Cabinet must take a serious view of the Australian plagiarism scandal involving Malaysian students as it affects not only the good name of Malaysian students and the country, but also the future of tertiary education as a centre of academic excellence to compete for international students
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Cabinet must take a serious view of the Australian plagiarism scandal involving Malaysian students as it affects not only the good name of Malaysian students and the country, but also the future of tertiary education as a centre of academic excellence to compete for international students.
The Cabinet should direct the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to conduct a comprehensive, independent and professional investigation into the allegation by the Australia's education minister, Brendan Nelson when he urged Newcastle University to reopen a case in which it secretly re-marked the assignments of 15 students who had been failed for plagiarism at a campus it runs in Malaysia.
It has been alleged that the 15 were initially awarded zero marks for using unattributed material from the Internet in an assignment, but their former lecturer claimed the university overruled his decision because it was concerned about losing revenue from offshore students.
The students at the university's graduate school of business at Institut Wira in Kuala Lumpur were subsequently issued pass marks, some of them receiving distinctions.
The Newcastle Herald had reported that the allegations include claims that comments by the original markers were erased and the papers were marked again, with the papers’ original marker, Ian Firns, quoted as saying: “The top marks were given to identified cheats”.
Ian Firns has lodged a complaint with the New South Wales state corruption watchdog ICAC over the affair.
The Malaysian government must not countenance plagiarism by Malaysian students in foreign educational institutions in the country, but it must also not allow Malaysia’s reputation to be sullied without proper basis.
The Education Ministry should order a separate investigation as the plagiarism scandal occurred in the Wira Institut in Kuala Lumpur.
The government has announced the target of enrolling 50,000 foreign students in public and private educational institutions in Malaysia by 2010 from the present 32,000 foreign students, hoping to net around RM1.25 billion annually.
All the ambitions to develop Malaysia into an international centre of academic excellence with a sizable foreign student population to earn revenue for Malaysia would all come to nought if Malaysia acquires the international notoriety of a rogue educational centre where plagiarism and fake educational qualifications are rampant and unchecked.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman