Friday, October 28, 2011

Cease investigations against Prof Aziz Bari, academics urge

Media statement

We, the undersigned Malaysian academics and researchers, as well as colleagues from other countries researching on Malaysia, wish to record our serious concern and objection to the recent actions taken against Professor Abdul Aziz Bari of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

Prof Aziz Bari is currently being investigated by the police under the Sedition Act 1948 and by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for a statement in an online news portal involving the Sultan of Selangor. He has since been suspended by his employer, IIUM.

According to a Bernama report on Oct 21, 2011, the Rector of IIUM Prof Zaleha Kamaruddin has stated that: "The university does not restrict any academic staff from giving statements but they must not be against the interests of the university." We are extremely perturbed by this statement as Prof Aziz Bari’s comment was related to his interpretation of the Malaysian Constitution, his area of expertise. He has not done anything to compromise or undermine the interests or integrity of IIUM.

As academics and researchers, we view the action taken by IIUM as a gross violation of Prof Aziz Bari's academic freedom as well as his right to free expression. As an academic, Prof Aziz Bari has the responsibility to use his expertise to enlighten the public on matters related to his field of interest and scholarship. In fact, Malaysia needs more scholars like him to give their expert views without fear or favour on issues of national concern.

Prof Aziz Bari's suggestion that a Ruler has acted beyond his Constitutional bounds is a legitimate one. There is no evidence that he has acted, overtly or by implication, to incite hatred against the Ruler. Our reading of the Sedition Act 1948 is that it validates any criticism of a Ruler if such criticism is intended to constructively show that the Ruler has erred.

The hallmark of any institution of higher learning is the celebration and promotion of intellectual freedom, autonomy and responsibility by its faculty and student body. The credibility of a university is undermined if its management does not value intellectual freedom of expression through the pursuit of open discussions, debates and dissenting opinions in a scholarly and civil environment.

The investigations on Prof Aziz Bari by the government and IIUM's decision to suspend him signal the further suppression of academic freedom in Malaysia, which has in fact long been curtailed by the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971.

To ensure a swift resolution of the selective persecution of Prof Aziz Bari and to undo the damage to IIUM’s reputation, we urge the responsible authorities to undertake the following remedial actions:

1. The IIUM to lift Prof Aziz Bari's suspension immediately;
2. The police to cease all investigations against Prof Aziz Bari under the Sedition Act 1948; and
3. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to cease all investigations against Prof Aziz Bari under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

In addition we call on the authorities to fully respect academic rights and freedom through the following measures:

1. The Sedition Act 1948 which has unacceptable potential for abuse against fundamental freedoms of expression to be repealed.
2. The Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 to be repealed and replaced by a University Charter that upholds academic freedom and campus democracy.

Endorsed by Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Union (PKAUM) and signed by:

1.Dr Abdul Hamid Mat Sain
2.Prof. Abdul Rahman Embong
3.Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
4.Joseph Algaraj
5.Assoc. Prof. Andrew Aeria
6.Ang Hean Leng
7.Dr Patricia Ang
8.Dr. Awang Azman Awang Pawi
9.Assoc. Prof Azizan Bahari
10.Dr Azly Rahman
11.Assoc. Prof. Azman Azwan Azmawati
12.Assoc. Prof. Azmi Sharom
13.Dr Azmil M. Tayeb
14.Dr Sharon Bong
15.Dr Chooi Beh
16.Boon Kia Meng
17.Dr Chan Chee Khoon
18.Chang Teck Peng
19.Dr Chee Heng Leng
20.Prof. Chin Kenpa
21.Chong Wu Ling
22.Dr Chong Fah Hing
23.Dr. Christopher Chong
24.Dr Chong Kok Boon
25.Chou Wen Loong
26.Chung Lee Peng
27.Dr Faisal Syam Abdol Hazis
28.Dr Faizal Ali
29.Dr Farish Ahmad Noor
30.Prof. Fatimah Mohamed Arshad
31.Assoc. Prof. Sharmani Patricia Gabriel
32.Dr Oommen George
33.Assoc. Prof. Goh Beng Lan
34.Prof. Alberto Gomes
35.Prof. Edmund Terence Gomez
36.Prof. Andrew Harding
37.Dr Hew Wai Weng
38.Dr Denison Jayasooria
39.Dr Jeniri Amir
40.Dr K.J. John
41.Prof. Andrew Kenyon
42.Emeritus Prof. Clive Kessler
43.Dr Khoo Gaik Cheng
44.Eddin Khoo
45.Koh Ea Boon
46.Lai Wan Teng
47.Dr Joanne Lim
48.Dr Lee Hock Guan
49.Dr Lee Hwok Aun
50.Dr Julian C.H. Lee
51.Leong Kar Yen
52.Leong May San
53.Pauline Leong
54.Assoc. Prof. Lim Hong Hai
55.Assoc. Prof. Lim Khay Thiong
56.Prof. Lim Teck Ghee
57.Prof. Francis K.W. Loh
58.Greg Lopez
59.Dr Mahyuddin Ahmad
60.Maimuna Merican
61.Dr Sumit K. Mandal
62.Dahlia Martin
63.Dr Maznah Mohamad
64.Prof Dr Mohammad Yusoff Ismail
65.Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abid
66.Assoc. Prof. Mohd Nordin Mohd Abdullah
67.Dr Joel Moore
68.Dr Muhammad Hamdi b Mahmood
69.Dr Musa Nordin
70.Assoc. Prof. Mustafa K. Anuar
71.Dr Yaso Nadarajah
72.Rose Nanju
73.Assoc. Prof. Helen Nesadurai
74.Dr Cecilia Ng
75.Dr Nor Hayati Sa’at
76.Dr Nor’azim Mohd Yunos
77.Dr Noraida Endut
78.Noor'ain Aini
79.Assoc. Prof. Norani Othman
80.Ng Boon Hooi
81.Dr Ngoi Guat Peng
82.Dr Nur Afifa Abdullah
83.Dr Ong Kian Ming
84.Dr Ooi Kee Beng
85.Prof. Pan Kok Long
86.Jeffrey Phang
87.Prof. Maude Phipps
88.Dr Phua Kai Lit
89.Prof. Rosli Omar
90.Dr Subramaniam Pillay
91.Por Heong Hong
92.Dr Mavis Puthucheary
93.Dr Arnold Puyok
94.Dr Rabaah Bt Tudin
95.Prof. Raja Amin Raja Mokhtar
96.Prof. Rashidah Shuib
97.Assoc. Prof. Rashila Ramli
98.Assoc. Prof. Rusli Ahmad
99.Dr Rohaya Mohd Nor
100.Dr Rohana Abdul Jalil
101.Dr Marina Roseman
102.Assoc. Prof. Rosli H Mahat
103.Dr Rusaslina Idrus
104.Dr Johan Saravanamuttu
105.Saw Teck Chee
106.Assoc. Prof. Shakila Abdul Manan
107.Assoc. Prof. Edmund Sim
108.Darshan Singh
109.Dr Hari Singh
110.Assoc. Prof. Siti Hawa Ali
111.Dr Soon Chuan Yean
112.Prof. Tan Sooi Beng
113.Tan Lee Ooi
114.Dr Taufiq Abdullah
115.Prof. Tham Siew Yean
116.Assoc. Prof. Tee Kim Tong
117.Dr Helen Ting
118.Dr Ting Su Hie
119.Dr Toh Kin Woon
120.Dr Adam Tyson
121.Prof. Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda
122.Prof. Wan Zawawi Ibrahim
123.Wang Lay Kim
124.Assoc. Prof. Bridget Welsh
125.Dr Amanda Whiting
126.Dr Diana Wong
127.Dr Wong Chin Huat
128.Wong Chip Choo
129.Dr Yeoh Seng Guan
130.Yong Kiat
131.Assoc. Prof. Young Suan
132.Assoc. Prof. Zaharom Nain

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