A student affairs group accuses the university of being undemocratic for charging a youth who put up Bersih posters.
USM’s Student Progressive Front (SPF) coordinator Yong Kin Yin said USM’s decision to press charges against Suaram activist, Tan Hong Kai with criminal trespassing was a step to curtailing students’ democratic rights.
“USM has moved backwards by closing its mind to democracy,” she said in a statement.
On May 8, Tan, 21, was charged with criminal trespass at a magistrate’s court here on May 8 for sticking more than 20 Bersih posters within the USM campus between 2.30am and 3am on April 20.
He claimed trial and was granted bail of RM1,500 with one surety.
The charge under Section 447 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of up to six months or a maximum fine of RM3,000, or both upon conviction.
The SPF, convened under the Malaysian Youth and Student Democratic Movement, had planned a signature campaign to free Tan.
It aims to collect 500 signatures and hand over the memorandum to compel USM management next Monday to retract its police report against Tan.
Yong said USM practised double standard by hauling up Tan before the law for a negligible incident while ignoring countless criminal case that happened within the university campus.
She cited an incident in 2010 when USM security personnel failed to detain a student who used a knife to slash a campus election poster.
She also said Tan, a Suaram intern, was indeed invited by SPF members to put up the posters.
“Five of us helped Tan to put up the posters but we were not caught because the security did not see us,” said Yong.
She argued that it would “silly” to always seek permission from the Student Affairs Department for students to put up posters each time.
USM management declined comment.