Retaliation on Two Graduates Was Uncalled for University of Malaya Should Observe Freedom of Speech

Statement Made by Dong Zong

October 18, 2019

 

Retaliation on Two Graduates Was Uncalled for

University of Malaya Should Observe Freedom of Speech

 

Regarding the action taken by the University of Malaya to its two protesting graduates–Wong Yan Ke and Edan Kon Hua En, Dong Zong believes it is obviously a suppressive act towards dissenting voices, which essentially goes against the spirit of tertiary education.  Therefore, Dong Zong calls upon the university administration to withdraw the penalty imposed on the two students.

 

It is a norm that universities should uphold the spirit of academic freedom by providing the freedom of speech or expression to their extant professors and students. It is the responsibility of universities to ensure freedom of thought, to encourage independent thinking and tolerate dissenting positions within campus, while not suppressing views or penalising advocacies. The act of carrying protest placard onstage is protected by the International Bill of Human Rights and permitted in peaceful resistance. It is a common practice in campuses across democratic countries.  However, only those educated authoritarian bureaucrats view it as an act of scourge.

 

The University of Malaya is recognised globally for its academic achievements, and as a higher education institution with a free and open collegial atmosphere. However, with the introduction of the enactment of Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, academic freedom and freedom of expression are suppressed. This resulted in the discontinuity in the tradition of such freedom, along with its capability in academic performances. We opine that university belongs to the society at large, and hence the university administration should not be hijacked or overwhelmed by particular factions or societal classes. Notwithstanding there are some public opinion and criticism deeming the students’ act inappropriate, this should not obscure the real issues, viz., the true spirit of university is to promote open-mindedness, freedom of speech and academic freedom. In this regard, we urge the Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya to retreat his retaliation on the two students; concurrently, the government should review the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 right away, in bid to enable public university to be free of political factions, ideological and short term benefits resulted from the intertwined business and political interests, thus to ensure these education institutions genuine sovereign right while guaranteeing the spirit of autonomy in academic freedom.

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