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    Update on Friday, March 15, 2002 11:41 PM

UM academics to ink loyalty pledge under protest

Yap Mun Ching
6:50pm Thu Mar 14th, 2002

Two days after taking a tough stand against the Akujanji or loyalty pledge, Universiti Malaya’s academic staff today said they will sign the agreement under protest.

“We have to balance economic implications and our principles. The half-way point for this is to sign under protest,” he told malaysiakini.

Rosli said the association is also drafting a letter stating the staff members’ objections to the implications of the Akujanji.

The letter will be distributed to be signed and later be included with the pledge documents which are due for submission to the Public Services Department by the end of the month.

On Tuesday, Rosli had decried the pledge an “affront to academic freedom” as it made it an offence for academic staff to comment on government policies without ministerial permission.

Rosli said a gag on government criticism would prevent academics from doing their work properly, as it would prevent effective teaching on subjects such as economics, social sciences and law.

UMSA had also called for the circular from the Public Services Department requiring academics to sign the document to be withdrawn and rewritten, taking into account issues which had violated basic human rights, academic freedom and workers’ rights.

Asked wether they had received a response, Rosli said the association had not received any feedback from the university’s administrative office or from the Public Service Department.

According to Rosli, the UMSA also held discussions with staff associations of Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Universiti Islam Antarabangsa.

No problems

Meanwhile, a UiTM lecturer who coordinated the discussion, Ali Dinar, said no problems surfaced regarding the pledge in his university.

“Everyone agreed to the pledge and almost all signed the document,” he told malaysiakini.

The Mass Communications lecturer added UiTM staff were satisfied and happy with the explanation given by the vice-chancellor with regard to their concerns.

On USM and UPM, Ali Dinar said “not so much problems” have arisen among their staff over the signing of the pledge..

However, he was unable to comment on the reception of the document by academics in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Staff representatives from other public universities were also unavailable for comment.

In a related matter, DAP chairperson Lim Kit Siang today urged all varsity academicians to take a united stand on their demand for the right to reject the loyalty pledge.

Lim said the Akujanji for civil servants and academicians raises the question on whether the government has lost sight of “core civil service values with selection and promotion based on merit, political impartiality and giving the best independent advice to government”.

“The pledge is even more inappropriate for public universities as it threatens their freedom to teach, research, publish and to speak extramurally,” he said.

The veteran politician added the pledge would also threaten the institutions’ role in the promotion and preservation of human rights, democracy, sustainable development, justice and civil society.

Redraft document

Lim also called on Education Minister Musa Muhammad to redraft the Akujanji document.

“Musa should instead set up a commission to formulate a Charter for Academic Freedom and University Autonomy to promote academic excellence to enable a successful transition to a K-economy and information society,” said Lim.

He added this could only be achieved with the fullest dialogue and consultation involving the government, universities, academicians, students and civil society.

However, Parliamentary Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department Khamsiyah Yeop said yesterday those who fail to adhere to the requirements of the pledge will be penalised accordingly.

“They will first be given a warning, a fine, followed by stripping of monetary benefits such as allowances. They may also be demoted and eventually asked to leave the service,” she warned.

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