Dec 5, 07 4:54pm
Two student groups have backed suspended Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student Lee Song Yong’s bid to get the decision overturned with the help of members of Parliament.
Malaysian Graduates Solidarity president Sheikh Omar Ali and Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (Dema) administration secretary Simon Ooi led a group of students to Parliament House where they also held a press conference today.
Lee, 20, said their objective was to get the MPs to sign a protest memorandum to be submitted to Higher Education Minister Mustapa Mohamad.
“We are just hoping that Tok Pa (Mustapa) will intervene in the matter and cancel the suspension,” he said.
Lee, a second-year student, was charged with refusal to cooperate with university security officials and obstructing them from performing their duties.
Following disciplinary proceedings, he received a one-semester suspension. This effectively means that he may have to spend an additional year to complete his three-year degree in computer science.
The protest memorandum demands that the campus authorities revoke the suspension immediately, clearly state procedures to be followed by security guards, and act against the security officers who abused their power.
Asked if he had appealed to the ministry, Lee said: “I only received the grounds of the decision of the disciplinary proceedings yesterday and we’re in the midst of submitting an application. At the same time, we are here to garner support from MPs.”
Sheikh Omar said Lee’s suspension was unreasonable as it is only the fourth stage penalty as stated in the Universities and University Colleges Act (UCCA).
“The fifth stage is expulsion. It is ridiculous to hand down a one-semester suspension when he had only refused to let the security guards check his bag,” he said, adding that he hopes for a positive response from Mustapa.
Parliamentary Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who was present at the press conference, described the suspension as “harsh, high-handed, undemocratic and arbitrary”.
“It is regrettable that Mustapa has not intervened in this issue. Also regrettable is Deputy Minister Ong Tee Kiat’s announcement that the government will introduce university autonomy. It cannot be introduced until the UCCA is abolished,” Lim said.
“The Higher Education Ministry cannot pass the buck to the universities. I hope Mustapa will intervene and revoke the suspension.”
UPM has seen a series of skirmishes between students and the authorities, particularly in the run-up to campus elections each year.