Political VCs and free speech problem at universities

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday

Law lecturer Azmi Sharom says education minister’s order for open forums provide only a short-term solution, and calls for vice-chancellors who are independent of the ministry. Pic taken from FMT News.

GEORGE TOWN: Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s order for public universities to freely organise forums and other such events has been generally welcomed but one academic views it as only a short-term solution for free speech on campus.

Associate professor Azmi Sharom of Universiti Malaya believes the crux of the problem lies in the political appointment of vice-chancellors, who are heads of universities.

Maszlee has directed universities to allow open participation in academic programmes such as debates, forums and other forms of intellectual discourse, in line with worldwide practices.

While agreeing with Maszlee’s order, Azmi said “you still do not want the minister telling you what to do” and that universities should have allowed for free debates and forums on their own without having to wait for a minister to tell them.

“As long as the vice-chancellors are politically appointed, as they used to be, this becomes an issue,” he said. What was required was for amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act, a full review of all university rules, and the appointment of vice-chancellors who are independent of the ministry. Read more

Activist denies insulting Agong, says blog hacked

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday

Activist Hishamuddin Rais arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, May 16, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent activist Hishamuddin Rais has denied making seditious posts on his blog regarding Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

Speaking to reporters after giving his statement at the Petaling police station late last night, Hishamuddin said his blog had been hacked.

He spent nearly an hour at the police station, emerging just before midnight. He was accompanied with his lawyer Zaid Malek.

“I denied the allegations. I explained that my blog was hacked. Even five to six days before GE14, my blog was hacked and I couldn’t access it for three days.

“I told the police I am willing to come again and give my explanation on my blog being hacked if needed.”

According to Zaid, Hishamuddin was called to give his statement over a posting on the alleged expenses of the king. Read more

Former Bar president against AG reviewing top judges’ posts

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday

Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin (left) and Chief Justice Raus Sharif (right) were scheduled to retire upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 66 plus six months. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA: A former Malaysian Bar president has opposed a lawyer’s suggestion that Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas review an earlier stand to declare as legal the appointments of two judges to remain in office beyond their retirement age.

Zainur Zakaria said it would be improper for Thomas to take such a stand just because there had been a change in the federal government.

He added that Thomas, the AG, was a member of the Bar.

“If he is to reconsider and withdraw the submission put forward by his officers, it will be seen as bias in favour of the Bar,” he told FMT.

He said Thomas had no choice but to defend the submissions put forward by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“Let the due process take its course. It is best for the judges to decide,” he said, adding that the Bar must have confidence in the judiciary as it had taken the matter to court. Read more

Lawyer: AG can opt to be either govt adviser or public prosecutor

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday

Gurdial Singh Nijar says Tommy Thomas can institute the de facto change by practice pending a constitutional amendment to separate the roles. Pic taken from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas can opt to either function as adviser to Putrajaya or be a public prosecutor pending an amendment to the Federal Constitution to separate the two roles, a constitutional lawyer said.

“He (Thomas) can institute a change by practice,” said Gurdial Singh Nijar.

He said this when asked how Thomas could function without a conflict of interest when the roles of AG and public prosecutor were inseparable under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution.

That provision states that the AG shall have the discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence in a civil court.

Gurdial said Thomas had been mindful of the need for a separation of the roles as early as 1983. Read more