In my earlier blog post - Higher Education Ministry in Hot Soup - I commented on the article by the Star which highlighted the fact that confidential information on students (who failed to obtain a place in the local universities) were "sold" to private colleges.
On Sunday, both New Straits Times and the Star reported that an investigation will be launched immediately by the Higher Education Ministry into the claims.
I have however, some advice for our Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Shafie Mohd Salleh in his investigation process:-
- I'm pleased to hear that he "assured the public that action would be taken as such confidential information should not be leaked out to anyone." I hope that he is sincere in his words as I fear there may be "cover ups" in order for him to not look too bad from the debacle, particularly since Datuk Shafie's position as the minister appears to be in question in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle. I would argue that it would be in Datuk Shafie's best interest to take firm action against the culprits, as it will show his immediate boss that he is up to the task of rooting out bureaucratic inefficiencies and corruption within the Ministry.
- He has requested the co-operation from the private colleges for help in his investigations.
[He]called on colleges to co-operate with the ministry in its investigation. “I would like to ask private college operators or administrators who have bought such information or have been approached to come and see me. If you have any evidence, come and see us at the ministry.”For goodness sake, why should these colleges report on the culprits in the Ministry, when they are clearly the "partners in crime", in which they benefited by having received the list of candidates who failed to find a local public university. This list in itself will save the college hundreds of thousands, as it will save the college from having to invest heavily to attract students via media advertisements.
Or, dare I skeptically suggest that the attempt to put the private colleges together is to enable the Minister to execute a "damage control" plan and ensure that all parties will be singing the same song?
- Don't be defensive. We need to get rid of the constant rapid fire denial syndrome. The deputy director has in the earlier article by the Star, denied the Ministry's responsibility. The Minister has himself, in his statement attempted (very weakly) to deflect responsibility to "con men".
“We have to ascertain if the lists the colleges allegedly bought are really from UPU. They could be just the work of a con man. There are many con men around. We have bogus doctorates and degrees. These, too, may be bogus lists.”Sigh. Some perverted logic must have linked the two cases together. In this latest UPU debacle, detailed, accurate and factual information must have been divulged to the private colleges for them to send out these "invitation letters" to the prospective students. How would a "con men" obtain these information, if not for a major leak at the Ministry?
The sooner the Minister accept that someone within the Ministry or UPU is the prime suspect in this debacle, the better it will be for the Minister. Learn the lesson from your colleague at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Attempting cover ups or being economical with the truth will likely result in a deepening crisis.
- Finally, by not being defensive, Shafie should be open to the suggestion to involve an "independent" party such as the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to assist with the investigations. Datuk Shafie has said that "for now the investigation was enough and it would not bring in the Anti-Corruption Agency."
If there is really nothing to hide, the ACA will just decare an "all clear", which will be more credible than, say the Ministry itself declaring an "all clear". If however, there is hanky panky in the works, then the Minister himself can claim the moral high ground, having dispensed his responsbilities righteously, ensuring that the guilty are rightfully punished
Go on, Datuk Shafie, do the right thing.