26 July 2021

GERAK statement on the crisis of leadership in Malaysian Higher Education

It is now about 18 months since this regime came to power through the backdoor and formed a new, bloated, yet generally-ineffective, Cabinet.

We in GERAK, like many others, have been following closely the many missteps and overall incompetency of this Cabinet.
Like these others, we are alarmed and concerned about the implications of these shambolic antics of ministers and some of their deputies during this ongoing pandemic.
We are also, of course, disturbed by the lack of any clear decision-making, let alone good ones, by this Cabinet.
Here, GERAK is primarily concerned with the evident lack of purpose and leadership by the Ministry of Higher Education, led by a clearly confused minister, aided by a clueless Director-General (DG).
More specifically, we are troubled by related developments in some of our top public universities which all point to external interference and a dismissal of guidelines that are already in place.
We are referring, firstly, to news in academic circles and even in the wider public sphere that over the past year or so, an uncharacteristically large number of politicians from the PN-UMNO `cluster’ had been appointed to positions in the Lembaga Pengarah Universiti (LPU) or Board of Governors of various public universities.
Blatantly political appointments of this nature have been a tragic tradition in many of our public universities.
It is a tradition begun and sustained by the UMNO-BN regime before, and now extended excessively by those in the regime sharing the same UMNO-BN DNA.
We in GERAK have always been against this unhealthy practise.
Indeed, the restructuring of university administration was the first point In our 10-point proposal submitted to the previous, legitimately-elected Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
We said then - and we reiterate our stand now – that…
The practice of political appointments of Chairman, Board of Directors, Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors and other top university management has to stop. We urge the new Minister of Education to immediately replace all these political appointees with independent-minded, honest, accountable, creative, empathetic, and altruistic leaders, selected by university search committees comprising academics of quality and experience.
There was some concrete attempt by the PH government to do just that, with the appointment of an independent national search committee comprising senior academics and proven leaders from industry.
It is evident that the committee is either no longer there or is no longer consulted.
Indeed, if it were still there and doing its job, the recent delays in appointing university Vice Chancellors would not have happened.
Secondly and equally serious is what is evidently happening in a university in the East Coast. The service of the Vice Chancellor and one of his deputies has reportedly been shortened by the university’s Chairman of the LPU, an UMNO office bearer.
These reported and related developments point almost exclusively to the kind of political interference that we in GERAK have alluded to and which is both unnecessary and, clearly, going against university constitutions.
GERAK stands clearly against these sinister pollical maneuverings which we believe play absolutely no constructive part in preparing our public universities for a post-pandemic future.
25 July 2021

23 July 2021



Kenyataan Media

21 Julai 2021






GERAK merujuk kepada surat terbuka Persatuan Staf Akademik Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (PSA UniSZA) bertarikh 18 Julai 2021 mengenai arahan penahanan tugas naib canselor UniSZA oleh pengerusi Lembaga Pengarah UniSZA.


GERAK menyokong saranan yang dibuat oleh PSA UniSZA agar semua pihak bertindak mengikut lunas undang-undang, terutamanya Perlembagaan UniSZA. Tidak ada pihak yang boleh bertindak melebihi undang-undang.


GERAK hairan mengapa tidak ada lantikan pemangku naib canselor. Sesebuah universiti tidak patut dibiarkan beroperasi tanpa seorang ketua.


Merujuk kepada Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti, kuasa perlantikan naib canselor sesebuah universiti awam terletak kepada Menteri Pengajian Tinggi. Maka, kepada dialah kuasa untuk menahan kerja atau menamatkan perkhidmatan seseorang naib canselor. Tidak ada individu lain yang mempunyai kuasa yang sama. Pihak lain tidak patut buat keputusan menahan kerja seseorang naib canselor, hingga menganggu pengurusan sesebuah universiti.


Episod ini merupakan kesinambungan kepada beberapa episod yang menunjukkan campurtangan pihak luar di dalam pengurusan universiti. Autonomi universiti, kebebasan akademik dan kesepakatan (collegiality) langsung tidak dihormati.


Dalam bulan Jun 2021 sahaja, antara tajuk berita yang menunjukkan perlekehan autonomi universiti adalah:


a)     Pelajar perubatan dakwa tak dibenar duduki peperiksaan (Berita Harian, 14 Jun 2021)


b)     Minister accuses UM of taking matters into own hands by barring medical student who refused Covid-19 jab from exam (Malay Mail, 15 Jun 2021)


c)     Lantikan politik jejaskan wibawa, imej universiti (Malaysiakini, 23 June 2021)


Ekoran dari ini, GERAK menuntut semua pihak agar menghayati dan menghormati konsep-konsep autonomi universiti, kebebasan akademik dan kesepakatan, agar segala operasi universiti berjalan lancar tanpa sebarang gangguan. Ini termasuk pihak luar yang nampaknya teringin berkuasa di dalam universiti.


Kecemerlangan sesebuah universiti tidak hanya begantung kepada penarafan dunia yang diperolehinya. Kecemerlangan universiti juga bergantung kepada tahap autonomi universiti dan kebebasan akademik di sesebuah universiti.





21 Julai 2021







05 July 2021

Joint Press Statement, 4 July 2021

Malaysia's healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, why does the government have its head in the sand?
When India faced the worst days of its Covid-19 crisis, the entire world knew.
The transparency regarding just how bad the problem was helped India ensure that its government took the matter seriously, and got the help it needed. This is how India recovered from the near total collapse of its healthcare system.
The first step towards solving a problem is admitting we have one.
In Malaysia, our authorities have not admitted that we have a problem.
A decade-old draconian culture of repressing the truth is now putting millions of Malaysian lives at risk.
The government has consistently silenced the voices of civil servants, including medical frontliners, and prevented them from telling the truth about how our system is on the brink of collapse.
Where once medical frontliners maintained their silence for fear of losing their jobs, many are now sacrificing their own job security in order to speak up, before more lives are lost due to a complete collapse of our healthcare system.
More and more stories are now emerging on how government Covid-19 hospitals are completely overwhelmed, and are becoming unable to give Malaysians with Covid-19 the healthcare that they need.
Resources are insufficient, and medical staff are overworked and exhausted. Reports are emerging of insufficient oxygen and insufficient beds, of senior staff breaking down, of CPR having to be performed on the floor, and of patients waiting outside Emergency Departments unable to breathe.
Meanwhile, the government continues to put its head in its sand, and acts like there is nothing wrong.
Reports on the ground suggest that MITI letters are now being issued to more and more companies allowing them to reopen, while there is again zero transparency on which factories are allowed to continue operating and why.
“Lockdown” measures seem to target the wrong people, while allowing business interests to continue in order to protect profits. Are our constantly changing SOPs truly based on data and science? The reasoning behind these decisions must be transparent for all to see.
There seems to be zero urgency regarding the fact that we have days where daily testing numbers go down, while the number of cases go up.
The entire government seems to have adopted a nonchalant attitude even as medical frontliners are now using terms like "total collapse" to describe the state of our healthcare system.
We need to be ringing the alarm bells all over the country. We need the country to be at red alert. We need to stop being distracted by useless politicking, and for once, be truly united in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country is facing what may very well be the worst, most life-threatening crisis we have ever faced in our existence, and we need the government to stop hiding the truth about it, and to start treating this like the crisis that it is.
If it is true that the government declared an Emergency to combat Covid-19 instead of to protect political interests, then the government should start acting as if this is indeed an emergency situation.
We call upon the government to immediately:
1. Acknowledge the problem and be transparent about the situation on the ground. Policy attention should be on solving the problem, and medical frontliners must be allowed to speak up on the situation they are facing with no repercussions from the authorities.
2. Engage with the private healthcare sector to ease the burden on government hospitals. Engage constructively and the use of Emergency rules can be considered.
3. Increase public healthcare spending in the short and long-term, so that longer term healthcare capacity can be increased, and problems like contract doctors can be solved. Increased funding must be accompanied by appropriate reforms in the organisational structure of the Health Ministry.

This joint statement is initiated by
[a joint initiative by Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)]

Endorsed by:
3. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
4. Centre for Independent Journalism
5. Childline Foundation
6. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances, CAGED
7. Coalition for Business Integrity Berhad
8. Darul Naim Institute
10. G25 Malaysia
11. Gerakan Belia Se-Punjabi Malaysia
12. IKRAM Muda
13. Lawyer Kamek for Change
14. Liga Rakyat Demokratik
15. LLG Cultural Development Centre
16. Mimosa Learning For All
17. North South Initiative
18. Our Journey
19. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
20. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
21. Persatuan Alumni New Era Kajang
22. Persatuan Belia Harmoni Malaysia (HARMONI)
23. Persatuan Kebajikan Biji Sawi (Mustard Seed Soup Kitchen)
24. Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM)
25. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
26. Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan
27. Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (ROSE)
28. Pertubuhan Demokrat Sosial (Demuda)
29. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia
30. Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)
32. Sabah Reform Initiative (SARI)
33. Sabah Women's Action-Resource Group (SAWO)
34. Sisters in Islam
35. Tamil Foundation Malaysia
37. The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
38. Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)
39. Yayasan Chow Kit
40. Youth Nation Club (YNC)
1. Ain Husniza #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
2. Akmal Hisham Abdul Rahim
3. Alawiyah binti Yussof
4. Altaf Deviyati
5. Aravind Selva
6. Arief Subhan
7. Beatrice Chan
8. BK Soon
9. Devaruban Samalam Ruban
10. Dr. Savinder Kaur Gill
11. Eric Chia
12. Ezrina Alias
13. Hamid Jusoh
14. Hardial Singh
15. Hartini Zainudin
16. Lt Col (R) Joginder Singh
17. Ltkol B Basir bin H Ab Rahman
18. Masbah Omar
19. Mohd Yazid bin Abdullah
20. Muhammad Adli Musa
21. Muhammad Aiman bin Ali
22. Noor Zuliana Ahmad
23. Norbik Idris
24. Norman Goh
25. Nurma Abd Karim
26. Ooi Kok Hin
27. Pan Jen Lin
28. Prudence Lingham
29. Pusparajah SK Selvadurai
30. Richard Wee
31. Rohizan Sam
32. Saiful Nizam #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
33. Shalini Muniapan
34. Shaq Koyok
35. Sharifah Shahidah
36. Shawn Sharif
37. Sivakumar Nadaraj
38. Vinod Naidu Munikrishnayya
39. Yap Sook Yee
40. Zaharom Nain

04 July 2021




The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Freedom Film Network (FFN) and partners are appalled by and strongly condemn ongoing efforts by the police to intimidate and persecute Freedom Film Network (FFN) and animator/artist, Amin Landak over the animated film, “Chilli Powder and Thinner”. The film illustrates the true story of a boy’s testimony of being tortured while being in police custody. FFN co-founder Anna Har and Amin went to the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman at 2.30pm today to have their statements taken in connection with the film. They finished giving their statements to the police and left Bukit Aman at about 4.10pm. Nevertheless, the police raided the FFN office and Amin’s home all the same.

The Malaysian police are clearly on a rampage against FFN over the animated short film, which depicts police officers torturing and abusing individuals in custody in Malaysia. This investigation, and related raid, contributes to a broader pattern of authorities attempting to quell allegations of police misconduct. Police brutality and abuse of power have been topics of heated discussion online, but authorities routinely silence such discourse by threatening individuals with a criminal investigation.

Retaliatory investigations against human rights defenders, artists and journalists for raising attention to violations of basic human rights show the dire need to protect freedom of expression and ensure police officers in Malaysia are held accountable for any instances of misconduct. The police must be open to public scrutiny and the demand for transparency, while adherence to rule of law must always be upheld. Initiating an investigation merely on the account that a particular incident negatively portrays the police is unwarranted and a serious violation of our constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and speech.

We, therefore, call for the following measures to be adopted by the State:

● Drop all investigations and stop all acts of intimidation and adverse actions against Anna Har, FFN, Amin Landak, whistleblowers, and others associated with the animated short film;

● Establish the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), with no further delays, so that police accountability and professionalism is always upheld.

It is incumbent on the government to ensure that they act now and not be complicit in allowing freedom of expression and speech and artistic freedom in Malaysia to be censored or penalised, and where artists and filmmakers operate within a climate of fear. If this practice is not halted, our democracy will be at threat and political priorities will continue to prevail over the public interest.

2 July 2021

Issued by: Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Freedom Film Network

Endorsed by the following organisations with common interest in promoting FoE:

1. Amnesty International Malaysia

2. C4 Center

3. Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM)

4. Justice for Sisters

5. KRYSS Network

6. Sisters in Islam

7. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 

8. Agora Society Malaysia 

9. Aliran 

10. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) 

11. Angkatan Mahasiswa UM 

12. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL) 

13. Baramkini 

14. Beyond Architecture Outlet (BAO) 

15. Beyond Borders Malaysia 

16. Citizens against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) 

17. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) 

18. Demokrat Kebangsaan 

19. Demokrat UKM 

20. Demokrat UM 

21. Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody (EDICT) 

22. EMPOWER Malaysia 


24. Family Frontiers Malaysia 

25. Five Arts Centre 

26. Function 8 Singapore 

27. Gerakan Mahasiswa Maju UPM 

28. Jaringan Hak Asasi Manusia (JHAM) 

29. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT) 

30. Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY) 

31. KLSCAH Youth 

32. Malaysia Muda 

33. Monsoon Malaysia 

34. New Naratif 

35. North South Initiative 

36. Our Journey 

37. Pangrok Sulap

38. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK) 

39. Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) 

40. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur 

41. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (Friends of Women Organisation, Selangor) 

42. Pertubuhan Solidaritas 

43. PeSAWAH 

44. Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR) 

45. Pusat KOMAS

46. Ruang Kongsi (Penang) 

47. Sabah Human Rights Centre 

48. Sabah Law Society Subcommittee on Human Rights 

49. Sabah Reform Initiative (SARI) 

50. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) 

51. Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All Sabah (SERATA) 

52. Student Progressive Front UUM 53. Student Unity Front UKM 

54. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 55. Svara 56. Tenaganita 

57. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy 

58. Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS) 

59. The 14% Project 

60. Think Centre 

61. Tindak Malaysia 

62. UMANY 

63. Undi 18 

64. Waroeng Baru 



1. Andrew Khoo 

2. Benazir Japiril Bandaran 

3. Beverly Joeman 

4. Chen Yoke Pin 

5. Devaruban Samalam Ruban 

6. Elroi Yee 

7. Farida Mohammad 

8. Hui Yein 

9. Janet Pillai 

10. Julien Chen Lip Syn 

11. Kenneth Cheng 

12. Lim Kye Lee 

13. Mark Teh 

14. Nafeesa Mat Ali 

15. Okui Lala 

16. Risya 

17. Sarah 

18. S. M. Muthu 

19. Simon Soon 

20. Wong Chin Huat 

21. Wong Tay Sy 

22. Wong Yan Kee 

23. Yolanda Augustin 

24. Zaharom Nain

The Centre for Independent Journalism is a freedom of expression watchdog and non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just, and free where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and impart information.

03 July 2021

Media statement 1 July 2021

Vaccinate all educators to ensure continuation of learning

As the pandemic continues to ravage our lives, we in Malaysian Academic Movement or Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak) write to express our ongoing concern about the wellbeing and future of the many school children who do not have the facilities and devices at home to accommodate online learning.

Online learning was touted right from the beginning by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government as the way forward for Malaysian education. But, of course, there has been a wide chasm between promise and delivery.

Little, for example, is now said about the 150,000 laptops Education Minister Radzi Md Jidin promised last year to distribute to students in 500 schools nationwide by February this year.

What has now been revealed is that by April this year, only 13,000 (8.7%) of those laptops have been distributed.

Gerak is appalled at this outcome. The various movement-control orders notwithstanding, the ministry should have assessed the situation and worked out a strategy to get the devices to the needy students. If not the Education Ministry, with its body of experts and departments, who else?

And what is happening now? Let us be clear about the consequences if this is treated lightly. Without the hardware, and the supporting online connections, the extended lockdown will have extremely negative impacts on our children, especially the marginalised.

The current haphazard decisions being made to simply close schools with little reflection, planning and, most importantly, the implementation of these plans in a systematic way, expose these children to higher risks of being mentally, physically and, indeed, educationally deprived.

School closures, while convenient for ministry officials in their air-conditioned offices in Putrajaya, put tremendous pressure on parents who are already struggling to put food on the table. 

School closures compromise the quality of learning and more than likely will negatively affect the education and possible future of poor urban and rural children who do not have the advantages of their middle-class cousins. 

In this regard, and for education to be provided for in a planned, organised manner, Gerak urges the government to prioritise teachers and other educators for immediate Covid-19 vaccination.

 It is evident that the online education ‘plan’, such as it is, has been a failure.  We need to re-examine the situation and enable the reopening of all schools and education-related institutions as soon as possible.

 We must treat all teachers – all educators – as front liners.

At the international level, one in four teachers is prioritised in the first phase of national rollout plans in 139 countries globally. Malaysia is nowhere on this list.

The PN government promised to include teachers as part of the priority groups in the second phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in April 2021 which, to us, is already rather late and rather tame.

Indeed, there is a lack of transparency in terms of the regime’s priorities and execution of the programme at the second phase.

Gerak is appalled to know that, up until today, not all the teachers and educators are prioritised to receive any of the Covid-19 vaccines.

The government is reportedly going to distribute more than 14 million doses of vaccine to all states in July. This provides the perfect opportunity for this government to right a wrong by prioritising education workers in this programme.

We believe that education institutions, teachers, educators and students must be viewed as a priority by the government.  Vaccinating all of them now must be an essential strategy to combat the unnecessary unilateral closure of all schools.

Not all Malaysians can afford the luxury of sending their children to study in boarding schools overseas. The longer we close all our schools, the higher the probability that our children, especially those in the B40 category, will not be able to return to formal education.

This would reflect the failure of this government in safeguarding the future of the next generation in a pandemic.

Hence, in line with the urging of Unesco, Gerak calls upon this government, first, to vaccinate all the teachers and educators immediately “to protect teachers and students in an effort to ensure the continuation of learning and a safe return to in-person teaching”.

Second, there must be a concrete, well-thought-out plan devised to open all educational institutions for face-to-face teaching and learning after all teachers and staff have been fully vaccinated.

There has been too much inertia and ill-planning at the highest levels already. So, this must be done now, not tomorrow, not next year. 

06 February 2021

Joint Media Statement

2 February 2021

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), involved in various areas of advocacy to strengthen parliamentary democracy and the safeguarding of the civic space, filed a public interest suit today at the High Court against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the government of Malaysia, to seek court declarations on issues related to the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021.
We are concerned that the proclamation of emergency and the Emergency Ordinance has resulted in both Houses of Parliament being unable to fulfil their constitutional role of debating and voting on the Emergency Ordinance. We are also concerned that the main effect of the emergency ordinance is the suspension of the Parliament while it is business as usual for both the government, judiciary and private sectors, subject to the restrictions imposed under the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO).
We would like the courts to declare if they have the power to review any attempt that circumvents constitutional provisions which require these instruments to be brought before Parliament first.
In particular, we are seeking declarations on whether the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance; or Section 14 of the Ordinance, which suspends Parliament; and Article 150(8) of the Constitution, which oust the jurisdiction of the courts, are unconstitutional.
In our submission to the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, we posed the following questions of law.
1. Given that both Houses of Parliament had not been dissolved but only stood adjourned at the relevant times, whether the Proclamation of Emergency issued on 11 January 2021 (vide P.U.(A)7/2021) and the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 promulgated on 14 January 2021 had to be laid before both Houses of Parliament pursuant to Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution?
2. Whether Section 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 relating to the suspension of Parliament is valid insofar as it prevents or frustrates the operation of Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution? (Section 14 purports to, inter alia, disable the operation of the provisions of the Federal Constitution relating to the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament and to cancel any meeting of Parliament that had been summoned but not yet held).
3. Whether the 1981 constitutional amendment that added Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution that purportedly ousts the jurisdiction of the courts is unconstitutional (for violating Articles 4 and 121 of the Federal Constitution and/or the basic structure of the Federal Constitution)?
4. Whether Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution, even if valid, prevents the courts from reviewing the constitutionality of an ordinance made under Article 150(2B) that does not comply with, prevents or frustrates the requirements of Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution (which require the proclamation/ordinance to be laid before Parliament)?
The suspension of Parliament is an extremely drastic measure. This Emergency overreaches the Constitution and is disproportionate. As citizens and public-spirited, interest groups fighting for reform, the suspension of Parliament affects our work greatly as we are unable to access and seek recourse during parliamentary sittings on matters of concern.
We believe the rule of law should be preserved and the spirit of the Federal Constitution is adhered to, where there is a clear separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, and that no one branch of government should subjugate the others.
The loss of such checks and balances in our parliamentary democracy would have long-term irrevocable impact that could ruin our country, as an unchecked government could turn draconian and kleptocratic.
We believe the government already has enough powers to handle the COVID-19 crisis and they do not need to resort to suspending Parliament through the Emergency Ordinance.
Like all Malaysians, we are extremely concerned with the devastating impacts of this pandemic - the loss of lives, livelihood and rapid erosion of our economy. Political stability is necessary for the government to steer us out of this unprecedented crisis, but stability must not be achieved at the expense of institutional checks and balances provided by Parliament and the Judiciary.
For these reasons, it is in the public interest that we undertook this legal challenge to allow the court to determine the constitutional powers of Parliament and the Judiciary in upholding our system of checks and balances.
We undertook this litigation in the public interest to defend the rule of law and the system of checks and balances and to seek the judiciary’s determination on issues related to the Emergency Ordinance.
Signed by:
1. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0)
2. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
3. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
4. Aliran
5. The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
6. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
7. Save Rivers