MAHIDOL UNIVERSITY should take legal action against a former lecturer who has failed to pay back Bt10 million after violating the conditions of her scholarship instead of just seeking compensation from loan guarantors, dentist Padet Phulwittayakij, one of
Padet told Nation TV that the person who cheated has enough personal assets to pay back the loan and is currently enjoying a good life in the US so he wondered why Mahidol had not pursued the case.
Padet said Mahidol’s legal department should have followed up on this case when the former lecturer had visited Thailand in February 2015 to attend her mother’s funeral after which she sold off all family assets in Thailand and went back to the US where she is married to an American.
“Lawyers should work with authorities and file a lawsuit against her for failing to pay back what is now a Bt10-million debt. As a dentist working [in the US], she earns enough to pay back the debt,” he said.
Deputy premier Wissanu Krau-ngam, who oversees the Civil Service Commission, said only family members of those who had got government-sponsored scholarships should be allowed to guarantee loans so that outsiders do not have to take responsibility in the event of cheating.
Prof Dr Banjong Mahai-viriya, deputy rector of Mahidol University, said the former lecturer at the university’s dentistry school had been given a government-sponsored scholarship back in 1993 to study for masters and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. However, she did not return to Thailand after completing her studies as required by the terms of the scholarship.
The former lecturer violated the scholarship loan agreement with Mahidol as per which she was required to pay back the Bt10 million expenses borne by the government plus a 200-per-cent penalty, amounting to a total of Bt30 million. However, the lecturer, who currently works at Harvard University, has not made any attempt to repay the loan and penalty. As a result, the university approached the four guarantors, including Padet, to cover the expenses incurred by the government on her.
Dr Banjong, Mahidol’s deputy rector, said that under the terms of the scholarship, the former lecturer was supposed to return to Thailand and work at the university to be eligible for the scholarship, failing which she had to return the money plus a penalty.
In 2004, the former lecturer told the university that she would not return to pay back the amount, according to Dr Banjong.
“There has been a small number of cheaters of government-sponsored scholarships in the past. However, social media is now prominent and widely used so this controversy has spread quickly as society does not agree with people who are unethical,” he said.
Meanwhile, there has been a Facebook campaign at Harvard University against the former Mahidol lecturer, even though the US university had earlier dismissed the issue as a personal matter. The Facebook post continues to attract critical comments from many Thais and foreigners. Dentist Padet, one of the four guarantors, wrote on his Facebook page about the unfair burden on him.