UKM retracts Eric Paulsen’s speaking invite on IS, security laws

Lawyer Eric Paulsen features on the ALSA National Conference 2016. ― Picture courtesy of Eric Paulsen
Lawyer Eric Paulsen features on the ALSA National Conference 2016. ― Picture courtesy of Eric Paulsen

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 ― Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) abruptly cancelled lawyer Eric Paulsen’s speaking engagement about security laws and the Islamic State (IS), two days before the event tomorrow.

Paulsen said he had accepted the invitation by UKM’s Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) back in July to speak at a panel discussion about various controversial security legislations like the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016, the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), as well as the abolished Internal Security Act (ISA), and threats from the militant group.

He said, however, that ALSA representatives called him yesterday informing him about the cancellation as the public university’s administration found him too “controversial”.

“Public universities are accountable to the public, they must justify their actions,” Paulsen told Malay Mail Online.

“They shouldn’t be able to act on a whim, as though they are only accountable to the government. Be a serious institute of higher learning, one that takes ideas and learning seriously. Otherwise, it would be quite impossible to be a top tier university,” the human rights lawyer added.

Paulsen, who is also executive director of civil liberties group Lawyers for Liberty, has previously spoken up against the NSC, POCA, POTA and the ISA.

He was also charged with sedition last year over an alleged tweet accusing Malaysia’s Islamic Development Department (Jakim) of promoting extremism.

Paulsen was meant to speak together with Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni and Bar Council constitutional law committee deputy co-chair Surendra Ananth Anandaraju at the session titled “The Tough Tussle: Security or Transparency? Security Laws, Grappling with ISIS” tomorrow morning at the ALSA National Conference 2016.

When contacted, Shamini said the public university had only cancelled Paulsen’s invite, but not the entire session.

“Surendra and I are still speaking,” she told Malay Mail Online.

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