(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The ‘shot-gun’ termination of the services of Professor Chandra Muzaffar as Director of the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, University of Malaya is a darkening cloud in the democratic process in Malaysia.
The two reasons given by University of Malaya Management not to renew Chandra’s contract, namely economic factors affecting the University of Malaya and a government directive requesting the University to optimise available internal human resources, are ludicrous as the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue is one of the most viable academic entities from the financial point of view although it is hardly two years old.
The termination of Chandra’s services is not only a political persecution in academia at its worst, but smacks of intellectual cowardice in the dishonesty of the reasons given.
The action against Chandra, which may spell the death knell for the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, the only centre of its kind in the world, appears to herald the government’s latest posture that it has no time either for dialogue or civilisation!
The four-day notice given to Chandra that the University of Malaya Management would not renew his contract as Professor at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue when Chandra had been invited from University Sains Malaysia to join the University of Malaya to establish, nuture and nourish the new Centre for a few years at least was a most shabby treatment of one of the most distinguished academicians the country has produced. Basic decency demands that Chandra should have been given at least six months to tie up the loose ends at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue.
Furthermore, the University of Malaya Administration should explain whether it had, while deciding not to renew Chandra’s contract, also taken the decision to eventually close down the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue.
The University of Malaya Administration should give a full and proper explanation as to the reasons for the refusal to renew Chandra’s contract, why the shabby treatment of Chandra as if he is an illegal immigrant and whether it had received political directives from the government to get Chandra out of University of Malaya because of his association with former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and ADIL.