It would have been hilarious if not for the fact that Malaysia’s Public Service Department (PSD) in Australia was serious enough to issue a show-cause letter to a final-year government scholar who had merely participated in a public forum together with opposition DAP MP Tony Pua.
Aliran condemns this terrible act on the part of the government to punish Aslam Abdul Jalil for being a panelist at the ‘Race, Religion and Royalty’ forum at the Australian National University on 22 April – a discussion conducted in a civilised fashion as expected of an academic institution worth its salt.
Besides, this sort of discussion is a normal practice in many established and renowned academic institutions abroad – in keeping with democratic traditions which encourage open debate and discussion – unlike many of their Malaysian counterparts, which unabashedly resort to intellectual censorship to suppress openness of this nature.
It is indeed outrageous that the Malaysian government finds it fitting to monitor and reprimand overseas students who are critical in their thinking – the same way it often does to students back in Malaysia.
The country’s leadership, many of whom studied abroad, should understand this and cease treating students, especially the critical and conscientious ones, as if they’re dumb and expected to submit blindly to the dictates of the government all in the name of patriotism.
Any attempt to silence critical thinking would indicate the government’s insecurity and penchant to exert control over thinking minds.
We call upon the government to retract the show-cause letter so that Aslam can complete his studies without any unnecessary hassle and anguish. We need students like him to serve our country, on their return, in a more intelligent, critical and conscientious manner.
Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Hon Secretary, Aliran
21 June 2014