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PUBLIC universities in the country should not over-regulate themselves to the point of stifling academic freedom. This is why I view with grave concern the abrupt cancellation of a forum on Wednesday (May 13, 2015) in the International Islamic University (IIUM) involving Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli and Jasa representative Lokman Adam.

This is the second forum which IIUM abruptly cancelled in less than three weeks. On April 29, it also called off a forum on moderation, due to what is believed to be the presence of certain politicians there. This is not good governance — a practice which Media Statement by Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) promotes.

As an alumnus of IIUM, I am very disappointed. The duty of each university’s administration is to facilitate students with clear guidelines on student activities, not frustrate them.

No university will achieve international renown by shackling academic freedom and student activism. In the QS World University Rankings, IIUM is ranked 501 in the world last year, compared with Universiti Malaya’s improved 151.

I have been fighting for academic freedom and student activism for a long time, including campaigning for amendments to Section 15 of the old Universities and University Colleges Act. The Act was eventually amended in 2012.

The IIU’s decisions to call off the two sessions to exchange ideas also go against Prime MInister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s plea for students to “Ask why?” when officiating the National Academic Decathlon 2015 several days back.The PM had wanted students to be inquisitive and see both sides of the arguments.

Celebrating diversity of our nation must necessarily begin from celebrating the diversity of views and opinions for the common good.

GAN PING SIEUCo-President, CENBET

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