Home Web Specials Changing times in Malaysia’s academia?

Changing times in Malaysia’s academia?

Public universities like UUM must remain neutral

Join us on Telegram and Instagram for the latest.

Mustafa K Anuar was taken aback to see a group of academics calling for political stability and support for the Muhyiddin Yassin administration.

Despite the overarching shadow of the pandemic, many changes – largely political – have occurred in the country in recent times that ordinary Malaysians cannot afford to overlook.

For one thing, the so-called Sheraton Move has upended Pakatan Harapan’s rule that promised to bring about fundamental social reform that many Malaysians have craved.

As if taking a cue, a number of lawmakers made a great leap from one political party to another or became independent, much to the chagrin of watching Malaysian voters.

As a result, the PH-led governments in Johor, Malacca, Perak and Kedah were destabilised and eventually collapsed in the hands of Perikatan Nasional.

And most recently, concerned Malaysians have been helplessly “entertained” by the protracted tug-of-war between Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s allies and Anwar Ibrahim’s group within the tenuous grouping called PH-plus over who should be the prime minister-designate should PH-plus succeed in regaining federal power.

To be sure, these frenzied political changes also have not escaped the attention of a group of local academics to the extent they dared to stand and be counted.

The times they are indeed a-changin’, given that many of these academics – who now have found their voice – have been inclined to be reticent in the past, especially when it comes to things deemed “political”.

So, it is ‘refreshing’ to note that 115 “local PhD scholars” from 21 public universities and four private university colleges recently issued a press statement, which was drafted “in just three days”, to urge Malaysians to give “full respect and support for the current government under Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister to steer the country”.

READ MORE:  Reforming higher education in Malaysia

It is, of course, within the democratic right of these academics to express their positive opinion about the standing of the PN government, just as other academics have the equal right to offer contrarian views. True blue scholars would surely defend the right of their peers to dissent in the interest of vigorous scholarship.

Besides, any academia worth its salt should provide a conducive environment for academics to indulge in vibrant seminars and forums to discuss the ramifications of such abrupt change of the federal government and the state governments concerned to enlighten fellow academics and students, and local communities around campuses. This is apart from them writing well-researched articles on such issues in academic journals and popular writings.

The so-called ivory tower has a vital role to play in this regard, to ensure that it is not detached from the society it is supposed to enlighten. For that matter, any concerned citizen, irrespective of whether they have a PhD, also has the democratic right to express views that are supportive of the powers-that-be or critical of it.

The academics’ public statement also called on all political parties “to stop any propaganda or efforts that could undermine political stability”.

While we understand and appreciate the dire consequences of political instability as articulated by these academics, it begs the question why, for instance, they did not find it a necessity to publicly express concern over the country’s stability when political manoeuvrings of certain politicians had brought about the collapse of duly elected PH governments in the states mentioned above.

READ MORE:  Politics delivery timeline realistic?

The general public would have to be convinced by sophisticated and robust arguments; merely claiming that hundreds of PhD scholars, who incidentally did not put their names on the dotted line, are also supportive of their concern would not suffice.

As intimated above, it would do Malaysian scholarship justice if the academics were to hold, say, online seminars and forums where various viewpoints are put to rigorous academic scrutiny, especially at a time when people and things are a-changin’.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Thanks for dropping by! 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.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x