Dear all, please read this and be aware of the situation at least. Individuals and Groups if you wish, please endorse the campaign and show your support by carrying out the actions suggested at the bottom of this email. Let's push for more democracy for students in this country.
Urgent Appeal (Latest Update):
USM: Verdict to be heard on this Thursday, 2nd December
The fate of the student, who is currently threatened with expulsion for her alleged involvement in proscribed political activity, will be known on this Thursday, 2nd December 2004.
Soh Sook Hwa, a final-year student of University of Science Malaysia (USM), has been called to attend a disciplinary hearing for the second time this Thursday. She attended the first disciplinary hearing at the Division of Student Affairs and Development of USM on 24th November. She was told that the decision of the Disciplinary Board will be announced at this hearing.
Soh has been charged by the university authority for allegedly participating in the election campaign in March this year. Soh is accused for having breached the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA), which is stated in Section 15 that any student is not allowed to involve or show support, sympathy or opposition to any political party, union or organization without prior permission from Vice Chancellor.
During the last hearing
On 24th November, there was no decision delivered by the disciplinary board after a 2-hour hearing. The hearing was chaired by Deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of Division of Student Affairs and Development, Associate Professor Jamaluddin Mohaiadin. Others on the board were 3 lecturers, 1 staff Division of Student Affairs and Development and the head of Security Department. The hearing started at about 2.40 pm and ended at 4.45 pm.
A gag order was imposed on Soh so she was not allowed to reveal the contents of the hearing under the repressive UUCA. Her lawyer, Ang Hean Leng had requested to represent her at the disciplinary hearing, but was refused.
Before the hearing, at about 12.30 noon, a delegation of civil society groups went to the office of Division of Student Affairs and Development to submit a joint memorandum signed by 53 groups. But the delegation, which consisted of 10 representatives, was not able to meet the Deputy Vice Chancellor. Not even a staff came forward to receive the memorandum.
When the delegation went back again at 2.00 pm, they were stopped by security guards at a road-block set up at the vicinity of the office of Division of Student Affairs and Development. There was a heavy present of security guards (uniformed and plain-coats) at every entrance to the office of Division of Student Affairs and Development. A police patrol car also went inside the campus for about 15 minutes.
A public relation officer, Muhammad Abdullah, came after the delegates insisting to meet the Deputy Vice Chancellor. Initially he was saying that he is willing to receive the memorandum and convey the delegates’ message to the Deputy Vice Chancellor. But his attitude changed when the delegates asked him to sign at the memorandum to prove he has received the memorandum. He walked out from the meeting without giving any reason and not receiving the memorandum, leaving the reporters in puzzled.
Meanwhile, a group of students who were concerned about Soh situation, gathered at the walkway in front of Dewan Budaya building, to wait for the result of the hearing. There were also heavy present of security officers, with cameras, watching them. But there was no unhappy incident.
At about 4.30 pm, an officer from Division of Student Affairs and Development, Khairul Irwan, came to receive the memorandum, at the old building of Security Department. It was just before Soh came out from the hearing room.
Soh was warned for not revealing any information about the hearing. The disciplinary board was also not giving any actual date when the decision will be delivered.
Now, the fate of the student will be known on this Thursday.
3 students were alleged to be suspected involved in the election campaign during 11th General Election in March this year, by the Division of Student Affairs and Development of USM. They were investigated by the Security Department of USM since April. All three of them were called to attend an enquiry session on 27th May. Among two of them were final year students in 2003-04 term and graduated in August this year. These two students managed to graduate. Another student, Soh, who is now in her final year in 2004-05 term was under investigation and now is facing threat of being expelled.
USM has an infamous track record of suppressing student activism in the last few years. UUCA is one of the notorious repressive laws that have been used to curb student activism since 1971. Fundamental liberties of a student such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of thoughts are being taken away with the existence of such laws.
Soh, who is an eligible voter and granted her right to vote under the Federal Constitution, is now facing persecution of the University authority for her allegedly involvement in election campaign. It is unjust and unreasonable to forbid students to participate in political activities, and it has severely violated civil liberties of a voter in a democratic society.
We do believe that the huge volume of appeals sent by concerned individuals and groups, has created effect that made the disciplinary board suspend the decision on 24th November.
We call upon civil society groups and concerned individuals to write to the USM authority, to express your concern towards this issue and urge the USM authority to stop intimidating students with repressive measures.
Please send your appeal letter through fax or e-mail to the authority of USM as soon as possible:
- calling the USM authority not to penalize the student for her involvement in election campaign
- urging the USM authority not to take further action against the student
- calling on the USM authority to ensure the civil liberties of the student are respected and protected
- calling the USM authority stop harassing students to exercise their fundamental liberties by using the repressive UUCA and other similar regulations
Every letter counts!!!
PLEASE SEND YOUR APPEALS IMMEDIATELY TO:
Professor Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Pejabat Naib Canselor
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Dato’ Profesor Madya Jamaluddin Mohaiadin
Timbalan Naib Canselor
Bahagian Hal Ehwal dan Pembangunan Pelajar
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Choo Chon Kai (019-5669518)
SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA
Address: 383, 1st Floor, Jalan 5/59, 46000 Petaling
Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Telephone: +6 03 7784 3525 Fax: +6 03 7784 3526
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.suaram.net
Address: 85, Lorong Pekaka 5, Taman Desa Baru, 11700
Gelugor, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Telephone / Fax: + 6 04 658 2285
E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org