Friday, April 26, 2024

Don't punish UM for allowing talk by controversial US don

P Ramasamy
Published: Apr 26, 2024 11:12 AM

COMMENT | All academic programmes associated with US academician Bruce Gilley have been cancelled at Universiti Malaya.

Recently, Gilley (above), a professor of political science at Portland State University, US, spoke on the topic of Malaysia as a rising middle power.

In his speech, he said it would be difficult for Malaysia to aspire for middle power given its low level of relationship with the US.

Furthermore, he noted that Malaysia cannot aspire to be one when it is “pushing for a second holocaust against the Jews in the state of Israel”.

While it was certainly alright for Gilley to take a critical look at the aspirations of Malaysia to be a middle power, there was no necessity to say its leaders were pushing for the collective elimination of the Jews, something that happened in Germany under the dictator Adolf Hitler.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu’s statement in calling for the elimination of Israel might have been taken out of context. The anger over the treatment of the Palestinians was not an indication of calling for the holocaust against Jews.

Although I am no fan of Malaysian foreign policy, there is no evidence to say that the country has intentions to collectively and collaterally destroy the nation of Israel or call for genocide against Jews.

Malaysia is not the only country that is highly critical of the Zionist policies of the state of Israel. There are many others.

Long-overdue justice

In recent years, many countries have registered strong protests against the high-handed genocidal policies of the Zionist regime in Israel including the public in the US.

However, Malaysia apart from its incessant protests against the state of Israel, has not come forward to pursue the two-state solution for the eventual settlement of the Palestinian issue.

This might be the weakness of Malaysia, especially the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar might have been very vocal about the Palestinian struggle for their emancipation, but unfortunately, he has not been taken seriously by the superpowers like the US.

Malaysians in general are seeking justice for the Palestinians, long accustomed to captivity in their homeland.

I have not come across evidence of Malaysia asking for the extermination of the state of Israel. What we want is long-overdue justice for the Palestinians, and this is not the same as seeking the extermination of the Jewish nation.

The horrors of the first holocaust are fresh in the minds of Malaysians. Why would the country seek another holocaust? It makes no sense at all.

Gilley must have certainly gone overboard in saying that Malaysia is seeking the annihilation of the Jews. This is clearly unacceptable and outright rude.

The Higher Education Ministry has since cancelled all of his programmes.

A warning suffices

The academic has since taken down his controversial and unsavoury post. He has also apologised to his friends at the university for making life difficult for them.

The latest news is that he has left the country claiming it was not safe for him.

Former education minister Maszlee Malik

The demand by the former education minister Maszlee Malik for the Higher Education Ministry to punish those responsible for allowing the talk by Gilley is not acceptable. As a former minister, he ought to know the importance of free exchanges of ideas even if they are controversial.

A warning to those involved in organising the Gilley talks at UM might be all that is necessary.

Let us not bother the present Higher Education Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir as he has little or no experience in managing academic matters.

Let the university authorities amicably deal with the matter without interfering with the principle of open discussion and exchange of ideas.

I quite agree with Professor Tajuddin Rasdi that controversial talks by academicians are common in universities. Tajuddin remarked that there have been controversial talks and presentations in public universities.

I would have preferred local academicians to have taken the opportunity to engage with Gilley on the matter of the “extermination of the Jews”. Such an exchange of ideas will be more beneficial to the country.

Let this incident pass because further squeeze on academia should be avoided in the country.

P RAMASAMY is a retired UKM professor, former deputy chief minister II of Penang and is currently the interim chairperson of United for the Rights of Malaysians Party (Urimai).

1 comment:

  1. There are now calls for University Malaya to be boycotted.