Media Statement by Tony Pua, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP National Publicity Secretary in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 20 June 2014
I would like to express my shock and disappointment that the Malaysian Public Service Department (PSD) has issued a show cause letter to a final-year Australian National University (ANU) student, Aslam Abdul Jalil for taking part in a university forum on the 18 June 2014.
The forum entitled “Race, Religion and Royalty” was organised by Canberra Malaysian Interest Group and held in Australian National University on 22 April 2014.
I was invited as a panelist in Canberra after my invitation to speak at the Malaysia Summit Australia (MASA) in Melbourne was retracted by the student organisers upon protests by the Malaysian Education Department.
The retraction of the invite then had attracted such a furore that Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had tagged me in a tweet saying that he was against the move as well.
"@tonypua For what it's worth I raised the matter last cabinet & said your 'disinvitation' was wrong & shouldn't happen again."
However it is obvious from this latest episode that the Cabinet places no value to what the Khairy has raised, for the show cause letter to a student went far beyond just a “disinvitation” to an opposition politician.
Aslam was accused of an extremely serious offence, that of “sedition… detrimental to the interest of Malaysia or an educational institution”
There were 3 panelists at the forum, with Dr John Funston as the 3rd speaker. He is a Visiting Fellow for ANU Department of Political and Social Change, who specialises on the government and politics of Southeast Asia and Asian history.
The 3 speakers – an well-known academic who has written many books on Malaysia and Southeast Asia, an elected politician and a student in Economics, sat down to discuss the issues of “Race, Royalty and Religion”, and its impact in Malaysia.
The discussion at the forum was rigourous but cordial, analytical and factual, with absolutely no seditious elements. There were no insults, for example, thrown at any race, any religion or any royalty in Malaysia. Hence one can only conclude that the show cause letter was served with malice, with the sole intent to frighten and oppress our students overseas.
Therefore I’d like to appeal to the good sense of the Minister of Youth and Sports, who has been advocating for more openness among our students to enhance their critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as to promote greater democratic values to secure a Cabinet directive for the Malaysian PSD in Australia to withdraw the unjustifiable show cause letter.