SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 06, 2013

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI)

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Adam Adli, a student at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris who was suspended from his studies in connection with political activism, has had his suspension extended indefinitely.  
Adli was suspended for three semesters in January 2012, after, during a protest, he lowered a flag that bore the Malaysian Prime Minister’s image, and replaced it with a flag bearing the words ‘academic freedom’.  During his suspension, Adli was arrested in connection with other protest activities, and charged with sedition (for discussion of Adli’s arrest, see related report).  In September 2013, as his sedition case was pending, the university reportedly extended Adli’s suspension indefinitely, on the grounds that his trial was obstructing regular university procedures and conduct. University officials stated that Adli would be permitted to return after his trial was over.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the indefinite suspension of a student who has been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime, where the alleged criminal conduct involves nonviolent political expression. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with or punish expressive activity by students, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Suspension aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and fundamental rights to freedom of expression, and related higher education values including institutional autonomy and social responsibility.
UPDATE: On September 19, 2014, a Malaysian court sentenced Adli was sentenced to a year in prison.  As of this report, Adli’s case is on appeal, and he has been released from prison on bail.