Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 20th November 2008 at 10.30 am: 

Khaled Nordin should answer Rafiah’s serious charges of “kurang ajar” manner of termination and gender discrimination against university academic staff or face a RM10-cut censure motion 

The Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin should answer the serious charges by former Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya Datuk Rafiah Salim concerning the “kurang ajar” manner of her termination and gender discrimination against women university academic staff.

Even if Rafiah’s appointment as VC of University of Malaya is not to be renewed, why was she treated so shabbily as to be shunted around from pillar to post without knowing her fate until the very lasi minute? This is clearly a most shameful and ungrateful way to treat a person who has given 34 years of her life to public service.

I have said in Parliament that there is no transparency whatsoever about the Search Committee for the new VC for University of Malaya, why it was conducted in such secrecy that nobody in the university – not even Rafiah – knew that a new VC was being selected!

This has compounded the offence of the Deputy Higher Education Minister, Datuk Idris Haron in casting aspersions on her tenure as the first woman Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya, for which Idris must retract and apologise unconditionally unless he could justify his insinuation against Rafiah in Parliament.

Rafiah’s allegation of gender discrimination against women university academicians cannot be taken lightly.

Rafiah said female V-Cs were victims of gender discrimination, going by the shorter tenures offered to them compared with their male colleagues.

She was given a two-year tenure with a half-year extension to her contract.

Similarly, her female colleagues -- Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice-chancellor Datuk Professor Dr Sharifah Hapsah and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris vice-chancellor Datuk Professor Dr Aminah Ayob -- were given two-year contracts.

In contrast, other V-Cs who are male are given three-year contracts.

This is a serious charge which goes against the constitutional guarantee of no gender discrimination in the country.

Unless Khaled can give a satisfactory response and assurance of immediate stop to such discrimination against women academic staff in the public universities, DAP MPs will be moving a RM10 cut motion for the salary of the Higher Education Minister during the 2009 Budget Committee stage debate as a censure.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor