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: August 13, 2015

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):International Islamic University Malaysia

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Malaysia

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On August 13, 2015, two students at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), also known as Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA), were suspended for one year each, after they organized a political event on campus to which an opposition politician was invited, and which was stopped after university officials intervened in the event. 
Student Representative Council President Hanif Mahpa and Academic Executive Council member Afiqah Zulkifli had been involved in planning a campus debate that took place on May 13, 2015 on Malaysia’s Goods and Services Tax (GST).  One of the invited speakers was MP Rafizi Ramli, a member of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat party.  University officials had warned that MP Rafizi would not be permitted to speak, and did, ultimately, interrupt him mid-speech and prevented him from continuing, leading to the event being shut down. 

On August 13, 2015, the IIUM reportedly issued a warning and suspended Mahpa and Zulkifli for two semesters (or one year) each for organizing the event.   

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the suspension of students in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right of free expression and association. University authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with academic freedom or expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Suspension aimed at limiting such expressive activity harm academic freedom and related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.

This is an update to an earlier report.  To view, please click here.