Students, activists believe Dr M will unshackle universities

Source: Malay Mail

Placards promoting academic freedom line the road heading into Universiti Malaya on December 12, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Students and activists affected by laws curbing academic freedom — a legacy of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous administration — expressed faith today that the prime minister will honour his word and free universities from decades of political interference.

Two student leaders who were punished by their universities for dissidence told a forum on academic freedom here that they expect nothing less than total autonomy for universities, and they were optimistic that the man blamed for the laws that fettered academia will respond accordingly.

“He had said he would honour his word,” Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, one of the leaders that led the Tangkap M01 movement, told a forum organised by Fortify Rights, an advocacy group that documents human rights violations in Malaysian campuses.

“And one of the pledges made by Pakatan Harapan in their manifesto is to amend AUKU,” he added.

AUKU, or the University and Colleges Act, was introduced in 1971 in what critics said was aimed at curbing the rise of student activists critical of the ruling Barisan Nasional government at the time. Read more

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

Maszlee tells varsities to let students organise their own programmes, forums

Source: The Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA, Jun 6 — Public universities have been ordered to no longer suppress intellectual programmes or forums on campus, so as to make Malaysia’s academic field more open.Education Minister Maszlee Malik said with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) victory in the last general election, there should be no stifling of intellectual discourse in the country.

“I urge the vice-chancellors and their deputies, especially those handling student affairs to not cancel or otherwise disrupt any such programmes that are organised by the students themselves or who were invited by them,” he said following the ministry’s buka puasa event at SMK Putrajaya Presint 11(1) here.

Maszlee reminded the universities’ administrators that one of the reasons PH was elected is also for academic freedom. Read more

Petition: Stop Crackdowns on Intellectuals in Malaysia!


To sign the petition, go to:

We, the undersigned individuals, register our gravest concern and strongest objection to a series of crackdowns on intellectuals from September 25 to October 3.

These include the arrest of Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol, the harassment and persecution of Akyol’s host, Dr Farouk Musa of Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) and the banning of 22 books, including discursive writings by Akyol, Farouk Musa, scholar Faisal Tehrani (Dr. Mohd Faizal Musa) and cleric Ustaz Wan Ji Wan Hussin.

“Religious teaching without tauliah [proper accreditation]” (Section 11 of Act 559 in this case) is a Syariah offense normally reserved for errant preachers in mosques and surau.

Actions by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAWI) against Akyol for allegedly committing such an offence prior to an aborted forum in Nottingham University Malaysia, and against Dr. Farouk Musa for allegedly abetting Akyol, set a dangerous precedent with far-reaching implications for academic freedom and, certainly, freedom of speech in Malaysia. Read more

No academic freedom in public varsities without autonomy

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has called for policies to bring about greater autonomy among Malaysia’s public universities over their own administrative affairs, in order to make academic freedom in these institutions possible.

‘’At the moment, our universities are not free to make independent decisions on governance, financial and admission matters,” IDEAS director of research Ali Salman said.

“The hiring of vice-chancellors, drafting of university budgets and determination of student numbers and profiles are subjected to the ministry of higher education’s control.”

“The more dependent a university is on other institutions, the more questionable the integrity of knowledge generated will be. In order to safeguard academic freedom, true autonomy is the way forward for Malaysian universities,’’ he said in statement. Read more

Digantung semester, aktivis siswa saman UKM

Sumber: FMT News

Asheeq Ali yang menyertai perhimpunan #TangkapMO1 berkata, hukuman dijatuhkan universiti bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan. Gambar dipetik dari FMT News.

Asheeq Ali yang menyertai perhimpunan #TangkapMO1 berkata, hukuman dijatuhkan universiti bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan. Gambar dipetik dari FMT News.

SHAH ALAM: Aktivis siswa, Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi memfailkan saman terhadap Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) ekoran tindakan menggantung pengajiannya selepas terlibat dalam perhimpunan #TangkapMO1 pada Ogos lalu.

Mahasiswa jurusan undang-undang tahun ke-3 UKM itu berkata, tindakan tersebut diambil kerana hukuman yang dijatuhkan terhadapnya tidak berasas dan bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan.

“Ia bercanggah dengan Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan panel perbicaraan UKM juga gagal membuktikan terdapat kes yang kukuh untuk mengambil tindakan.

“Saya mengambil tindakan guaman ini kerana proses rayuan dalaman UKM mengambil masa yang lama, sudah lebih sebulan,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan. Read more

Mr Vice-Chancellor, let UKM students develop an open mind — Eric Paulsen

Source: FMT News


Lawyer Eric Paulsen, who  represented the family of the deceased P. Karuna Nithi, says a deputy public prosecutor had written to Coroner Datuk Jagjit Singh to reopen the inquest. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 1, 2015.

Eric Paulsen believes that university students should be exposed to different and often conflicting ideologies, not just those approved by the university and the government. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 1, 2015.

Last Friday, I received a telephone call from University Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) chapter of the Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) that an invitation to me to speak at their national conference on Sunday had been abruptly cancelled by the UKM administration, apparently because I was ‘controversial’.

I had been scheduled to speak on the topic of “The Tough Tussle: Security or Transparency? Security Laws, Grappling with ISIS” together with representatives of Amnesty International-Malaysia and the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee.

I can assure you, Mr Vice-Chancellor that I would have spoken on the history of Malaysia’s security laws, from the Emergency, Internal Security Act 1960 to more recent legislation like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 and the National Security Council Act 2016. I even prepared a paper as advance notice had been given to me, and having accepted the invitation in July.

When my speaking cancellation became news, a nameless UKM bureaucrat was quoted in The Star as saying that “the management of the university felt that the slot would get too political as the event was supposed to be an academic discourse.” Presumably, this nameless UKM bureaucrat had asked not to be named – not very transparent, I must say. Read more

Professor, speak up and make a difference — Kris Hartley

Source: New Mandala

Kris Hartley is lecturer at Cornell University, a Faculty Fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Centre and a Nonresident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Kris Hartley is lecturer at Cornell University, a Faculty Fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Centre and a Nonresident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Scholars should allocate a portion of their time to addressing social injustice, Kris Hartley writes, and academics of all disciplines have a crucial role to play.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s draconian crackdown on university professors and deans has sent a chill through global academia. While Turkey’s oppressive political climate appears uniquely hopeless, free speech is under assault around the world as a wave of authoritarianism crashes ashore. Politically opportunistic ‘strong-men’ such as Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, and potentially Donald Trump are taking advantage of fears about terrorism and globalisation while ridiculing opponents as weak and traitorous.

Sadly, their actions do not end there. Stifling freedom of thought has priority status in the dictator’s playbook and limited press freedom in many countries is an unsettling bellwether. Scholars may be next in line at the figurative guillotine, but does the academic system encourage them to fight back? Read more

Kumpulan hak asasi antarabangsa gesa universiti Malaysia henti halang mahasiswa bersuara

Sumber: The Malaysian Insider

A group of Universiti Malaya students protesting campus authorities' clampdown on free speech in July 2014. Human Rights Watch Asia says local varsities should encourage debate among students. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

A group of Universiti Malaya students protesting campus authorities’ clampdown on free speech in July 2014. Human Rights Watch Asia says local varsities should encourage debate among students. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, February 22, 2016.

Universiti di Malaysia digesa menghentikan penggunaan tindakan disiplin untuk menghalang mahasiswa bersuara dan mengehadkan perdebatan, kata kumpulan hak asasi berpangkalan di New York Human Rights Watch (HRW) susulan kes 6 pelajar didapati bersalah kerana mengadakan sidang media tanpa kebenaran.

Timbalan Pengarah HRW Asia Phil Robertson berkata, universiti sepatutnya menjadi medan untuk perbincangan terbuka dan perdebatan.

“Pelajar tidak wajar didenda kerana bersuara secara aman di bawah penguatkuasaan disiplin universiti,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini. Read more

Azmi Sharom not a criminal – Mohd Nazari Ismail

Source: The Malaysian Insider


As an academician myself, I am greatly worried by the developments of the Azmi Sharom case.

In my area of International Business, many people have asked me whether the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) was actually good for the country or not.

I will then express my opinion on the matter, hoping to enlighten the public on the issue, regardless of whether my opinion is in line with the stance of the government.

What is important is that I will inform the public truthfully and I am very sure the public will not accept anything less than that from me.

In light of the above, I am therefore feeling very sad and apprehensive over the current legal case involving my colleague at University of Malaya, Assoc. Professor Dr. Azmi Sharom. He has been charged under the Sedition Act for simply expressing his honest opinion on what happened during the 2009 Perak Constitutional Crisis. Read more