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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not right for university to issue gag order, says ex-UM VC


PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya’s former vice-chancellor Ghauth Jasmon said universities should not impose a gag order prohibiting students and staff from voicing out their views against the government and the institution.
“This kind of order should not be in any academic institution.
“Restricting the academic community is not wise and not right. Even during the time of Prophet Muhammad there was freedom of expression as he allowed the people to ask any question and he would answer them,” he told FMT in a text message.
Ghauth said it was the first time he had seen a university restricting freedom of speech.
He was responding to FMTs report on a gag order imposed by Universiti Malaya on its staff and students, reminding them not to criticise the university or government to the public or media.
A staff member, who did not want to be identified, told FMT he had received the notice from the university’s administration this week.
Student activists, including Anis Syafiqah and Tan Jia You, have condemned the university’s action.
Ghauth, who had served as UM’s vice-chancellor from 2008 to 2013, said the academic community should be free to express their opinions, especially on issues which touched on the wellbeing of society and country.
”With this order, we are actually limiting their freedom of growth and expression.”
He also said universities had the responsibility to produce good, thinking, entrepreneurial graduates and leaders, adding that opinions were needed to help the country to progress.
Meanwhile, the University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) criticised the university’s gag order as it breaches the fundamental liberties of students.
“UM’s action to silence us is a shameful way to instil fear among students,” the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Universiti Selangor’s (Unisel) deputy vice-chancellor Prof Shaharuddin Badaruddin said students should be allowed to criticise government policies.
“Universities are part of the civil society and they play a role in preaching and upholding the freedom of knowledge and speech.
“We need check and balance in the system instead of shutting down their voices,” he told FMT. -FMT

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