Editorial 12 July 2013: Fraud By Paper

As the Division of
Special Investigation DSI launched their investigation on Luang Pu Nen Kham, the controversial,
wealthy monk believed to be involved in criminal frauds, the questionable legitimacy of the
so-called World Peace University (WPU) also came under scrutiny from the authorities.

The
interest started when Mr. Sukhum Wongprasit, a closed associate to Luang PuNen Kham, claimed he
received the Doctorate Degree Certificate from World Peace University, an organisation registered as
a limited partnership, but operated as a University.

There has been speculation that the
establishment has been acting somewhat as a factory churning out prestigious-sounding honorary
degrees for a right price.

Many celebrities – actors, athletes, politicians – had received
degrees from WPU, though none said they ever paid money to the ?University? so far.

The
legitimacy of the WPU would rely on the investigation from related authorities, the DSI and the
Office of Higher Education commission. The society should demand answers why the shadowy WPU has
been allowed to publicly give out degrees without the supervision from any relevant educational
authority for so long.

We should also consider whether the whole scandal reflects our social
value in which many people focus too much on a certificate rather than actual potential or ability a
person has. Such values have led to the ineffectiveness of high-school and university
institutions,and spilled over into the deception of false degree.

It might as well have been
an explanation why a number of graduates with honourable education background and degrees eventually
fail to live their lives as critical-minded, able citizens.

There is even a Thai proverb that
talks about wise man with feet so weak he cannot break chicken′s dung as he steps on it (bundit
yiab kee kai mai fo).

The WPU case is a big wake-up call for the societyto start critically
discussing about such deeply-held values, to prevent further fraud about fake degrees or
universities, and to fix the imbalance of Thai education system. We can start by focusing more on
one’s potential, rather than what certificate he or she holds.

As long as the worship of
certificate papers are in place, even if there was no WPU, there would still have been other
institution taking advantage of the obsessions with degrees among Thai people.

If we
allow such culture to continue, after the WPU case is sorted out, the unsorted values would simply
goon in a vicious cycle. As one fraud goes down, another fraud will just rise
up.