PRESS STATEMENT (14 DECEMBER 2016): Universiti Malaya must drop all charges against student activists


BERSIH 2.0 condemns the actions of Universiti Malaya for finding guilty Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, Suhail Wan Azahar, Luqman Nul Haqim Zul Razali, and Muhammad Luqman Hakim Mohd Fazli of disciplinary charges for the Tangkap MO1 rally held in August 2016.
We are shocked that our educational institutions could even consider punishing their students who were merely exercising their freedom of speech, assembly, and association as enshrined in Article 10 of our Federal Constitution. The rally is part and parcel of what a thriving democracy should be engaging in.
The questions raised by students at the rally are valid issues on corruption and governance that have yet to be addressed by the authorities and they are questions that need to be answered.
The students have all but shown us that they understand their roles and responsibilities in society by raising critical questions. It is now for the government to take up the challenge and respond appropriately.
The disciplinary charges they are found guilty of – acting in a manner detrimental and prejudicial to the interests and good reputation of the university, detrimental to public safety, and in violation of the university’s regulations – are ludicrous and simply used as an excuse to punish and stamp out dissent.
They were not even charged in a court of law as they assembled peacefully.
Bullying students through unfair disciplinary procedures and possibly passing heavy penalties does not bode well for the UM administration especially when it is aiming to regain its former status as a first-class university in the global arena.
Institutions of higher learning are a place where knowledge and critical thinking are supposed to be cultivated and encouraged, not muzzled to maintain the status quo. Silencing student voices must stop. Malaysia is a growing democracy and a more inclusive governance needs to be promoted.
BERSIH 2.0 strongly urges UM to drop all disciplinary charges against the students. Instead, the university should encourage discourse by initiating a healthy dialogue between the students and the relevant authorities. This will open up safe spaces for students to express their views to the government and vice versa, reflecting well on UM as an educational institution that fosters openness and critical thinking.
BERSIH 2.0 also urges fellow Malaysians to stand in solidarity with Anis, Suhail, Luqman Haqim, and Muhammad Luqman by signing this petition calling for all charges against them to be dropped:
The youth will inherit the country and it would do the authorities well to listen to them.
Satukan Tenaga, Malaysia Baru.
Signed by the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee members