Rome Statute: Leave four academics to be censured by institutions, colleagues

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The International Criminal Court

The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) writes to express our concern and disagreement with Alwi Jantan in his open letter to the education minister.

In it, Alwi, a former chief secretary to the government and now a G25 member, seeks to discipline the four academics at the centre of the controversy involving the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

He calls for the punishment of the four academics – Universiti Teknologi Mara deputy vice-chancellor and law professor Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University Malaysia law associate professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) law lecturers Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi.

The four have been in the public eye after student activists leaked the executive summary of a presentation they made to the Council of Rulers. The document was distributed to the online media and also through social media.

The presentation argued that there were negative implications, particularly for Malaysia’s constitutional monarchs, of Malaysia becoming a signatory to the Rome Statute.

Since then, the contents of the executive summary have been scrutinised and publicly critiqued by other academics, lawyers and even the students.

At a widely publicised and reported forum in Universiti Malaya on 27 April, six speakers, led by Attorney General Tommy Thomas and constitutional law expert Shad Saleem Faruqui, systematically debunked the four academics’ crude and erroneous assertions.

It was telling that despite being invited to defend their stand, all four academics failed to attend the forum. Indeed, since the expose by the activists, the four seem to have gone into hiding.

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We reiterate our stand that these four academics, like other professionals, must defend the credibility and integrity of their work or suffer irreparable damage to their – and their institutions’ – reputation.

But we disagree with this call for their punishment based on three grounds specified in Alwi’s letter.

First, that they needed to get the permission of their vice-chancellors before issuing any public statement.

This is an archaic civil service ruling that goes against any notion of academic freedom and freedom of expression. Gerak continues to oppose this, with no exceptions – even in the case of these four academics.

Second, that they went against government policy.

Wasn’t this the ruling that allowed the previous regime to pillage our country and drain our resources and much of our life savings?

As academics, often studying and scrutinising society, we must be given the freedom to question policy. Sometimes we get it wrong, as in this case. But most times, we get it right. Poor research abounds in our society. But we can only get better if we are allowed the space to question and challenge.

Third, that they gave wrong advice to the rulers.

This perhaps is their biggest `crime’. Why they did so, we can only speculate. But being publicly humiliated surely is a high enough price to pay already? Let us leave them to be censured by their institutions and colleagues.

Of course, if they had any integrity, even without official censure, the four should make a public apology to all affected parties – the academic community, the government, the Council of Rulers and, of course, the Malaysian public.

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Keeping silent is not an option.

Gerak executive committee

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S Seeveratnam Jothiratnam
5 May 2019 9.05pm

Will that happen? Looking at our institutions, I doubt it very much.

Bryan Wong
5 May 2019 12.14pm

Listen to the reasoning he brought up. Then use own god given discernment to make. judgment. Not because of who He is or who he may be loyal to .
Rather on whether what he states makes sense or not.
Do not be manipulated to how to feel. Use own common sense and intuition or instinct .

https://youtu.be/njup7NOky30

Lim Heng Hin
5 May 2019 9.05am

Shame and sack them! This is all to it to proof that we as a country still have capable people to sanction these idiots that help destroy the country’s image.

Raymond Loh
5 May 2019 7.53am

The problem here is the effect of their continued “guidance” and impact on the uni students by their incompetence and intellectual dishonesty. Surely it’s way past time to raise the standard of our graduates.

Pau Kar Liau
5 May 2019 7.37am

Agree