DEMA is calling a Joint Memorandum regarding Lee Song Yong suspension. If your organization would like to endorse this joint statement, please reply mail to demamalaysia@ gmail.com or contact Simon Ooi 012-4202264 before 2007. We will be handing in the joint memorandum to Minister of Higher Education on at the Ministry of Higher Education together with a peaceful assembly. We also hope that your organization can attend the event.
Below is the Joint Memorandum (amended):
JOINT PROTEST MEMORANDOM ON THE UNJUST SUSPENSION FOR ONE SEMESTER OF UPM STUDENT, LEE SONG YONG
Y.B. DATO’ MUSTAPA BIN MOHAMED
Menteri Pengajian Tinggi,
Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi,
Tingkat 7, Blok 3E,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the unfair proceeding and unjust judgement by the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) authority towards its student, Lee Song Yong, recently. We strongly feel that the penalty should be cancelled because Lee had given his full cooperation to the security guard by showing his matric card and waited for the explanation before allowing his bag to be checked. Security guard did not explain the reason to examine student’s bag. Even police also needs to tell the purpose before any checking. The officer who acted violently, did not introduce himself and seized Lee’s belongings was not investigated.
Background of the Incident
The incident happened on 22 August 2007, when Lee, who was stopped at the university guard house, refused to allow for his bag to be checked because there was no explanation from the security guard. Three plain clothes officers from the Special Task Unit who arrived later seized his matric card and notebook from Lee without his consent. Lee lodged a police report on the same day. Three days later, a complaint was also made against the security officer at the Security Department.
The campus authority did not take any action against the security guards who had abused their power and did not respect the rights and privacy of the student. Instead the same security guards have accused Lee on 14 November 2007, alleging that he did not cooperate and had challenged the security guard.
Disciplinary Proceedings on 22 November 2007
The first proceedings on 19 November 2007 was adjourned to 22 November 2007. During the proceedings, the witnesses from the Disciplinary Board, which comprises of security guards including a uniformed officer, the special task unit and the director of security Major Othman, admitted that Lee had shown that he intended to cooperate by showing his matric card and did not attempt to escape. He only refused to allow his bag to be examined until he obtained the security officers’ explanation. The officers themselves had admitted that they did not give any reason when they check students’ bag although it is said to be a routine exercise.
However, the Disciplinary Board has decided to impose a heavy penalty, which is to suspend Lee for one semester and a warning was given.
The Power of Security Guard in UPM exceeds that of Police Force
In this case, we have seen that the power of the security guard exceeds that of the police. The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) states that police can only do a check upon giving an explanation and following strict procedures. It was obvious that security guard had abused his power.
This incident also shows that the campus authority sides the security guard. The suspension shows that they want to create a climate of fear among the students and want the students to obey the limitless power of the security guard.
Despite calls by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to halt the proceedings due to allegations of human rights infringement, the proceedings went on. The university’s administrative authority still held the proceedings in a hurry and imposed a penalty onto Lee.
The Unfair Proceedings
The procedure of the hearing obviously violates the basic rights of the student. In addition to the short notice for the hearing, which made it difficult for Lee to make peparations, he was also denied legal representation by the campus authority. This is a violation of right to counsel which is included in Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution.
Track the record of oppression to students by UPM
This is not the first case of abuse by security officers in UPM. In 2003, four women students had their rooms raided at midnight; student representatives Lim Ban Teng and Lua Khang Wei were treated rudely in 2004, proceedings were initiated against six students who demanded a free and fair campus election in 2005, violent act of officer and pushing towards students in the cafeteria of 12th College on 11 July 2006, and the Yee Yang Yang case where his laptop and belongings were seized without any reason on 14 September 2007.
UUCA Gives Too Much Power
This phenomena is also because too much power is given to the campus authority under the UUCA(University and University Colleges Act). As a result, abuse of power by security officers always happen. This results in the shrinking of democratic space in universities and student rights are not protected. The quality of university worsens as its students are restricted in the critical and creative mental development.
Hence, we call upon the Higher Education Ministry to abolish UUCA immediately so that campus democracy and academic freedom will be guaranteed. This is also an important step in improving the quality of university.
CONCLUSION AND DEMANDS
1. We oppose to the action of the university in imposing such a harsh penalty on Lee Song Yong, a second year Computer Science student from Universiti Putra Malaysia.
2. We strongly feel that the penalty should be cancelled because:
a. Lee Song Yong had given sufficient cooperation to the security guard by showing his matric card and waiting for the explanation before allowing his bag to be checked
b. The security guard did not explain the reason/purpose of examining the student’s bag.
c. The officer who acted violently, did not introduce himself and seized Lee’s
belongings, was not investigated.
3. We feel that the punishment towards Lee Song Yong shows that campus authority sided security officers who abused their power and did not respect the rights and privacy of students. The suspension of Lee has created fear among students who feel they need to submit to the powers of the security officers.
4. We urge the university authority to
a. Cancel the suspension of one semester on Lee Song Yong immediately
b. State the checking procedure of security guard clearly
c. Take action against the security officers who abused their power
Besides that, we also call upon the university authority to stop any action that violates the rights of students in UPM and create a climate of fear among the students in the university. The university should take care of the welfare and safety of the students and not be a threat to them.
- Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement
- Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
- Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
- Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Youth Section
- Alumni Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua USM Selangor (Alumni PBTUSM Selangor)
- Pusat Khidmat Pekerja Tanjung (PKPT)
- Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN)
- Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
- SOS Damansara Committee
- Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)
- Inter Varsity Council (IVC)
- Artist Pro Active (APA)
- Sabah Women Action Resource Group (SAWO)
- Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua UPM
- Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua USM
- Persatuan Bahasa Cina UM
- UTM Chinese Student Council
- University Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)
- Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Semenanjung (GAMIS)
- Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM)
- Kelab Rakan Siswa Islah Malaysia (KARISMA)
- Food Not Bomb (FNB)
- Gabungan Anak Muda dan Pelajar (GAMP)
- Jawatankuasa Kebajikan Mahasiswa/I (JKMI)