DAP insists reason behind DPM’s US doctorate is dodgy
January 21, 2013
DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua reminded the United States Sports Academy (USSA) that the award had come at a time when Malaysian students had suffered the worst drop in test scores for mathematics and science in the recently released Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011.
“That Muhyiddin ‘deserved’ the honorary doctorate does not justify the directly negotiated RM22.9 million ‘International Diploma’ contract to an Umno-linked company,” Pua (picture) said in a statement here.
“The United States Sports Academy (USSA) had been extremely quick to defend its award of the honorary doctorate.”
After the DAP raised suspicion over the award, USSA president and CEO Dr Thomas P. Rosandich said the doctorate was to recognise Muhyiddin’s “lifelong contributions to sport and for his proven track record”, adding that the honour was very much earned and “well-deserved”.
On Saturday, the DAP’s Ong Kian Ming urged Muhyiddin to explain if his honorary doctorate from the USSA was linked to the RM22.9 million Education Ministry deal involving the institution’s local agent, allegedly helmed by a Puteri Umno leader.
The USSA, which had awarded the minister the doctorate on Friday, had last June sent its staff to Malaysia to train 1,000 physical education teachers under its “International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IPDESS)” programme.
At a press conference here, Ong had suggested that the honorary doctorate could have been an attempt to “curry favour” to get the Education Ministry to extend the pilot programme.
Ong found the deal “highly troubling”, claiming that it was awarded without open tender to KH Sports World Sdn Bhd, the USSA’s sole local agent.
He said the firm’s website showed that its chairwoman is Hisham Suhaili Othman, who is listed as holding a few Umno positions such as Kedah’s Puteri Umno vice-chief and Puteri Umno chief for the Langkawi division.
“That’s why we want to ask the minister of education to clarify.
“Why do they ask a university that’s primarily online to provide this kind of training and why was this contract awarded via direct negotiation to a company that basically sells sports equipment and also happens to have a chairwoman that happens to be a Puteri Umno leader in Kedah?” Ong asked.
Agreeing with his colleague, Pua pointed out that even the USSA had admitted that the IDPESS programme was a newly created and customised diploma at Muhyiddin’s request.
He said that Muhyiddin must also answer why the IDPESS six-month retraining programme costs RM22,900 for every PE teacher, which is more than four times what it costs to obtain a “Diploma in Pengajian Sukan” from Universiti Teknologi Mara, which costs RM5,709 for six semesters (18 months).
“The prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is also the finance minister, had promised us a ‘Government Transformation Programme (GTP)’ under his administration where all procurement contracts awarded by the government will be via open tenders.
“What we see here practised by his own deputy prime minister, who is also our education minister, is a blatant disregard for the GTP initiatives,” Pua said.