Pauline Puah, the sun
PETALING JAYA: A loose coalition of university student groups known as Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) is documenting and compiling a list of alleged malpractices in the Sept 21 (2006) campus elections to submit to the Higher Education Ministry and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
“We are compiling the detailed facts and figures from the local universities’ campus elections,” said SMM spokesman Abdullah Salleh in a phone interview today (Oct 4, 2006).
SMM is a coalition of six main student organisations deemed anti-establishment.
Abdullah claimed to date the coalition had learnt of several irregularities after monitoring the elections in several major public universities, including International Islamic University (IIU), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.
There are allegations of:
- Intimidation and violence including, residential college authorities in UM breaking into students’ rooms;
- University authorities prohibiting students from contesting in the elections by declining to sign their nomination forms;
- Unfair election rules and regulations such as, banning the use of slogans and campaigning as a coalition;
- A lack of transparency and privacy in the implementation of e-voting in UPM and IIU;
- Election candidates being interviewed by the university’s authorities before the elections in a pre-selection process; and
- Election campaigning that incited racial sentiments, including the distribution of leaflets that disparaged certain ethnic groups.
Abdullah charged that university students have been victimised because of the unfair campus elections.
In UM, a by-election had to be called on Sept 27 to elect the two law faculty representatives for the student council after earlier elections held in residential colleges resulted in more ballots than there were registered voters.
The by-election resulted in an independent candidate, who had lost earlier, winning a seat on the student council.
Abdullah also questioned the Higher Education Ministry’s role which he said should uphold democratic principles within university administrations.
“Discrepancies in campus elections are not new. Unfortunately, the ministry is not taking it seriously.”
He also charged that university authorities practised double standards and incited a culture of fear among students.
In campus politics, students have been labelled as either belonging to the pro-Aspirasi (pro-establishment) or anti-establishment factions.
In the recent campus elections, pro-Aspirasi students won overwhelmingly except at IIU. Anti-establishment students in UPM boycotted the elections.