Don’t prevent intellectual discourse, Maszlee warns varsities

Education Minister Maszlee Malik is puzzled over ban, considering that just two weeks into his stint as minister, he had declared that all universities were to become open spaces for intellectual discourse.

KUALA LUMPUR: Education Minister Maszlee Malik has reminded public universities not to prevent intellectual discourse after activist Hishamuddin Rais was prevented from speaking at a programme at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) last night.

Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament lobby, Maszlee said he was puzzled over the incident, considering that just two weeks into his stint as minister, he had declared that all universities were to become open spaces for intellectual discourse.

Last night, Hishamuddin said just as he was about to speak at a discussion titled “Reformasi Struktural: Mahathir dan Anwar lagi?”, he was told by organisers that the UKM administration was not allowing the programme to continue.

The event was organised by a group called “Diskopi”, comprising UKM lecturers and students.

Responding to UKM vice-chancellor Noor Azlan Ghazali’s explanation that the programme was cancelled as it was not registered with the university, Maszlee said there should be no need to seek permission to speak in open spaces in universities.

“This should be a lesson to public universities. Do not prevent any intellectual discourse.

“We should treat ‘Diskopi’ like a night school … encourage it to happen.

“Academic freedom is being killed as it is starting to live.”

Maszlee also said he would ask Hishamuddin to go from one university to another to speak, and that they must open up space to do so.