Minister Khaled, leave the academicians alone

YOURSAY 'All this while, Umnoputras have been used to the academia parroting their positions, so Khaled has no choice but to resort to autocratic arguments.'

The strange case of Professor Aziz Bari


Cala: Dr Neil Khor has done a good job in challenging Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin's call to Professor Abdul Aziz to quit his Universiti Islam Antarabangsa's position. But is Khor correct and Khaled wrong?

To answer this question, two issues must be solved:

i) Are we, after all, embracing the modernisation theory?

ii) In any research endeavour, must the researcher be ‘value- free'?

First, Malaysia is clearly embracing the modernisation theory as we march forward to be more and more resembling the West. That explains why we take offence if someone says we live on the trees.

The very fact that UM's vice-chancellor is concerned about the university ranking is an ample proof that Malaysia wants to progress. But progress as experienced in the West is not done through shortcuts. If that is possible, there would have been many Albert Einsteins/Steve Jobs around.

Second, between the two accepted approaches to scientific research, quantitative research method is value-free, the other, qualitative research method allows a researcher to hold on to his values as long as he can defend his proposition.

As an example, William EB Du Bois was among others, wrote two books, The Philadelphia Negro (1899), and The Souls of Black Folk (1903) about the experience of downtrodden African Americans, whose works propelled him to be one of the greatest sociologists of modern time.

Had the climate for research been less friendly, America would not have been what it is today, a liberal democratic country. And Barack Obama would not be the president.

In sum, if university ranking is important to minister Khaled, he has to show some respects to the practice of ‘scientific community' and accepts its institutional arrangements. He has to accept the whole package, and leave the well-intended academician alone.

David Dass: Theoretically our university professors should comprise some of the most brilliant minds in our society. Professor Aziz Bari from his published opinions would fall into that category.

He may not always be right. But as Khor says there will be others to contradict him. In the realm of ideas and opinions, truth will be better arrived at through public debate and discourse.

We want our university professors participating in the public debate of issues that will affect the live of the nation and the lives of its people. Our academics have been astonishingly quiet thus far except for a few individuals like Aziz Bari and Azmi Sharom.

The question of political allegiances is a vexed one but not impossible to grasp. Legal analysis is not simply argument by logic alone. Legal reasoning is argument based on precedent.

Even the interpretation of statutes for instance requires reference to dictionaries, past cases and there are permitted rules of interpretation.

Milosevic: There was a brief moment in Malaysian history when its academic institutions had a whiff of the great intellectual culture of the West. This was during colonialism and its immediate aftermath, when our schools and university were comparable to Singapore's.

It is not a surprise that our indigenous culture simply could not sustain these institutions, while Singapore's leftover Chinese Confucianism could.

In addition, there is a genuine divide in Malaysia between notions of Islam as the source of all true wisdom (the Cordoba nostalgia) and the diminishing cultural space for rationality. So the mess.

The country can increase its R and D (research and development) budget (after cronies get their cut) and buy technology, but the leaders and general culture will stifle modern creativity because they do not know what it means.

Loyal Malaysian: All this while, Umnoputras have been used to the academia parroting their positions, so Khaled Nordin has no choice but to resort to autocratic and unreasonable arguments.

Yes, mentioning Ridhuan Tee Abdullah is good enough to show how out of touch Khaled is.

Swipenter: The Umno-BN government is really afraid of the intellectual class especially if they are Malays rising against them by pointing out how they are misgoverning the country and abusing the laws of the country to their benefits.

In the case of Prof Aziz Bari, they cannot demonise the professional opinions of the good professor. Educated Malaysians would not tolerate such oft used tactics to cow him into silence and conformity.

Restless_Native: BN leaders are all kampong boys trying to administer the 'old boy' rules in a global economy. That we as Malaysians are able to swallow so much idiocy speaks volumes for our tolerance.

The inconsistencies of policies, the posturing along racial lines, the wholesale prostitution of ideals in the legislative, judicial, executive and administrative branches of government, simply boggles the mind.

If merit were the sole criterion for holding office, not one of the current so-called leaders of the BN would make it. Due process, simple comprehension of the constitution and the concept of free speech are all lost on these band of jokers.

 


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