Ministry not involved in decision to bar debater, says Idris

KUALA LUMPUR: Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh has denied any involvement of his ministry in debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahim’s cancelled talks at two universities, adding that the institutions involved had been given autonomy by the ministry.

“So it’s their decision. They have the right to decide whom should come in and whom should not come in,” Idris told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.

Syed Saddiq (pic) had been scheduled to talk about the plight of the Palestinians, refugee crisis as well as volunteerism among the youth at Uniten (Universiti Tenaga Nasional) and USIM (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia).

He said he had been barred from speaking at the two universities on the grounds that he would bring in “external provocation”.

Syed Saddiq said he was informed that his talk at Uniten was cancelled and the one at USIM was “postponed until the political scene gets better”.

USIM deputy vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Basri Awang Mat Dahan said in a statement late Wednesday that the university had used its discretion to postpone the event in order to avoid any form of disharmony on campus.

“The programme was postponed based on considerations of avoiding any form of disharmony on campus based on recent developments.

“The university reserves the right to make this decision and hopes all parties can respect it,” he said.

Syed Sadiq, three-time winner of the Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) Debating Championship’s Asia’s Best Speaker award, was one of the signatories of the Citizens’ Declaration that called for the resignation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The declaration, initiated by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was signed by Opposition leaders and political activists.

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Syed Saddiq , Idris Jusoh , USIM , Uniten , debater