Tenure Denial Raises Academic Freedom Concerns in Singapore
A prominent Singaporean academic who has been critical of the country's ruling party was denied tenure for a second time. Cherian George, an associate professor of journalism at Nanyang Technological University, has written about the restrictions on the press imposed by the People's Action Party. Although George was denied tenure on the ostensible basis that he did not meet NTU’s standards for teaching and research, one of his external reviewers, Karin Wahl-Jorgensen of Cardiff University, said she found that claim to be “blatantly absurd."
“His record is stellar in both respects, so much so that he could easily get a full professorship elsewhere in my estimation,” said Wahl-Jorgensen. "In addition to being a popular teacher and a well-known public intellectual, his academic profile demonstrates excellence in research and a significant international standing, as well as an extremely high degree of productivity.”
“To put it bluntly I am baffled by this decision and worried about what it means for academic freedom in Singapore,” she said.
As of Monday evening, more than 500 people had signed an online petition attesting to George’s "stellar teaching credentials." George declined to comment on the tenure denial. In a written statement, a NTU spokesman described the tenure review process as being "purely a peer-driven academic exercise" and said the university does not comment on specific cases. (Note: this article has been updated to incorporate NTU's response.)