in culinary arts from Malaysia’s Universiti Teknologi MARA. But he defended himself, saying he had been expelled from that school and never claimed to hold any university qualifications.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had allegedly obtained a social science degree from the National University of Singapore, according to Bernama news agency. She later clarified that she had never claimed to be an NUS graduate and that she did not authorise the publishing of that information.

Twitter user Don Juan deRyezal said he was unable to find her name in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) degree verification portal. Photo: Ikbal Faizal


A Facebook page had raised questions whether the Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian (state chief minister) had really earned a degree from Universiti Putra Malaysia. He refused to address the issue when asked by reporters.P

Democratic Action Party state assemblyman
Paul Yong Choo Kiong claimed to hold a Master’s in Business Administration from Akamai University, which is alledgedly a degree mill in Hawaii.

“It’s okay to not have a degree; we don’t need all politicians to be technocrats. (But) it’s not okay to have fake degrees,” says political scientist Wong Chin Huat of the Penang Institute. “If those like Marzuki stay on, they will be hurting the reputation of their government, PH and their own party. If they can’t put the country and people first, at least they should put their party first. And if they can’t put their party (first)… their party leaders must put their party before these individuals and have them removed.”

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