UM action against students ‘totally absurd’, says Umany

anis-nursyafiqahPETALING JAYA: A student group in Universiti Malaya (UM) has condemned the university’s administration for being unprofessional in its handling of the charges against four students over their participation in a rally in August.

The UM Association of New Youth (Umany) lashed out at the university in a statement today, highlighting the “unprofessinal conduct and total violation of the spirit of law” when the four students attended the proceeding to which they were invited by UM on Wednesday.

The four students – Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, Muhammad Luqman Nul Haqim, Suhail Wan Azahar and Muhammad Luqman Hakim Fazli – were previously suspended for participating in the #TangkapMO1 rally in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 27.

“The proceeding can be best described as being ‘totally absurd’ based on the fact that the students were ‘trapped’ into giving information that the university then used to amend the charges on the spot.

“The excuse UM gave was that it was just a ‘hearing’ and not a ‘proceeding’. However, after the students had given their side of the story, UM amended the charges and started the ‘proceeding’,” Umany president Ho Chi Yang said, adding that the invite from UM had always called it a “proceeding”.

He suggested that UM had “set the trap” so that it could amend the initially “flawed charges” made against the students, for the purpose of having a stronger case.

“UM, which is fond of using the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) to charge students, apparently did not do their homework, so they got information in such a diabolical way.

“They even initially, did not want to give students time to prepare their defence after amending the charges,” Ho said, adding that only after much appeal were the students given the chance to understand the charges, with UM postponing the proceedings to Dec 9.

Ho also highlighted the flawed manner in which the proceeding was conducted with the involvement of the student affairs division under UM.

“Based on the procedures of the proceeding, the university can select three representatives to be in the panel. However, there was an extra legal adviser as well as Hirman Awang, who is a staff from the division, to make a total of five.

“How could the student affairs division, who is the plaintiff here, have its staff in the panel?” Ho said, calling it a “clear erosion of fairness and justice.”

The Umany president also criticised the higher education ministry and the police for their direct interference in what was considered an internal matter for the university.

“We were surprised that one of the panel members revealed during the proceeding that it was the ministry and police who had ordered the university to ‘do something’ to the students,” Ho said, before criticising both authorities for adopting such a malicious attitude in order to stifle students who dare to speak the truth.

Despite the #TangkapMO1 rally being held in August, it was only two months later, on Oct 22, that the university issued a letter to the four students, summoning them for the proceeding on Nov 30.

The university had charged that the students acted in a manner detrimental and prejudicial to the interests and good reputation of the university, acted in a manner detrimental to public safety and had violated the university’s regulations.