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GERAK Malaysia Voices Concerns About Political Interference In Local Unis

GERAK Malaysia Voices Concerns About Political Interference In Local Unis

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s recent ceremony to award offer letters to students raised flags when it’s held at Dewan UMNO.

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On 7 October, a video showed new students receiving their offer letters to attend Universiti Utara Malaysia at Dewan UMNO in Sik, Kedah.

The letter giving ceremony was officiated by Sik Kedah Division UMNO Chief Datuk Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah.

A video of the ceremony was uploaded on Mohd Tajuddin’s Facebook on 11 October too.

The presence of an official from UMNO handing out the offer letters certainly raised doubts among netizens who came across the video and pictures online.

A few netizens wondered why the students had to turn up at Dewan UMNO to collect their admission letters.

Malaysian Academic Movement (GERAK) also raised their scepticism in a statement on 29 October and questioned the relationship between the political party and the public university.

“Why does UUM – or any public university – need a political party chief to award the admission letter on their behalf?” the statement reads.

“And, more worryingly, where does the relationship start and where would it end?”

“A public higher learning institution of repute is supposed to be above politics, to be the conscious voice of the rakyat, solely meant for teaching and research, and authorized to grant accredited academic degrees for the nation.”

GERAK Malaysia added that public universities must be independent and free of external pressures. This also means exposing students to alternative discourses and critics, instead of being led by beliefs held by any political party.

“Members of a political party hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or policy goals. The pyramidal structure, as exhibited in political parties in Malaysia, means that dissent is almost always deemed a blasphemous activity. There is this notion of party loyalty and collective responsibly,” said GERAK.

Image from MY PN/ FB

UMNO’s hand in the ceremony also raised doubts concerning the student selection process.

GERAK holds the impression that the ceremony might mislead the public into thinking that UMNO had a hand in the student selection process.

To avoid misleading the public, GERAK’s stand is that such practices must stop and urges the Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad to put a stop to the matter.

In the statement, GERAK maintains that university administrators must separate their university responsibilities from their personal agendas, political views and aspirations.

If the administrators wish to further their personal agendas, they are advised to set up their own universities without using public funds.

GERAK Malaysia’s full statement can be read on their Facebook page.

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