Union Lawmaker Calls For Checks on Civil Service Board After Scandal

By San Yamin Aung 7 March 2019

YANGON — An Upper House lawmaker on Thursday called on the government to reckon with the fallout from the partnerships the Union Civil Service Board (UCSB) struck with two unaccredited foreign universities and to prevent such incidents in the future.

During a Union Parliament discussion on a bill submitted by the UCSB to amend the Union Civil Service Board Law in December, Upper House lawmaker U Myo Win said it was important to vet training programs carefully in light of the many bogus universities and diploma mills handing out fake degrees.

The following month, the President’s Office announced that the UCSB had ended its partnerships with two such foreign universities — Hawaii-based Akamai University and an affiliated institution, Malaysia’s EDS Business School — following a recent scandal.

The UCSB, a government agency responsible for recruiting and training civil servants, worked with Akamai and EDS in providing several courses since 2017 and a master’s degree program in 2018 for high-ranking government officials.

Following the President’s Office announcement, the UCSB has vowed to work only with legitimate universities in the future. But further details, or any explanation of how the relationships with Akamai and EBS were formed, have yet to emerged.

U Myo Win, who has a history of calling for civil service reform, said in Parliament on Thursday that the agency chose to partner with the two institutions without proper checks.

“How many people in Myanmar hold certificates from those universities? Will the government recognize those certificates? What about the public money spent on them? The government needs to take action on that. Lawmakers also need to enact legislation to prevent such cases from happening again,” he said.

He suggested adding language to the UCSB Law amendment bill requiring the agency to announce in advance any plans to partner with foreign universities and institutions on training programs and provide an estimated budget to the government and Parliament for approval.

U Myo Win also suggested that the government approve all UCSB plans to hire foreign experts of consultants.

Last month, a UCSB spokesperson said no public money had been wasted in the Akamai and EBS tie-ups but refused to say how much was spent.

Following Thursday’s discussion, the Parliament speaker said the Upper House’s Bill Committee would hold a hearing on U Myo Win’s proposals.

Ko Nay Yan Oo, who is studying at Oxford University in England and broke the scandal via Facebook, has petitioned the President’s Office, State Counselor’s Office and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the UCSB. The ACC could not be reached on Thursday for comment.