Withdraw UUCA charges against 4 UKM students

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Dema Malaysia is urging UKM authorities to drop disciplinary charges on four political science students who were hauled up for observing the recent Hulu Selangor by-election campaign.  

 

The four students, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai are second year Political Science students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) who have been charged by university authorities because they were found to be in the vicinity of the Hulu Selangor by-election and allegedly showing support, sympathy or opposition towards political parties in Malaysia. They are required to attend university disciplinary proceedings on the following dates:

2 June (Wednesday) : Muhammad Hilman bin Idham
3 June (Thursday) : Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin
Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha
Woon King Chai

9.00am at Bilik Mesyuarat Canselori, Aras 6, Bangunan Canselori.

We strongly feel that the UUCA charge should be withdrawn because:

a) These four students are second year Political Science students with good academic achievements were in the vicinity of the Hulu Selangor by-election to observe the campaigning for academic research purposes.

b) Article 119 of Federal Constitution in Malaysia specifically states that every citizens above the age of 21 is qualified to vote, which is a form of expression and participation in politics. Thus, the provisions under Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which disallows students from expressing support and participating in
politics, is in direct contradiction with the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

c) These four students have shown genuine efforts in improving the standings of the university rankings through academic achievements and thus their efforts in observing the Hulu Selangor by-election for academic purposes must not be demonised and punished by their own university.

Background to the incident

On 22 April 2010, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin
Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai were travelling in two different vehicles, a van and a sedan, with three other members of the public in Hulu Selangor to observe the by-election campaigning process.

1. The van carrying Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Woon King Chai and friends was stopped by the police at a road block in Ampang Pecah, Kuala Kubu Baru at around 11:00am. They were held at the road-block for more than an hour until the arrival of UKM’s Student Affairs Department officials, who immediately accused Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin and Woon King Chai of participating in politics and expressing support or sympathy towards political parties who were contesting in the by-election.

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The police then conducted a search of the van which revealed several wrapped and sealed packets of flyers placed at the back of the van by a member of the party, who accompanied the group of students to tour the Hulu Selangor by-election area and was travelling in a separate car because the flyers could not fit into their own car. Even though the flyers and video CDs did not belong to the students, the university assumed this to be a form of expressing support or sympathy towards political parties.

The police and university officials immediately assumed that these flyers belonged to the students and brought the students in to the Hulu Selangor Police Headquarters for questioning and to record their statements. They were held in the police station for nine hours before finally being released on bail. They were to report in on 5 May at Kuala Kubu Baru but before that date, the students were told by the Investigating Officer that
the police no longer want to pursue this matter and have dropped the investigation.

Muhammad Hilman bin Idham and Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha were travelling in a black sedan with another member of the public and was stopped by the police at around 12:30pm while they were eating. They were stopped at Pekan Rasa, Jalan Kuala Kali and were held by the police until the arrival of the university’s Student Affairs Department personnel, who then immediately recognised them as students of UKM and accused them of participating in politics and expressing support or sympathy towards political parties who were contesting in the by-election.

The police then conducted a search of the black sedan which revealed flyers and video CDs that were placed there by a member of the party, who was accompanying the group students to tour the Hulu Selangor by-election to observe the campaigning process. Even though the flyers and video CDs did not belong to the students, the university assumed this to be a form of expressing support or sympathy towards political parties.

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The police and university officials immediately assumed that these flyers belonged to the students and brought the students in to the Hulu Selangor Police Headquarters for questioning and to record their statements. They were held in the police station for nine hours before finally being released on bail. They were to report in on 5 May at Kuala Kubu Baru but before that date, the students were told by the Investigating Officer that the police no longer want to pursue this matter and have dropped the investigation.

On 13 May, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin received a letter, sent by the university by hand through a representative of the Stu dent Affairs Department requiring him to attend university disciplinary proceedings on the 3 June (Thursday), 9.00am at Bilik Mesyuarat Canselori, Aras 6, Bangunan Canselori. He is being charged by the university with Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which prohibits students from participating or expressing sympathy or support for any
political parties. He has been charged by the university prior of any investigations by the university, without his knowledge. He is not allowed to be represented by a lawyer during proceedings and can only be represented by himself, or another student or a staff of the university.

On 14 May, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham received a similar letter requiring him to attend university disciplinary proceedings on 2 June at 9.00am.

On 16 May, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha received a similar letter requiring her to attend university disciplinary proceedings on 3 June (Thursday) at 9.00am

On 18 May, Woon King Chai received a similar letter tequiring him to attend university disciplinary proceedings on 3 June (Thursday) at 9.00am.

Democracy in UKM

Students as stakeholders of a university should be given opportunity to exercise academic freedom in the pursuit of knowledge and academic research. Thus, as students of Political Science, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai should be not be demonised and punished by the university for exercising their academic freedom and the right to pursue knowledge and academic research in the field of election analysis.

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Aside from that, the university is charging these students with Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which prohibits students from participating or expressing sympathy or support for any political parties. However, this is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION with Article 119 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which guarantees all Malaysian citizens above the age of 21 the right to vote in elections, which is a form of expression and participation in politics. This is a blant disregard of and
disrespect for the Federal Constitution by the university.

These four Political Science students, who are being charged by the university are top students in their own fields of studies. Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai have achieved a high CGPA of 3.51/4.00, 3.49/4.00, 2.97/4.00 and 3.79/4.00 respectively. Thus, with their genuine efforts in improving the university’s standings through academic achievements and research, they should not be demonised and punished by the university for their pursuit of knowledge in observing the Hulu Selangor by-election.

Demands

Hence, we would like to call upon Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and its Student Affairs Department to immediately drop the charges and call off the disciplinary proceedings against Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, and Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai. We urge the university to grant these students the academic freedom to do research and pursue knowledge in their own field of studies. Above all else, drop the charge of Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which is in direct contradiction with Article 119 of the Federal
Constitution.

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