Press Statement: 21 October 2011
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the suspension of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) law professor Abdul Aziz Bari from his lecturing duties over his comments, relating to the royal decree on the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department raid of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church on Aug 3.
SUARAM views that the suspension of Professor Aziz is politically motivated and a violation of freedom of expression aimed purely to victimise him of his academic career. SUARAM views this development as a serious concern to the furtherance of human rights in Malaysia as the incident reflects on the lack of freedom and independence by academics in expressing their view and expert opinions without prejudice and fear.
“The Prime Minister on 15th of September has made a public statement on human rights reforms and shared that it is his vision that Malaysia aspires to the ranks of ‘developed nations but the events in place runs contrary to his statement as his call for reform did not reveal any significance changes if not for negative development’ It simply remains as an empty rhetoric and lacks in will and credibility” said Nalini Elumalai, Program Manager of Suaram.
SUARAM further comments that as an academic well-known for his views and opinions in Constitutional matters, Prof Aziz would naturally be expected to comment on this issue and in accordance with his professional obligations. If academics are subjected to disciplinary action for their professional views and opinions, then this violation impedes seriously on the development of the nation and democratic processes of the nation.
SUARAM would like to state firmly that all professional views and opinions made in the interest of public must be treated as a qualified statement and be protected as a privilege statement. Such statements must at all-time be respected and confined to the academic and public scrutiny and not be treated as seditious or offensive by way of law and disciplinary actions.
SUARAM also calls on the government of Malaysia to abolish the Sedition Act and the Aku Janji agreements and respect the academic freedom and the freedom of expression in Malaysia. Finally, SUARAM calls on the UIA management to drop all charges against Prof Aziz Bari.