KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Former deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah today relinquished his position as a fellow of University Malaya to protest the termination of a lecturer whose surveys on politics allegedly displeased Putrajaya.
Saifuddin, who is now chairman of the Global Movement of Moderates, announced his decision on Twitter this morning, after reports surfaced that political science lecturer Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman was asked to step down as director of UM’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel).
“On the [principle] of academic freedom and solidarity, I quit as Senior Research Fellow UM today. This is in relation to Prof Redzuan’s case,” he said in a message on the microblogging site today.
Redzuan was allegedly directed by the Education Ministry to resign from the research unit over survey results that were not well received by its officials.
He also lost his tenure as dean of the Arts and Social Sciences faculty, allegedly for the same reason.
Among others, it was reported that UMcedel’s surveys on the state of local politics that portrayed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) as trailing in some areas to rival Pakatan Rakyat (PR) displeased some in the government.
Saifuddin is outspoken on matters of academic freedom and was a vocal proponent of efforts to amend the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) to remove curbs against students joining politics.
Considered among the more liberal voices of Umno, Saifuddin’s views are not always in tandem with his party or the ruling government.
His opinions are not without a price, costing him his seat in the Umno Supreme Council in last year’s party election.