Speaker’s Corner Needs Voices

Posted on May 20, 2010

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Posted on 20 May, 2010 06:29 by Saifuddin Abdullah in The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The Higher Education Ministry is disappointed with the poor response to Speakers’ Corners created at higher education institutions.

Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the corner, an area where public speaking was allowed, had not been functioning as expected.

He called on undergraduates to make full use of the space available within their campuses to speak their minds.

“There was a lot of activity during campus elections, but there has virtually been no response since. In fact, in some of the public universities, there is no activity at all at the Speakers’ Corner since the launch four months ago,” Saifuddin told a news conference on the forthcoming Intellect and Debate Fest 2010 (Petah) here yesterday.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohammed Khaled Nordin announced last November that local universities could set up their own Speakers’ Corner to allow students to speak up on topics of their choice.

Saifuddin said he believed students here were still not used to a culture of public debate, and tende to view the Speakers’ Corner purely as a stage for political issues.

“The space is meant to allow students to share their ideas on any topic, not just politics. There is also a perception among students that their freedom of speech was being restricted by university administrators.

“Some have complained that they had to submit the text of their speech for review beforehand,” he said.

The deputy minister stressed that university students should be encouraged to engage in public speaking and debate to improve their communication skills.

Petah 2010 is a multilingual debate event slated between May 27 and June 1 at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. It hopes to set a world record for the longest non-stop debate.

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