HULU LANGAT: No one is prevented from speaking at public institutions of higher education.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) said that all parties were free to speak and hold debates at universities.
“Universities should be an open intellectual space,” he said after launching the Life-Saving Skills Programme and Water Safety and Rescue Awareness Module For Malaysian Schools 2018.
He was commenting on social activist Hishamuddin Rais’ statement alleging that he was not allowed to speak at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
Dr Maszlee said that in his six months of being a minister, opposition members, including from Umno and PAS, were still speaking at public universities.
“We have a speakers’ corner (in public universities) which is free for everybody,” he said.
Dr Maszlee has asked UKM to clarify the matter.
UKM vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali said the university was not informed about the Hishamuddin event.
“We have no issue allowing politicians or activists to speak on our campus, but (his event) was not on our record.
“To make things worse, the venue (he) wanted to use was already booked for another event by students, which was on our record and had been approved.
“However, I was informed that the students were willing to give up their venue for his programme,” Prof Noor Azlan said.
He added that he was out of town when the incident happened.
Hishamuddin alleged that UKM disallowed him from delivering a lecture on contemporary Malaysian politics on Tuesday that was organised by fellow students and lecturers.
Prof Noor Azlan said UKM had no security at the entrance, signifying their openness to having any individual or group hold events and give talks on the campus.
“The presence of a security division is only to ensure public order,” he said.
However, he said that minimal standard operating procedures must be fulfilled for anyone seeking to hold events or speak on the campus.
“Whether they are our students, faculty members or individuals and groups from outside, they need to submit information, alerting us on the number of people they have invited for the programme, as well as submitting a request to use our venues.
“It’s not to vet the programmes but to facilitate them, ensure security is in order and the requested venue is available.
“UKM subscribes to the idea of opening and intensifying student activities, promoting debate and all kinds of discussion on campus – we have organised many before,” he said.
In a press statement, Prof Noor Azlan further elaborated that the university’s management never issued instructions to cancel or prevent the organisation of the programme.
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