KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — Three University of Malaya (UM) students have been suspended for a semester for their role in last month’s protest calling for the abolition of the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) scheme.
Associate law professor Azmi Sharom represented the three student activists in a disciplinary hearing at UM.
He said they were given a stern warning after being found guilty of breaking the university’s disciplinary rules and they will be suspended for one semester and fined up to RM200 each.
They were charged with tarnishing the university’s image and disrupting public order under rule 3(a)(i) and 3(a)(ii) of the University of Malaya (Discipline of Students) Rules 1999, by virtue of section 16C of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA).
“We are definitely going to appeal because the decision is disproportionate and unjust,” said Azmi.
“The wording of the 1999 Rules is too vague, it leaves too much discretion to the disciplinary committee to decide what is right or wrong,” he added.
“Basically the grounds of the charge is that the act of putting funeral wreaths over photos is ‘tidak sopan’ (rude), and they get suspended for one semester (for this act), this is ridiculous and disproportionate,” said Azmi.
The three students are Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) president Mohamad Safwan Anang, SMM secretary Haziq Abdullah Abd Aziz and Malaysia Bangkit president Mohd Syahid Zaini.
Last week, the Malay Mail reported that the UM Student Affairs Department had informed the students of the disciplinary hearing via letters dated April 26.
“We are not hauling them up because of their participation in the rally, but for their actions during the event,” said the department’s deputy vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Rohana Yusof.
She was also quoted as saying: “At the protest, the three allegedly hung a funeral garland on the portrait of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin. They also carried a replica of a tombstone.
“These actions were biadap (uncouth) and have embarrassed the university as well as harmed its reputation.”
Rohana said the charge was to educate the three and reminded them to be mindful of their off-campus behaviour.