Drop all charges against five USM students

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23 February 2006

Dato' Profesor Madya Jamaluddin Mohaiadin
Timbalan Naib Canselor
Bahagian Hal Ehwal dan Pembangunan Pelajar
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Tel: 04-656 8869
Fax: 04-657 3761

Dear Dato’ Profesor Madya Jamaluddin

Drop all charges against five USM students

Aliran, Hakam and Suaram are gravely concerned to learn that five USM students are facing charges for allegedly breaching university regulations.

We understand that three students are alleged to have distributed leaflets and two are alleged to have issued a press statement in September 2005 in connection with the campus elections. They have now been asked to appear at a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 27 February 2006.

As you may be aware, there is a need to promote a more open and transparent culture in our country, all the more in our institutions of higher learning. His Majesty, the Yang DiPertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajudddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, speaking at the 13th International Conference for University Adminstrators earlier this month, observed:

"A silent culture is not a healthy culture in an institution of higher education. The ability to view ideas or grievances should be cultivated as this is a platform to practise expressing views at the international arena." (Bernama, 7 February 2006)

It is ironic that your own Vice Chancellor has been regularly promoting the importance of transparency and an intellectual culture in his weekly column for the New Sunday Times while your action against the students seems to run contrary to these values.

READ MORE:  'Yes’ to students' freedom - but how to do it?

We believe these five students were acting without malice and were more concerned about electoral procedures that hindered campus democracy. Their grievances – rather than the students themselves – need to be investigated. Last December, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it was important for people to speak up if they see something wrong. He said that if people fail to think and criticise that which is wrong, society would rot.

We call upon university authorities to nurture a vibrant, intellectual culture that promotes creative and critical thinking as it would benefit the country in the long run.

We would therefore appeal to you to drop all charges against the five.

Yours sincerely

P Ramakrishnan
President
Aliran

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
Deputy President
Hakam
Dr Kua Kia Soong
Director
Suaram

c.c.

  1. YB Datuk Mustapha B. Mohamed
    Minister of Ministry of Higher Education
    Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi]Blok E3, Parcel E
    Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
    62505 Putrajaya
    Tel: 03-8883 5010
    Fax: 03-8889 1952
  2. Professor Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
    Naib Canselor
    Pejabat Naib Canselor
    Universiti Sains Malaysia
    11800 Minden
    Pulau Pinang
    Tel: 04-651 3987
    Fax: 04-656 5401
  3. Suhakam

Note: On 24 February 2006, it was reported that the hearings scheduled for 27 February 2006 had been postponed indefinitely.

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