Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) should immediately withdraw the disciplinary proceedings against its third-year law undergraduate Asheeq Ali for participating in the #TangkapMO1 rally in August.
Taking disciplinary action against Asheeq goes against the spirit of the 2012 amendments to the University and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA).
The amendments to the UUCA were proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in 2011 as part of his broad initiatives to reinvigorate public universities. This includes doing away with decades-old restrictions against political expression and participation for university students in Malaysia.
However, by referring Asheeq to UKM’s internal disciplinary board, purportedly for bringing disrepute to the varsity, UKM has gone against the spirit of openness encapsulated by the amendments to the Act, which was passed by the Malaysian Parliament in 2012.
The freedom of speech and assembly is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, so long as they are in line with the country’s laws.
To continue to press charges against Asheeq, which may lead to his suspension or even expulsion from university, is to rob him of his future and his fundamental rights as a Malaysian.
It is most unfortunate that Asheeq’s case came on the heels of show-cause letters issued to #TangkapMO1 rally organiser, and Universiti Malaya (UM) student Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, and three of her university mates last week.
Likewise, UM ought to withdraw the show-cause letters to the four students. The universities’ regressive actions will only curtail the free germination of ideas and thoughts that rightly should be promoted among today’s youth, more so in ivory towers.
The actions are inconsistent with the expectation that universities are the training grounds that prepare our graduates to be future nation-builders and such actions certainly do not help our universities’ efforts to move up in world rankings.
We have spoken to Asheeq about his plight and we understand this is the third time he has been charged under similar internal university regulations that are simply contrary to the standards that we expect of tertiary education institutions in this country.
The Centre for A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) will do whatever it is within our means to assist him and set things right.
On a personal note, it is distressing to see public universities reverting back to the pre-2012 modus operandi of using threats to ensure students toe the line deemed “appropriate”. I was one of the UKM4 who had similarly been hauled up by UKM under the UUCA in 2010.
We subsequently challenged the constitutionality of Section 15(5)(a) of UUCA, where the Court of Appeal in 2011 ruled in our favour and recognised the inalienable right of university students to participate and express themselves politically.
Source : Woon King Chai@The Heat Malaysia Online