It was reported that Indian nationals had been paying several hundreds of dollars each to buy fake degrees from an Indian university accredited by the Indian government (‘Two Indian nationals paid about S$330 and S$730 respectively for forged certificates submitted in their S-Pass application‘, 29 Jul).
Two of them were convicted and jailed on Tuesday (27 Jul) for submitting false educational qualifications in their work pass applications to the Manpower Ministry (MOM). Both have obtained their fake degrees from the Manav Bharti University (MBU).
In one case, Mr Sutradhar Bijoy submitted his fake degree to MOM in his S Pass application in 2015 to work as an assistant warehouse manager at Lye M S Trading. He made a false declaration again the second time while renewing his S Pass application last year so that he can continue to work as assistant warehouse manager.
CNA reported that Bijoy’s monthly salaries ranged between S$2,600 and S$3,000. For S Pass applicants, they must earn at least S$2,500 a month in Singapore and have a degree or diploma qualification.
MOM only started to investigate after news emerged in February this year that MBU had sold 36,000 fake degrees across 17 Indian states in over 11 years, and that a number of its graduates are actually working in Singapore. Subsequently, MOM announced that it was investigating 15 work pass holders who had declared qualifications from MBU in their work pass applications.
MOM asserted that it will continue to revoke work passes of foreigners found to have submitted forged documents in their work pass applications. They will also be permanently barred from working in Singapore, it said.
MOM reiterated in its statement that employers have the “primary responsibility to ensure the authenticity and quality of the academic qualifications of the candidates they wish to hire”.
With regard to the MBU fake degree scandal, an MOM spokesperson said that “it is difficult to detect institutions such as Manav Bharti University which are approved by the foreign government’s authorities and issuing genuine degrees while selling fakes”.
“Nevertheless, MOM regularly reviews and strengthens measures to maintain the integrity of our work pass framework,” he added.
In the past five years, MOM said that it has detected and permanently barred an average of 660 foreigners a year from working in Singapore for submitting fake educational qualifications in their work pass applications.
In any case, MOM took some 6 years before before discovering Bijoy’s fake degree, submitted way back in 2015 in his S Pass application.
Singapore authorities take nearly 25 years to discover fake degree from University of Punjab
Bijoy is not the only case which took years for the Singapore authorities to discover some of the fake degree submissions.
In another case which was reported last August, it took close to 25 years for the Singapore authorities to discover that Pakistani national Mohammad Sohail submitted a fake degree way back in 1995.
Sohail first arrived in Singapore in 1995 and was issued an Employment Pass (EP) by MOM to work in Singapore. He submitted a fake degree saying that he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Punjab so as to obtain his EP. At the time, Lee Boon Yang, the current SPH Chairman, was the Manpower Minister.
He later married a Singaporean and even submitted the fake degree to apply for PR in 1997. His PR application was duly approved the same year.
Subsequently, his fake degree was discovered and he was charged in 2019, nearly a quarter of century later. ICA told the media the offences were uncovered during “an internal check”.
It’s not known how many more fake degrees have yet to be discovered by the authorities in Singapore.