Beware of People who claim to have “Doctorates”


Shrewd businessmen are buying degrees from degree mills and passing themselves off as “Dr” so-and-so.

Straits Times journalist Sandra Davie even managed to buy a degree for her dog! (ST, August 29, 2008).

Yes, Harry Doggy the cute beagle is now officially a “Doctor of Arts”. For just US$599.

Other people spent years slogging to get a PhD and “Dr” Harry didn’t even move a finger paw to be conferred a doctorate.

So who are the famous people in Singapore with degrees that are similar to “Dr” Harry Doggy’s? Straits Times mentioned the following:

  • Expressions International founder “Dr” Theresa Chew.
  • Bread Talk founder “Dr” George Quek.
  • “Dr” T. Chandroo who runs 60 Montessori kindergartens.
  • “Dr” Clemen Chiang who runs options trading seminars.

I remember Clemen Chiang even called his degree-mill alma mata “the prestigious Preston University” in his ads. Now, we all know Preston is a virtual university that gives out PhDs freely for a fee.

What’s worse is that Clemen Chiang is also “widely quoted in the local press”, including the Business Times (see example). Given BT’s past record of uncovering at least one case of people who lied / misled about their credentials (see discussion about the famous Dennis Lee case and article in Time magazine), I don’t know why BT did not do more diligence and still invited “Dr” Chiang to write in its columns.

More from the very enlightening ST article:

“Mr Chiang sheepishly admits that he continues to use his doctorate as it helps to pave the way in business… But he added: ‘But I am thinking of dropping my doctorate title altogether until I complete the current PhD I am working on with the University of South Australia.’ “

Er… which University of South Australia is he referring to? Let’s hope it’s the legitimate one and not another degree mill.

Update (6 Sep 2008): Preston wrote to ST and took up a full-page ad announcing the “factual errors” in that ST article and “superficial” research done by ST. Nothing surprising – they’re just protecting their business interests. In the same vein, T. Chandroo also wrote to ST Forum and wished for people to understand his “disappointment”. The ST editor retorted:

“For over a month, Mr Chandroo’s secretary said he was ‘too busy’ to answer e-mails or calls… Preston University is not accredited by any US Department of Education-recognised accrediting body. The state of Oregon refers to Preston University as a ‘degree supplier’ and has named it on its list of unapproved schools… In 2001, the US-based Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Preston University had listed faculty members who had nothing to do with the institution (a fact later admitted by Preston)…”


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  1. Haha… yeah, I lived through the whole Dennis Lee incident when I was working at Elipva many years ago. The guy went beyond just embellishing his credentials – he was flat out a compulsive and pathological liar.

    In fact, many of the employees on the ground (admittedly, not me) suspected something long ago already, but it’s not always easy to accuse your director of something like that. It also didn’t help that Singapore at that time was especially desperate to find a local Internet hometown hero which it can rally behind. Perhaps that may of led to a few “closed eyes” I believe.

    You have to give the guy an A++ for effort – he even used his own money to print out copies of his fake books and made his own fake plaques!

  2. hahaha… my boss is also one of them who is not only Dr but also xxxx (sorry can’t reveal much, least I got sued. Want to know why, then read my blog). He has many friends who did the same also. He even laughed about the article yesterday when speaking to his manager.

  3. Yea, I hate ppl who have get a Dr without going through all the pain. That is because I got my Dr. through slogging hard, on a lousy stipend, with full of stress and alone in a lab for 3.5 yrs. (My PhD is from UNSW btw, so it’s not fake. Admin, I think University of South Australia is genuine…but then again different fields demand different rigour so it really depends..)

    Going through all that hard work to get a PhD and not being well recognized in Singapore is demoralizing enough (I really am comtemplating migrating), we don’t need fake wannabes to rub it our face. Kudos to those who really earned their PhD, they really have substance and really deserved their recognition.

    If you want to know what hard work you need to put in to get your PhD, let me know. I will be glad to share. Just a heads up, my supervisor asked me to “join a social club” before I start my PhD, so that gives you a hint on how hard it can be.

  4. i do not know why people are so enamoured by PhD and Dr this and that. if anything – it will just make me sceptical if someone tries to spruce their “credentials” in business. a phd is only necessary in research and academia and in those fields, you would imagine that people do have a semblance of what degrees are credible. in business/finance? no way – maybe in quant finance that’s about it.
    Also, absolutely hate it when people sign their business cards with John Tan, B.Com, BSc, and FCSPA, and all other funny letters past their name – i suspect that is more of a ploy to impress heartlanders than anything.

    Also, I don’t agree with Dr AC, on all PhD’s who have “substance and deserve their reconition” – it all depends on the rigor and in what field. In my disciple – I don’t think a PhD is hard to get at all.

    Btw, I’m not in academia and not in Singapore. My industry’s/countries views on PhDs outside the fields of academia and research will probably mirror mine.

  5. Dear e,
    May I know what discipline are you in such that it makes you say that a PhD is not hard to get ?

    Also I like to gently point out that I didnt say ALL Phds have substance and deserve their recognition. I merely said those who earned their PhDs.

    Maybe it’s true that not all disciplines require rigourous work. However, for hard sciences and engineering they do. Also, I think I should point out that there is a difference between a DBA and a PhD, both upon completion, will confer the title of Dr. To my knowledge, I believe that DBA is more applicable to the business industry than a PhD. However, I am not sure about the rigour of work that DBA demands.

    Fair enough, is not required for the business industry; ppl who sincerely do their PhD usually do it out of interest and the pursuit of knowledge and nothing else. There are other skills to be gained whilst doing a PhD. Success in business work rely on pure performance and of course luck. A few cases of successful non-business PhD holders are Jack Welch and Dr Cheong Choong Kong of OCBC Bank. But I don’t think they use the titles to get there.

    Most ppl who get honorary PhDs (PhDs that do not require you to submit a thesis) are doing it to get the title. It’s a status thing, not something out of pure interest.

  6. Discipline is finance/economics – as I’ve mentioned, i don’t think it is hard a PhD (not DBA which I have no clue about)in my field at all. just study a few more years and write a few more papres and get published. I’m talking about PhD’s here – where you are expected to submit a peer reviewed thesis and to notionally “contribute to the body of knowledge”.

    Like you said – people who do their PhD’s do so out of interest + pursuit of knowledge. However, you get three-five years to write a thesis and if your supervisor is any good – you should expect to pass (maybe not with distinction – but a pass nonetheless)

    In academia as well – you also need luck to make it famous – instead if languishing on page 89 of some obscure journal.

    On honorary PhDs – you don’t “get one” unless you are someone prominent in the community. Granted – another “back door” way is to donate a huge amount of money to the school and you sould get one as well… lol. Like you said – its a status thing but i sure would prefer an honorary one than a real one…

  7. Dear e,
    It seems to me you have a very strong prejudice against PhD per se.

    I dunno about PhD in pure finance and economics, what they require and all. As to your claims on “just study a few more years and write a few more papres and get published”, I don’t think its that simple. A lot people I know drop out of PhD or fail them because they can hardly publish anything. The requirements of PhD looks deceptively, emphasis on deceptively, simple.

    The difficulty of PhD are as follows:
    1. The meaning of PhD is to introduce a new philosophy (not application) to way things are being done in the world today. Philosophy can translate to design theory, models and the like. Thus, having novelty + stamping your claim on it is extremely difficult. Masters and Bachelor degrees are not required to have philosophical novelty. That said, I am not sure if most honorary PhDs have introduced some form of philosophical novelty in their fields. If they have, I respect them and they deserved their PhD.

    2. Writing a paper and a thesis is not as easy as it seems. Having good results does not mean writing good papers, i.e., have good positive experimental results does not mean you can publish. Publishing a journal paper requires a lot of thought and formal wording. The hardest portions to write in a journal paper are the classifications, your theory and the introduction. Especially the introduction. It’s takes a long thought and writing process to hatch a journal. It’s an even longer time for a thesis, so I hope you can respect and am aware of that. Maybe you can try writing solid journal paper to realize the difficulty of it.

    In academia you do need luck to be famous, luck in finding the relevant topics + industrial funding. Usually they get famous at conferences, where it is easier to display their results.

    Journals are meant for people in the community, and in the industry so it may not be of value to people outside of the community. Thats the purpose of it.

    PhD does have its value, and great things can come out of it. People like Rudolf Kalman, Claude Shannon, R.A. Fisher have come up with great things for engineering and IT.

    Of course some may laugh at Robert Merton, Myron Scholes and Fischer Black, who are PhD Nobel Laureates, E Derman for the introduction of Quantitative Finance with the collapse of LTCM ( in fact it’s collapse is not totally due to their mathematical models). IMHO, I think people who think this way are small, jealous, ignorant and short sighted, cos it’s only one extreme case out of many (who criticises D.E.Shaw and Citadel?). If not for these people, I dont’ think there be as big a market for derivatives and MFE programs.

  8. Prejudices: Not PhD’s per se. But more in the context of people who spruik their credentials indiscriminately. Doesn’t have to be a PhD but even those with their numerous lettering at the back of their names. More so for people who are actually enamoured by academic credentials…

    Honarary PhDs: I don’t think there has be any “philosophical novelty” for them to awarded these degrees. As I said, all you have to do is either be famous or donate a lot of money to the school.

    Publishing journals: Thanks but no thanks. I took a first writing my honours thesis which I chose not to publish. Could have enrolled in a direct PhD straight away but refrained. Actually, come to think of it, that first paper could be one of many papers to form the thesis. Some people I know did and have since gotten their PhDs though they were realistic enough to know that they shouldn’t expect a “PhD premium” if they were coming out to the finance marketplace to get work…

    Anyway, the moral of the story is, which I have always reiterated is that PhD are only needed in research and/or academia. A lot of good things have come out of research – probably more so in the hard sciences than in the social sciences/arts.

    Back to the topic… a PhD is not relevant in business – so you should be most wary of people who try to use fancy titles to impress you…

  9. If you want a title in front, do you know that under the Singapore Law, Professional Engineer is given a title “Er” just like doctor ? Unfortunately, not many people still know. It is a glamorous status and not easily to obtain. Have to be awarded by the Professional Engineer Board. Check out

  10. singapore options trader on

    I congratulate ST Senior Writer Sandra Davie for exposing businessmen such as Chandroo and most importantly Clemen Chiang as a fraud.

    Clemen in particular openly uses his PhD/Doctoral qualification to boost his credentials and recruit students for his courses.

    Now that his PhD is proven to be from Preston University, a degree mill university, he should openly apologies to the public and the various media entity such as Business Times, CAN, CNBC and many others that he has been able to manipulate to give him the publicity as published widely in his website at www .freely .com

    He has no shame when openly admitted that he got his PhD in 16 months. This is unprecedented and no reputable university would award such as doctoral qualification. He should get his doctoral supervisor who is presumably an expert in options trading to openly testify to his so called well earned qualification and published his thesis.

    University of South Australia should be wary and rejected such doctoral students. Perhaps UniSA and/or APMI Kaplan Singapore being the local provider would comment.

    Despite being exposed that his PhD is from a degree mill, he still advertise in the newspapers and in his website carrying his “Dr” title. This should be put to a stop!!!

    It is time for the students (past and present) take him to task. He has cheated many students which resulted in him owning his bungalows at Sentosa Cove and elsewhere and many cars he owned as he always brag during his Seminar Previews.

    Speak up fellow student. The time is now….

  11. Admin thank you for pointing out these fraudsters. May I add that my friend used to work for Teresa Chew, lady boss of Expressions, and he said she was ADAMANT in making sure everyone called her ‘doctor chew’

    Any Expression employee can attest to that. Such a shame that it’s just an ego boost totally undeserved in the end.

  12. Again more in the context of people who are into window dressing on their credentials indiscriminately. Thanks to Admin for pointing them out and there are a few more not listed.

    Found one more. It is one of the FTs in Singapore education scene recently spotted on Business Times page as “Singapore-based” FT group Global Indian Foundation. The CEO is “Dr MANEESH TRIPATHI: Maneesh has a PhD in Humanistic Sciences from Preston University, Wyoming U.S.” ( Preston University is a Pakistan based degree mill which we read from Strait Times as one of the leading fakes.

    Amazing is how can these CEO with fake PHD can deliver high profile international education and not get caught ?

    How many more remaining to be pointed out ? It is such a shame and totally undeserved.

  13. Does anybody here have comments on IAFM ?

    Their web page has an alert saying “Dubai training offices terminated” and “FAKE IAFM CERTIFICATES FROM DUBAI OR ASIA ARE FRAUDULENT AND UNAUTHORIZED”.

    Anything known about IAFM Singapore operations ?

  14. Mr Maneesh Tripathi f/k/a Dr Maneesh Tripathi has quit as CEO of education business, now appointed CEO of MediaRing.

    I am happy to disclose that I don’t own MediaRing stock and no plan to.

  15. Remember back in 2007 that Bryan Lim was sued by Credit Suisse for misappropriating client’s fund and also providing fake credentials about a law degree from University in London & an MBA from UCLA?

  16. @ I2I information “Mr Maneesh Tripathi CEO left Global Indian International School and moved to Spice I2I Pte Ltd.” is ok but Mr Maneesh Tripathi was on both.

    Her linkedin profile is :


    Chief Executive Officer (group) at Spice i2i (Public listed at SGX Singapore), Governing Board member (hon) at Global Indian Foundation and Global Indian International Schools
    COO and Integration Executive at IBM ISS, Business Unit head Asia pacific- IBM Global Services at IBM Global Business Services, General Manager Sales at IBM India, Country manager at Thakral computers
    Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya
    A Global citizen who has worked in 3 continents, learnt, and still learning, how to manage various cultures and unique country/regional specific challenges in each continent. Have run billion dollar plus listed companies, (as MD, CEO and BU head) clearly understanding business management, governance and people management. Creates value for stakeholders. Prides on taking responsibility and carrying out commitments fearlessly, but not recklessly


    Last month Business Times reported Mr Maneesh will resign as CEO of Spice i2i and move to Affinity group as MD.

    Other appointments: Governing Board member, Global Indian Foundation

    According to my friend IIM Calcultta is one of the top ranking B-school in East of India and IIM grads will feel insulted to carry the title of PhD from Preston University because they know it is a Pakistan degree mill university.

  17. The Straits Times news is factually full of flaws. Preston University is not a degree mill. It is an unaccredited university and this fact has never been denied by the University. It has always been prominently disclosed on its website. The Straits Times news has been badly researched and the Straits Times itself has often been criticised as being a newspaper full of bias.I obtained my PhD from Preston after going through 6 bulky subjects (4 core and 2 electives) and writting a Dissertation of more than 100,000 words that was fully reviewed, discussed with my tutor and corrected before being accepted. It took me more than 6 years to get through. I had to master the modern language of America before writing my dissertation and go through an innumerable number of assisgnments that were all fully marked and returned to me. People who say that PU is a degree seller are completely wrong. It is an unaccredited university but definitely not a degree mill. People like you have been advancing the hidden agenda of accredited universities that cahrge huge fees and prevent modest people from obtaining decent eduaction. Before writing unresearched comments, I would also invite people to do some research on “accredited universities” in the USA. It is a shame that many graduates from accredited universities do cannot perform even simple calculations. If you want to know more about this, please read the material “Can accreditation live up to its promise?” written by respected scholars from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni(ACTA) before writing all sorts of nonesense after reading biased sources such as Sandra Divies article in the Straits Times. I had e-mailed her on this issue but she never dared to reply back. No doubt it is people from the accredited/prestigious universities who trigerred the global financial crisis.

  18. Dear Y. Varma:

    You may have a tiny valid point but look at it this way. Is it not true that when the Straits Times article was under research, Sandra Davie found so many “Dr” businessmen (for example Dr Maneesh Tripathi of Global Indian International School GIIS listed as PhD from Preston University in “Humanistic Sciences”). But soon after the Sandra Davies article was printed all these guys titles reverted back to “Mr”. Their companies removed “Preston University” from Directors bio datas. After that until today you can check that Preston University gets no mention. It is “Mr Maneesh Tripathi” not Dr: ” Mr. Maneesh Tripathi has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of S I2I Limited effective 1 January 2013. He was first appointed as Chief Executive Officer of S i2i Limited (formerly known as Spice i2i Limited) in March 2010. ” ( )

    If the Straits Times article is wrong, why don’t they sue the paper for defamation ? Why do they retract their “Dr” titles ? Can you please explain why why why?

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