The Opposition is making a very big toss about Prof Dr Redhuan Othman’s removal as Director as University Malaya Centre for Democracy Elections (UMCEDEL) is nothing but a cheap ploy for political mileage, by distorting facts, manipulating online media postings and perpetuating the lie further via Opposition Leaders’ social media accounts.
Pro Anwarista-funded online skewed portal story:
Another blow to academic freedom, say Pakatan MPs on UM professor’s removal
BY ANISAH SHUKRY
Published: 30 June 2014
The removal of renowned political scientist Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Redzuan Othman from Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) is another blow to academic freedom and impartiality in public universities, opposition lawmakers said today.
They said the former UMcedel director was impartial in his research and had criticised both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat, but added that his impartiality was apparently not enough for BN, which was said to be unhappy with Redzuan for purportedly being opposition-friendly.
“The action by the Minister of Education is a disgrace and proves that he is unfit to be leading the main policy body to train and equip our young leaders with critical thinking and analytical minds,” DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told The Malaysian Insider.
“What is the point of conducting empirical studies to obtain reliable statistics for in-depth analysis, if one gets the sack when the conclusions are not favourable to BN?” he asked.
Pua said it was no surprise that local academics find it difficult to get their research published in international journals for peer recognition, noting that this culminated in poor international rankings.
“If the Ministry of Education cannot grant academic freedom and political impartiality to our local professors, in this case the study of political science, UM might as well shut down the entire department,” said Pua.
Pua said the ministry’s directive to Redzuan was “hardly surprising”, as it was not the first time it interfered in a university’s academic freedom.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP noted that Professor P. Ramasamy and Dr Aziz Bari were both forcibly removed from University Kebangsaan Malaysia and International Islamic University Malaysia, respectively.
DAP’s Seremban MP Anthony Loke told The Malaysian Insider that the move showed there was no room for academic freedom in Malaysia.
“An independent academic cannot survive in our public universities. It has been proven again that any independent minded academic will face this kind of pressure, especially when their research is not in favour of the ruling party.”
He said Redzuan’s research on elections was always accurate, and anyone unhappy with the results could simply disagree with his findings, rather than prevent him from conducting future studies with UMcedel.
“Redzuan has done tremendous work in the past few years in this field of election research… even though anyone can argue or disagree with his findings, I think he should be given the freedom to conduct his research.”
Loke, who is also DAP national organising secretary, urged the government to confirm whether it had interfered in the public university.
“If it is, I call upon Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to immediately retract that order and reinstate Redzuan as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and chief of UMcedel.”
DAP’s Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, a former lecturer himself, urged education ministers Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh to give their full commitment towards upholding academic freedom in higher learning institutions.
“[They must] make it clear to all civil servants and vice-chancellors that this academic freedom is a crucial part of improving our academic standards and rankings.
“Academics should not be punished for pursuing legitimate academic research including in the field of politics and political science even if the results do not seem favourable to the ruling party.”
Ong added that rather than be punished, Redzuan should be applauded for his efforts to carry out surveys on elections, a field in its infancy in Malaysia.
He pointed out that academic freedom, especially in the social sciences, was an integral part of pushing the research agenda in any university.
“It should be noted that UMcedel was accurate in predicting a win in the popular vote for Pakatan Rakyat in GE13 but that the BN would win the majority of seats,” he noted.
Ong said Redzuan had also chaired a UMcedel forum post-GE13, and invited himself, Umno’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and PKR’s Bukit Katil MP Shamsul Iskandar.
“This kind of engagement with BN as well as PR politicians should be part and parcel of the research agenda of any institute or centre that examines and does research on elections in Malaysia,” said Ong.
Following The Malaysian Insider breaking the news of Redzuan’s removal this morning, Saifuddin, the former deputy higher education minister, announced that he was quitting as senior research fellow at UM’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in solidarity with Redzuan.
In a Facebook post today, he confirmed that “certain quarters” from the Education Ministry had pressured Redzuan to quit as UMcedel director.
“But he did not make a big fuss of it. Today, his tenure as dean was also discontinued, even though he was nominated by the lecturers of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,” wrote Saifuddin.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Redzuan’s work in UMcedel has sealed his fate at the university.
It was learnt that over the last few years, UMcedel had irked Putrajaya with its various survey findings showing the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in a bad light.
One survey which was said to have rattled the BN was conducted during the run-up to the 2013 general election, where its findings showed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak trailed behind opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The UMcedel poll showed that more than 60% of voters surveyed favoured Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) manifesto, compared to just 50% for BN’s election pledges.
It also showed that 43% of respondents believed that Anwar was qualified to be prime minister, pipping Najib by four percentage points.
Najib had rubbished the findings and many BN supporters questioned the methodology used.
UMcedel in its reply noted that Najib had been pleased with earlier surveys after he had assumed office which painted a positive picture of him and the BN.
However, despite the projections, BN won the 13th general election but with a reduced majority, capturing 133 parliamentary seats. Pakatan, meanwhile, clinched 89 out of the 222 parliamentary seats.
Within the academic circles, it is common knowledge that Redzuan, a history professor, had often faced pressure from the Education Ministry over the centre’s findings.
The Malaysian Insider learnt that Putrajaya was also unhappy with Redzuan for purportedly being opposition-friendly, although he had on many occasions explained it by saying, “where would I be without politicians”.
Apart from surveys on the BN and Najib’s popularity, UMcedel had also conducted a study on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Umno elections.
Pressure against Redzuan included interference in his university programmes that involved PR leaders, which the academic had repeatedly resisted.
According to UM’s website, Redzuan was to serve as director from February 26, 2012 to December 31, 2014. It is understood that a ceremony will be held today to hand over his post to his deputy, Profesor Dr Md Sidin Ishak. – June 30, 2014.
The truth is far from these wild and baseless accusations.
Prof. Dr. Redzuan wasn’t removed from the UMCEDEL directorship recently. He left sometime earlier in the year.
What happened recently was his tenure as the Dean for the Faculty of Arts had expired and University Malaya (UM) did not renew it. The basis for the committee, which was chaired by the Vice Chancellor and comprises several Deputy Vice Chancellors and fellow professors to advise the university not to renew Prof. Dr. Redzuan is very simple and straight forward.
Prof. Dr. Redzuan’s mandatory retirement is less than six months.
It made better sense for UM to appoint someone who could serve the post as the Dean of Faculty Arts for more than six months. Otherwise, UM had to look for another chap to fill that post when Prof. Dr. Redzuan had to go by the end of the year.
One of the UM Research Fellows as usual. over reacted.
The Star story:
Published: Monday June 30, 2014 MYT 11:33:00 AM
Updated: Monday June 30, 2014 MYT 5:31:34 PM
Saifuddin quits as UM fellow in solidarity with dismissed Prof Redzuan
BY L. SUGANYA
PETALING JAYA: Former deputy education minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) has announced that he is quitting his position as University Malaya (UM) senior research fellow following the controversial dismissal of a professor at the university.
“On the principal of academic freedom and solidarity, I quit as Senior Research Fellow UM today. This is in relation to Prof Redzuan’s case,” he tweeted on Monday morning.
According to reports, UM’s political science lecturer Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman was asked to quit his position as director of Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) by the Education Ministry as the ministry was unhappy with independent surveys and polls on Malaysian politics conducted by the professor.
It was also reported that Professor Dr Redzuan’s position as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences department was not renewed.
The reports claimed that the professor’s termination was due to the dissatisfaction over the results of Professor Dr Redzuan’s surveys and polls, which allegedly showed Barisan Nasional in a bad light.
Whether or not UM is happy with Prof. Dr. Redzuan’s performance as Dean of Faculty of the Arts and/or Director of UMCedel, the fact is that he days are numbered due to the mandatory retirement.
The usual practice is civil servants due for retirement serve their leave which they have yet to utilise up to three months ahead of their last official day in service. Hence, if Prof. Dr. Redzuan has the same amount of unutilised leave, the change-over for a new Dean which is only 55 years old at this point of time is the right and logical choice.
It is sinister to suggest Ministry of Education usurp public institute of higher learning, especially UM which is the pioneer of all universities and alma mater of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, to propagate political lineage especially towards BN.
The Minister had always been professional in allowing the university office bearers to run their institution professionally.
Time has proven many academicians who were very critical of leadership like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the decisions he had eventually came to there senses saw through at it were about. later, the manifested their support forTun Dr Mahathir’s wisdom and visions. Personalities like Dr Chndra Muzaffar, Dr. Mohd Fairus Kharuddin, Ramlah Adam and even Jomo K Sundram.
Media statement by UM Vice Chancellor
Professor Mohammad Redzuan’s tenure not extended due to election process
Referring to the current news reports, highlighting the issue of Professor Mohammad Redzuan’s tenure as the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences not being extended, the management would like to state that this was a decision based on democratic and transparent election process.
The management would like to clarify that this election exercise is a normal process to decide the faculty deans for the upcoming term after their tenure expires on the 30th of June 2014.
The position of faculty dean is an administrative position, whereby the appointment is by the Vice-Chancellor for one term (2 or 3 years) and subject to the normal process of selection: application by academic staff, election by faculty members; followed by interview and a panel selection headed by the Vice-Chancellor.
In accordance with the University of Malaya constitution 2010, sub section 24(4) which provides the Vice-Chancellor the authority to appoint a Dean/Director for each faculty, school, centre, academy and institute, the Vice-Chancellor shall appoint the said Dean/Director from among three candidates who have received the highest scores.
From the list of the three candidates who received the highest scores from the elections held from the 10th to 12th June, an interview was conducted with each of the candidates from the 17th until 20th of June to decide on the appointment of the new Dean/Director for 2014.
Professor Mohammad Redzuan was shortlisted among two other candidates, Professor Dr Md Sidin Ahmad and Professor Dato’ Dr. Azizan Hj Abu Samah.
After lengthy deliberations, the management decided to appoint Professor Dr Md Sidin, 55, as the new Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, taking into account Professor Mohammad Redzuan’s, 59, expected retirement next year and the opportunity for Professor Dr Md Sidin to familiarize himself with his new role as Professor Mohammad Redzuan’s successor.
The management also took into consideration the the two terms served by Professor Mohammad Redzuan (3+2 years) with Professor Md Sidin’s appointment providing stability in line with the faculty’s succession plan.
The appointment of Professor Md Sidin, is timely as he was formerly the Deputy Dean (Postgraduate) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for 5 years and is seen as the perfect candidate to continue in the faculty’s outstanding culture of excellence in research.
Regarding the allegations of outside interference in the removal of Professor Mohammad Redzuan as the Director of University of Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (Umcedel), the management would like to take this opportunity to clarify certain issues regarding this matter.
Firstly, the management would like to categorically state that this decision was taken in the interests of the university and not in any way linked to any form of pressure from outside parties.
This decision was solely taken by University of Malaya in light of Professor Mohammad Redzuan’s impending retirement next year and to provide his deputy, Dr. Amir Saifude Ghazali an opportunity to familiarize himself with the responsibilities as a the survey body’s director.
Nevertheless, Professor Mohammad Redzuan will still be contributing his expertise as a member of UMCEDEL’s research group and as a professor in the History Department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
His invaluable knowledge and wisdom will certainly be asset in grooming the upcoming political researchers in maintaning UMCEDEL’s position as the premier political research body in the country.
Professor Dato’ Dr. Mohd Amin Jalaludin