The Malaysian Academic Movement (GERAK) has pointed out that politicians should stop interfering with local universities to ensure the independence of these institutions.
This came after a video on 7 October that showed new students receiving their offer letters from a politician to attend Universiti Utara Malaysia at Dewan UMNO in Sik, Kedah.
The ceremony was officiated by Sik Kedah Division UMNO Chief Datuk Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah and the video of the ceremony was then uploaded on Mohd Tajuddin’s Facebook on 11 October.
Meanwhile, netizens were questioning why the students had to turn up at the Dewan UMNO to collect their admission letter, instead of being at the university or some public places.
GERAK Malaysia has also raised the matter in a statement on 29 October, questioning 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?”
“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 said.
Besides, GERAK Malaysia said that public universities must be independent and free of external pressures, adding that students should be exposed to alternative discourses and critics too, 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.” GERAK Malaysia said.
Nonetheless, some also raised questions concerning the student selection process in receiving the university admission.
GERAK Malaysia said the award ceremony in this incident could have misled the public into thinking that UMNO had an upper hand in the student selection process.
Hence, to avoid these misunderstanding, GERAK Malaysia has urge that such practices must stop and urge the Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad to look into the matter.
At the same time, GERAK Malaysia maintained that university administrators must separate their university responsibilities from their personal agendas, political views and aspirations.
GERAK Malaysia also said that if the administrators wish to further their personal agendas, they should set up their own universities without using public funds.
Read the full statement from GERAK Malaysia here: