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Hands off academics behind Rome Statute paper, students warn gov't

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A group of student activists has warned the government not to violate academic freedom.

This followed media reports purporting that the Education Ministry would discuss the status of four academicians who are purportedly behind the Rome Statute paper that was supposedly used to convince the Conference of Rulers to reject the international convention.

They said the government should make counter-arguments against the academicians rather than take action against them. 

Otherwise, they added, the present government is no different from the previous BN-led administration.

“We had exposed the paper so that it can be debated by all members of society since it has been adopted in its entirety by the royalty to reject the Rome Statute. The lecturers’ paper should be debated and the lecturers themselves should step forward to defend their arguments.

“We feel this debate should happen because the government has washed its hands with the excuse that the Rome Statute issue has been manipulated by certain quarters to sow confusion. The government is not taking the initiative to clarify the confusion and educate the public on the Rome Statute,” they said in a statement today.

They also urged the four academicians to step forward to explain themselves.

The statement was jointly issued by student activists Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, Ainina Sofia Adnan, Nurhuda Ramli, Suhail Wan Azahar, Ahmad Taqiyuddin Shahriman, Wong Yan Ke, Chong Kar Yan, Nik Azura Nik Nasron, and Siti Nurizzah Mohd Tazali.

The same group of students activist had exposed the paper yesterday, saying that the arguments contained in the paper are “very biased” against the Rome Statute and pointed out some errors. 

They had also started an online petition urging the government to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, citing the need to seek justice for victims of Flight MH17 that was shot down over Ukraine. 

They were responding to a report by Sinar Harian quoting Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching saying that the ministry has yet to discuss the status of the four academicians but would soon do so.

“We will discuss, but at the ministry level, there has yet to be a full discussion. Give us some time to discuss the matter,” she was quoted as saying.

Teo has since clarified that she was not referring to the status of the four academicians, but the issues being raised by the students about them.

“When asked at Parliament, my response was that there is no discussion at the Education Ministry so far about the issues raised by the nine students about the four academics.

“I asked for time for the issues the students raised to be studied or discussed comprehensively,” she said in a statement.

The four academicians purportedly behind the paper are Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) law professor Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) law professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) law lecturers Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi.

Malaysiakini had contacted all four academicians for comment. 

Rahmat who responded today said: “I am aware of the matter (revelation by the student activist). I apologise as I am unable to make any statements at the moment.”

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