In Putrajaya, students stage sit-in protest over Maszlee’s appointment as IIUM president

Danial Dzulkifly
Law student Asheeq Ali says that Maszlee must keep his word and ensure that public universities remain free from political influence. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 7 ― A group of five students staged a sit-in protest in front of the Ministry of Education at Precinct 1 here today, demanding that the Education Minister Maszlee Malik reject his appointment as the international Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) President.

The students, who are from IIUM and Universiti Kebangssan Malaysia (UKM) said that they will protest and not leave until Maszlee steps down as IIUM president.

Asheeq Ali, 23, a law student from UKM said that Maszlee must keep his word and ensure that public universities remain free from political influence.

“He has made promises and pledges in the past that the new administration would protect the autonomy of universities and would not place any political actors in a learning institutions.

“However with him accepting the post, he has gone against his own pledge. We do not stand for such actions and ask that he step down immediately as the president of IIUM,” he said.

Asheeq also asked Maszlee to follow the example of Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad who let go of the Education Minister post after only one day following public backlash of his dual role.

He added that it is important for universities to be apolitical.

“This is to ensure that universities are not turned into factories that produce students who are brainwashed by the government of the day as what happened in the past 61 years under Barisan Nasional. We want to be able to voice our criticisms without fear or favour.”

IIUM law student Siti Nurizzah Dazali, 24, said she wants the government of the day to understand that educational freedom and autonomy in universities goes beyond freedom of speech.

“When we speak of educational freedom, it is not a matter of only being able to be critical of the powers that be but free from political interference in all forms,” she said.

Huda Ramli, 30, an Arabic linguistics post-graduate student from IIUM, who is also Maszlee’s former student said she used to admire his critical assessment of governance and academic freedom in the country.

“Maszlee often spoke about autonomy in universities. He has even written a book on good governance. What happened to the principles and good governance that he often espoused?’’ she asked.

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