Singapore’s minister of education weighed in on the cancellation of a course on dissent at Yale-NUS College, arguing in a speech printed in full in The Straits Times that “academic freedom cannot be carte blanche for anyone to misuse an academic institution for political advocacy.”
The cancellation of the course, initially titled Dissent and Resistance in Singapore, raised concerns about academic freedom at Yale-NUS, a joint initiative of Yale University and the National University of Singapore, and renewed questions about whether academic freedom can be protected in authoritarian states. Yale University issued a report on the course cancellation finding there was no government interference in the decision to cancel the course and that Yale-NUS had legitimate academic and legal reasons for canceling it.
The education minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in his speech Monday that the ministry had concerns about the canceled course. “The worry that our [institutes of higher learning] may be used to conduct partisan political activities to sow dissent against the government is not unfounded,” he said. “MOE had that concern too when we saw the itinerary of the Dissent and Resistance project.”