USM Prof: Academics Need Not Fear to Speak Out

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS

USM Prof: Academics Need Not Fear to Speak Out

Academics fear unnecessarily - first, their deans, then their vice-chancellors and third, the minister, says Universiti Sains Malaysia's (USM) Professor Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican.

Academics have long second-guessed the authorities and this has only led to the decline on intellectualism in the country, especially in the sphere of discussion on issues which are deemed sensitive.

Professor Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican of the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies (Cenpris), USM laments that such a situation is not healthy for it puts a lid on discussions which if allowed, will enrich the society.

Murad, who is an expert on social theories of community involving race and racism, says that there is a need to allow ambiguity among academics. He believes ambiguity allows intellectualism to thrive.

Should the fear of speaking out cow academics, Murad says that academics in the country will become too cautious. This in turn, will lead to a situation where they must rethink of their role in society.

"They are not deprived of their rights, they are being extremely cautious, which I would say that they must rethink on where they are.

"Here, academics must provide objective knowledge through the teachings and through their research and through their observation. But academics are not playing that role.

"Because they don't know their functions as academics, they don't know their functions as intellectuals,” says Murad.

He reminds fellow academics that they exist to enlighten society by making commentaries about both the society and the government.

"We have to make comments, we have to talk about it but most academics are not aware of that space given."

"One, they fear their deans. Second, they fear their vice-counsellors. Third, they fear their minister,” says Murad simply.

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