Asia’s best debater, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, 23, has been banned from a third public university, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), after he had earlier been banned from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) and Universiti Tenaga National (Uniten).
The Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh had passed the buck of responsibility for the ban on Syed Saddiq by Usim and Uniten to the public universities concerned, claiming that the ban was because of the autonomy which his Ministry had devolved to the public universities.
Idris cannot wash his hands from responsibility for the ban on Syed Siddiq so easily.
Everybody knows that Idris was evading his responsibility as Higher Education Minister and was trying to pass the buck of the ban by Usim and Uniten to the public universities concerned.
But the third ban on Syed Siddiq by Unimas provides irrefutable proof that there was a directive from the Higher Education Ministry to all public universities to declare Asia’s best debater as persona non grata in the campus of all public universities.
Can Idris explain why he has the gumption to issue a directive from the Higher Education Ministry to all public universities to ban Syed Siddiq as a speaker at all public university forums and talks but does not have the guts to accept responsibility and to defend his repressive and regressive action which goes against the very concept of universities of excellence producing university graduates with critical, inquisitive and first-class minds?
Nobody believes that the public universities will on their own volition, one after another, impose a ban on Syed Siddiq without a directive from Idris’ Higher Education Ministry.
Idris should stop the despicable practice of throwing stones but hiding his hands but should muster up the courage to own up for his undemocratic and repressive action in the public universities, and best of all, have the humility to admit that the Higher Education Ministry was wrong in issuing such a directive to ban Syed Siddiq from the public universities – which makes nonsense of the autonomy which the public universities are supposed to be exercising in the new era of academic freedom in public universities.
If Idris is not prepared to immediately revoke the ban on Syed Siddiq in all the public universities, I call on the youths in Malaysia to make the ban on Asia’s best debater, Syed Saddiq in public universities the cause célèbre to demand academic and democratic freedom for Malaysian students and youths.