DR MASZLEE SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RELINQUISH HIS POST AS IIUM PRESIDENT
I read with disappointment, the appointment of Education Minister YB Dr Maszlee Malik as President of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).
Prior to GE14, there was much conversation about the lack of political participation among Malaysian youth. A major, long-standing reason for such apathy was the Universities and University Colleges Act (1971) which restricted university students’ freedom of speech and association. The decades-long culture of fear and intimidation by the previous government, enforced by university administrators, was such that students feared to raise concerns about everyday issues, such as the signal strength of campus Wi-Fi.
Our manifesto promised the restoration of authority and independence of public universities and institutions of higher learning. This was to be done through the abolishment of the UUCA and other restrictive laws, and replacing them with better laws. We also promised autonomy – freedom from political meddling and interests, especially concerning the appointment of Vice-Chancellors and their deputies.
To quote Dr Maszlee from an interview dated 7 June 2018:
“This is a new era. I will make sure that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will never misuse universities for political interests… this includes me.
“We will neither control and dictate to them (the universities) nor force them (to do anything). We really want the universities to enjoy their autonomy and cultivate academic freedom in their territory,” he said.
As such, it is highly inappropriate that Dr Maszlee be appointed to be IIUM’s President. Furthermore, his political secretary Mohd Nizam bin Morad has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). While details of Nizam’s appointment have not been made public, these two appointments cast doubt on the Education Ministry’s commitment toward academic freedom.
As an academic, Dr Maszlee holds the right credentials for the post. As the highest-ranked politician in the Education Ministry, holding the highest position in a university is a clear conflict of interest.
Whether the President role is executive or non-executive is immaterial. We should not be breaking our manifesto by using loopholes.
I therefore urge YB Dr Maszlee Malik to relinquish his appointment as IIUM President immediately. To fail to do so would be failing the students who counted on us to restore academic freedom. To fail to do so would be a slap on the face to the student activists blacklisted, harassed or detained under the UUCA. And to fail to do so would signal to our youth that Pakatan Harapan has no integrity. In that case, we can no longer blame our youth for swearing off politics for good.
LIM YI WEI
Selangor State Assemblywoman for Kampung Tunku
DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Petaling Jaya Utara Chairman