LAST_UPDATETue, 22 May 2018 11pm

Muhyiddin Urged To Explain Honorary Doctorate And RM23mil Deal

Muhyiddin_Yassin161KUALA LUMPUR: The DAP’s Ong Kian Ming today urged Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) to explain if his honorary doctorate from the United States Sports Academy (USSA) is linked to a RM22.9 million Education Ministry deal involving the institution’s local agent, allegedly helmed by a Puteri Umno leader.

The USSA, which yesterday awarded Muhyiddin, the education minister, an honorary doctorate, 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.

“We ask the Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin to clarify this issue so we can have an assurance that Malaysian taxpayers have not forked out almost RM23 million so he can have the honor of receiving an honorary doctorate at taxpayers’ expense,” Ong, the DAP’s election strategist, said at a press conference here.

He expressed concern that the honorary doctorate conferred by USSA was 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 these 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.

Ong claimed that the expertise of KH Sports World, which he described as a “middleman” company, was in sports equipment and not in providing sports training.

He also said that USSA’s diplomas cost four times more than a similar diploma from local universities.

He calculated that the RM22.9 million deal would mean that RM22,900 is spent for each of the 1,000 teachers trained, pointing out that a diploma in sports studies from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) costs only RM5,709.

Ong also questioned if USSA has sufficient teaching facilities and resources to train 1,000 local teachers through a face-to-face programme.

He said the US-based academy mostly teaches students through online programmes and is estimated to have fewer than 600 students currently.

Bernama had reported that Muhyiddin went to the US this week on a working visit to receive the honorary doctorate from USSA for the Education Ministry’s “Satu Murid Satu Sukan” (One Student, One Sport) initiative.

By Ida Lim / The Malaysian Insider