Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister Marzuki reveals that he did not graduate from the University of Cambridge – here’s what we know

Facebook / Marzuki Yahya

It’s a case of the Cambridges. Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya has found himself a hot topic on social media after accusations that he falsely claimed he was a graduate of the prestigious University of Cambridge.

Marzuki had allegedly stated earlier that he studied at the University of Cambridge, a report by The Star said on Wednesday (Feb 6). But the minister later clarified that he studied at the Cambridge International University in the US instead, reported Malaysiakini.

It all started with a Facebook post on Feb 3 claiming that Marzuki deceived the people by stating he had obtained a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Cambridge through a distance-learning programme – which in fact, the university did not offer, reported Bernama.

Political activist Muhsin Abdul Latheef then lodged a police report over the claim and in response, Marzuki, who is Penang chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, told Bernama that he regarded the matter as a “political game”, adding that he did not feel like commenting much about it and wanted to leave it to the police.

When reporters approached him, he was quoted by Bernama as saying: “InsyaAllah (God willing), I will produce the proof, but not report to him. I will prove it, no problem.”

Marzuki also clarified that his degree is not from the University of Cambridge in the UK, but from a US institution instead.

He was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying: “I think they (my critics) misunderstood (my credentials). I (studied) at the Cambridge International University in the US.

“I was doing logistics (before joining politics). So I just took that certificate for my knowledge to expand my business. As CEO of the company, I want to expand my knowledge and my business,” he reportedly said.

The Star then conducted checks on Cambridge International University and found that it has no affiliation with the renowned University of Cambridge.

According to the news portal, the US university – whose motto is “Seek for Wisdom” – only offers distance learning programmes, with some degree courses costing as low as US$5,000 (RM20,359). Its course fees can also be payed via PayPal, The Star said.

According to the news website, the institution also put up unprofessional photos of its “faculty members”, The Star said. For example, a photo of its associate professor, Dr Patricia Powell, contains the watermark of AnastasiaDate – an online dating site that connects men from North America with women from Eastern Europe.

Five other “faculty members” identified on the institution’s site also appeared unprofessional, with one of them donning “makeup fit for the runway”, The Star said.

At 11am on Friday, Cambridge International University’s website appeared as though it had been hacked.

Wikipedia page edited

To make matters even more confusing, a Twitter user, who goes by the handle @Aisehman, pointed out that Marzuki’s Wikipedia page had been edited after the allegations were made.

His tweet on Feb 6 read: “Cambridge University was changed to Cambridge International University and now there’s no mention of his education at all.”

According to The Star, Marzuki’s education details on his Wikipedia page had been edited on Feb 6 to omit his alma mater.

As of 12.45pm on Feb 8, the Wikipedia page shows his alma mater as “SMK St Mark, Butterworth”.

Umno urges him to resign, while his colleagues at Bersatu defend him

The confusion surrounding Marzuki’s degree was further magnified with calls for him to resign.

A few Umno leaders have urged Marzuki to resign, including its deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, who was quoted by The Star as saying: “If he has any dignity, he should resign.”

Umno youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki also told The Star: “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?” he reportedly said.

But Marzuki’s colleagues at Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia have come to his defence.

According to The Star, Bersatu supreme council member Tariq Ismail said that it wasn’t fair to judge Marzuki’s character solely based on his degree.

He was quoted as saying: “From his humility and hard work, I’d hire the one from fake Cambridge. The real Cambridge, I’d throw them in the river because they think they own the world and the world has to continuously chase them.”

“He’s not going to be CEO of Goldman Sachs, BP or Felda, or resuscitate Enron. All those people who headed those companies had degrees but were crooks who stole… Having a dubious degree or not having graduated can be a stigma, but as long as people don’t rape or steal, it is fine,” he reportedly said.

Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir maintained that Marzuki had never declared that he graduated from the prestigious UK university.

He was quoted by The Star as saying: “As far as I know, he never declared that he was supposedly a Cambridge University graduate. That only came out in Wikipedia,” he said.