PETALNG JAYA: A university professor has the right to comment on an issue if he is an expert on that topic.
Fellow academician, Dr James Chin of Monash University, who backed his colleague by saying Azmi Sharom should not be charged if he was speaking within his area of expertise.
Azmi Sharom was charged with sedition act today for an article that appeared on Malay Mail Online on 14th August where he gave a professional opinion as a law professor on Selangor MB crisis.
Chin said, “By international standards, it is widely regarded as an academic right to comment on subjects and issues where the academic is an expert.
“So for example, an engineering professor has the right to comment on an engineering issue but he or she may not be taken seriously if he or she talks about non- engineering matters such as heart attacks.
“I understand that Dr Azmi wrote a legal opinion which is within his area of expertise as a law professor at UM. If this is the case, then he should not be charged for sedition.
Universiti Malaya Law Society president, Chai Duwei said the charges againts their faculty member was “shocking.”
“These unprecedented charges is definitely a big blow to academic freedom.
“The UM Law Society will continue to stand in solidarity with Dr Azmi Sharom,” Duwei said.
In recent weeks, a number of opposition politicians have been slapped with sedition charges, most notably Rafizi Ramli, N Surendran and Khalid Samad of PKR.
The case against Azmi Sharom, however, is unprecedented as he is the first academician to be charged for speaking in his professional capacity as a law professor from one of Malaysia’s premier academic institution.
Several NGO’s including Bersih and Bar Council has been calling for a repeal of the Act which was originally enacted by colonial Britain to curb talk of independence and communism in pre-independent Malaya.
~ Free Malaysia Today