Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, and Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha, who are 2nd year Political Science students from UKM, have been charged by the university with Section 15(5)(a) of the University & University College Act 1971 (UUCA), which prohibits students from participating or expressing sympathy or support for any political parties.
Three students above and Wong King Chai (who is also a 2nd year Political Science students from UKM) were travelling in 2 vehicles with 3 other members of the public in Hulu Selangor to observe the by-election campaigning process on 22/4/10. They were stopped by the police and were held until the arrival of UKM’s Student Affairs Department officials, who immediately accused them of participating in politics and expressing support or sympathy towards political parties who were contesting in the by-election. The police then conducted a search of the vehicles, which revealed fliers and video CDs that was placed there by a member of the party, who accompanied the students to tour the Hulu Selangor by-election. The police and university officials immediately assumed that the fliers searched in the vehicles belonged to the students and brought the students in to the Hulu Selangor Police Headquarters for questioning and recording their statements. They were held in the police station for 9 hours before finally being released on bail. They were to report in on 5/5/10 at Kuala Kubu Baru but before reaching that date, the students were told by the Investigating Officer that the police no longer want to pursue this matter and have dropped the investigation.
However, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, and Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha received a letter on 13/5/10, 14/5/10, and 16/5/10 respectively, sent by the university by hand through a representative of the Student Affairs Department requiring them to attend university disciplinary proceedings on the 2nd of June (Wednesday) for Muhammad Hilman bin Idham and 3rd of June (Thursday) for Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin and Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha, 9.00am at Bilik Mesyuarat Canselori, Aras 6, Bangunan Canselori. They have been charged by the university prior of any investigations by the university, without their knowledge. They are not allowed to be represented by a lawyer during proceedings and can only be represented by themselves, or another student or a staff of the university. As of 16/5/10, Woon King Chai have yet to receive any letters from the university and are expected to receive the letter soon as well as to attend university disciplinary proceedings.
The charges on them should be withdrawn because they were in the vicinity of the Hulu Selangor by-election for practising their rights as Political Science students and Malaysia citizens, to observe and studying the campaigning process for academic research purposes and pursue of knowledge in the field of election analysis. Students should be given opportunity to exercise academic freedom in the pursue of knowledge and academic research. Thus, Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai should not be demonised and punished by the university for exercising their academic freedom and the right to pursue knowledge and academic research in the field of election analisis. Students should be encouraged to show concern about current events and happenings as well as to pursue knowledge and academic research in their own field of studies. The charging of Muhammad Hilman bin Idham, Muhammad Ismail bin Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adzha and Woon King Chai is a retrogression of democracy and academic freedom in UKM.
Furthermore, the fliers and video CDs found in the respective vehicles do not belong to the students and should not be used as a reason to charge these students.
Moreover, Section 15(5)(a) of the University & University College Act 1971, which prohibits students from participating or expressing sympathy or support for any political parties, is in direct contradiction with Article 119 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which guarantees all Malaysian citizens above the age of 21 the right to vote in elections, which is a form of expression and participation in politics. This is a blant disregard and disrespect of the Federal Constitution by the university.