Call on Education Minister, as former USM Vice Chancellor, to end the unseemly and unworthy episode to penalise an university lecturer for speaking the truth by retracting the show-cause notice

Media statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): As former Universiti Sains Malaysia Vice Chancellor who should have a better appreciation  of academic freedom, devotion to seek the truth and academic excellence, the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should end the unseemly and unworthy episode to penalise an university lecturer for speaking the truth by retracting the show-cause letter which the University of Malaya had issued to its lecturer at  the Literature and Social Science Faculty Associate Professor Chia Oai Peng.

Chia had has been issued a show-cause letter by the university's vice-chancellor Prof Dr Anuar Zaini Md Zain, asking her to explain her e-mail postings on the Damansara Chinese school issue in a discussion group last month where she spoke  the truth about the "hijacking" episode in the Damansara school controversy.
Chia had committed no offence or crime against the university or compromised her academic professionalism  to justify the university authorities instituting disciplinary proceedings against her.

She may have embarrassed the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim for speaking the truth, but this cannot be equated to "embarrassing the government". If anyone has embarrassed the government, it is none other than Hon for placing the government in a position where truth hurts - and it is Hon who should be disciplined and not Chia!

Chia had also not violated the Statutory Bodies Act 2000 (Disciplinary and Surcharge) (Akta Badan-badan Berkanun 2000, Tatatertib dan Surcaj), Regulation 18 (1), where a university officer cannot make public statements, whether oral or written, that criticise government policies without written approval from the education minister as it could not be government policy that public servants must defend lies and not tell the truth!

In fact, the  MCA Ministers must apologise for the victimisation of Chia just because Hon felt "embarrassed" by her speaking  the truth about the "hijacking" episode in the  the Damansara school controversy and take immediate action to retract  the show-cause letter issued to her.

MCA Ministers had never made an iota of  contribution in all the decades of MCA in government to protect and promote democracy and human rights.

On the contrary, they had actively undermined  basic human rights, as in Chia's case, violating her fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as well as attempts to muzzle the Chinese-language mass media from giving fair reporting to issues and developments where the MCA Ministers had taken a stand contrary to the wishes of the Chinese community and the interests of the Malaysian people.

If the MCA Ministers are not prepared to take immediate action to get the University of Malaya's show-cause notice to Chia withdrawn, I hope the Cabinet Ministers from the other Barisan Nasional component parties - whether Gerakan or MIC - will raise the issue in the Cabinet next Wednesday.

The prolongation of the unseemly and unworthy episode to muzzle and penalise Chia from speaking the truth would not be necessary if Musa can intervene to strike out the show-cause letter.

Musa should be mindful of the outcry in a dozen Internet discussion groups which  have come out in support of Chia, with many University of Malaya alumni expressing shock and anger at the university's action  and asked for the withdrawal of the show-cause notice.

Instead of trying to harass, penalise and persecute Chia, Musa should commend her for setting a good example of speaking the truth and declare that she had not embarrassed the government although she might have embarassed Hon.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman