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