Home Civil Society Voices 2011 Civil Society Voices 131 academics, researchers in solidarity with Prof Abdul Aziz Bari

131 academics, researchers in solidarity with Prof Abdul Aziz Bari

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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).

Aziz Bari - Photograph: tvsnews.net

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 21 October 2011, the Rector of IIUM Prof Zaleha Kamaruddin has stated: “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.

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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.

24 October 2011

Signed by:


Dr Abdul Hamid Mat Sain
Prof. Abdul Rahman Embong
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
Joseph Algaraj
Assoc. Prof. Andrew Aeria
Ang Hean Leng
Dr Patricia Ang
Dr. Awang Azman Awang Pawi
Assoc. Prof Azizan Bahari
Dr Azly Rahman
Assoc. Prof. Azman Azwan Azmawati
Assoc. Prof. Azmi Sharom
Dr Azmil M. Tayeb
Dr. Chooi Beh
Boon Kia Meng
Dr Chan Chee Khoon
Chang Teck Peng
Dr Chee Heng Leng
Prof. Chin Kenpa
Chong Wu Ling
Dr Chong Fah Hing
Dr. Christopher Chong
Dr Chong Kok Boon
Chou Wen Loong
Chung Lee Peng
Dr Faisal Syam Abdol Hazis
Dr Faizal Ali
Dr Farish Ahmad Noor
Prof. Fatimah Mohamed Arshad
Assoc. Prof. Sharmani Patricia Gabriel
Dr Oommen George
Assoc. Prof. Goh Beng Lan
Prof. Alberto Gomes
Prof. Edmund Terence Gomez
Prof. Andrew Harding
Dr Hew Wai Weng
Dr Denison Jayasooria
Dr Jeniri Amir
Dr K.J. John
Prof. Andrew Kenyon
Emeritus Prof. Clive Kessler
Dr Khoo Gaik Cheng
Eddin Khoo
Koh Ea Boon
Lai Wan Teng
Dr Joanne Lim
Dr Lee Hock Guan
Dr Lee Hwok Aun
Dr Julian C.H. Lee
Leong Kar Yen
Leong May San
Pauline Leong
Assoc. Prof. Lim Hong Hai
Assoc. Prof. Lim Khay Thiong
Prof. Lim Teck Ghee
Prof. Francis K.W. Loh
Greg Lopez
Dr Mahyuddin Ahmad
Maimuna Merican
Dr Sumit K. Mandal
Dahlia Martin
Dr Maznah Mohamad
Prof Dr Mohammad Yusoff Ismail
Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
Assoc. Prof. Mohd Nordin Mohd Abdullah
Dr Joel Moore
Dr Muhammad Hamdi b Mahmood
Dr Musa Nordin
Assoc. Prof. Mustafa K. Anuar
Dr Yaso Nadarajah
Rose Nanju
Assoc. Prof. Helen Nesadurai
Dr Cecilia Ng
Dr Nor Hayati Sa’at
Dr Nor’azim Mohd Yunos
Dr Noraida Endut
Noor’ain Aini
Assoc. Prof. Norani Othman
Ng Boon Hooi
Dr Ngoi Guat Peng
Dr Nur Afifa Abdullah
Dr Ong Kian Ming
Dr Ooi Kee Beng
Prof. Pan Kok Long
Jeffrey Phang
Prof. Maude Phipps
Dr Phua Kai Lit
Prof. Rosli Omar
Dr Subramaniam Pillay
Por Heong Hong
Dr Mavis Puthucheary
Dr Arnold Puyok
Dr Rabaah Bt Tudin
Prof. Raja Amin Raja Mokhtar
Prof. Rashidah Shuib
Assoc. Prof. Rashila Ramli
Assoc. Prof. Rusli Ahmad
Dr Rohaya Mohd Nor
Dr Rohana Abdul Jalil
Dr Marina Roseman
Assoc. Prof. Rosli H Mahat
Dr Rusaslina Idrus
Dr Johan Saravanamuttu
Saw Teck Chee
Assoc. Prof. Shakila Abdul Manan
Assoc. Prof. Edmund Sim
Darshan Singh
Dr Hari Singh
Assoc. Prof. Siti Hawa Ali
Dr Soon Chuan Yean
Prof. Tan Sooi Beng
Tan Lee Ooi
Dr Taufiq Abdullah
Prof. Tham Siew Yean
Assoc. Prof. Tee Kim Tong
Dr Helen Ting
Dr Ting Su Hie
Dr Toh Kin Woon
Dr Adam Tyson
Prof. Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda
Prof. Wan Zawawi Ibrahim
Wang Lay Kim
Assoc. Prof. Bridget Welsh
Dr Amanda Whiting
Dr Diana Wong
Dr Wong Chin Huat
Wong Chip Choo
Dr Yeoh Seng Guan
Yong Kiat
Assoc. Prof. Young Suan
Assoc. Prof. Zaharom Nain

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UM Academic Staff Union (PKAUM)

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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20 Nov 2012 11.26am

Oh my goodness how can you call a person murtad just because they are saying something about the Sultan. Is the Sultan (flawless)?
Are you reverting to the Pharoah’s time oh I bet you don’t know what is a Pharaoh ..zaman Firaun where you regard the ruler as God.
If we do not question anything that they do are they then allowed to do anything? What is this a dictatorship? Stone age?

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
Frankie Fook-lun Leung
28 May 2012 10.17am

I support Professor. Malaysian higher education will have its reputation tarnished if professor is not fairly treated.

N. Foo
N. Foo
8 Nov 2011 2.50pm

This is simply an issue about academic freedom. Stop bringing religion into it.

N. Foo
N. Foo
8 Nov 2011 2.49pm

What has this academic freedom issuegot to do with religion? Get real!

Dr.Jeff Balan
8 Nov 2011 8.33am

The minister of Higher education has advised the professor to go into politics.(I AM GLAD TO BE BACK ON ALIRAN) sorry i need to shout this out.MyMalaysia Not 1 malaysia , My malaysia is for all not for a selected 1 group of a selected individuals who enrich themseves .A man who says he has the intellectual to be called minister of higher education needs to look back at his background and realize that”THERE IS A THIN LINE OF DEMARKATION BETWEEN A GENIOUS AND A FOOL

charlie chan
charlie chan
2 Nov 2011 5.43pm

yes we malaysians must all arise n fight this corrupted system perpetrated for years, this divide n rule game by our politicains must be revealed, our nation future is in our hands n all malaysians must unite, see billion dollar scandals n corruption in our nation , who cares? sacking top JUDGES is as easy as ABC? bringing millions of illegals n now 6 P to legalise these illegals. what country is this? where is nation building – our leaders are treating malaysians as enemies n welcoming all these million illegals as friends? what a dilemma?

31 Oct 2011 7.37pm

Malays must stop sabotaging themselves. In fact, its time to stop being just Malays and start becoming Malaysians! The comments above, with bad grammar and all, are supposedly by Malays who prefer to be just Malays, nothing more. They have much to lose.

31 Oct 2011 12.31pm

Typical. In issues of academia and freedom of expression, people look through the list and count the non-Malays & non-Muslims. Keep this up, and we’ll regress to the stone ages.

31 Oct 2011 8.24am

More than half or about 80 plus from those who didn’t agree with action taken by the UIAM to the Prof mention are non-Muslim and non-Malay (if I may say so).

In the sense that you are not a Malay which in the Constitution label them as Muslim, you yourself don’t REALLY know about how Muslim and Malay should behaved to their ruler. And further more…you all have no rights to give your opinion.

And for those who agree and also a Malay and Muslim,… please understand the second principle of Malaysia Rukunegara…which is Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara. Please read back and ask yourself honestly….

Ramli Ahmad
Ramli Ahmad
31 Oct 2011 7.24am

The opinion & the statement are very-very strong, truth & powerful and I would like to hear the authaurities concerned to reply with the same or better. The authaurities should understand the issue first.
I believe this issue, and other issues, would jeopardise the credibility of IIUM as well as Malaysia.

31 Oct 2011 12.34am

Prof Aziz is Melayu murtad n deserved action being taken.As can been seen from the numbers supporting Aziz murtad, the Chinese r exploiting this incident ….Profs r just pandai people. What tis country need is bijak people. Just bcoz u r profs, don’t think that u r free 2undermine the Sultan n Melayu. I congratulate whoever that had sent the warning to Aziz. We Malays need Malays who r not afraid to fight 4 ketuanan Melayu n Sultan….

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