Malaysia

Sharifah Zohra not with us, was hard to control, says KIMMA president

By Md Izwan
January 15, 2013

Screenshot of Sharifah Zohra Jabeen (right) berating Bawani at the forum.Screenshot of Sharifah Zohra Jabeen (right) berating Bawani at the forum.KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Controversial speaker Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin, who openly attacked a student at a forum last year, is no longer a member of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA), said its president Senator Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader, who also accused the former National KIMMA Women’s Head of having a “hard to control” behaviour. 

Sharifah Zohra is president of little-known organisation Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia (SW1M) that is seen to be aligned to the ruling BN, was caught on video berating the student — who had stood up to voice her views on the Bersih electoral rally and free education — with remarks such as “when this is our programme, we allow you to speak” and “when I speak, you listen”.

“Many phone calls to me have asked the same question.

“So, I wish to affirm that she is no longer with KIMMA. Whatever she has done and said now does not involve us or our stand,” said Syed Ibrahim, not specifying whether she was kicked out of the party or had resigned.

Syed Ibrahim confessed to knowing of Sharifah Zohra’s vocal and aggressive behaviour when she was in KIMMA and of receiving many negative reports about her.

“Yes, we do know about her (Sharifah Zohra’s) wild and aggressive behaviour and it is hard to control her,” he added.

“However, she is no longer in our party.”

The forum, titled “Seiringkah mahasiswa dan politik?” (Are undergraduates and politics aligned?), was held at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in Kedah on December 8, but the storm erupted after the 20-minute clip was posted on YouTube last week and then spread on Facebook and Twitter as well as several online university forums.

The video starts with the university students swearing an oath in the national language before cutting to the student, Bawani K.S., who took to a microphone in a packed auditorium to speak on a court ruling on Bersih and ask why Malaysia was unable to offer free education like other countries.

The speaker, Sharifah Zohra, interrupts her mid-way, telling her to “Listen!” a whopping 11 times and even taking away the microphone from Bawani to stop the student from speaking further.

“Number one, when this is our programme, we allow you to speak,” Sharifah Zohra said, and then added, “Number two, when I speak, you listen.”

Sharifah Zohra also quelled another student who attempted to speak out, saying insistently, “Let me speak” before asking the rest of the auditorium audience: “Students in the hall, 2,300 students everywhere. Did I give her respect? Did I give her respect? I came up to her, shook hands with her and gave her respect as another woman. Do you think I need to answer her question with this attitude?”

She then labelled Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan an “anarchist”, and criticised the student for highlighting the need for free education in the country, even telling her “if you equate Malaysia to other countries, what are you doing in Malaysia?”

“Go to Cuba, go to Argentina, go to Libya, go everywhere. Because all the students in this hall are happy with whatever the government does for them,” she said, and ticked Bawani off for having “a very least of pendidikan [education]”.

Following the controversial video, deputy higher education minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and his Umno party mate Khairy Jamaluddin have defended the victim of the act, Bawani, on their Twitter accounts, saying that Sharifah Zohra was not related to ruling coalition Barisan Nasional in any way.

While Sharifah Zohra appears to have gone underground since the video storm started, SW1M has adopted a truculent — some say aggressive — attitude towards the entire episode, with administrators saying Sharifah Zohra did not need to apologise, as Bawani clearly “ran away” and “should learn to respect her elders.”

Undergraduates in local universities have in recent years become increasingly more vocal and critical of the government, more so after the Najib administration moved to loosen the law allowing students to participate in politics, in a bid to draw support from the younger generation who are seen to make up a substantial voter demographic.

Last year, several student groups took part in demonstrations nationwide to demand greater freedom and free university education.