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Why did IIUM cancel Great Debate programme?

I would like express my utter disappointment at the cancellation of the Great Debate programme which was supposed to be held tonight in the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

I have just been informed by the organiser, the British High Commission, that the last minute cancellation was a decision made by the host of the event, IIUM.

Is my involvement, being a Pakatan leader that led to the decision by IIUM?

If so this is not only an embarrassment to an international higher education institution but it also brings great shame to this country as the debate involves well respected individuals including a Federal Minister and international academicians on a matter which is highly pertinent in today’s context – “moderation”.

I must also add that I am in charge of education for the Selangor State Government.

Furthermore the debate is also organised by two international bodies, i.e. the British High Commission and the University of Nottingham Institute of Asia Pacific Studies.

When the topic of the debate itself is on moderation, what does IIUM seek to portray with such decision? That they do not support the growing call for a moderate Malaysia? That a critical discussion on moderation should not involve all sectors of the community?

I call upon the University’s President, Dr Rais Yatim, and its Rector, Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin, to explain their decision to the public and apologise for their last minute indiscretion as a lot of efforts have been put in place to prepare for the event.

I would also like to ask, Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department who is also one of the panellists, to express similar condemnation and demand an answer from IIUM, as this certainly highlights the inconsistency in practise by institutions involved with the government, while the Minister himself has talked about achieving a more harmonious Malaysia through moderation.

It is truly disturbing that the management of an institute of higher learning, with the tagline ‘garden of knowledge and virtue’ has shown its inability to rise above politics in this debacle.