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Singaporean University Snubs Lauded (But Anti-Censorship) Professor 48

New submitter nifty-c writes "Singapore has invested heavily in higher education partnerships with the U.S. and launched an ambitious program of high-tech research with Western countries, but recent events have opened these links to controversy. Prof. Cherian George at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, is a communication and information school professor and an outspoken critic of his government's censorship of the Internet. NTU recently fired him, sparking an outcry from critics who claim political interference. This week a group of faculty and affiliates at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society has 'strongly caution[ed]...colleagues working in the area of Internet and society in any dealings with Singaporean universities.'"
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Singaporean University Snubs Lauded (But Anti-Censorship) Professor

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  • Wait a minute (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    1. This article said the man was "fired". Actually he was an associate professor who was denied tenure, i.e. a substantial promotion. Lots of associate professors are denied tenure in every major university every year, and frequently there are cries of discrimination, favoritism, cronyism, etc.

    2. In order to get tenure in a major university, a candidate should be distinguished in his or her field (being considered a great teacher is nice, but that and $2 gets a cup of coffee when it comes to tenure deci

    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @12:45AM (#43123909) Journal

      1. You do realize that being denied tenure is closer to being fired at/before the end of a probationary period, not passed over for promotion from fry cook to shift manager? It is true that the ongoing trend toward permatemping higher education by stringing along assorted adjuncts and other cheap labor has eroded the traditional process a bit; but it is still generally the case that 'denied tenure' = 'pursuing opportunities elsewhere is exciting and mandatory!' rather than 'you will remain an associate professor'.

      2."This guy seemed to be best known for his harsh criticism of the government of Singapore... which the university depends on in many ways! Yeah, that sounds likely that they would want that guy on board." If the state of Singapore is serious about 'academic independence', then sometimes they end up cutting checks to people who say mean things about them. It's the quieter and more bookish version of not having the majority party send the minority party to the firing squad. It's a neat concept. If they aren't up to that, well, their 'universities' are pretty much stuck being fancy vocational schools and nothing more.

      • "cutting checks to people who say mean things about them"

        It's a good thing that our universities here in America are so idealogically pure, they don't have that saying mean things problem as any kind of racism gets you fired quickly.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          MIT gets hundreds of millions from the federal government in research grants and tuition aid. Yet, Chomsky is still there freely criticizing everything he sees fit for criticism.

          I hope Slashdotters will take up this "immediately deflect to another country" tactic for everything else in the future. For example, when US corporations are fairly criticized, we get inundated with replies of "Well, it's not like Chinese companies are any better"

          Only then will we see the fallacy of such an approach to debate.

    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nifty-c ( 113789 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @12:46AM (#43123911) Homepage

      Tenure is an up-or-out system. He was fired. He was not denied "a substantial promotion." You don't know what you are talking about.

    • by wmac1 ( 2478314 )

      and he is an associate professor and not a professor. I guess I read somewhere that he was previously promoted to associate professor level by the same university.

      I don't say that he does not deserve to get the promotion (because I think he deserves that promotion), but it is not proper to fabricate and bring out things out of order (to support someone).

      On a side note, I have traveled to Singapore a few times and my impression is that it is a closed and highly controlled state. It is a small island and the

    • Well for better or for worse being denied tenure IS like being fired. I mean while you're not technically fired simply because you are denied tenure, it's basically a message to get out. The only professors you generally see stay around that are not tenured, are ones that are nontenure track. Some positions, like research assistant professors, are not tenure-track. No matter how long they work, tenure is not something they will receive. However in a tenure-track position, being denied tenure is more or less

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:29AM (#43124407)
    Singapore is a remnant from the time when Western countries would support any regime, provided it would not align with the USSR. There is no freedom of press, no freedom of association in Singapore. All depends of the good will of the prime minister. But since 1959, only two different prime ministers have ever been elected, and the second one is the son of the first one.

    There are elections with opposing candidates, but it's also the case in Russia nowadays. As almost all media belong to the government or the prime minister's family. The election system is over-complicated to engineer a very predictable result. While a large portion of the housing is public housing, the government makes threats to remove state funding in constituencies that do note vote for the ruling party. It is said that there is no 'perception' of corruption in Singapore. On the individual level, it might be true, with upstanding public officers. But much of the country's economy is under the control of Temasek holdings, which belongs to the state, and is a pretty opaque company.

    In the end you should not expect freedom if you go to work and live as an expatriate researcher in Singapore. Money, for sure. But as you're getting this money, you also are a pawn of the state to further its control of the population, and help launder the money hidden in the city by corrupt officials throughout Asia.
  • Woah.. lets not go on to full Singapore bashing mode .. the country (city-state) has achieved some incredible things.. not least of which is continued economic prosperity amidst the carnarge, as well as an incredibly safe, stable and clean living habitat for the populace. Ofcourse there are gripes, freedom of speech does not stand up to the western definition of it..but atleast they are pretty honest about it. The city and its government has punched far above its weight. I think it would only be fair to an
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Singapore is what is called "guided democracy(GD)". A simple way of effectively saying "do it my way or the highway". However this guided democracy has achieved enormous success and results for the last few decades taking a tiny country and putting it at the forefront of Asia as a pro business centre. It is highly likely that without being a GD then we would be looking at a very different and MUCH poorer country right now. Singapore has no mineral or natural wealth to fall back on, so was their approach wro

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.