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Rampant academic dishonesty is destroying Malaysia's soul

By Murray Hunter - posted Friday, 13 November 2015


One of the more destructive traits of Malaysia society today is academic dishonesty. It runs throughout many facets of society. Academic dishonesty is not just an education issue, it's also prevalent within the civil service, business, and even political walks of life within society.

A few high profile cases of academic dishonesty have arisen over the last few years. Two Federal deputy Ministers, Richard Riot (Human Resources) and Dr Ewon Ebin (Science) were found to have fake degrees a couple of years ago. An executive director of a private college of higher education affiliated with a UK university, and pop star Fazley Yaakob was found to hold two fake degrees, and two public company directors were also found to have fake degrees.

Many prominent figures in Malaysian society have bought 'bogus degrees' from unaccredited universities to enhance their qualifications and CVs.

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There are also cases of Malaysians trying to use fake degrees to get work overseas in countries like New Zealand.

However, this lack of academic integrity is not limited to acquiring fake degrees.

Some prominent people like a vice chancellor of a northern Malaysian university has developed a collection of awards that could be considered dubious. Awards such as the Socrates Award in Education, Best Manager Award, and 'The Name in Science' awarded by "a designer award mill" called the Europe Business Assembly (EBA), purportedly located in Oxford, UK, appear to grant awards on application and payment, rather than being scrutinized by any international panel. Other such dubious awards include the "Merit of Commandeur" conferred by an organization called the Belgian Chamber of Inventors (BCI), of which any trace cannot be found through internet searches.

There have been numerous issues in regards to plagiarism.

Back in 2013, an Utusan Malaysia writer Ridhuan Tee was accused of plagiarism by a Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Dr Aril Yasreen Mohd. Yassin. Although the matter was never resolved, Ridhuan Tee was appointed an associate professor at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (National Defence University).

Plagiarism in the copying of internet, book, and article material for publications is wide spread within Malaysia, although, very few reports ever rise to the public domain.

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Adeline Lee Zhia Ern, a Malaysian writer was caught plagiarizing Jack Canfield's Chicken Soup for the Soil IV in her first book Lethal Lesson and Other Stories, where her book was withdrawn from the market and destroyed. An editor working for the New Straits Times, Brendan Pereira was dismissed because of plagiarizing the work of US journalist Mitch Albom. Last year, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama suspended a journalist for plagiarizing an article from the Jakarta Post.

Plagiarism is not just confined to books. Australian Masterchef finalist Alvin Quah was accused of plagiarism by Rasa Malaysia's Bee Yin Low from the Asian food blog Rasa Malaysia.

With the level of academic dishonesty in general society, it's not surprising that there is a lack of academic integrity within Malaysian institutions of higher education.

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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis.

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