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    Updated on Friday, February 8, 2002

University staff expected to protest loyalty pledge

01:04pm, Thu Susan Loone, Malaysiakini, 8 Feb
University staff associations throughout the country are expected to issue a joint-statement before Chinese New Year to protest the compulsory signing of the Aku Janji or ‘I Pledge’ loyalty contract required by the government.

Universiti Malaya academic staff association chairperson Rosli H Mat said today an emergency general meeting was held at the university yesterday to discuss the matter as the pledge is seen as a restriction on academic freedom.

Rosli said the university’s lecturers are unhappy with a clause of the oath that states that they are required not to bring or attempt to bring any form of outside influence or pressure to support or advance their claim or that of other public officers relating to the public service.

We do not accept this contract as a whole. It’s very general and we could get into trouble for anything, he told malaysiakini.

If it’s meant to be just a reminder, why do we need to make such a pledge or contract? he asked.

Rosli said it would also be difficult for academics to take action against the university in future if they are bound by such a contract.

He said it is still unclear if there would be repercussions for academic staff do not sign the document. The contract only states that whoever breaches it is liable to disciplinary action under the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993.

’Comply with orders’

As with all civil servants, academics have until March to sign the nine-point document which requires them to ‘comply with orders issued by the government from time to time throughout their period of service’.

The contract requires civil service members to pledge their loyalty to the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, the country and the government.

On Jan 16, Universiti Malaya senior administration staff became the first among all public universities to sign the pledge.

UM’s vice-chancellor Prof Dr Anuar Zaini said UM was being ‘pro-active’ by signing the pledge before other public institutions of higher learning did although the university’s staff have until March 1 to do so.

Six top UM officials, including the vice-chancellor, signed the pledge at the university’s Perdanasiswa auditorium before a crowd of 800 staff.

Volley of protests

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had on Oct 8 ordered all civil servants along with teachers, university lecturers and undergraduates to sign the pledge of loyalty and good conduct.

The premier said the move was to check the ‘poisoning of the minds’ in the country’s educational institutions and to ensure that students and academics stick to their respective roles — students to gain knowledge and not indulge in anti-government activities while academics to perform their duties professionally.

The requirement has sparked a volley of protests from those affected including from Cuepacs, the umbrella body for some 850,000 civil servants.

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Malaysiakini, Susan Loone

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