Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 18th January 2013
Our education minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on the 17th of January by the United States Sports Academy (USSA), which is based in Daphne, Alabama, for his efforts “to enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation” through the creation of the “One Student – One Sport” initiative.
For a 6 month period starting from June 2012, USSA trainers were in Malaysia to provide retraining for PE teachers and training for other teachers interested in PE through an “International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS)” program. This pilot program to retrain 1000 teachers cost the Malaysian government RM22.9m and the contract was awarded to a Syarikat KH Sports World Sdn Bhd (who is the authorized agent in Malaysia for USSA) via a direct negotiation.
According to KH Sports World website (http://www.kh-ussa.com/management-team/), its chairwoman is Hisham Suhaili Othman whose list of titles includes “Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Ketua Puteri UMNO, Bahagian Langkawi”, “Ahli Jawatankuasa Perhubungan UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Bendehari Biro Sukan & Kecergasan Puteri UMNO, Malaysia” and “Ahli Lembaga Pelawat Hospital Langkawi”.
While the intention of providing retraining to PE teachers, especially those without the proper qualifications, may be a good one, we question why this contract was given, via direct negotiation, to a company which was founded in 2008 “to venture into the sports equipment and product market” in Malaysia.
We also call into question the decision to appoint a US based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively via distance and online learning . Such a college would certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs, especially for the 1000 teachers who were supposed to enrol in this program. For comparison, the estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600!
We also call into question the high cost of this program. RM22.9m for 1000 students translates into RM22,900 for every “diploma” earned. This is more than 4 times what it costs to obtain a “Diploma in Pengajian Sukan” from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which costs about RM5709 for 6 semesters.
The awarding of this contract is yet another example of the BN’s “Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin” where the Prime Minister preaches transparency on the one hand while members of his cabinet does the complete opposite by awarding contracts to cronies at vastly inflated prices. Is this the price the Malaysian taxpayer has to pay so that our Minister of Education can obtain an honorary doctorate? Did Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s honorary doctorate cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM23m?
Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist