UPM’s one-semester suspension
of Lee Song Yong a grave violation of human rights and chilling reminder of
the stultifying control of Malaysian academia by Little Napoleons – to move
salary cut for Higher Education Minister in Parliament
____________ Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang
Thursday): The one-semester suspension of
second-year computer science student Lee Song Yong by Universiti Putra
Malaysia (UPM) for obstructing campus officers from confiscating his
personal belongings in the run-up to the campus polls in October is not
only a grave violation of human rights but also a chilling reminder of the
stultifying control of Malaysian academia by Little Napoleons which can
only perpetuate a culture of mediocrity.
It is most regrettable that the UPM had completely ignored the call by
SUHAKAM to stop the university disciplinary proceedings against Lee to
pave the way for SUHAKAM investigations into complaint of human rights
abuse by the university authorities.
This is another case where the higher education authorities have failed to
distinguish between the core functions of universities to be centre of
academic excellence from the petty details of regulatory control of
lecturers and students which are the refuge of “Little Napoleons”.
In the latest world’s Top 200 Universities Rankings released by Times
Higher Education Supplement (THES) a fortnight ago, Universiti Putra
Malaysia, which had never been listed in the Top 200 Universities Ranking,
still slipped 72 slots from No. 292 in 2006 to 364 in 2007.
It is most disappointing that the university administrators are unable set
an example in the nation to respond to calls for a “First-World mentality”
so that Malaysia can march towards fully developed nation status but
continue to be mired by mindsets and approaches which could only produce
universities and generations of mediocrity.
I propose to focus parliamentary and national attention on the disease of
mediocrity in the Malaysian universities as highlighted by the free-fall
of Malaysian universities in international rankings and the Little
Napoleon regimes resulting in victimization of free spirits like Lee Song
Yong which are antithetical to the development of a creative academic
environment and towering Malaysians in keeping with the Abdullah
administration’s slogan of “Cemerlang, Gemiling, Terbilang”.
I will give notice to move a motion to cut the salary of the Higher
Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad during the 2008 Budget
committee state debate on the Higher Education Ministry in Parliament on
Dec.5 to focus on the issues of government failures to restore a culture
of excellence and academic freedom to create world-class universities.