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: March 16, 2015

Attack Types: Prosecution

Institution(s):Universiti Malaya

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi, a senior lecturer in the Department of International and Strategic Studies at the University of Malaya, has reportedly been placed under criminal investigation for a possible violation of Malaysia’s criminal defamation law, after an article she wrote criticizing Malaysian police appeared in the Malaysian Insider newspaper on March 16, 2015. 
According to Professor Khoo, police questioned her in her office for about 1 1/2 hours, asking, among other things, about the sources for the article. The article, titled “Who owns the police?”, concerned the response by police to a rally that had occurred earlier in March, and the subsequent arrest of several protesters.  
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the investigation and potential prosecution of a scholar in retaliation for nonviolent, expressive activity related to her professional expertise and protected by internationally recognized human rights standards. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with scholars’ expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Investigation or prosecution aimed at limiting such expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.