PETALING JAYA: Youth activist Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman today slammed the ever-growing restriction on academic freedom, after a scheduled talk he was to deliver was cancelled at the last minute.
Asia’s three-time top debater however, praised members of the organising committee of the 2016 Kolej Yayasan UEM Summit, who on Saturday announced their joint resignations from the event in protest of the cancellation.
According to Syed Saddiq, he was invited to speak at the Summit which provided a platform for intellectual discussion on contemporary issues in an “unfiltered way.”
His participation was confirmed in July, but three days ago, he received news that his services as a speaker were no longer needed.
“This is not the first last-minute cancellation and I know that this won’t be the last. Academic freedom in Malaysia is still an illusion.
“Universities and colleges shut the eyes and ears of our students to issues which will impact their lives now and in the future,” said Syed Saddiq in a statement today.
He said he was compelled to speak out against the cancellation of his talk this time around after the joint resignations of the Summit’s organising committee members, who did so as a sign of protest against the limitation on freedom of speech.
“I was informed that they were ordered to replace (the speakers) Wan Saiful Wan Jan, S Ambiga and myself.
“I was also informed that their (the organising committee members) scholarships were on the line if they personally spoke up against the decision, yet they still proceeded by releasing a strongly-worded statement.”
Syed Saddiq, who is also one of the seven founding members of the new Opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, praised the “heroes and heroines” of the committee for taking a firm stand on the issue.
“Heroes or heroines like you are the ones who give oxygen to our country, the ones who inject hope in Malaysia, the ones who will shape the moral fabric of our country in the future.
“Heroes or heroines like you are the very reason why I still choose to fight the fights I am in now. You inspire me.”
He also promised to go all out should the committee members face repercussions for their action, saying that he would throw his “mind, body, soul”, and even his life savings to support them.