Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fake Degree in Permatang Pauh?

Thanks Sree for pointing this out to me. Disclaimer first: I am not commenting on the record of political service of the BN candidate in the upcoming by election in Permatang Pauh - Arif Shah Oman Shah. I am merely pointing out his academic credentials, which were listed in the Star recently. It says that he has a Diploma in Civil Engineering (no university / college given) and that he's currently pursuing a PhD at the Edison University of Technology (off campus program).

Sree pointed out to me that there is not such institution as the Edison University of Technology. To give the YB the benefit of the doubt, it is very possible that the Star might have misquoted his education credentials. I knew a reporter who's a good friend who misheard Lim Si Pin, the Deputy Youth Chief of GERAKAN, and thought that he had double degrees from YALE while in fact, Si Pin had graduated from WALES.

So could it be possible that YB Arif Shah Oman Shah was pursuing a PhD at the Thomas Edison State College? Perhaps. Only problem is that this college does not offer than PhD programs whether it is in house or off campus. It only offers Masters level programs are none of them are Engineering programs which I assume is the PhD which the YB should be pursuing given his background.

Perhaps he's referring to Edison College, a small college in Florida? Could be but the only problem with that theory is that this is an undergraduate only institution. Nothing about PhDs or distance learning programs on its website.

Could he be referring to the Edison Welding Institute?

Maybe he decided to branch out of engineering and go into biotechnology and is doing a PhD with the Edison Institute of Biotechnology at the Ohio University?

This is the only reference I could find on the Edison Institute of Technology and it brings you to a rare book website selling a book that is signed by Thomas Edison and is selling for US2,500.

Maybe the YB actually didn't say Edison. Maybe he said Madison Institute of Cosmetology instead of the Edison Institute of Technology?

Or perhaps he was talking about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or maybe the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)?

Or it could have been the Mara Institute of Technology? Except that it is called UiTM now or University Teknologi Mara?

Let's hope that he's not referring to Edison University, apparently operated by the wife of Thomas James Kirk who is in prison for creating diploma mills.

My sense of the matter is this. Because of the immense competition that takes place in the context of UMNO politics, having a degree is becoming much more important than before. He probably felt the pressure of having only a Diploma and wanted to advance his academic credentials. Instead of doing a proper degree at the Bachelor's level or even an MBA from one of the local colleges (which does not require one to have a Bachelor's), he was probably thinking, why not go all out? Why not go for a PhD instead? And since there's no way that a full time politician has the time to do a PhD, why not take the shortcut and get a fake PhD? I'm not sure how he came across Edison University but it could have been one of the places which was promoting itself as a destination for obtaining fake PhDs. He might have enrolled in the course sometime back but then didn't follow up on the procedures to obtain this PhD. When the reporter asked him about his academic qualifications, he might have forgotten the exact name of the university and blurted out Edison Institute of Technology given that it was probably an engineering PhD he was pursuing.

I'll see if any of the editors of the online newspapers will bite on this. Thanks again Sree.

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