Malaysian government’s outrageous action Down Under

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.

cutcaster-photo-100667002-Freedom-of-Speech

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

Mustafa

Dr Mustafa K Anuar, the honorary secretary of Aliran and co-editor of our e-Newsletter, is concerned about issues of press freedom and freedom of expression in our society. He is also a Fellow at the Penang Institute.

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3 Responses

  1. charleskiwi says:

    Now the people know, except the PSD, who is clearly a lackey of the government, why they are loosing the support of the educated Malays.
    It is also the reason why they are only a minority elected tenants at Putrajaya. Or do they ?
    Since independence the government has been a majority elected government until now. Have they overlooked this ? Or, as usual, the PSD, under instructions from the administrators at Putrajaya have to act accordingly ? When will the present regime wake up to the fact their policies are not getting them the results they want and desire….

  2. james sebastian says:

    This is a serious case of”do as I tell you but don’t do as I do” attitude of our dumno government.

  3. ARH says:

    Our leaders seem clearly to have lost their perspective, out of touch with reality and a sense of fair-play. They seem to be inflicted with a kind of narcisssistic personality
    disorder.
    ,
    They develop a tendency to automatically equate dissension with disloyalty.
    To them any criticism of the government can be regarded as sedition, or subversion
    and therefore unwarranted. They are always right and others wrong.

    The concept that any status quo is perfect and permanent that one must under no
    circumstances raise questions, voice doubts or seek improvement can only produce
    complacency, then stagnation and finally collapse. It doesn’t do any good to pretend
    there is never anything wrong anywhere, for there is always something, big or little –
    wrong everywhere or somewhere.

    We can only strive for perfection, but realistically and unlikely we will be able to
    achieve it. Very often it is the dissenter who points out the flaws. He is a sceptic
    who doubts, questions, and probes – hence more likely able to discern lacks,
    weaknesses, and abuses, than his complacent comrades.

    Dissenters are also more alert and sensitive to the winds of change. Such people,
    out of concern, cries for action and makes changes voluntarily before it’s too late. But
    even IF cries of problems which do not really exist he still performs an important
    and valuable service to society. He may create naught but controversy, but if he is
    allowed to speak, is heard and answered, he has served to stir the imaginations of
    others.

    There is nothing wrong with good honest dissent and criticism. We need both for
    the progress of our society. The stifling of dissent is not only a negation of our
    constitutional gurantees of free speech, but also a renunciation of the most basic
    and precious democratic principles. Only if there is an open and free discussion
    can there be an end to the growing trend toward complacency and make possible
    for our country to achieve progress and the status of a developed nation.

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