UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MALAYSIA. SINGAPORE PARLIAMENT PROCEEDING 25 JANUARY 2003 ~ PROF. S JAYAKUMAR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER. “In the same vein there were almost daily articles in the Malaysian Malay language Press playing up Singapore alleged aggressive intentions.
SINGAPORE PARLIAMENT PROCEEDING 25 JANUARY 2003
PROF. S JAYAKUMAR
FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER
“In the same vein there were almost daily articles in the Malaysian Malay language Press playing up Singapore alleged aggressive intentions.
On 18 January 2003, Berita Harian Malaysia recklessly alleged that Singapore has stealthily embarked on a bioterrorism program………”
“Such war-mongering articles, it should noted, are found especially in the Malay
Language press, which can only be designed to stir up animosities in their Malay
population against Singapore.”
UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MALAYSIA
Malaysia’s Premier University in Engineering and Technology
BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN SCHOLARS AND THE RULE OF LAW
Center For Technology Policy and International Studies
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia International Campus
Scholars in Malaysia are aware of the variety of rules and regulations that effectively take away their academic freedoms thus making it difficult to carry out their teaching and research responsibilities
The Oath of Allegiance for example is considered oppressive because it is related to the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act 2000. This act in effect makes it an offence for any scholars to comment on governmental policies (whether favorably or critically) without ministerial permission.
I, ................... bearing I/C no ................... residing in ................... solemnly declare that I will abide Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605] and all instructions issued and enforced by University Teknologi Malaysia, from time to time throughout my services with University Teknologi Malaysia. Thus, I solemnly declare, as required under Rule 3, Disciplinary Rules of the Statutory Bodies, that is within the Second Schedule of the Statutory Bodies Act (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605], that I, among others:
I wholly understand that if I were charged with breaching this Aku Janji, disciplinary action under the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605] can be taken against me.
Impossible to enforce. It is highly impractical for the authorities to process the requests from all scholars every time they wish to make a statement or write an article that touches upon governmental policies.
Therefore, one can only presume that this law is meant to be used as and when the authorities wish to.
That is to say it becomes a prevalent and ever present threat to all academics.
Rule 17 should also be read together with Official Secrets Act Section (8) under the heading of Wrongful Communications, etc., of Official Secret.
It explicitly states that any person who is in his position has access to any official secret and communicates it to the public; the person is guilty of an offence.
Schedule to the Act lists three categories of documents that are always considered ‘official secret’, these are:
This list may be added to at any time by Ministerial Order.
Section 16A also states that any certificate of secrecy issued by any public official is conclusive evidence that a document is in fact an official secret.
The definition of official secrets in OSA is tantamount to said that the amount of information subject to classification as a official secret is potentially unlimited.
The list of documents and information provided in the Schedule is extremely broad and no doubt open to abuse.
Imposing all the restrictions to universities lecturers who are considered scholars in their field of expertise, not only detrimental to the way these scholars conduct their teaching, but also to the country as a whole.
Without academic freedom, the quality of teaching and research will suffer. The general public depends on the academe to provide unbiased views on social analysis so as to strengthened civil society. This can only be achieved if only freedoms of expression are enjoyed by the scholars.
From the general public perspective, there exist some forms of academic freedom in higher education.
Even among the scholars, academic freedom is taken for granted. It is not far from truth if one said that academic freedom is under attack via various restrictions imposed.
Scholars are considered as the main engine of the knowledge-based society and the existence of academic freedom constraints this surely will hamper the value of the knowledge-based society.
In 2005, during the height of smog crisis due to the open burning practice from the Indonesian side, an air pollution expert warned about the danger of inhaling air pollutants.
The scholar statement even though looks very innocent in nature; it incurred the wrath of government officials. Implicitly the OSA and Rule 17 were applied and subsequently a general gag order was issued forbidding scholars from speaking to the press.
In this case the Air Pollution Index (API) was classified as official secret.
A virologist from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak irked health officials when she said that the outbreak was not caused by Japanese Encephalitis virus, which in fact contradicts the official health ministry statement.
It was later proved that it was in fact the outbreak was caused a new strain of Hendra-like virus.
Scholars and their views
A poser about ‘politically correct’ is put into perspective with regards to the writer own experienced.
Numerous politically ‘motivated’ statements to the media which if read in conjunction with Rule 17 and also the definition of official secrets as defined in OSA, the writer can be reprimanded by the authority. The writer also wrote numerous opinion piece in the local media taking about sensitive issues.
But being politically correct, the rules and regulations are set aside.
Rule 17 and other restrictions may not have been applied arbitrary on scholars where lecturers are sacked in impunity. But these rules and regulations are considered as insidious velvet-glove and subtler approach to limit academic freedom.
Many scholars still shy away from speaking out or approaching university or government officials to voice their concerned of their area of expertise.
These regulations in fact placed some restrictions on the scholars, in particular the expression of unapproved political and dissenting views.