Legitimacy of international award conferred to FRIM, DG questioned

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): The legitimacy of a prestigious international award conferred in 2011 and last year to a government statutory body and its director-general (DG), is currently in doubt.

The Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) received the International Socrates Award for the Best Enterprise (Applied Research and Scientific Achievements) Award in United Kingdom from the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) in 2011.

It was for the “institute’s reliability, consistency and excellence of achievement and professionalism in research and development (R&D) in tropical forestry and forest products”.

Meanwhile, its DG Datuk Dr Abd Latif Mohmod was awarded the International Socrates Award for Manager of the Year (Applied Research and Scientific Achievements) Award in 2011 and was one of 17 recipients of the “Name of Science” Award for his “contribution to the world science” last year.

It is understood that although the recipients did not pay for the award, they were instead asked by EBA to pay for the promotion of their companies that comes together with the certificate.

However, Abd Latif told fz.com that he was unaware of the situation and added that other Malaysians have also received the award in other categories.

"It's good you asked... I will check on them (EBA) on the legitimacy of the awards,” he said.

Bernama had reported that the body and DG are the first recipients from Malaysia since its inception 47 years ago.

Recently, fz.com has learnt that EBA has been seeking new recipients in the country and recently sent a registration form to a rector from a local public university. According to the registration documents, EBA had placed the cost of the “official package of the event for the nomination laureate” at £5,400 (RM25,318.28) with value-added tax (VAT) included.

The package will grant the title of “The Name in Science” together with “a diploma, memorable sign and inscription of the name to the world register of prominent scientists.”

EBA calls itself as an independent corporation and a non-government organisation that promotes “transformation of state-of-the-art experience and economic practices, establishment of economic, educational, cultural, and scientific ties, creation of national business elites”.

According to its website, past recipients of award winners include Rosneft Oil Company (Russian Federation), KRKA d.d. (Slovenia), SERY* Creative Communications GmbH (Austria), Makpetrol AD (Slovenia), joint-stock company Aluminium of Kazakhstan (Republic of Kazakhstan), public corporation Belshina (Republic of Belarus), Banca de Economii S.A. (Republic of Moldova) and Azer-Ilme Company Ltd. (Republic of Azerbaijan).

The issue of fake awards and titles is not new in Malaysia with politicians often accused of buying their degrees.

Hulu Selangor MP P. Kamalanathan was accused of forging his degree certificate during the seat’s by-election in 2010 while chef Mohd Nadzri Redzuawan, better known as Chef Riz, was caught red-handed in overstating in qualifications in 2011.

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