Five academics who were cited in a Today article that was subsequently taken down issued a public statement on Saturday (19 January) to say that they stand by their comments published in the piece.
“We would like to reiterate that we stand by our individual comments… which were accurately reported,” said professors John DiMoia, Axel Gelfert, Linda Lim, Andrew Quitmeyer and Woo Jun Jie.
All five, who are now based at universities overseas, were quoted in the article, “Opaque policies, fixation with KPIs, rankings: Why arts and humanities academics quit NUS, NTU”, published on 6 January. The piece was taken down on 10 January.
In their statement, the academics said they understood that the article was removed due to an “unspecified ‘legal challenge’ presumably from one of the universities”.
Responding to queries from The Sunday Times, a Today spokesman had earlier said that the “article was taken down as it is the subject of a legal challenge and our lawyers are looking into the matter”.
Freedom of expression ‘foundational’
“As academics with collective experience in many countries besides Singapore, we believe that freedom of expression and active public debate are foundational to scholarly excellence and the advancement of human knowledge,” said the professors’ statement.
The professors also noted that they were unaware of other incidents in which media reporting of faculty opinions have been subject to such a reaction from a university.
In response to the Straits Times’ queries about the statement, a National University of Singapore (NUS) spokesman said in reference to the statement, “NUS upholds the principles of academic freedom and open inquiry, which are central to our culture of academic excellence and continual improvement…
“Therefore the university also wishes that any article about us published in our mainstream media should be impartial and factually accurate, so that the public can come to its own conclusions in a fair and objective manner.”
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