If they start muzzling academics, who will be next?


I gave a lecture to a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. It was fun and we had a laugh!

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If they start muzzling academics, who will be next?
By Zan Azlee

Universities in North America have something called the tenure system where professors are appointed and then are guaranteed academic freedom.

Once they achieve tenure, they cannot be pressured to leave their positions as an academic for any reason (well, it’s very difficult to be sacked, let’s just say that).

They can conduct unconventional research, teach in creative ways and make comments based on research and knowledge that they are considered experts in.

Basically, it gives them the confidence and assurance that they are the intellectual elite who have a responsibility to contribute to society without any prejudices.

Of course, to achieve tenure isn’t something easy and simple. The process is long and highly-scrutinised. It takes into consideration peer reviews, superiors, and so much more.

Unfortunately, there is no such system in Malaysia. Hence, our country’s academics are never free from pressurising factors that can prejudice their work.

A few years ago, Prof. Dr. Aziz Bari was suspended from his position at the International Islamic University and subsequently lost it for statements he made on the politics of the state.

And a few months ago, Prof. Datuk Dr. Mohammad Redzuan Othman had to leave his position as UMCEDEL’s (UM Centre for Democracy and Elections) director, allegedly for research findings that were not favourable.

His post as the dean of UM’s Faculty of Arts and Social Science was also not renewed even though he had been voted for by his colleagues.

This week, Associate Prof. Dr. Azmi Sharom from UM had to appear in court as he was charged for sedition based on a statement he made in a news article regarding the Selangor menteri besar crisis.

All this might give the impression that Malaysian academics do not have freedom of expression. And if academics are not given that freedom, how as a society do we progress? [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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