06 February 2021
2 February 2021
17 January 2021
STATEMENT ON THE NEED TO UPHOLD ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The Academic Staff Association (ASA) of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) would like to reiterate its stance on academic freedom which entails the right for academic members to voice their views and opinions. The 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel defines academic freedom as “the right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies.” The Ministry of Higher Education and Institutions of Higher Education should not be seen to curb this fundamental freedom.
Nonetheless, ASA IIUM would like to remind academic members to exercise this right responsibly and that their views and opinions can also be challenged.
ASA IIUM would like to note its concerns on the ‘policing’ of social media posting which can be ‘subjectively’ construed as not in favour of any parties and subsequently subjected to rigorous questioning and accusations of ‘insubordination’.
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
Do not follow blindly what you do not know to be true: ears, eyes, and heart, you will be questioned about all these [al-Isrā’/17: 36]
عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ رضي الله عنه قَالَ: قَالَ لِي رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: قُلِ اَلْحَقَّ, وَلَوْ كَانَ مُرًّا
Narrated Abū Dharr, Allah’s Messenger said to me: “Say the truth even though it is bitter (i.e. difficult to admit).” [Ibn Ḥibbān]
Academic Staff Association
International Islamic University Malaysia
[07:50, 15/01/2021] Noraishah Um: JOINT STATEMENT BY PKAUM, KMUM, DEMOKRAT UM, GERAKAN PEMBEBASAN AKADEMIK (GPA), HARMONI MALAYSIA, ANGKATAN MAHASISWA UM AND UMANY IN RESPONSE TO THE 222 PhD HOLDERS STATING THEIR SUPPORT OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MALAYSIA
PKAUM, KMUM, Demokrat, GPA, HARMONI Malaysia, Angkatan Mahasiswa and UMANY are distressed by the statement in support of the state of emergency issued by the 222, intimating their intellectual superiority over other Malaysians on the basis of possessing a PhD qualification. In as much as the notion of freedom of expression is valued and held sacred by us, it is regrettable that the recent support of the 222 Pintar PhD holders has introduced a new division in this beloved country of ours.
A division of those with academic doctoral degrees apart from those with lesser or with no academic credentials whatsoever. This is indeed an alarming development in a country already torn apart along racial, economic and religious divides. We would like to remind every learned citizen of the important role they must play as the conscience of the nation. PhD holders working as academicians carry the heavy burden as bearer of the torch of hope based upon knowledge. The job of academicians is NOT to curry favours in exchange for promotion and career advancement. Instead what we see is a continuation and increase in numbers of sycophancy which began in March 2020.
In these troubling and difficult times that the country is facing, it is paramount and most imperative for bright individuals and scholars to focus on studying, reasoning, developing and proposing solutions to take us out of the current dire straits thus elevating the country to a better condition for the benefit of each Malaysian. Who is in a better position to do so, other than those who have been trained to perform scholastic research, the degree the PhD was awarded for? Working together with everyone, including those without academic credentials but possessing the necessary experiences within all the relevant industries and sectors, positive proposals are most welcomed rather than harping on forlorn conclusions which are of no benefit, academically nor practically.
The Honourable Prime Minister has assured us that our lives will hardly be disrupted if we do not interfere with the running of our current government. Yet, the most vulnerable amongst the citizens of Malaysia bear the brunt of the consequences. Disabled children in Malaysia, both citizens and immigrants, are particularly at risk. They are currently denied their much-needed therapy during the MCO. Other vulnerable population include, those who suffer from chronic illnesses, the victims of the current floods, the women who are trapped at home suffering violence from perpetrators, the children who are unable to gain access to appropriate education, the workers who will lose more income during this emergency, the common person on the street who are all affected by the adverse effects on the economy.
During a state of emergency, Parliament is not allowed to convene. The academics should therefore instead produce feasible solutions on how best to propel the economy further during this emergency, i.e. be the brains for the various possible solutions to protect our vulnerable population and help to rebuild our beloved nation. Therefore, the issue should not be nor should it revolve around the next General Election. In fact, academicians should be advocating for the people of the country and not the nation's politicians. The issue should be how do we save our beloved country from the scourge of Covid19 with the least disruption to the lives of the most hard-hit amongst the citizens of Malaysia.
The Declaration of the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia published on the 10th of November 2020 clearly stipulated that a transparent middle path would be best for Malaysia in overcoming the Covid19 scourge. We urge all academicians to do their jobs as effectively as possible and refrain from further ambiguous activities that will further mar the country's reputation globally. Let us all work together, hand in hand across all divides, to find solutions, beneficial to everyone.
Academic Association of Universiti Malaya (PKAUM) 2020/2022
Universiti Malaya Students’ Union (KMUM) 2020/2021
Demokrat Universiti Malaya
Gerakan Pembebasan Akademik
Persatuan Belia HARMONI Malaysia
Angkatan Mahasiswa UM
Covid-19 Vaccines for Malaysia:
A Call for Transparency in Registration & Purchasing
December 28, 2020
With the exception of the People’s Republic of China and a few other countries like New Zealand, Vietnam, Cuba, Senegal, and Kerala state in India, which seem to have largely brought Covid-19 under control without the help of vaccines, most countries are struggling with succeeding waves of the pandemic and a likely global spread of a more contagious mutant of SARS-CoV-2.
Sources of Current Outbreaks
Unfortunately, since October 2020, a resurgence of clusters emerged from non-compliant returnees from abroad, and porous Sabah state border controls, exacerbated by lax enforcement of SOPs during the September 2020 Sabah state elections.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri’s disastrous U-turn in going after undocumented migrants (after initially promising them sanctuary and no arrests and deportation during the pandemic) greatly complicated pandemic control efforts, in particular the crucially important contact tracing.
As generally younger daily-paid workers, more likely to ride out the milder symptoms of Covid-19 infection, they are now even less inclined to cooperate in testing and isolation, given the risks of arrest, detention and deportation.
We thus face the prospect of protracted and repeated seeding of the general population by the asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, especially undocumented workers reluctant to seek treatment unless severely ill. (We should also note that active avoidance of contact tracing and testing involves others disinclined to divulge network contacts or contact history, e.g. underworld elements, drug and sexual encounters, etc).
As in many other countries, many Malaysians support efforts to secure vaccines to enhance pandemic control efforts.
Procuring Vaccines for Malaysia
The minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin has announced commitments to purchase a basket of Covid-19 vaccines, and options for further orders.
Khairy Jamaluddin needs to be transparent about the technical rationales, criteria, and pricing for his ministry’s purchasing decisions. In particular, he needs to respond to very pertinent points raised by the Covid Research Centre (KL), chest specialist Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, and others, which include the following:
· there is currently little information on long-term safety beyond 2 months or on durability of protection, for all candidate or approved vaccines (any late-manifesting adverse effects will only be detected by conscientious follow-up surveillance, monitoring, and reporting systems). This is especially pertinent for novel mRNA vaccines, in comparison with the more familiar inactivated whole-virus vaccines with which we have decades of experience
· the decision by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to grant immunity to Pfizer from legal liability for late-manifesting adverse effects, and the Pfizer CEO declining to be among the early vaccinees (claiming selflessness in prioritising those more vulnerable, in contrast to some vaccine researchers who vaccinated themselves even before phase 1 human trials) perhaps reflects the true risk perception or assessment of the pharmaceutical corporations (whose profitable research and development work has been highly subsidised by governments for ‘vaccine nationalist’ reasons)
· stringent logistic requirements (deep-freeze or ultra-low temperature facilities) for the mass deployment of mRNA vaccines to under-served remote areas
· one additional advantage of the inactivated whole-virus vaccine is that the host immune response is mounted against a spectrum of antigens from the whole virus, rather than against a much more limited array of antigenic sub-components of say, the spike protein. This could provide some insurance against mutations, say in the coding sequences for the spike protein, which might render vaccines directed solely against the spike protein wholly or partially ineffective.
Beyond the immediate urgency of securing access to adequate quantities of safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, the larger question of our continuing dependency on foreign vaccine developers, producers and suppliers remains unaddressed.
National Capabilities in Production of Medicines and Vaccines
Consider Cuba, a nation of 12 million citizens hamstrung by a 60-year economic blockade by the US, which has invested in human and material resources to become a biotech power-house: recombinant hepatitis B vaccines, synthetic polysaccharide vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type B, CIMAvax vaccine against lung cancer, and innovative treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.
Cuba’s repeated offers of scientific collaboration in R&D, and joint ventures to position Malaysia as a regional production and distribution platform for Southeast Asia, have elicited only a lukewarm response. Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman, the retired Director General of Health, has shown greater foresight and entrepreneurial verve as chairman of Bioven, which is shepherding CIMAvax through US-FDA and UK phase 3 clinical trials.
It is not too late to make the necessary strategic decisions for a promising growth area (pharmaceuticals and vaccines) in the national and regional economies of the newly launched RCEP.
Chan Chee Khoon firstname.lastname@example.org
Chee Heng Leng email@example.com
Citizens’ Health Initiative
Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
North South Initiative
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
 Malaysia needs 90 to 120 days just to check Pfizer's vaccine? Are you kidding DG? https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/malaysia-needs-90-120-days-just-check-pfizers-vaccine-are-you-kidding-dg; Malaysia Reserves Option To Double Pfizer Vaccine Order https://codeblue.galencentre.org/2020/12/23/malaysia-reserves-option-to-double-pfizer-vaccine-order/#:~:text=By%20CodeBlue%20%7C%2023%20December%202020&text=KUALA%20LUMPUR%2C%20Dec%2023%20%E2%80%94%20The,the%20Malaysian%20population%20if%20needed.; Malaysia to Double AstraZeneca Vaccine Order Through Covax https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-23/malaysia-to-double-astrazeneca-vaccine-order-through-covax-deal
 Is the Pfizer vaccine suitable for Malaysia? https://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/is-the-pfizer-vaccine-suitable-for-malaysia-272804
 COVID-19 vaccine: Hold your horses, let us play safe! https://focusmalaysia.my/opinion/covid-19-vaccine-hold-your-horses-let-us-play-safe/
 Synthetic Vaccine Is a Sweet Victory for Cuban Science https://science.sciencemag.org/content/305/5683/460
 CIMAvax: The Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pguZ2d9G6g0&ab_channel=RoswellParkComprehensiveCancerCenter
 How biotech firm Bioven found fortune https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/health/2015/02/11/how-biotech-firm-bioven-found-fortune?view=full
 Roswell Park Lung Cancer Expert Shares Initial Findings from First North American Study of CIMAvax https://www.roswellpark.org/newsroom/201809-roswell-park-lung-cancer-expert-shares-initial-findings-first-north-american-study; Bioven Begins Phase III Trial of Cuban NSCLC Vaccine in UK https://ihsmarkit.com/country-industry-forecasting.html?ID=1065971583