Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student Lee Song Yong who was suspended for one-semester for obstructing campus authorities from executing their duties wants the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to pressure the varsity into overturning the decision.
The second-year computer science student was charged with refusal to cooperate and obstructing campus officers from performing their duties in confiscating his personal belongings in the run-up to the campus polls in October.
He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to a one-semester suspension.
“I did cooperate and even the campus security guards who wanted to confiscate my belongings, when questioned in the disciplinary proceeding told the panel that I cooperated,” claimed Lee after handing over a memorandum to Suhakam at his office in Kuala Lumpur.
Lee was summoned on Nov 22 to defend himself against a six-men prosecuting panel led by deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tai Shzee Yeu.
He was denied legal representation by campus authorities on grounds that the disciplinary hearing was an internal hearing and not a civil court matter.
Denial was unlawful
Following this, Lee gave further reason as to why Suhakam should put pressure on UPM to overturn his suspension as the hearing was found to be unconstitutional.
“Denial to the right to counsel is unlawful as this right is enshrined under Article 5 (3) of the Federal Constitution,” he argued.
Lee also asked the rights body to set up an open inquiry to probe into allegations of abuse of powers by the security guards and university officers involved in the matter.
Commissioner Prof Khoo Kay Kim, who received the memorandum, said the issue of UPM anti-establishment students being harassed by campus authorities due to their political leaning is a becoming a serious matter.
“I will definitely bring this up in the Suhakam commissioners’ monthly meeting (scheduled every first Monday of each month) and see what action we can take to tackle this problem,” he said.
Khoo was also disturbed by the defiance showed by UPM when Suhakam was disallowed to send an officer to monitor the disciplinary hearing to ascertain that the proceeding was done in a fair and transparent manner.
This was following the revelation made by Lee that campus authorities had told him otherwise saying that the university was fine with having a Suhakam officer to monitor the hearing.
Suhakam had tried to stop the Nov 22 hearing from proceeding to investigate into alleged infringement of human rights and promised to send an officer if the proceeding is to continue.
“I am shocked by this. My officer had faxed and called UPM and asked them if we can have an officer to monitor the hearing and they said ‘no’. We will look into this,” said Khoo.