Friday, May 09, 2014

If Obama does not even bother to complain, why UM Student Affairs Department?

I would like to lend my support to four undergraduates from the University of Malaya (UM), namely UM Student Council Secretary Fahmi Zainol, Deputy Chairperson Lee Jin Yang, Assistant Secretary Leong Yu Sheng and Committee Member Anis Nabihah Alias.

The four were issued show-cause letters by the Students Affairs Department (HEP) on why no discipline action to be taken upon them for staging a brief protest against Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) when President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama met with participants from the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative at the university in April 2014.

As an alumnus of the university, I feel utterly ashamed and saddened with the show-cause letters as it does not reflect the good name and the reputation of a “premier university” in promoting freedom of speech and academic freedom, especially among its students and academic staffs.

More interestingly, if the President himself does not even to complain to the organizer, why on earth the UM Students Affairs Department is so adamant in penalizing the undergraduates for voicing out something that is of concern for fellow Malaysians?

I do not see any logic for HEP in issuing the show-cause letter. HEP should adopt a more open approach when dealing with different voices and opinions from the students. Such oppressive action does not speak well for UM itself. Are we not complaining that local undergraduates lack critical thinking skill and yet we want to penalize them for doing exactly what we want them to be?

I hope UM HEP can withdraw the letters and I urge members of the public to exert pressure on HEP. Education Minister must view this seriously and direct the Vice Chancellor withdraw the letter.

(Lau Weng San holds a Bachelor Degree in Chemical Engineering from UM in 2002. His student matrix card number was KEK990017)
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