(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
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
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.