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Can you go to jail for lying on your resume in Malaysia?

6 months ago Viggnes

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This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.

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The Star has recently highlighted the story of a man in Singapore who used fake qualifications to get jobs at 38 different companies over 4 years. The man was sentenced to 11 months' jail, and fined $1,600 (RM4,817) for his crimes. Thing is, people getting hired based on lies on their resumes are a global problem that could happen even in top companies. Yahoo US also parted ways with its CEO after just 4 months when it was discovered he lied about his second degree in computer science.

Which makes us all wonder… what could happen if you were to lie on your resume or fake qualifications here in Malaysia? Well a report suggests only 25% – 41% of Malaysian employers conduct background checks to verify a job applicant’s educational or employment history. So perhaps we were to be *cough* “inspired” by all the recent scandals on fake degrees and lie on our resumes or job interviews into that new job/promotion.

After all, what’s the worst that could happen? These people had the same idea…

 

Some Malaysians who tried to fake it...

Recognize this ‘fake doctor’? If you do, you’ve been a naughty boy/girl. Image credit twitter

Back in 2016, a story of a ‘Dr Pharmacist’ circulated– a 28 year old “Datuk Seri Dr” who claimed to be a doctor and pharmacist, was admitted as a life-member of the Malaysian Pharmacist Society (MPS) and as a member of other medical associations. Long story short, after people were duped of their money it was discovered he faked his education credentials and personal information so was never a real doctor at all. If you think that this story of “Dr Pharmacist” is bad enough, a lady in the UK worked for more than 20 years as a doctor before it was discovered she lied about her degree.

Also in the case of Azman Idrus v SGA Services [2015] the employee had applied for the position of “Admin, Human Resources and Legal Advisor” at SGA Services. During the job interview he presented himself as a qualified lawyer with experience, and continued to do so whilst working with the company. Almost 3 years later, after having repeatedly been asked to provide proof, Mr. Azman was unable to do so and confessed to faking it. He was fired and went on to sue for “unfair dismissal” only for the courts to decide he was validly fired. Kinda reminds you of Mike Ross from the TV show Suits doesn’t it?

So what would happen is…

 

You could be FIRED...obviously.

When I ask my boss for a raise. Image credit Giphy

If you lie on your resume or interview, you misrepresent yourself to employers. Our courts have in many cases repeated that misrepresentation is a just cause and excuse for dismissal  (means its a valid reason to fire you).

Remember the case of the fake lawyer we mentioned above, here’s what the judge said :

“Misrepresentation is a form of misconduct which may lead to the dismissal of the employee, particularly where an employer hired an employee based on the belief that he had a particular qualification needed for a job.” 

-  Judge in Azman Idrus v SGA Services (M) Sdn Bhd [2015] 2 MELR 722

But it isn’t just lying about qualifications, lying about job experience, past salaries and working knowledge could also get you in trouble – as seen in Khoo Kim Loang v. Kim Siah Electric (2018). In this case Mr. Khoo was fired just 3 days after getting hired when it was discovered he had completely made up job experiences and pay slips from a company that doesn’t exist. He tried to challenge his firing but the courts compared his resume to the one in an earlier case also involving him [Khoo Kim Loang v. Shock Media Studio (2018)] . The court found Mr.Khoo had used an almost similar fake resume in both cases, and once again highlighted that Mr. Khoo’s dishonesty was a valid reason for his quick termination.

And if you think you’re safe because you’ve been with your company for many years, think again. In Kamaruddin Beedin v Indah Water Konsortium [2014], Mr. Kamaruddin included a fake certificate when he applied for a promotion in the company and was then fired. When Mr. Kamaruddin sued for unlawful dismissal, but the court found it was fair to fire him although he had been with the company for 12 years !

 

It could also get worse…much worse.

Original image credit youtube

When you specifically fake education qualifications, things could get even more dramatic if your employers are extra salty and decide to lodge a police report. Just so nobody gets confused, there are 3 different kinds of degrees that could get you in trouble. But only 1 of them is illegal for now. 

  • Degree from an unrecognized college.
  • Fake degree from a fake college. 
  • Fake degree from a real college (illegal since it’s known as forgery).
Forgery – Fine and/or up to 2 years jail 

The act of forging a college degree is basically like printing fake money. You could be charged under Section 465 and 471 Penal Code for forgery. (or even under Section 468 with up to 7 years jail forgery for cheating).

[ READ MORE : Some degrees aren't recognized in Malaysia, but they aren't fake. Here's how it works…]

Cheating – Fine and whipping with between 1 to 10 years jail.

In more extreme cases, you could also be charged for cheating under Section 420 Penal Code like in the case of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) lecturer who faked his Phd. In this case, a 51 year old man applied to be a lecturer at USM using forged qualifications from the UK and US. By the time his lies were discovered, it had caused USM to lose nearly RM 200k in losses for having paid his salary.

 

You’ll also find it harder to get jobs in the future…

This isn’t going to happen. Image credit Pinterest.

Legal consequences aside, lying on your resume could also severely damage your professional reputation especially in the age of social media and digital job platforms.

News travels fast so when future employers find out you’ve been dishonest previously, chances are they are going to swipe left on you faster than your ex on Tinder.

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Viggnes

Like a hot cup of coffee in the morning, my writting style aims to be refreshing and stimulate bowel movement.


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