COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
Emergence of opposition among professors augurs well for PH
I am proud that my former colleague Mohammed Agus Yusoff in the department of political science in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is part of the 70 academics who have endorsed Anwar Ibrahim as the country’s 10th prime minister.
Augus in an interview said he thinks that PH under the leadership of Anwar offers the best opportunity for Malaysians to be united under one political umbrella.
Anwar with his expertise and exposure offers the best opportunity for all Malaysians to build the country and at the same time defend the interests of Malays and Muslims.
However, the collective stand taken by the retired professors has perturbed the ministry of education. In a thinly veiled warning, the ministry said that while it respects the right of academics to their views, but as civil servants they are subject to rules and regulations that forbade them taking part in political activities.
The National Professor’s Council (NPC) a spineless group of academics has come out in opposition to the academics who are throwing their weight around Anwar.
It commented that since members of the group are retired academics, they cannot affix the title of “professor” to their names.
Retired academics can use the title if they were recognised with the title of professor emeritus.
Meanwhile two academics who were listed in the group of 70 have apparently withdrawn their names in support of Anwar. They are from the National Defence University (NDU) and UKM). They were probably under pressure from the authorities of their respective universities to de-link their names from the Group of 70.
Even if there other withdrawals under pressure, this is the first time in history that academics have come together to support the opposition coalition of PH under the leadership of Anwar.
Academics in public universities being conservatives and pro-establishment meaning pro-BN never had the moral courage to come out in the open to support the opposition.
Such a bold support for Anwar is indicative of the broader and more sweeping changes that present elections are going to encourage.
I was an academic in UKM for 25 years.
While students and academics were not necessarily pro-government, but the administration was.
Under the threat of the application of Universities and Colleges Act of 1971, opposition in the universities was throttled.
There was never an occasion that the Group of 70 academics whether retired or not would band together for the larger betterment of the country by supporting PH or their choice of Anwar as the future prime minister.
These academics are reading in between the lines as to which coalition has the possibility of coming to power.
Numerous predictions and surveys have demonstrated that PH will win the most number of seats, followed by PN and BN.
I am glad that the Group of 70 has endorsed the leadership of Anwar. Such an unprecedented move must have been slap on the face of the NPC.
This group has existed for some time in acting as moral force in support of government policies. In return the government has rewarded them with academic promotions and others.
The emergence of the Group of 70 academics is a direct affront to the NPC. It has shown that the NPC is not exactly the sole representative of the academic community in the country.
Such a division in the academic community augurs well for the development of the universities especially in the pursuance of democracy and critical thinking.