Rafzan, second-year student, was expelled on June 22 after a kangaroo-court hearing found him guilty of being involved in an anti-ISA protest in front of the National Mosque on June 8.
Two days ago, Musa announced that the Education Ministry had advised private institutions of higher learning “not to accept such students … consistent with the ministry’s policy that prohibits expelled students from attending other public varsities”.
This is a most reactionary and anti-knowledge decision, as it would mean imposing a “death sentence” on Rafzan from ever pursuing higher studies in the country and completely destroying his “entire dream to become an educated and knowledgeable person by acquiring university education” in his own homeland.
Neither the Universities and Universities Act (UUCA) 1971 nor the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 which respectively govern the establishment, maintenance and administration of the public and private institutions of higher learning (IPTAs and IPTS) in the country provides for such a “death sentence” on the human right to higher education of a Malaysian in his own country, and any such Education Ministry policy is clearly a violation of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone has the right to education” and that “higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit” as well as the basic principles of the Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) which, by Article 4, commits the States Parties to it to “make higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of individual capacity”.
The Education Ministry’s policy to impose a life-long ban on a Malaysian from pursuing higher education opportunities in his own country not only violates all notions of human rights but offends against the national thrust to propel the country towards a global knowledge-based economy, where higher education are essential components for cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations and the ethos of life-long learning culture.
The Education Minister should immediately retract his directive to all IPTAs not to accept Rafzan as a student, for the UUCA only provides for the discipline of students in one university and does not impose any life-long ban on the student from enrolling in another university, whether IPTA or IPTS.
The Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) should speak out against the Education Minister for his gross violation of the fundamental human right to higher education in trying to impose a “death sentence” on Rafzan by banning him for life from pursuing higher education in Malaysia.
Furthermore, the farcical and undemocratic manner in which Rafzlan had been expelled from UiTM has highlighted the need for the entire disciplinary process in all the public universities to be democratised.
Rafzan’s expulsion from the UiTM should be rescinded and SUHAKAM should propose a set of best practices procedures for all universities to follow with regard to the exercise of their disciplinary powers to ensure that they comply with the human rights of the students and the rules of natural justice.