Suhakam should explain the outcome of its investigations into complaints of UTM campus election irregularities and abuses  

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday)Suhakam should explain the outcome of its investigations into complaints of alleged mismanagement of campus elections by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in November last year.

The last statement made by Suhakam on its investigations into irregularities and abuses of the  UTM campus elections was by the then Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, who told Malaysiakini on January 7, 2002 that Suhakam had begun its investigations into the complaints of 20 UTM students against the UTM authorities.

Yesterday, about 20 undergraduates from various institutions of higher learning submitted a memorandum to Suhakam in support of the 15 UTM students who had been summoned to appear before UTM  disciplinary proceedings for violating university regulations when they protested against irregularities in last November’s campus elections.

It would be a sad day not only for human rights and the freedom of speech, expression and opinion, but for academic freedom and university culture of excellence in Malaysia if one of the precedents the UTM wants to establish is that it is not wrong for the authorities to commit malpractices and  irregularities but it is wrong for the students to protest against such misdemeanours and abuses.

The new head of the Suhakam Complaints and Inquiries Working Group, Prof. Hamdan Adnan owes an explanation not only to the UTM student complainants but to the Malaysian public as to the outcome of the Suhakam investigations into the allegatioins of campus election irregularities and abuses  by the UTM authorities, such as e tampering with  ballot boxes during the elections and  nominations of several candidates under questionable circumstances.

It is most disappointing that Hamdan told the students yesterday that he could not  guarantee that action would not be taken against the students by the university authorities.

It is completely unacceptable and unthinkable that the UTM authorities should be allowed to treat Suhakam with such contempt, for this tantamounts to holding Parliament in  contempt as it is Parliament which had set up Suhakam by special legislation and vested it with statutory powers and functions to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia.

Universities in the country should be in the forefront to render every assistance to Suhakam to protect and promote human rights and not be in  the vanguard to undermine the credibility and integrity  of Suhakam and bring the Human Rights Commission into disrepute – as appears to be the case with the UTM authorities.

Hamdan should use the full moral and persuasive influence of Suhakam to persuade the UTM authorities to drop all disciplinary proceedings against the 15 UTM students, and to work with UTM to develop a human rights culture in UTM which could be a model for all local universities in protecting and promoting human rights.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman