26 November 2018
GERAK PRESS STATEMENT ON THE CANCELLATION OF A FORUM FEATURING HISHAMUDDIN RAIS AT UKM AND THE RETRACTION OF AN INVITATION TO PROFESSOR SYED FARID ALATAS TO DELIVER A KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT USIM
GERAK condemns in no uncertain terms the decision by the authorities at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to cancel a student forum featuring political activist, Hishamuddin Rais.
Prior to GE14, Hishamuddin had been barred from entering public universities principally because of his activism and his pro-Pakatan Harapan (PH) stand.
This was supposed to have changed after the PH win in GE14, particularly since the new Education Minister, Dr. Maszlee Malik, had announced a slew of reforms.
Such reforms include the declaration and directive that Malaysian public universities are now free to hold academic programs such as political debates and forums.
In light of Dr. Maszlee’s widely-reported declaration, the UKM decision makes no sense and reeks of an attempt to retain the bad habits of the previous regime and to snub Dr. Maszlee.
Hishamuddin’s case evidently is not an isolated one.
Indeed, GERAK is shocked and appalled to hear of an earlier retraction of an invitation to renown National University of Singapore sociology professor, Dr. Syed Farid Alatas.
Prof. Syed Farid was supposed to have delivered a keynote address at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in September, but was then rebuffed, purportedly due to his (wrongly perceived) religious belief and his critical writings.
GERAK believes these incidences – which also go against the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech – are very much due to there being no change in university leadership and the mindset of those heading these establishments.
The old guard evidently still dominates public universities and poses a serious challenge to higher education reform.
GERAK applauds Dr. Maszlee Malik’s action in rebuking UKM’s Vice Chancellor for the Hishamuddin fiasco but we find this response weak and insufficient.
GERAK demands an overhaul of the leadership of public universities. All public university top leadership from the chairmen, board members, vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors must be replaced immediately with reformist academics.
We strongly believe that the higher education reform that Dr. Maszlee envisions will not see the light of the day as long as the old guard remains.
We are supposed to be entering the era of a much-touted ‘New Malaysia’. Hence, blatant forms of discrimination, outright violation of academic freedom, and sheer ignorance coupled with arrogance (bodoh sombong) - rampant in our public universities under the previous regime – must be crushed.
To be replaced with a university environment that celebrates freedom, creativity and different points of view.
Prof. Zaharom Nain,
Associate Prof. Dr. Faisal S. Hazis, and
25 July 2018
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK) successfully organised a Town Hall discussion with Education Minister, Dr. Maszlee Malik, in Universiti Malaya on Monday, 23 July, 2-4pm.
The by-invitation meeting was primarily held to discuss higher education reforms. These reforms, largely advanced by GERAK in its widely-reported 10-point proposal, candidly address the rot that has set in higher education in Malaysia under the previous regime.
The meeting, held at UM’s Faculty of Law, was attended by about fifty GERAK affiliates, including internationally renowned Malaysian scholars, Dr Diana Wong, Dr Francis Loh, Prof Rajah Rasiah, Prof Syed Farid Alatas and Prof Edmund Terence Gomez. Scholars from Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia (PSSM), UM, USM, UNIMAS, UKM, IIUM, MMU, UPNM, UTAR, Nottingham University Malaysia and Monash University Malaysia were also in attendance.
Vocal student representatives from GEMPAK, Malaysia Muda and GRIP added to the richness of the meeting.
Yesterday's meeting came up with possible strategies to chart the way forward. The Minister, who had seen and supported all ten of GERAK's proposals which were handed to him personally in June, clearly is looking at ways to bring academic excellence and meritocracy back to Malaysia's universities. He reassured GERAK that he will work gradually towards realising GERAK’s 10 proposals.
In this regard, the minister is committed to having regular engagements with GERAK and like-minded academics in advancing higher education reform.
The minister also reiterated that the Majlis Profesor Negara (MPN) no longer has the support of the government.