(Penang, Wednesday): It
must be a great relief to Malaysians committed to democracy and human rights
that there is at last an organised academic
response from at least one public university to the Good Conduct (Aku
Janji) Pledge for university
lecturers and students - as it is
not only the most serious attack, but will institutionalise repression, of
academic and intellectual freedom with far-reaching consequences to
Malaysia’s competitiveness in the international marketplace.
the statement by Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Association (PKAUM) that academics
have the right to reject the Akujanji (loyalty pledge) document imposed
on civil servants, concern at the latest erosion of fundamental human rights of
free expression and academic freedoms was equally shared by consternation at the
lack of response from the academic community, who should have been in the
forefront to protest against the Akujanji for being antithetical to human rights
and inimical to intellectual freedom.
time has come for the academicians from the other public universities to stand
up and be counted and to give full support to the PKAUM stand that the Akujanji
as presently drafted violates Article 10 of the Constitution that guarantees
freedom of speech and destroys
academic freedom as it would be a gag on governmental criticism in the academic world - making
it impossible for subjects such as economics, social sciences and law to be
the academicians in all the public universities take a united stand that the
Akujanji pledge for university lecturers and students should be withdrawn.
Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Muhammad should respect the PKAUM stand that
the Akujanji document should be withdrawn and rewritten, taking into account
issues which violate basic human rights, academic freedom and workers’ rights.
should instead set up a commision
to formulate a Charter for Academic Freedom and University Autonomy to promote
academic excellence to enable Malaysia to make the successful transition
to a K-economy and information society - the product of the fullest
dialogue and consultation involving the government, universities, academicians,
students and the civil society.
stands, the akujanji pledge for the civil servants is already questionable,
particularly as to whether it would lead to a modern government with better
policy making, better responsiveness to what people want, and more effective
public services or whether it has lost sight of the core civil service values
with selection and promotion based on merit,
political impartiality and the giving of best independent advice to
the akujanji pledge as formulated is even more inappropriate for the public
universities as it threatens academic freedom - which includes the freedom to
teach, research, publish and to speak extramurally - and their critical role in
the promotion and preservation of
human rights, democracy, sustainable development, justice and
government must recognise and respect the “anticipatory” or “prophetic”
role of universities, or in the words of the UNESCO World Declaration on Higher
Education for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action (1998), “their
critical and forward-looking functions, through continuing analysis of emerging
social, economic, cultural and political trends, providing a focus for
forecasting, warning and prevention” which will create a conflict situation
between the akujanji pledges of loyalty to the country with loyalty to
the government of the day.
Akujanji pledge for university lecturers and students should be withdrawn or the
public universities in Malaysia will become a laughing stock of the
international academic world.