"... Akujanji is like prayers for Muslims.
When we pray, it becomes our Akujanji (to God)..." (read here for more)
- Dr Mohd Shafie Salleh, former Higher Education Minister
All civil servants and local university students are required to sign the Akujanji (see below translated version of the document)
Critics argue it restricts academic freedom as clauses within were vague with wide-ranging powers over lecturers and students.
Lecturers and students face action under the pledge especially when they criticise government or university affairs.
Since 2002, all civil servants and local university students and staff are required to sign the Akujanji.
The nation’s campuses are still in the grip of FEAR.
However, a group of academics are (starting) a bold campaign against the Universiti Akujanji - a document pledging loyalty to the GOVERNMENT which all students and academics are required to sign.
The group is led by Dr Syed Husin Ali and Dr Lim Teck Ghee - two former professors at Universiti Malaya, the country’s leading higher educational institution.
The group has enlisted 38 of their colleagues to endorse a petition against the Akujanji. Of the 40 academics who gave their backing to the petition, 29 are no longer teaching at their respective educational institutions. [See full list below].
In addition to the academics, 46 non-governmental organisations have also endorsed the petition.
The petition, which described the loyalty pledge as a:
The endorsers include many current serving academic staff from the nation's public universities, including some presently undertaking sabbatical and higher studies programs abroad.
“ major deterrent to the healthy development of the universities. The Akujanji has not only inculcated a culture of fear, passivity and uncritical thinking in the campuses.
It has also eroded the fundamental right of freedom of association and expression that is so important to protect and enhance if our nation is to advance
(It) is antithetical to the development of the country’s universities and to the quality of teaching and scholarship."
They have written to express support of the petition but have requested that their names NOT be published."
The petitioners said that many present university staff members were unable to include their names on the list “for fear of victimisation by the authorities”.
Among the big names who endorsed the petition:
The petition said that the requirement of LOYALTY to the GOVERNMENT, which is found only in a few repressive university systems in the world, has stifled academic freedom in Malaysia “to an unprecedented extent”.
Former deputy vice-chancellor at Universiti Malaya, Dr Abu Bakar A Hamid. Dr Norchaya Talib, (UM) Dr Loh Wei Leng, (UM) Dr Azmi Sharom, (UM) Dr Rosli Omar (USM) Dr Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda, (USM) Dr Francis Loh Kok Wah (USM) Dr Khoo Boo Teik (Universiti Sains Malaysia) Dr Mohamed Aslam Haneef (International Islamic University Malaysia) Nur Barizah Abu Bakar (International Islamic University Malaysia) Associate research fellow Wong Chin Huat (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia).
(courtesy of Malaysiakini)
The following is the translated version of the Akujanji letter which is required to be signed by all university academics, students and civil servants.
UNIVERSITY UTARA MALAYSIA
I, ................... bearing I/C no ................... residing in ................... solemnly declare that I will abide Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605] and all instructions issued and enforced by University Utara Malaysia, from time to time throughout my services with University Utara Malaysia. Thus, I solemnly declare, as required under Rule 3, Disciplinary Rules of the Statutory Bodies, that is within the Second Schedule of the Statutory Bodies Act (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605], that I, among others:
(i) will always be loyal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, country, government and University Utara Malaysia;
(ii) will always undertake my duties with caution, diligence, honesty, trust and responsibility;
(Iii) will not neglect my responsibilities towards Universiti Utara Malaysia for my personal gain;
(iv) will not act in a manner that will cause my personal affairs to be in conflict with my responsibilities towards University Utara Malaysia;
(v) will not act in a manner that would cause reasonable doubt that I had allowed my personal affairs to be in conflict with my responsibilities towards University Utara Malaysia to the point where it affect my position as an officer within University Utara Malaysia.
(vi) will not use my position as a officer within University Utara Malaysia for my personal gain
(vii) will not act in a manner which would bring disrepute to University Utara Malaysia.
(viii) will not bring any form of outside influence or pressure to support or further my demands or other officers involved with or towards University Utara Malaysia; and
(xi) will not disobey or behave in any way that can be interpreted as disobedience.
I wholly understand that if I were charged with breaching this Aku Janji, disciplinary action under the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) 2000 [Act 605] can be taken against me.