IDA probes claim about employee said to have fake MBA

She's said to have fake MBA; agency said she was hired based on her BA

THE Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is investigating a claim that one of its employees has a fake master's degree.

In a Facebook note yesterday, the IDA said it is continuing to look into the case of Ms Nisha Padmanabhan, who joined the agency last year with a master's degree from online-based Southern Pacific University.

The university has been alleged to be a "degree mill" - an institution selling non-accredited educational credentials or diplomas for a fee - and was closed in the United States by a court order. It is now apparently operating in Malaysia.

The IDA has been criticised online after a netizen accused it earlier this month of hiring Ms Padmanabhan despite her allegedly phoney qualification.

Last week, the IDA said on its Facebook page that Ms Padmanabhan, a Singapore citizen, has a bachelor's degree from "a reputable university".

According to her LinkedIn page, she has a bachelor's in electronics and telecommunication from the University of Mumbai in India, and worked for nearly 14 years in various firms before joining IDA.

"She was recruited because of this bachelor's degree, extensive past work experience and good track record," the IDA said.

"Nisha pursued an MBA out of personal interest, and it was not a relevant certificate for her position in IDA though she was open about the fact that she had obtained it."

In fact, 93 per cent of IDA staff at the level of applications consultant were hired because of their bachelor's degree.

The criticism against IDA continued, however, with several people hijacking its Facebook posts on other subjects to comment on Ms Padmanabhan's hiring and the agency's handling of the case.

In its latest post on the matter yesterday, the IDA said: "We understand your sentiments and concerns, and we are continuing to look into the matter."

It asked people with comments to share them on the post, or e-mail info@ida.gov.sg

It added that it would more actively moderate comments on the rest of its Facebook posts so the discussion would remain civil and constructive. It said it does not generally remove comments, but reserves the right to remove those that contain vulgarities, are personal attacks against individuals or are deemed inappropriate.

zengkun@sph.com.sg