UNIVERSITI MALAYA ACADEMIC STAFF ASSOCIATION (PKAUM)
MALAYSIAN ACADEMICS MOVEMENT (MOVE)
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT REGARDING THE PERSECUTION OF
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR AZMI SHAROM
The University of Malaya Academic Staff Union (PKAUM) and the Malaysian Academics Movement (MOVE) wish to record our objection to the sedition charges being pressed against Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom of the University Malaya (UM). We are extremely disappointed with the use of the Sedition Act 1948 against Azmi. This is a gross violation of his academic freedom as well as freedom of expression. This goes against the true spirit of 'Article 10: Freedom of speech, assembly and association' guaranteed by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
The charges against Azmi allegedly are being brought because of statement he made on the Selangor MB crisis. Being an academic, Azmi should be free to give his professional academic opinion on any issues rightly within his field of expertise. We feel his statements are a legitimate comment with no intention, direct or implied, to incite hatred against anyone.
Besides violating his rights under the Malaysian Constitution, the charges against Azmi are also a serious violation of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel. They violate his rights to academic freedom of expression and academic societal obligations. It is his duty to use his expertise to enlighten the public on current issues related to his field. He or any other academic must have the freedom to do so.
This latest action taken by the government will instil fear in the academic community and will invite questions of intent. This will indicate that free expression is not tolerated in Malaysia and there exist no 'real' academic freedom; mitigating the nation’s intellectual development effort. The efforts to make Malaysia an international hub of higher education will also be compromised. All the efforts made by the government, universities and the academics will be wasted. The reputation of Malaysian universities, especially the University of Malaya, would slide back many years to being third world universities in a third world country.
Therefore, in the interest of academic rights and freedom and the future of Malaysian academics and academia, PKAUM and MOVE sincerely demand:
1. That all charges against Associate Professor Azmi Sharom under the Sedition Act to be dropped.
2. That due to the vast potential of abuse against fundamental freedoms of expression that it carries, the Sedition Act be immediately repealed.
3. That all branches of the government must act to ensure better future governance and continued protection of the fundamental liberties of all Malaysians.
4. That respect for academic rights must be improved, without which Malaysian universities will continue to lag behind internationally.
Aznijar bin Ahmad Yazid, Secretary, Persatuan Kakitangan Akademik Universiti Malaya (PKAUM) [University of Malaya Academic Staff Association]
Rosli H Mahat, Secretary, Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
[Malaysian Academics Movement (MOVE)]
2nd of SEPTEMBER 2014