SINGAPORE: Temasek Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic had conducted pre-employment checks on US citizen Mikhy Farrera-Brochez before hiring him, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling said in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 26).
Brochez, who is wanted for leaking the personal data of 14,200 people from Singapore’s HIV registry, allegedly forged educational certificates to apply for jobs here.
While the two polytechnics had verified copies of his certificates against the originals, there are "practical limits" to verifying the documents with the educational institution that issued it, said Ms Low.
“Some overseas institutions may not provide their confirmation, citing privacy reasons,” she said. “We are also mindful of not going to extremes and risk losing out (on) valuable talent.”
“Therefore, the role of in-service performance appraisal and regular monitoring is very important in our HR practices,” she added.
Ms Low was responding to a question from MP Intan Azura Mokhtar, who asked if the two polytechnics had carried out any due diligence to check the background and academic qualifications of Brochez.
Ms Low explained that the practice of checking his certificates against the originals is in line with standards in the public sector as well as many private sector companies.
Furthermore, Brochez had demonstrated "a good grasp of subjects" during his interviews with the polytechnic’s management staff, including those with expertise in psychology.
“While due diligence may be conducted thoroughly, there is unfortunately no system that is able to exhaustively keep out those who are out to lie and cheat,” said Ms Low.
In her supplementary question, Dr Intan said: "If the original is already falsified, then you are just checking a false document against another false document. So I would think that there must be a more robust process in place."
Ms Low, in response, said that both polytechnics have since implemented more stringent checks, which include verifying educational certificates with their issuing institutions.
"In addition, since 2014, all our five polytechnics conduct reference checks by checking the applicants’ previous employers or referees indicated in application," she added.
"MOE (Ministry of Education) will continue to work closely with our five polytechnics to continue strengthening their recruitment process."
Ms Low also said that Brochez's work at the polytechnics was “concentrated on delivering modules”.
He taught at Temasek Polytechnic for about two years, from February 2009 to January 2011, and was at Ngee Ann Polytechnic as an adjunct lecturer for six months.
At Temasek Polytechnic, he taught four modules in the first year and three modules in the second year, Ms Low said.