Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stand up for academic rights

azmi sharom300
PETALING JAYA: The government, after a slew of sedition charges against politicians, is now trying to intimidate academicians.

Malaysia Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (DEMA) said the academicians were simply expressing their opinions in their professional capacity.
It has been reported that Azmi Sharom, a legal professor in University of Malaya (UM), will be charged under the Sedition Act for his comments on the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis.

He will be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today under the Sedition Act for his comments regarding the 2009 Perak Menteri Besar crisis which were published by an online news organisation.
DEMA strongly condemns the authority for violating the fundamental right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
It is shocking that the Government, after having initiated several charges under the same law against the people’s representatives from the Pakatan Rakyat, has now started to intimidate academicians who had simply expressed their opinions in their professional capacity, said Lau Yi Leong, Secretary for National Affairs for DEMA.
”Furthermore, it is undoubtedly clear that, at a time where new students are being enrolled into universities, it is the Government’s intention to also warn the new students not to be too keen in applying their knowledge to social, political and economic issues.
“We urge all students in this country to stand in solidarity with Professor Azmi Sharom,” he said in a statement.
Freedom of expression, which includes academic freedom, is not something peculiar only to academicians.
“Reciprocal to the scholar’s right to academic freedom is the students’ right to unbiased education and the right not to be indoctrinated.
“We certainly do not want our professors to teach against their best knowledge and conscience for fear of repression by the Government, contrary to the interests of the students,” the statement said.
Those facing sedition charges are PKR’s Padang Serai MP N Surendran, who was charged twice with sedition, PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, and PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.
DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer is also being charged on two counts of sedition.

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