'Mediocre' scholars shouldn't be visiting professors here, PM Anwar says after UM invited pro-Israel, pro-colonialism academic

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SEPANG April 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has today urged local education institutions to be more discerning in the kind of academics they invite.

He called American academic Bruce Gilley a “mediocre” professor, after the advocate for Western colonialism called Malaysian leaders of calling for “second Holocaust” for Jews.

“Mediocre scholars shouldn't be brought to Malaysia as visiting a professor.

“The rest the [higher education] minister has already clarified," Anwar told reporters when met at the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) official launch of its new MAB Academy campus and the groundbreaking of its Flight Simulator Building at the South Support Zone here.

Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University, was invited by the Department of International and Strategic Studies for three events, starting with a seminar on international relations on Monday.

On Tuesday, Gilley delivered a keynote address titled “Will Malaysia Become an Active Middle Power”. Yesterday, in an X post about the speech, he said “A country whose political leaders advocate a second Holocaust against the Jewish people will never be a serious player in world affairs, and will certainly never be a friend or partner of the US”.

Gilley pointed to the remarks of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Agriculture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu.

He has since deleted the post, claiming it was for the safety and well-being of UM staff who invited him.

Gilley is known to be a supporter of Israel, displaying the state's flag on his X account.

He is also a controversial figure among the Western academia for praising Western colonialism and saying it should be “reclaimed”, considered “legitimate”, and even “resurrected”.

In 2017, his article The Case for Colonialism was published in the Third World Quarterly journal and provoked massive controversy resulting in two petitions signed by thousands of academics calling for the editor responsible to be sacked, while 15 of the journal's 34-member editorial board resigned in protest.

UM has since apologised for hosting Gilley and criticised him for his remarks on the country.

Earlier, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir today lambasted Gilley after the latter claimed that Malaysia is not safe for travellers after Putrajaya ordered that his events be cancelled due to his sensitive remarks.

Zambry deemed the remarks of the academic — who is an advocate for Western colonialism — as dangerous and could tarnish Malaysia’s image, considering the country did not even act against him for his remarks.