Fake degrees and quack doctors

STRUTTING around the playing fields all over the country in the eighties as a schoolgirl, she caught the eye of Malaysians with her aptitude, prowess and achievements. But she had one major shortfall – academic excellence.
It is rumoured that she failed in all subjects in what used to be the Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP), equivalent to the present day Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations.
Perhaps it was paying too much attention to extra-curricular activities that she had disappointing results. Perhaps too, the glamour of being in the limelight took precedence over the books. She knows best.
About 15 years later, she had a prefix to her name – Dr – and three letters – PhD – after it. There's no record of her even getting an upper secondary education, let alone a first degree to pursue a doctorate.
Her insistence on being addressed as "Dr So and So" drew unnecessary remarks. But no one dared or cared to ask for credentials or qualifications because she had moved into the big league. She could pick up the phone, drop names and get anything and everything done.
Accepting appointments on various public bodies, she swaggered around with immense pride, knowing well her credentials would never be challenged.
In the eighties, the then lord president, Tun Suffian Hashim had written a stinger to newspaper editors lamenting that they should not accept or publish advertisements from "degree mills".
At least one newspaper started an investigation and reported on the "degree for sale" scam and only an injunction prevented further disclosure. Now with the Selangor police telling us that 525 people including "Tan Sri's" had bought their qualifications, it does not come as a surprise.
In the course of work, there are instances when you come across people with prefixes to their names. A minute into the conversation and you wonder which university conferred his or her degree. You tell yourself that he or she may have got his or her doctorate in traditional cures and choose not to embarrass the interviewee.
With the advent of the internet, Suffian's complaint may have become obsolete. In cyberspace, there are hundreds of organisations that offer such services. One of them boasts:DiplomaXpress.com is the #1 site on the internet for TRUE authentic quality fake diplomas 
fake degrees 
(http://diplomaxpress.com/fake_diplomas.html), and 
fake transcripts 
Unlike other websites that offer so-called replica diplomas that are "matched to your school", but in reality only offer diplomas with generic looking seals on generic diploma designs, we pride ourselves on producing truly authentic quality fake diplomas and fake college degrees. In addition to producing the highest quality fake diplomas and fake degrees, we also produce realistic quality fake transcripts that can be fully customised to your exact specifications.
There's nothing wrong with that because on the outset, it is declared that they are "fake degrees". If the buyer uses it to enhance himself or herself, the promoter should not be penalised.
But The Times (UK) had in the nineties reported a clear case of misrepresentation reporting thus:An Internet service is selling fake degree certificates for £70 each. From his website Peter Quinn offers those "who have never had a chance at a university or college education" a choice of A-level certificates and degree certificates from any institution in any subject which, he promises, will be "accepted on face value as the genuine article".
It will be interesting to follow what charges would be preferred against the perpetrators in Malaysia. Did they misrepresent? After all, those who paid for their degrees went in with the eyes wide open and on a willing buyer, willing seller basis.
What will be more interesting is to know how many of the 525 buyers, especially the titled ones, will be willing to come forward and co-operate with the police, let alone testify in open court. Will they, on oath, make confessions that the "Dr" in front of their names cost just a fistful of ringgit? Will they be agreeable to become objects of ridicule, odium and contempt by the public?
Watch this space. By the way, the next time you are introduced to a "Dr So and So", would you have the gall and gumption to ask him or her which university conferred him a doctorate and in what field?

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