KUALA LUMPUR: The multi-million ringgit skills certification scandal at the Human Resources Development Corporation (PSMB) was marked by an intriguing power play that led to the removal of its chief executive officer.
Ali Badaruddin Abdul Kadir lost his job as the CEO early last month because he disagreed with the award of a lucrative contract to Bena College, which has no track record in running the “Recognition of Prior Learning” (RPL) programme. He was appointed as CEO in August 2013 on a two-year contract.
Sources said the scandal involved a high-level personnel shake-up with trails leading to the office of Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem.
Before he left, Ali Badaruddin held a meeting with his staff, running down PSMB’s decision to award the contract to Bena.
Ali Badaruddin’s removal upset some staff who then tipped off the media about the wrongdoings.
The CEO’s removal came on the heels of secretary-general Datuk Seri Zainal Rahim Seman’s swift transfer out of the ministry early this year, together with a number of other high-ranking officers.
They are said to be “non-compliant” with directives from “certain powerful people” in the ministry.
To complicate matters, a new CEO, said to be nominated by the minister’s office, had been prevented from taking office as his appointment did not adhere to bureaucratic procedures.
PSMB, an agency under the Human Resources Ministry, administers the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), which manages about RM1 billion in mandatory employer contributions for human capital development.
Recently, the government announced a RM400 million allocation for upskilling and reskilling programmes which cover the RPL and Malaysian Skills Certificate (MSC) programmes, among others.
Many workers in Malaysia acquired work skills on the job or through apprenticeships but have no documents to back them up. In fact, one of the ministry’s key performance indicators (KPI) is to get 700,000 unskilled workers “certified” by 2015.
It was claimed that the ministry had approved accreditation based on a separate module from the one traditionally recognised by the Department of Skills Development (DSD).
A major bone of contention was that Bena had been awarded the contract to assess so-called “skilled” workers based on standards that were much lower than DSD’s.
A 45-page report detailing the alleged wrongdoings had been sent to the higher-ups, including the Prime Minister’s Office, the sources said.
Among other things, the report questioned why no tender was called for the project despite the huge amount involved.
Potentially, there’s a lot of money to be made from training assessors capable of assessing employees. This is why Bena wanted to be part of the RPL scheme.
Formerly known as Bantin College, Bena is founded by Thomas Leong, who runs the Bengkel Niaga Ala Cina, an entrepreneur-training outfit which teaches Malay students how to “do business like the Chinese masters”.
Bena had recently advertised in a leading newspaper that it was recruiting assessors who had to pay RM400 to attend a one-day workshop on how to do RPL assessment.
The Heat reported that a training company representative who attended the workshop said it only lasted a couple of hours, and the assessment was too simplistic.
Bena had apparently impressed the ministry with its collaboration with a body called the Great Britain Consortium of Colleges (GBCC), which comprises four UK government colleges. GBCC would issue certificates for those assessed as “skilled” in their field.
Under the RPL by Bena, PSMB pays the assessor RM300 for each person who has been certified as “skilled” and an undisclosed amount to GBCC for issuing the certification, the sources said.
“If an assessor can find 100 people to be certified each month, he would make RM30,000 every month. In a year, that’s RM360,000. If you have 100 assessors, PSMB would need to fork out RM360 million a year. On top of that, HRDF still needs to pay GBCC for each certified worker,” a source said.
It is understood an undisclosed sum would also be paid to Bena, although it is unclear whether from PSMB or from GBCC.
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Comment: I was one of those who attended the seminar for Assessor (last day), which was advertised as one whole day but ended quite early. Was very suspicious & reluctant (to attend) initially but was told by my friend who went on the 1st day where he says that the HR Minister came to officiate it & the DG of Department of Skill Development (DSD) was there too (probably due to a directive by the Minister)!
It sounded fishy from the start, with a project of such huge magnitude being awarded to a company where it’s bank account name is called Bengkel Niaga Ala Cina. When I emailed to submit my resume for their so called assessment (by British counterpart) before approval to attend the Assessor seminar, I got a shocked that they replied YES to me in less than 10 minutes. Was thinking, did they really went through my profile or just accepted anyone who applied (because they would be getting RM400 per applicant/attendee for a day’s seminar – hey, they’re making much better $$ compared to my 2 days organising of induction course with the DSD – only can charge RM350/pax for 2 days of hardwork & limited to 60 vs their capacity of few hundreds per session!) So they claimed to have close to 1,000 participants over the week (5 days). Ahem, that’s a collection of about RM400,000 (perhaps after deducting operational cost, including so many Gwei Lo’s flight & accomodation at Hilton Hotel), think the organiser still made at least over hundred thousands (not sure who else he needs to pay…)
Conclusion: The concept looks great but the way it’s being planned to be implemented, it just doesn’t look professional and to be more crude, it looks more like a scam job!