18 October 2017

Joint Statement by Civil Society (and individuals) on Book Banning, Thought Control and Academic Meddling

9 October 2017
We, the undersigned civil society organisations and 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.
Are intellectual discourses in universities involving Islam now being regulated by State Islamic Religious Departments? Do universities need to get clearance from the religious departments before inviting any speakers on any topics related to Islam? As Islam is being applied in almost every sector in Malaysian society, are the religious bureaucrats now the de-facto thought police for the nation to decide what thoughts we can and cannot have?
We also view the recent banning of books by Akyol, Farouk Musa, Faisal Tehrani and Ustaz Wan Ji under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) as a further attempt at mind control. Section 7 permits the banning of publications that are or are likely to be “prejudicial to public order, morality, security,” “to alarm public opinion,” or “prejudicial to public interest or national interest”.
We ask, how did Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, find “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty” and its Malay translation “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan” by Mustafa Akyol, the two volumes of “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” edited by Dr. Farouk Musa, “Aku_maka aku ada” (I _ therefore I am) by Faisal Tehrani and “Ulamak yang bukan pewaris Nabi” (Those clergy who are not the Prophet’s successors) by Ustaz Wanji, to be harmful to public order, morality, security, public opinion, public interest or national interest? Are ideas like moderation, reform and liberty now enemies of the state?
The crackdowns on intellectuals during these two weeks is not an isolated development but a serious and dangerous escalation in a long and on-going process of thought policing to close the minds of Malaysians, especially Muslims. If we do not speak up for Akyol, Farouk, Faisal, Wan Ji and others whom the state want silenced, soon there will be no one left to speak up for us when we are silenced.
We call upon all Malaysians to firmly demand the Federal Government and all other relevant state parties:
(a) To end all harassments, investigations and charges on Dr. Farouk Musa, IRF and their past and future intellectual guests;
(b) To lift the ban of the abovementioned books as well as other books that promote intellectual discourses and moderation;
(c) To abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act and to replace it with a human-rights-compliant publication law;
(d) To uphold Freedom of Expression, as enshrined in Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution and to end all thought policing on academics and academia;
Endorsed by :
1. Aliran
2. Amateur
3. Angkatan Skuad Mubaligh
4. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
5. Article 19
6. Baramkini
8. Buku Jalanan Kajang
9. Buku Jalanan Seremban
10. Buku Jalanan UIA
11. Buku Jalanan Rembau
12. Buku Jalanan Shah Alam
13. Centre for Independent Journalism
14. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
16. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
17. G25
18. Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm)
19. Himpunan Hijau
20. Institute for Leadership and Development Studies (LEAD)
21. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
22. Jawantankuasa bertindak kuala lumpur tak nak insinerator (KTI)
23. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
24. Kairos Dialogue Network
25. Kedai Buku Mak Ali
26. Kelab Bangsar Utama (KBU)
27. Kelas Pencerahan
28. Kolektif Ketepi
29. KuBu (Kuliah Buku) UIA
30. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
31. Lingkaran Islam Traditional (LIT)
32. LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
33. Malaysia Design Archive
34. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
35. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
36. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
37. Malaysia Youth & Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
38. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
39. Merdeka University Bhd
40. Monash University Malaysia Staff Association (MUMASA)
41. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
42. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
43. Oriental Heart's and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
44. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
45. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor & KL
46. Persatuan Kakitangan Akademik Universiti Malaya (PKAUM)
47. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (PROHAM)
48. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
49. Projek Dialog
50. Pusat KOMAS
51. Research For Social Advancement (REFSA)
52. Sabah Women's Action Resource Group (SAWO)
53. Sahabat Rakyat
54. Save Rivers
55. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
56. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
57. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
58. Tenaganita
59. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
60. Teori Timur
61. Tindak Malaysia
62. Universiti Terbuka Anak Muda
63. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
(Please note that the following institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement by the institutions)
1. Prof. Emeritus Datuk Dr. Abdul Rahman Embong, National University of Malaysia
2. Prof. Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, University of Malaya
3. Prof. Edmund Terence Gomez, University of Malaya
4. Distinguished Prof. Chong Kok Boon, Chongqing Education Commision
5. Prof. Ismail Mohd.
6. Prof. Khoo Boo Teik, The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo
7. Prof. Living Lee Chai Peng, University of Malaya
8. Prof. Sharmani Patricia Gabriel, University of Malaya
9. Prof. Syed Farid Alatas, National University of Singapore
10. Prof. Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda, Gerak Exco
11. Prof. Zaharom Nain, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
12. Assoc. Prof. Azmi Sharom, University of Malaya
13. Assoc. Prof Faisal S. Hazis, National University of Malaysia
14. Assoc. Prof. Dr Helen Ting, National University of Malaysia
15. Assoc. Prof. Isham Pawan Ahmad, International Islamic University
16. Assoc. Prof. Khoo Gaik Cheng, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
17. Assoc. Prof. Lee Hwok Aun, ISEAS
18. Assoc. Prof. Rosli Mahat, Formerly University of Malaya
19. Assoc. Prof. Sumit Mandal, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
20. Assoc. Prof. Uma Devi Palanisamy, Monash University Malaysia
21. Asst. Prof. Leong Kar Yen, Tamkang University, Taiwan
22. Asst. Prof. Fadzilah Din, International Islamic University Malaysia
23. Dr. Andrew Aeria, Aliran
24. Dr. Ang Sze Wei, University of Hong Kong
25. Dr. Ariffin S M Omar, Senator
26. Dr. Azmil Tayeb, Aliran
27. Dr. Cecilia Ng, formerly Universiti Putra Malaysia
28. Dr. Chan Chee Khoon, Formerly University of Science Malaysia
29. Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Yayasan 1Malaysia
30. Dr. Charis Quay Huei Li, Université Paris-Sud.
31. Dr. Christopher Chong Eu Choong, Aliran
32. Dr. Fiona Lee, University of Sydney
33. Dr. Francis Loh Kok Wah, Aliran
34. Dr. Irma Ismail
35. Dr. Johan Ariffin Samad
36. Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu, Adjunct Fellow, NTU
37. Dr. Julian Hopkins, Monash University Malaysia
38. Dr. Khairil Izamin Ahmad, International Islamic University Malaysia
39. Dr. KJ John, OHMSI
40. Dr. Lai Suat Yan, Gerak
41. Dr. Lim Chee Han, Penang Institute
42. Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Formerly University of Malaya
43. Dr. Lyana Khairuddin, University of Oxford
44. Dr. Mary Cardosa, Consultant, Hospital Selayang
45. Dr. Maszlee Malik, International Islamic University Malaysia
46. Dr. Maznah Mohamad, National University of Singapore
47. Dr. Mahyuddin Ahmad, University of Science Malaysia
48. Dr. Muhammad Adli Musa, International Islamic University
49. Dr. Muhammad Irwan Ariffin, International Islamic University
50. Dr. Mustafa K Anuar, Penang Institute
51. Dr. Ngo Sheau Shi, University of Science Malaysia
52. Dr. Ngu Ik Tien, University of Malaya
53. Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Penang Institute
54. Dr. Ong Kok Chung
55. Dr. Patricia Martinez, formerly University of Malaya
56. Dr. Phoon Wing Keong, Vice President, Malaysian Chinese Research Centre
57. Dr. Por Heong Hong, University of Malaya
58. Dr. Prema Devaraj, President of Aliran
59. Dr. Ramy Bulan, University of Malaya
60. Dr. Show Ying Xin, Amateur
61. Dr. Simon Soon
62. Dr. Sivin Kit, Director of Centre for Religion and Society
63. Dr. Tan Beng Hui, Independent researcher
64. Dr. Toh Kin Woon, Penang Institute
65. Dr. Wong Chin Huat, Penang Institute
66. Dr. Wu Yu Ping, National University of Singapore
67. Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan, Monash University Malaysia
68. Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, Former KSU of Ministry of Finance.
69. Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Former Sec-Gen of the Malaysian Ministry of Transport
70. Dato' Seri Mohd Hishamuddin Yunus, Former Court of Appeal Judge
71. Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir
72. Dato' Ambiga Sreenevasan, President of HAKAM
73. Dato’ Azzat Kamaludin, Advocate and Solicitor
74. Dato’ Dennis Ignatius, Former High Commissioner to Canada
75. Dato’ KJ Abraham, OHMSI Advisor
76. Dato’ Mohd Ariff Yusof, Former Appeals Court Judge
77. Dato' Noor Farida Ariffin, G25 and former ambassador to the Netherlands
78. Dato' Redzuan Kushairi, Former Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Member of the Royal Council State of Perak
79. Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, Youth Academy
80. Dato’ Syed Ahmad Aidid, Former high court judge and member of G25
81. Ahmad Fuad Rahmat, Projek Dialog
82. Altaf Deviyati, Lingkaran Islam Tradisional (LIT)
83. Altaf Ismail, IMAN
84. Alwyn Goh, Senior Staff Researcher
85. Amin Ahmad, LEAD
86. Andrew Khoo
87. Anil Netto, Aliran
88. Azmyl Yunor, Sunway University
89. Azrul Mohd Kalib, BEBAS
90. Beverly Joeman, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia
91. Carole Chung, Concerned Citizen
92. Chan Yit Fei, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
93. Chang Teck Peng, Former lecturer at New Era College
94. Chong Ton Sin, SIRD
95. Chua Kim Boon, President of Selangor State Dongzong
96. Dina Zaman, Writer
97. Ehsan Shahwahid, Islamic Renaissance Front
98. Eugene Yapp, Executive Director, Kairos Dialogue Network
99. Faridah Stephens
100. George John, Independent Investor
101. Gopal Sundaram, Former Assistant Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia
102. Henry Loh, Aliran
103. Ho Yock Lin, Immediate Past President of All Women's Action Society (AWAM)
104. Ismail Hashim, Universiti Selangor
105. Ivy Josiah, Former SUHAKAM Commissioner
106. Jahabar Sadiq, Editor
107. Jannie Lasimbang, Former SUHAKAM Commissioner
108. Jasmine Ng, OHMSI Advisor
109. Josh Hong, Writer
110. Kassim Muhamad, PAKSI
111. Kee Thuan Chye, Writer
112. Liau Kok Fah, Chairperson of Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH
113. Lim Hong Siang, Writer
114. Maria Chin Abdullah, Chairperson of Bersih 2.0
115. Masjaliza Hamzah, Human rights advocate
116. Muhammad Afiq Bin Mohamad Noor, Lingkaran Islam Tradisional
117. Nathaniel Tan, Writer
118. Ng Yap Hwa, Executive Director of Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
119. Nidhal Mujahid, Penang Institute
120. Ong Kok Hin, Penang Institute
121. Ong Lai Mun, ENGAGE
122. Rama Ramanathan, ENGAGE
123. Ramli Abdul Samad
124. Ratna Osman, Sisters in Islam
125. Rozana Isa, Sisters in Islam
126. Seah Hong Yee, ENGAGE
127. Sivarajan Arumugam
128. Susan Loone, Journalist
129. Tang Ah Chai, Chief Secretary of KLSCAH
130. Tan Kong Beng, OHMSI Advisor
131. Tan Yew Sing, Former President of KLSCAH
132. Tarmizi Anuwar, Kelas Pencerahan
133. Terence Fernandez, Media Specialist
134. Thomas Fann, Chairman of ENGAGE
135. V. Gayathry, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
136. Vince Tan Hoo She, Youth Progressives of Malaysia
137. Wang Lay Kim, University of Science Malaysia
138. Xifu Abdul Naser Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, Angkatan Skuad Mubaligh
139. Yalini Easvaralingam, Independent researcher
140. Yee I-Iann, Artist
141. Yeong Pey Jung, Penang Institute
142. Yong Yew Wei, Vice President of KLSCAH
143. Zairil Khir Johari, Penang Institute
144. Zakiah Koya, Journalist
145. Zamri Vinod, Presiden Angkatan Skuad Mubaligh Msia
146. Zurairi AR, Journalist
Chronology of Intellectual Crackdown Since September 25
September 25
● A forum organized by Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) at Nottingham University Malaysia titled “The Islamic Jesus” featuring Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol was cancelled under the pressure of Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI)
● The arrest of Mustafa Akyol in KLIA before his departure and subsequent detention for 17 hours for “religious teaching without tauliah (proper accreditation)” under Section 11 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.
September 28
● The gazette banning of the 21 Books in one day (decision by Home Minister on September 6) which include Mustafa Akyol’s books, “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty” and its Malay translation “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan”
● “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” (Jilid I & Jilid II) edited by Dr Farouk Musa, Executive Director of IRF
● “Aku __ maka Aku ada” by Faisal Tehrani (Dr Mohd Faizal Musa), researcher at UKM
● “Ulama yang bukan Pewaris Nabi” by Ustaz Wan Ji Wan Hussin, clergy-politician
October 2
● IRF Chairman Dr Farouk Musa is charged for abetting Mustafa Akyol to give “religious teaching without tauliah (proper accreditation)” under Section 43 Act 559 of Shariah Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.
October 3
• Sapuman: Man of Steal by political cartoonist Zunar is banned

GERAK press statement on Mustafa Akyol

GERAK is appalled and condemns in no uncertain terms the deplorable manner in which renowned author, journalist and scholar, Musafa Akyol, was treated by the Malaysian religious and other authorities less than a week ago. 

GERAK’s concern is in three areas. First, the despicable, high-handed manner in which a respected visiting scholar was treated. Second, the seemingly growing nature of outside interference into academic exchanges and intimidation against academics. And, third, increasing intolerance, arguably based on the ignorance and arrogance (bodoh sombong) of those attacking academia and academics.

Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish scholar and journalist, and Senior Visiting Fellow at the prominent Wellesley College, was in Malaysia at the invitation of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF). This was the fifth time he’d come to Malaysia to speak, all at the invitation of the IRF. 

He had a punishing schedule of three public engagements over two days. On Sunday, 24 September, he started off in the afternoon by heading a roundtable discussion titled “Does Freedom of Conscience Open the Floodgates to Apostasy?” 

Later in the same day, he gave a public lecture titled "Is Democracy Still Relevant? The Experience of Turkey, Malaysia, and Other Nations."

The questioning by the religious authorities began after his first engagement and culminated with his detention at KLIA on Monday, the flurry of activities that followed, and his release, after being moved, like a common criminal, from one holding centre to another. 

And we can only imagine the agony he went through, not having access during this time to lawyers, his Malaysian hosts and his family.

Only 24 hours after his detention was he able to catch his flight back to the USA.

What happened to Mustafa Akyol must not be repeated. He was arrested not because of any criminal act but based on wild allegations. 

And the manner in which he was detained - not allowing him access for quite some time to his contacts here and to legal representation - smacks of the ways of a police state.

It is ironic and reprehensible that, at the same time, we welcome with open arms wanted fugitives and alleged terrorists, like Zakir Naik, and dance intimately with them.

Akyol was arrested because some petty religious bureaucrats didn’t agree with what he presented. Evidently they were uncomfortable with what he had to say about democracy, faith and justice. Or, perhaps more accurately, they were uncomfortable about what they perceived he had said about those issues.

Differences of opinion are the bread and butter of scholarship and academia. In the social sciences, especially, it is differences of opinion that result in the expansion of knowledge. Debates and discussions must be upheld for us to grow and mature as societies. 

GERAK condemns and opposes this latest attempt at the policing of knowledge and opinions, and the intimidation by faceless bureaucrats. 

It is bad enough that academia in Malaysia is predominantly directed by individuals and institutions that often have no clue what quality education is all about. 

It is worse when these same self-serving groups chastise and punish academics (and students) for providing alternative viewpoints. 

With this latest dark episode, a new element appears to have crept into the picture. According to news reports – and even the statements provided by the authorities – speakers (including academics evidently) now need to apply for accreditation (sijil tauliah) from the authorities before they can speak on religion (Islam). 

This is unprecedented and unreasonable, casting the net of authoritarian control over intellectual discourse way too far.

Indeed, it now appears that we have religious bureaucrats directly wanting a piece of the action, demanding that they certify and sanction the work of academics before anything else. 

GERAK opposes this dangerous and certainly undemocratic development, as we believe others concerned about academic freedom must as well. 

Just as we oppose the policing and regulation of knowledge by the ignorant, the unwise, and the unjust.


17 October 2017

Joint Message on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2017

Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers
5 October 2017

Teachers are a critical foundation of every society’s long-term strength – providing children, young people and adults with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their potential.
But around the world, far too many teachers don’t have the freedom and support they need to do their vitally important jobs. That is why the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day –“Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” – reaffirms the value of empowered teachers and recognizes the challenges many encounter in their professional lives across the globe.
Being an empowered teacher means having access to high-quality training, fair wages, and continuous opportunities for professional development. It also means having the freedom to support the development of national curricula -- and the professional autonomy to choose the most appropriate methods and approaches that enable more effective, inclusive and equitable education. Furthermore, it means being able to teach in safety and security during times of political change, instability, and conflict.
But in many countries, academic freedom and teacher autonomy are under pressure. For example, at the primary and secondary school levels in some countries, stringent accountability schemes have put enormous pressure on schools to deliver results on standardized tests, ignoring the need to ensure a broad-based curriculum that meets the diverse needs of students.
Academic freedom is critical for teachers at every level of education, but it is especially critical for higher-education teachers, supporting their ability to innovate, explore, and stay up-to-date on the latest pedagogical research. At the tertiary level, teachers are often employed on a fixed-term, contingency basis. This in turn can result in greater job insecurity, diminished career prospects, higher workload and lower wages – all of which can restrict academic freedom and undermine the quality of education that teachers can deliver.
Across all education levels, political pressure and business interests can curb the ability of educators to teach in freedom. Teachers living and working in countries and communities affected by conflicts and instability often face greater challenges, including rising intolerance, discrimination, and related restrictions on research and teaching.
This year marks the 20 year anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, which complements the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. Together, these instruments constitute the main reference framework on the rights and responsibilities of teachers and educators. Both stress the importance of teacher autonomy and academic freedom in building a world in which education and learning are truly universal.
As the world works together to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, we appeal to our partners in governments and across the education and private sectors to commit to building a highly skilled, valued and empowered education workforce. This constitutes a critical path to realizing SDG 4, which envisions a world in which every girl, boy, woman and man has access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.
This means securing decent working conditions and fair wages for all teachers including at the tertiary level. It means providing teachers with training and development. It means increasing the number of quality teachers, especially in those countries with high numbers of untrained teaching personnel. It means removing unnecessary restrictions on research and teaching and defending academic freedom at all education levels. Finally, it means raising the status of teachers around the world in a way that honors and reflects the impact they have on the strength of society.
This World Teachers’ Day, join us in empowering teachers to teach in freedom so that, in turn, every child and every adult is free to learn – to the benefit of a better world.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO
Anthony Lake, Executive-Director of UNICEF
Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP
Fred van Leeuwen, General-Secretary of Education International

05 October 2017

The Sun: Irrelevant courses? Think again

....... scientific and technological knowledge had done a great service to humanity but the same knowledge had also brought about a great deal of misery and destruction to mankind. Here one of Mahatma Gandhi's seven deadly sins, science without humanity is more relevant than ever. Not only that science without humanity will quickly degenerate into a mechanistic conception of life but the knowledge that is too constricted will also prevent the fruition of a wholesome life.

Life is only complete when one is exposed to knowledge in the broadest sense of the word. Poetry, literature, and music are often regarded as "useless knowledge" but the truth of the matter is that knowledge in these fields is what makes life worth living.


13 September 2017

Press Statement on Citation Stacking by GERAK

10 September 2017

The Malaysian Academics Movement (GERAK) is appalled to read of the reported enforced practice of citation stacking in Malaysia’s premier university, the University of Malaya (UM). According to news reports, academics in UM are being forced to cite their colleagues in their research papers in order to gain points for university ranking. This is being done by making such citations a requirement for their annual KPI.

This is a serious infringement of their academic freedom to do research and to publish their work. GERAK stresses that the university cannot and must not dictate who should be cited. Academics should be free to cite anyone whose work is relevant to their research, wherever they may be.

What is more shocking is that the university is now trying to justify the forced citation by saying it is a common practice among academics in other universities. No, it is not. At least not by academics who are ethical professionals. 
The simple rule of thumb is that authors/researchers should cite sources they consider pertinent to their work. It would be nice if the citation is of the work of their colleague. But it must NEVER be a requirement stipulated by their department, faculty or university. Failure to cite a colleague must never be cause for the imposition of penalties by any university.
In the case of UM, the embarrassment caused by this incident has spread beyond Malaysia, with scientific data base, Retraction Watch, reporting and commenting on this incident (

Whatever the UM authorities imagined they could profit from citation stacking evidently has been lost. Instead, this latest flub by the UM authorities will most likely lead to further embarrassment for UM internationally. And a further blow to its reputation. 

GERAK urges UM (and all other Malaysian universities) to immediately remove forced citation requirements in the annual KPI of academics. There are many other, more honourable, ways to assess academic performance. 

UM must also provide logical explanations to the wider academic community – and Malaysians in general - for this fiasco and not simply make up pathetic excuses. Or else heads must roll.

GERAK maintains that to ensure the highest standards of integrity are upheld, other Malaysian universities must also not issue such directives.

On behalf of GERAK,

Rosli Mahat
General Secretary
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)

Tel: +60166205242

24 August 2017

FMT: Look beyond yourselves, university prof tells academics

“The problem is that these people are thinking of it as a job instead of thinking of it as their calling,” he said. 
“You’re an academic. You hold the country in your hands and you can change the direction of the country, but you don’t realise that. 
“All you care about is your own financial state, but everyone is concerned about that including the ‘pisang goreng’ seller. 
“What makes you different from the ‘pisang goreng’ seller? You’re in a position to change the country, he’s not.”

04 August 2017

Why academics are losing relevance in society – and how to stop it

"Unfortunately, many excellent scientists are poor communicators who lack the skills or inclination to play the role of educator to the public. Further, we are not trained nor are we given proper incentives to do it. And for that reason, surveys find that many academics do not see it as their role to be “an enabler of direct public participation in decision-making through formats such as deliberative meetings, and do not believe there are personal benefits for investing in these activities.” As a result, we focus inward to our own research communities and remain disconnected from important public and political debate going on around us." ........... The Conversation


03 August 2017

MOVE supports EI call for the release of Muitaba'a Al Sweikat from Saudi detention

Education International Young SDG Advocates Workshop, Brussels, Belgium July 17-19, 2017
MOVE representative: Robert Jeyakumar, assistant secretary (front, third from left)


06 July 2017

Media Statement

The Malaysian Academic Movement (Pergerakaan Akademik Malaysia, GERAK) is alarmed by the reported mishandling of the recent sexual assault cases involving two international exchange students in University Malaya. In representing an institution of higher learning, the University Malaya management is responsible for not only ensuring that academic standards be met but also for providing a conducive and safe environment for learning. It is, thus, of paramount importance for an academic institution to handle such cases professionally and ethically.
Undoubtedly, it is important that due process be followed. Nonetheless, this need not be at the expense of denying the rights of a complainant to lodge a police report. A sexual attack is traumatic for any victim as it violates their bodily integrity. The victim is made even more vulnerable by the institution when it fails to protect him/her or provide proper redress.
GERAK urges the University of Malaya management to fulfill its pledge to take such cases seriously, investigate the cases thoroughly, and, if the perpetrators are found guilty, mete out sentences that reflect the severity of the offenses. Sexual assault cases cannot be willed away by sweeping it them under the carpet. This will only send the wrong message that the university only cares for its name and reputation but not the well-being of its very own staff and students. This will also send a wrong signal to perpetrators or potential attackers who will be emboldened to carry on such offenses. It is only when proper and effective measures are taken to prevent and remedy such cases that potential attackers will be deterred and the campus community be reassured that their safety is of utmost concern to the University Malaya management.
GERAK also calls for an investigation into the mishandling of the sexual assault cases to send a message that University Malaya does not condone such unethical and unprofessional action in the name of the University. The alleged sexual assault victims deserve no less than that and it is proper that if the said officers are found to have erred in their actions, the university would be responsible enough to offer an apology to the alleged sexual assault victims who were twice victimized - first, by the perpetrator and, second, by the very institution that is supposed to protect him/her. The university management should expect no less from the members of its community that they be responsible members of society.

18 May 2017

Reclaiming university autonomy

The SUN Daily, 17 May 2017

"Universities must strive to be above politics and business interests and serve their societies and communities by providing a voice and space in which to cultivate rational, mutual and moderate dialogues that will shape intellectual, cultural and economic development on a shared basis."


17 May 2017

National Higher Education Conference 2017, Sime Darby Convention Centre, 23 May 2017


The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) embarked on a pioneering project on researching autonomy in higher education in Malaysia. Professor Tan Sri Dr. Dzulkifli Abdul Razak was appointed as IDEAS’ Chair in Higher Education to lead this project. The purpose of this project is to study how higher education institutions in Malaysia can be improved by giving them more autonomy, yet ensuring they are accountable at the same time. This study builds upon the National Higher Education Blueprint as well as the Wan Zahid Report of 2005, which was tabled in Parliament the same year.
In the past year, IDEAS has conducted four roundtables on this topic, where we gathered stakeholders from the government, public and private universities, other think tanks, as well as representatives from university student associations. This national level conference brings together the final recommendations of this project, to be discussed and presented to a wider audience. The inputs from various stakeholders are compiled in a report that will be presented to the Minister of Higher Education at the end of this half-day conference.

26 April 2017

March for Science 22 April 2017

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

The Malaysian Academics Movement (MOVE) joins in  celebrating the ‘March for Science’.  We regret not being able to join our comrades in the World Wide March for Science on 22 April 2017.

However, we do fully support the mission, principles and goals of the March for Science. There must be a greater appreciation of the role that science plays in our lives. Research producing insight into our world should be encouraged. Policies which restrict research must be dropped. We do not want a future where the need for scientific evidence is not required and is ignored. Evidence of these unfortunate tendencies can be seen in the current era of post-truth, alternative truth and safe space.

Good luck brothers and sisters in the march today. Be safe.

Rosli H Mahat

14 April 2017

10th International Further & Higher Education & Research Conference

14-16 November, 2016, Fiesta Royale Hotel, Accra, Ghana 

FHERC: Challenges still to be faced in tertiary education and research

Academic freedom, international solidarity, gender, casualisation and privatisation came under the spotlight at Education International’s 10th International Further and Higher Education and Research Conference, attended by leaders of tertiary education and research.

Easy access to high quality education and protection of the weak and vulnerable must be guaranteed. That’s according to Christian Addai-Poku, President of Ghana’s National Association of Graduate Teachers, who addressed the opening ceremony of the Education International (EI) 10th International Further and Higher Education and Research Conference (IFHERC). The conference was held in Ghana, Accra, from 14-16 November.
In addition, quality assurance and the empowerment of women is especially important in terms of higher education academic freedom, he said. Furthermore, the increasing privatisation across the world must be stopped, he said.
EI: Importance of mobilisation and promotion
The EI Chief Regional Coordinator for Africa, Assibi Napoe, underlined how improvement of working conditions for higher education personnel is essential for quality education. She added that it is regrettable that the 1997 International Labour Organisation/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnelis not widely known, and she called for the document to be widely promoted. She also invited higher education unions to become active members of the African Higher Education network.
Referring to the recent elections in the USA, EI Deputy General Secretary David Edwards highlighted how quickly politics in a country can change. It is crucial “that we stand united and find real ideas and responses”, he said, reiterating EI’s important role in mobilising for these responses.
In relation to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, he said that EI managed to fight the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) initiative. Edwards also welcomed the fact that EI’s pressure on international institutions led to the inclusion of  tertiary education in the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Education Minister: Union role in SDGs
The conference was also addressed by Ghana’s Education Minister, Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. “Education is key to development and has a transformative power,” she said, adding that the conference provided “such a rich context for sharing ideas, with so many countries represented”. The SDGs must be taken seriously, she said, with strategies needed to achieve the goals and make them relevant at national level. Highlighting the important role unions play in shaping the implementation of SDGs, she acknowledged the existence of pressing concerns, such as ethics, professionalism, standards and collective responsibility.
She insisted on the need to look at education systems horizontally and vertically, as “we are all in the same boat, and need to support each other, from early childhood education to higher education”. Privatisation, she said, is “an increasing phenomenon that needs to be halted”. 
Privatisation and casualisation: solidarity needed
Privatisation was the focus of a plenary session, where participants addressed the importance of having a solidarity platform to fight privatisation and identify its main actors. Talking about effects of education casualisation, Professor Nelly P. Stromquist, University of Maryland, USA, said that “it is worrisome to observe the persistent development of non-tenure, part-time academic positions,” and that “there is a clear gender dimension to precarious working conditions”. In the US, she explained, whilst there are three key sources for support in making data available - the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, the Delphi Project, and the New Faculty Majority-  the dissemination of information has not resulted in change.
Stromquist also stressed that it appears to be difficult to unionise contingent faculty members given their part-time presence at universities and weak institutional affiliation. Unions need to work closer together for collective action, she said, adding that, in some institutions, an individualistic ethos that accepts competition as an indispensable institutional element prevails. Solidarity from tenure staff is needed, she concluded.
Gender: overcoming barriers in unions, societies and higher education
Participants recognised that academic structures, gender stereotypes, a segregated choice of education, and weak welfare states are major challenges to gender equality in academic careers. They agreed on recommendations for EI, such as the need for all policies to be analysed through a gender lens (within the union, the government, higher education institutions), a special session on higher education and research to be held at the 2017 EI women’s conference; and changes needed to the workings of academic careers,  for them to be gender-sensitive to benefit both women and men.
TVET: Not a “mere transmission of work skills”
The conference also saw the launch of an important report when Professor Leesa Wheelahan, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, launched Global Trends in technical and vocational education and training (TVET): A Framework for Social Justice. Her analysis explored the blame apportioned to TVET teachers for everything from the lack of available jobs to the state of the labour market.
The health of higher education institutions must be considered so that they can build on the productive capabilities of students rather than reducing them to market commodities. “Reducing students to the thinnest possible connection with education and to a mere transmission of work skills is not working for the student or the institution,” she said.
Conference context
This conference brought together the further and higher education and research sectors, and built on the prior experiences and outcomes of previous EI International Higher Education and Research Conferences, as well as the successful first Further and Higher Education Caucus at the 7th World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.

10 March 2017

Scholars at Risk Network 2018 Global Congress

Scholars at Risk
Defending the human rights of scholars and
protecting academic freedom worldwide

Save the Date!

Scholars at Risk Network 2018 Global Congress
23 - 26 April, Berlin, Germany

We are thrilled to announce that the Scholars at Risk Network 2018 Global Congress will be held in Berlin, Germany, 23-26 April, 2018, in partnership with the Alexander von Humboldt FoundationFreie Universität Berlin, and Scholars at Risk Germany Section.
The SAR Global Congress provides an opportunity for members and partners to gather, share experiences hosting at-risk scholars, learn about new activities for faculty, staff, and students, and discuss current issues and strategies for promoting academic freedom and related higher education values. The 2016 SAR Global Congress in Montreal drew more than 180 people from 87 universities in 37 countries for four days of workshops, keynotes, plenaries, section meetings, and parallel sessions.
We are delighted to host the 2018 SAR Global Congress in Berlin in conjunction with the Humboldt Foundation's annual workshop on the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. At a time of ongoing refugee crises, armed conflicts, and growing attacks on scholars, students, and universities around the world, the German higher education sector has made great efforts to welcome refugee scholars and students to German campuses. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has helped support many through the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, providing a model for other states. Together with longtime SAR member Freie Universität Berlin, in 2016 the Humboldt Foundation helped to launch the Scholars at Risk Germany Section, now including more than 30 German institutions. These actions, like those of so many SAR network members around the world, send a strong message about the critical role the higher education community can play in guarding against threats to the values of the global knowledge community.
Now more than ever, we must come together to share and defend those values. Please save the date and plan to join us in Berlin!