The threat of stern action against Mara scholars who participated in the #TangkapMO1 rally on Saturday is inappropriate and unjust.
The rally spokesperson, Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, said the students were merely exercising their democratic rights and had not broken any provision under the amended Universities and University Colleges Act.
She said the act itself allowed for students to be involved in political movements so long as they were not carried out inside a university campus.
“Students have the right to participate in a peaceful gathering. To take action against them for this, just because they are under a scholarship, would not be fair,” she said.
“Scholarships shouldn’t be a tool to silence university students.
“If the government says it is their money that is being used to fund these students, then let me remind them that the money, at the end of the day, comes from the people themselves.”
Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob issued the warning today, but said there had been no reports on the involvement of Mara students in the gathering so far.
Over 2,000 people, mostly youths under the age of 30, participated in the gathering, which called on the authorities to pursue “Malaysian Official 1”, mentioned in the US Department of Justice report on alleged embezzlement of 1MDB funds.
The organisers had sought permission to gather at Dataran Merdeka but this was rejected by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), resulting in them gathering on the streets around the square instead.
When asked if the organisers would continue with plans to conduct 1MDB-centred nationwide briefing sessions for all public and private university students, Anis said: “Of course.”
She also said that if some Mara scholars were worried of having their scholarships withdrawn, then they may opt out from participating.
However, she promised that those who may get into trouble for attending the Aug 27 rally can expect not to be left to fight their battles alone.
“We will try to defend our friends and make sure justice is served for them.
“We can show the government that students can’t be bought (with scholarships) that easily.”